Even though John and TJ Osborne are two individual halves of a brotherly musical duo, when they take the stage, they have a “collective consciousness,” which is ultimately what makes them Brothers Osborne.
“It’s really kind of effortless in the fact that we just know what one another is going to do,” TJ, 33, tells PEOPLE. “There’s times when we don’t really even need to discuss things. We’ve just done it so long that we know each other’s instincts.”
Because the pair are so familiar with each other, TJ says that when he and John fight, they don’t let the tension build up and instead just come right out and say how they feel.
“Part of what helps us get along is that we just get it out in the air,” TJ says. “We say it. If we disagree we may argue about it for a little bit, but there’s never this underlying tension of ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt his feelings and it’s awkward.’ It’s just, ‘It’s awesome.’”
TJ says the brothers, who are headlining the Windy City Smokeout Barbecue and Country Music Festival on Sunday, have experienced more success than he ever could have imagined, playing sold out shows in huge venues, touring alongside superstars like Dierks Bentley, and “making more money than I’ve ever thought I would playing music.”
“He’s put in a lot of work, as have I, and I feel like it just makes it all the better when there is a family member — a compadre — there to go through it with,” TJ says. “I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”
However, TJ admits that he hasn’t always wanted to be in such close physical proximity to his family.
“For most of my life, it’s always been like, ‘God, I gotta get away from my parents. I just want my freedom and I want to do my own thing,’” TJ admits. “Now that I’ve gotten a little older, I actually really crave having family around.”
That desire to be closer has only grown since the performers’ careers have taken off, and once he and John, 36, finally got the means to purchase their mom a house, they bought her one in Nashville right in between their own homes. (Sister Natalie, who works in music publishing, also lives in town.)
“Our mom really sacrificed a lot for us,” TJ says. “Both of our parents have been extremely supportive. My dad still works, and he works his tail off, and we want to get to a point where we can get our parents to where they can just retire and not have to worry about that.”
According to TJ, their mom lives off of Social Security, and was residing in a single-wide trailer in Delaware — the same piece of land her parents lived on until the end of their lives.
“She’s getting up there in age,” TJ says. “Hopefully she lives a lot longer but if she doesn’t, we just didn’t want the regret that we could have brought her down here and we did not.”
Because the Nashville housing market is so crazy, it took the brothers a while to find a home that was right for their mom, especially because developers for condos and high-rises were attempting to purchase the land and tear down the old homes. Once they found the place they wanted, John wrote a letter to the owner of the old house explaining that it was meant to be a surprise gift to their mom and they had no intentions to destroy the home.
Once they closed on the deal, they flew their mom down to Nashville and told her she was going to do an interview with CMT about their family history and musical past, but once she got to the house, they surprised her with the keys and told her it was hers.
“I felt on the verge of tears to be able to do that,” TJ tells PEOPLE. “I think it’s something that a lot of people would want to do and we’re very lucky and fortunate that we were in a position where we could do that for her. It was definitely a very overwhelming, emotional thing.”
Windy City Smokeout, featuring Brothers Osborne, Brett Eldredge, Midland and more, comes to Chicago July 13-15.
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