Arts co editor Barney Evison speaks to The Thirst, an independent Brixton band aiming to take on the UK chart with their new single ‘True’, released ahead of their biggest headline show yet at Electric Brixton on 29 May.
Funk-rock four-piece The Thirst are familiar faces around Brixton – they’ve played every music venue going, performed at Splash and even busked on the streets outside the station at times. Their music has taken them further afield too, with sell-out shows at the O2 Academy Islington, 100 Club, and abroad.
So it’s with much excitement that the young band prepare to launch an attack on the UK Official Singles Chart with the upcoming release of their track ‘True’ on 13 May. It’s an upbeat, catchy tune, bursting with The Thirst’s signature brand of sunny indie-funk – surely destined to become a Brixton summer anthem. Watch the official music video for it below.
The Thirst is formed of brothers Mensah and Kwame Cofi-Agyeman (lead vocals and bass respectively), Mark (guitar) and Marcus (drums). The road up to this point hasn’t been straightforward for the band – they’ve worked with the Rolling Stones and Libertines producer Jake Fior but wranglings with record companies has led them to decide to strike out on their own.
They’re dedicated to their art; for the last year they’ve been out on the streets of London, Thursday to Sunday every week, busking to raise money for their single and album. It’s been a memorable experience for them, and they sold upwards of 8,000 CDs in the process.
“It was amazing – once you got warmed up!” laughs Kwame. “We met a lot of people out there, made some new fans, who we then saw at our shows.” Like any sensible band, The Thirst treasure every fan, and are appealing to their ever-increasing following to support their single campaign: “All the old fans, all the new fans – we can’t do it without them,” said Mark.
To support the single campaign they’re hitting the streets again, busking in Brixton and speaking to locals – their single-minded focus for the next few weeks is to get people to order this single. “You can get four singles for the price of one coffee,” says Mensah, “so I don’t want to see you in Starbucks unless you’ve bought the single!”
They’re all Brixton born and bred, and have watched the changes around them with bemusement. “We’ve been here since day one,” says Kwame, “Now you’ve got shops where you can pay £10 for chicken and chips but you can still go to Morley’s and get it for a pound – and it’ll probably taste better!”
While laughing about a particular champagne bar in the Granville Arcade, Marcus adds a serious note: “Some of those people that are being pushed out of their businesses are people who built the foundations that made Brixton what it is today – it’s only a matter of time before it loses its ‘coolness’.”
The cultural scene in Brixton hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns recently, what with the council’s culture cuts, the death of Bowie and the closure of local venues such as the Canterbury Arms and Mango Landin. With this single and their campaign, The Thirst want to “give Brixton something to smile about again” their manager Kevin told me.