As a tall, busty brunette takes off her jacket to reveal her bra, she casually continues to walk the streets of Brixton in just her remaining miniskirt and high heels. Shocked onlookers gasp as she confidently walks past. A metaphor for ‘out with the old and in with the new’ – it’s the latest video for south London band, The Thirst.
Nearly five years after they were signed by The Rolling Stones’ rocker, Ronnie Wood, The Thirst – a previously unheard voice of south London – have undergone a strange turn of events in the fickle industry of music. But as they warm up for their latest gig on Monday 11 July, it’s obvious that touring the globe with the likes of The Stones and Canadian indie rockers, Hot Hot Heat, has only made this ‘electric groove’ four-piece all the more ready to conquer the music world once again.
Nearly five years after they were signed by The Rolling Stones’ rocker, Ronnie Wood, The Thirst – a previously unheard voice of south London – have undergone a strange turn of events in the fickle industry of music.
“We were signed for two years,” says lead singer, Mensah Hart, “We did every festival and played to crowds of 50,000 on the beach. We had just eight songs, but we realised it was something we wanted to do for the rest of our lives. The whole experience was a real eye-opener.”
Two years in, as the band began to get an early taste of success, releasing their first album, On The Brink, Ronnie Wood’s label became defunct. It was 2008, and their stability and high-life came to an end. Not only were they no longer signed, they were also unable to produce any new material until they’d properly broken free from the defunct label.
“It was a bad experience,” Mensah says, “like falling out with your wife but still having to live with her! But now we finally have freedom to be who we want and write more original, urban music.”
It’s this freedom and an even stronger will to succeed, which has brought the childhood friends turned musicians to Wired in Shoreditch – a music night on the first Monday of every month, which gives established artists the opportunity to play to an intimate crowd of fans.
Hailing from Brixton, the band member’s lead singer Mensah Hart, bass guitarist Kwame Hart, guitarist Mark Lenihan and drummer Marcus Harris, pride themselves on their upbeat collection of music, inspired by indie, rock, electric pop and funk. And in parallel to their eclectic sound, they also represent an eclectic mix in heritage. Between the four musicians, they have roots in Jamaica, Africa, India, Ireland, Wales and Ghana – something they say defines their Brixton background – a place they call a ‘hub of originality’.
And while the four friends started off jamming in a bedroom at the age of sixteen, armed with guitars that brothers Mensah and Kwami’s had played since they learned to walk, they have gone from casually strumming in between working shifts as teenagers in their local supermarkets, to performing at one of the East End’s most sought-after private members’ clubs, Shoreditch House.
“We were just messing around when we first started out,” Mensah recalls. “One day I even went to sell my guitar to buy new trainers. My mum took it and put it in her cupboard until I was sixteen or seventeen and I picked it up again. I bought Kwame a base guitar and my dad came in when we were playing one day. He said: ‘keep doing that, that’s music’, and we’ve never looked back since.”
As well as their distinctive sound, it’s perhaps also their cool image that has helped define The Thirst. All members except drummer Marcus (whose distinctive look is his dreads) are known for their afro hairstyles, which has undoubtedly drawn in the fans, especially the female ones.
“We spend up to three hours on our hair,” Mensah laughs, “And yeah we do get a lot of attention for it – you can’t miss us if we’re walking down the street together. And fans are constantly trying to touch our hair. One did ask me to marry her once!”
And in a bold move to make their most daring video yet, the band invited hundreds of their loyal fans to a secret location in Brixton, to create the perfect visual party scene for new hit ‘Damn Girl’.
“We had a vigorous audition procedure,” they explain, referring to the girl who is featured taking her clothes off on the street. With a sparkle in their eye, The Thirst are not going to reveal this girl’s identity, but something tells me this video will get fans talking.
Looking forward, the Brixton group say their sound is now becoming their own – after being strongly influenced by the likes of Bloc Party, Foo Fighters, Muse and The Klaxons.
Having recently been supported by chart-topper Ed Sheeran, and now playing on a former stomping ground of the likes of Pixie Lott, something tells me it won’t be long until The Thirst become a household name.
‘We’ve got our mojo back,” says Kwame, “and we’re going for a more original sound now which people are starting to recognise us for. You never know, in our next video, we might take our clothes off.”
As they get up to perform, I wonder how, even after performing in front of thousands of fans worldwide, do they prepare to get on stage?
“Yeah we do have a ritual before we perform,” Mensah replies, “but if we told you what it was, we’d have to kill you.’
20th July: Milly's World at The Monarch (Camden)
25th August: Plan-A @ Plan-B (Brixton)
29th September: The Thirst EP launch party, The Orgasmatron at FAVELA CHIC, 91-93 Eastern Street, EC2A 3HZ , London
What a shame The Well Leeds wasn't big enough! Have a great tour anyway, Angela xRead more
WOMAD, Solfest and Manchester Jazz Festival?Read more
Heineken Opener in Gdynia, Poland, 4-7 July Björk, Franz Ferdinand, Mumford and Sons, The xx,…Read more