If you ask Torrence and Thurman Thomas, their journey as musicians and philanthropists began when their dreams were taken from them.
In their teen years, the Thomas brothers were fans of soccer, played in clubs and had plans to play on a collegiate level. But on December 23, 2006, the twins were arrested for shoplifting. As a punishment from their mother, they weren’t allowed to play club soccer in the upcoming season.
“We were with the wrong crowd then,” Thurman said. “At that point it was the end of the world. Life as we knew it was over.”
For weeks, the Geismar, Louisiana, natives sat in the house doing nothing until their mother presented them with a new opportunity. A family friend had offered to teach them how to play musical instruments. Despite their hesitancy, they agreed. At their first lesson, Thurman grabbed a guitar, and Torrence was handed a bass — everything after that was a blur.
The Thomas brothers quickly progressed in their lessons and soon found themselves playing their first live show on Record Store Day in a venue that also boasted an up-and-coming Kevin Gates. After that performance, the brothers took their newly discovered gifts to their local church and began playing in the band.
The church needed a guitar player, but already had a bassist, leading Torrence to learn other instruments such as the acoustic guitar and drums. For the brothers, the church was their training ground, and no other venue they play in can compare to the energy they feel playing on a Sunday morning.
As their skills progressed, the Thomas brothers began playing behind other musical acts as a part of the supporting band, officially becoming musicians for hire.
But that wasn’t enough for them.
“We made our mistakes playing in the background,” Torrence said. “Once we were comfortable, we asked ourselves ‘Why not start a cover band?’”
And they did. The Thomas Brothers Band quickly gathered a following as a reputable cover band but found an issue with branding: the name the band went by was being used by another musical act. Torrence and Thurman needed another name for the band quickly, and luckily, the two had started a fashion blog where they discussed trends and clothing they liked. They took the name of the site as their band name and
ASKTHETHOMASBROS was born.
The name stuck, and the popularity continued to rise, but after being a cover band for a while, the brothers started to feel like it was time for another change.
“We got tired of playing other people’s music,” Thurman said. “I thought ‘I have a voice. I have things to say.’ So right as the band started to really take off, we stopped taking gigs.”
It was a bold decision; the band was making good money, and the individual members all got along well, but it wasn’t enough for them.
“We had to decide if we wanted to be the voice or be the echo,” Torrence said.
At this point, the brothers weren’t actually singing, so they went to practice their vocals and writing skills for the last two years. Now, at 26-years-old, the Thomas brothers have traveled all across the world and were raised by a militant mother in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. These factors and more have allowed the brothers to feel that they have experienced enough life to articulate what they want to say through their music.
With an extensive résumé behind them, the Thomas brothers said they want to take as much time to curate a sound that will translate from their upcoming album to the live shows. They are artists of detail when it comes to their craft. To Torrence and Thurman, how their instruments are arranged on stage matters just as much as why they made certain decisions on how the song itself sounds.
“We study music,” Torrence said. “We think analytically [about] why we like certain songs. We’ll study the movement of the song and take those concrete principles and apply them to our songs.”
The brothers say there is one thing more important than the study of the music—being
comfortable in one’s own skin. Growing up, the twins were often teased for not speaking like the other kids in their neighborhood, often being told they “spoke too white.” Through their travels and growing up, they’ve realized that trying to cater to what someone else thinks they should be doesn’t matter.
“Once we came to terms with realizing its okay to be ourselves and do things our way, our creativity became so much greater,” Thurman said. “Your true influence becomes greater when you become comfortable with who you are.”
The word “influence” is one thrown back and forth between the brothers with heavy weight. They both carry that desire to influence others with their music, fashion and philanthropy.
Currently, the brothers are in the middle of running their non-profit program “Tank Proof,” which offers swimming lessons to those who can’t afford them or were never exposed to swimming. The program is taking place all across Louisiana and the brothers have hopes of taking it around the country.
Torrence and Thurman also travel around the country speaking to youth organizations in hopes of making an impact on the next generation. They credit their mother as the reason they feel the desire to give so much back to the world. The love and knowledge she instilled in them are the same values they want to give to the next generation of adults.
Once “Tank Proof” concludes, the brothers said they’ll be redirecting their focus back to the upcoming album. They are united in each of their projects including their study and relationship with Jesus Christ.
“He, as a person, was so influential,” Thurman said. “Every day we look to see how we can apply the same principles he had into our lives.”
The influence of Christ on the Thomas brothers is so strong that he serves as the epicenter of their one matching tattoo. Around one of each of their forearms are the words “Devoted to Christ” which wrap in a symbolic, never ending circle. The brothers said it’s the influence Christ has on them that they want to share most of all. References to their faith are also found in their lyrics.
Almost 10 years ago, the Thomas brothers lost their dream, or so they thought. The shifting of their path has propelled them onto a stage that allows them to share what they’ve experienced and give back to the world. As Torrence and Thurman Thomas move toward the next step in their careers, they hope their influence will expand with them.
Photo by Emily Brauner.