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One of London’s best live bands, the explosive, energetic Brixton based four-piece, The Thirst, transverse subcultures and genres, having already toured with Pete Doherty, The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols and opened up for The Libertines. Brothers Mensah (vocals/ guitar) and Kwame Hart (bass), Mark Lenihan (guitar) and Marcus Harris (drums/ backing vocals) represent a previously unheard voice of south London, we asked Mensah, Mark and Marcus about whether they still played Streetfighter and if Kwame had gone AWOL at the arcade?

"Ha ha, yeah, he's off playing Streetfighter. We don't have a computer, but we mainly play that and other other games on tour." In describing their style of music, "the beginning of the tree is rock and roll, then the branches split out into Funk, Indie, Disco, a Groove kind of vibe. Our music is about moving and dancing. When we first started, it was an aggressive kind of teenager punk, played very fast and loud."

In Sail Away you talk about concrete jungle and escape. "We grew up in council estates, so we come from nothing. We also know people who come from way worse, even if your escaping from hell to a bus stop, and then a bus stop to paradise, it is all about the journey. Without music, who would want to live.”

Speaking of hell, Pete Doherty has said they play the guitar like demons. "Ha ha, it is the energy we bring to live gigging, nowadays we tend to give a bit of space to the music, allowing the drums, vocals and music to come through and catch the groove. There was always funk underlined in the belly of our first album, but now it has come to the forefront of what we are doing. However, if anyone asked us to truly describe our band, we would very much say we are still a rock and roll band." They are especially inspired by Prince, Jimi Hendrix and hip-sop, who are said to embody the fiery tones of those who refuse to be labelled, destroying any box you try and put them in.

They up grew together and one by one were coerced into forming a band. Mensah started playing guitar from around the age of 14,  taught by his dad. "My father was also in a band, a reggae outfit called Out of Darkness and he played the guitar. I would go to his flat after school for lessons, one day I went back and my Dad said 'I can't teach you anything else,' and well it progressed from there, practising in his spare bedroom." How did the band come together? "Mark would pick up the guitar and we would have this rivalry of being better than each other, Marcus came on board with the beats and Kwame followed suit after we needed a Base player and roped him in." Mensah bought Kwame a bass guitar, from Cash Converters, "he still owes me the money" he laughs. The band was formed.

Do they have a stand out gig? "when we supported the Rolling Stones on a beach in Montenegro, that was amazing. To go from playing in front of 40 people, to the next month, in front of 50,000 people. It was very nerve racking time. However, once done, it was a great feeling, like climbing Mount Everest.

At the time of the interview, they had released a brilliant cover of Daft Punk's Get lucky. "We loved the track and were playing about in the studio, it came out really good. First and foremost, we love Daft Punk and grew up on that, it's good to see them come back with Pharrel and Nile Rogers. We would love to have Nile Rogers do an album for us one day. It's destiny, ha ha."

The band has an EP coming out later this year, "same kind sound, more evolved than On The Brink and Laugh With The Sinners. Lyric wise, we are wiser now, we are men now and have learnt from our experiences. We don't want to be singing stupid songs about drinking champagne on the beach, because the world has so much more to offer and for us to comment on. This band is not about the individual, we are all about people, uplifting."  A Single from the next EP is set to be released in July 2013. "we have got a lot of music and a lot of work to do. Watch this space also for the Gravity single. A story about a guy who lives on an estate and gets killed, so it discusses gang culture, based on reports of a 16 year old getting killed. What a waste of life, we see this everyday and is something that needs to be addressed. We are hoping to donate some of the proceeds to Mothers Against Guns. It is not about us, we are trying to make music about what we see. Music can change society and do big things."

Interview and Photography: Nardip Singh

As featured in Unfolded Magazine Issue 14
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