Sunday, June 01, 2008

Interview - The Thirst

When brothers Mensah and Kwame linked with secondary school pals Mark and Marcus they had two things; a band name and a guitar. In a short space of stereotype-defying time they’ve amassed much more. MTV and RWD predict Brixton’s The Thirst are set for even bigger things...

I was dropped in a place I never knew existed. A place where the sun is foreign. A place where the 57 bus roams free. A hole of a place, with more Greggs per square mile than any another part of the world... a place The Thirst call home. “Come in,” drummer Marcus Harris greets me as I enter their south London-located acoustic abode. The walls are painted in grey, the floor painted in filth but the air’s treated to sounds of what I believe to be their eagerly anticipated debut album, On the Brink. “Yeah, we’re just going over the setlist for later,” vocals/ lead guitar Mensah reports as the quartet make their way from the garage-like and heavily graffitied bunker. We’ve caught them mid-session preparing for a live BBC session. “Later we’re on 6 Music,” rhythm guitarist Mark Lenihan beams before Kwame joins us from placing his bass guitar beside his brother. “Most of the tunes were made by accident really...” Mensah confesses of the compliments regarding the inaugural Thirst EP. “We were just messing about, playing something and then it was like... ‘Yeah, that sounds alright, keep playing it’ so we did.”

Mensah and Kwame’s journey to this point has been far from accidental. They were reared in a heavily melodic environment, says Mensah. “My dad was in a reggae ska band so he bought me my first guitar when I was about 14.” Inevitably they got a literal thirst for music. With Hendrix, Average White Band, Booker T and a lot of old skool blues blaring from their parent’s record collection who wouldn’t, and they soon linked with an old school pal to start something. But what? “I met them in primary school,” Mark points at the Cofie-Agyeman brothers and smiles, “And then we met Marcus in secondary school.” So was it all plain sailing? “They were just mad in the head but it was cool and we formed a friendship. After all the schooling...” energetic Marcus jumps in, “and the bumming around [group laugh], just sitting on your arse.” After learning from text books and the streets of south London, the band was unconventionally formed. “I made up a name and it grew from there.”

Before long, the masses at Brixton Jamm were aware of their talents (not to mention Rolling Stone’s Ronnie Wood) and gigs started flying in. “I’ve fell off stage before and we had a power cut but that weren’t even the worse gig,” the frontman lights up before relaying the gig from Hell, literally. “We walked in and it was all Goths. We were just like a fish out of water and when we went on, all our guitars were out of tune.” His brother finishes the trip down nightmare lane. “We didn’t know what we were doing at the time,” he remembers as Marcus brings it home. “That’s where we got our first stereotypical comment. Before we went on, we got, ‘So you guys gonna play reggae then?’” Doritos munching Mensah paints a rosy picture of their retort: “We were like, ‘F*ck off’... pr*ck”.

The Thirst refuse to get bogged down with clich├ęd characteristics of the typical indie band (“no genre of music belongs to any race of people”) and proved so at the last RWD in Stereo. To the sounds of Ready 2 Move and forthcoming RWD favourite Sail Away, black, white and Asian kids were shocking-out side-by-side, like a multicultural patchwork quilt laid down before them. “What happened was, I said I was gonna giveaway my Rolex,” Marcus laughs. “We love them ones still. They are the best ones.” Indeed, and the likes of Coventry, Swansea and their beloved Brixton can expect more of the same from their tour in May [see Marcus’ list or dun know the MySpace for the exact dates].

With a dedicated fanbase already (, Pete Doherty requesting their presence on his solo LP (“He’s a great guy and we played at his house”) and the ink well and truly dry on the deal with Ronnie’s Wooden Records these four will live out their dreams before they know it. Kwame sits up and leaves RWD with, “Forget headlining Glastonbury, we wanna headline Brixton Academy!!!”

Sail Away is out in May. Catch The Thirst on MTV Base...



These guys are alot!

Danny Walker said...

Yeah, they are. It's a shame I missed them on Thursday night - heard it was big. I did bump into Mensah and Kwame at Friends in High Places though. They thanked me for the article/ review.