by Matthew Sigur // published October 9, 2013 at 1:50pm for 225 Magazine
Any Questions? ASKTHETHOMASBROS
At 23 years old, twin brothers Torrence and Thurman Thomas are ready to dive into the music industry pool.
After years of covering songs and being backup musicians for artists such as New Orleans rapper Dee-1 and playing big gigs at Jazz Fest and South By Southwest, the Thomas brothers are prepping material for a slate of R&B-tinged EPs under the moniker ASKTHETHOMASBROS.
The band performs Friday at 10 p.m. at Quarters with DM. Cover is $5.
During the interview, there's a nervous energy hovering over the conversation, a feeling of this is happening. However, the brothers know how difficult it is to catch listeners' ears today.
When playing covers, they developed their skills and learned how to work a crowd.
Torrence says it gave them a good fan base, and the transition to performing original music hasn't been as difficult as a local band that starts with its own tunes.
However, they knew that there would still be a little apprehension.
"Where Have You Been"—Rihanna.
"Figure 8"—Ellie Goulding.
"Paradise" and "Princess of China"—Coldplay.
Random Access Memories—Daft Punk.
The Complete 20/20 Experience—Justin Timberlake.
"Too Much," "Hold On, We're Going Home," "Come Thru," and "All on Me"—Drake.
Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City—Kendrick Lamar.
Three Kings—TGT, a supergroup featuring R&B singers Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank.
"I prepared myself for the fact that our fans might not like our original music," Thurman says. "First of all, we had to ask ourselves if we really wanted to do this. Second of all, if I make it, I'm going to have to love it. If someone doesn't like it, that's okay because I like it. But, if anybody takes a second to criticize me for a second, it's an honor because they took the time to listen to my stuff and verbally express an opinion about it. I would be flattered."
When meeting twins, you might wonder if the cliché holds—do they finish each other's sentences? In the studio and general conversation, they don't interrupt each other's thoughts as much as build on each other's ideas.
They both grew up in Baton Rouge, playing in the local church band. Thurman is a guitarist. Torrence is a bassist. Both can play keys and synths, too. Torrence learned drums out of necessity.
They took classes at Southern University and Baton Rouge Community College, learning everything from production to music theory. In class, Southern professor Herman Jackson changed the way they thought about music.
"[Jackson] taught me this exercise where we would sit down and listen to a song, then stop, and he would ask, 'What is it about this song that makes you like it?'," Torrence says.
"I never asked myself that," Thurman says, laughing. "We analyzed that, then started putting together everything we liked."
Learning from Jackson, the brothers started noticing the key components of songwriting—rhythm, tempo and groove. They learned how to actively listen to music. As self-producers in the studio, they're meticulous, arranging and re-arranging songs two or three times.
"Recording is great, but nothing that goes in raw is so amazing that you keep it how it was recorded," Torrence says. "Post-production is where the magic happens."
"The EQ is everything," Thurman interjects, building on the post-production talk. "You're shaping this diamond. You could have this great raw diamond, but that's not nearly worth as much as a pillow or princess-cut that's polished."
ASKTHETHOMASBROS upcoming EP, re-Present, is due by the end of this year or early next year.