- 04 Apr 19
With two brilliant singles under their belt and a string of Irish dates lined up, Thanks Brother are ready to take their brand of gritty pop to new heights in 2019.
From the outset, it’s clear that Róisín O and John Broe don’t take themselves – or each other – too seriously. The down-to-earth duo began writing together during Róisín’s solo years, but before long, as she tells me, “the Róisín O sound began moving into the Róisín and John sound.” Flash forward a few years, and the pair have officially joined forces as Thanks Brother.
Their latest single, ‘We Caught It’, clocked up an impressive 100,000 Spotify streams within a few weeks of its release.
“We got a really good reaction to that,” Róisín says. “People would say to us, ‘Oh yeah, 30,000 of those streams were me.’”
“So it was just your mam then?” John interjects.
“Yeah, it’s probably all my mam.”
The accompanying music video might look like a professionally shot job, but the pair actually filmed it on their iPhones, while they were out crashing Google’s exclusive Christmas Party at the RDS.
“It had all these big, colourful art installations. Everything looked like a cheesy, Taylor Swift pop video,” John says. “So we said, ‘come on, let’s make a joke video.’ Which then turned into a real video.”
“We just filmed everything, and got progressively more drunk – as you can probably see,” Róisín adds.
Both Róisín and John, a former member of indie-pop group Miracle Bell, previously had their own individual success in the Irish music scene. Ditching their own respective careers and starting afresh under a new name, with a brand new sound, was certainly a ballsy move.
“The guys from Blix Street Records, a small UK-based label, had heard the darker stuff we’d written,” John explains. “He asked us if we’d consider forming a group.”
“It was a risk, and I did love the stuff I was doing as Róisín O – but I was ready for that clean slate.”
The label may have signed Thanks Brother for their dark sound, but the group have been increasingly embracing the poppier side of life, particularly on ‘We Caught It’.
“I think we want, in our hearts, to be cool and release really deep music,” Róisín says. “But we’re not very cool people. And we do love pop music.”
While they’re conscious not to let their brand of pop get too preachy, the pair have been using their platform to support some major social and political movements in Ireland, and are full of praise for Róisín’s aunt, Senator Frances Black, who launched the boycott of goods produced in the Occupied Palestinian territories. They’ve also used their music to tackle some weighty social issues. The acclaimed video for their debut single, ‘We Are Different’, depicts a young man learning to embrace his sexuality through Dublin’s drag scene.
“We were trying to think of ideas for the video,” Róisín explains. “I’d just been to Witchy Wednesday at The George, and it was unbelievable – it had some of the best drag queens I had ever seen.”
“Everyone’s proud of being different now,” John adds. “It’s such a deadly turnaround compared with a few years ago.”
Róisín and John are also enthusiastic about the next generation of up-and-coming Irish talent – particularly the likes of Jafaris, True Tides and Dermot Kennedy. Does a sense of ‘Irishness’ inform their own sound?
“There’s a certain pressure to being Irish,” reckons John. “We were talking to Glen Hansard at Christmas, and he told me, ‘John, you have a responsibility as an Irish musician to make sure your lyrics are good enough.’ We all love Glen, so anything he says, I’m like, ‘you’re totally right’. Even if he’s giving out to me!”
‘We Caught It’ is out now.