Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include a more recent photo.
Torrence and Thurman Thomas are a difficult duo to introduce. They make music, and since that seems to jive most with their hip, stylish aesthetic, that’s often the dominant categorization.
But if there’s one thing to learn from a conversation with THEBROSFRESH, it’s that categorization is not their thing. They’re what you could call creative entrepreneurs: leveraging whatever skills are at their disposal to create and make a difference.
Whether they’re recording music, working on marketing collaborations with brands like Bacardi and Coca-Cola, it all comes from the same spark. Advocating for their nonprofit, Tankproof, which provides swimming lessons and food security to underserved communities, has taken their brand to the national stage, most recently through an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show earlier this month. We sat down with them to catch up on what’s been happening in their world.
Tell me about “navigating the intersection of creativity and cause,” a phrase I’ve seen you use on social media.
TORRENCE: What we’ve noticed is that a lot of people with creative ability and capacity, they find themselves stuck wondering, ‘What can I do to fix the issue?’ We want people to know that you have the potential to change the community. You don’t have to be an expert in anything; you just have to have the intent and the will to want to change something. And that’s exactly what we did (with Tankproof). We weren’t swimming experts; we weren’t Michael Phelps by any means. But we saw the issue and we wanted to walk toward a solution, and I feel like if more people started walking toward solutions instead of just talking about them, we’d be in a different place.
Together, you two form quite a unique pair, working in everything from music to marketing to the nonprofit space. Do you find people resisting your creative diversity and trying to put you in a box? How do you combat that?
TORRENCE: We found that out a lot. Especially in this town. I’m just being real … It was hard for people to realize that you could do business in the boardroom and then play in the bar later on. It was difficult for them to kind of see us with that duality. But, here’s how you beat it: You just do it.
You’ve invested your energy in a lot of different projects over the years. What have been some of the most memorable, and what are you focusing on right now?
THURMAN: One has been Tankproof. I think, regardless of anything we do creatively or anything else, I feel like Tankproof is a part of our life’s work. Because, if I die tomorrow—which I’m not, but if I did—I would be at peace knowing that I at least helped move the needle for someone else’s life, for thousands of kids’ lives, to help make those lives better.
TORRENCE: I (also) really like the last project we did. It’s called Reflections of Me. That stretched us not only artistically, but technically. We not only wrote it; we mixed it, we mastered it, we played the instruments—all that stuff. It gave us an opportunity to push ourselves in ways that I didn’t really think we could.
What was it like bringing Tankproof to five other cities outside of Baton Rouge (Austin, San Fransisco, New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas)?
TORRENCE: We see opportunities in these cities because the need is there. Tankproof is a national brand. Beautiful thing is, it was birthed right here in Baton Rouge. We love where we come from, we’ll never forget where we come from, and this is a base for us. This is a place that gives us the ability to launch and to be able to activate in these other cities.
Tell me about your work in marketing. Do you see it as a natural extension of your other creative pursuits?
TORRENCE: We just had a need. We got tired of waiting for people to shoot our videos or photos, so we learned how to do it ourselves. So that evolved into actually doing work for real companies. The company that gave us the shot first is based right here in Baton Rouge: Lamar Advertising. They gave us our first shot, and they gave us opportunities to work with some amazing brands.
THURMAN: Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, Ford, Google.
Tell us about appearing on The Kelly Clarkson Show this month.
THURMAN: It was a great experience. Kelly is an amazing person. She is exactly who you see she is on TV. She’s really sweet, really caring, really genuine. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But, I would do it with a different expectation. That whole thing was a lot of work.
TORRENCE: It still hasn’t really hit me yet, like, that was the Kelly Clarkson Show.
Do you ever feel torn between your endeavors? Does the necessity of one ever lead to the neglect of another?
THURMAN: Even though there’s two of us, it’s hard. Sometimes, when we go on the road with Tankproof, we’ll be gone for a week. I’m missing my family at home, I’m missing everything. You just have to balance it … Whenever I’m doing something, I’m focused on that; my head ain’t nowhere else. If I’m editing a video, I’m editing a video. If I’m at swimming lessons, I’m at swimming lessons. If I’m rehearsing, I’m rehearsing. If I’m in the studio, I’m in the studio.
Does it ever get tiring having to constantly switch gears like that?
TORRENCE:Yes! Yes! Utterly exhausting sometimes!
THURMAN: I don’t have hobbies, you know? This is everything that we do.
How has being brothers strengthened your artistic/professional partnership?
THURMAN: I think it’s definitely helped us because we can move as one … There’s a lot of power in that; there’s a lot of latitude to do things.
What can people expect next from you?
THURMAN: Y’all get ready. Put on your seatbelts.
TORRENCE: One thing we are is consistent, and we’re progressive, so what you’re seeing us do now, we’re gonna be doing the same thing, except on a bigger level.