The three brothers in OBB are used to not winning – and that’s worked out just fine for them.
Zach, Jacob and Nich Oswald – the namesakes of Atlanta-based Christian pop-rockers Oswald Brothers Band – debuted nearly a decade ago at a local battle of the bands contest.
They came in second.
Shortly afterward, when Nich, the youngest, was 12, the siblings competed in a family band contest on the then-named “The Early Show” on CBS.
They came in third.
Now, Zach, 25, Jacob, 23 and Nich, 21, are preparing their second release for Curb Records, promoting their new single “I Need You” and readying a hometown return Friday for a performance during Atlanta Fest in Locust Grove.
Oh, and they just got off the road with the Newsboys and will spend the rest of the summer playing festivals and retreats around the country.
It’s not really surprising that because of their rigorous touring, they spent all of 28 days in Atlanta in 2015.
Earlier this week, a few hours after pulling in from Ohio on their tour bus – driven by Nich — and before leaving for California to engage in radio promotion for the new single, the well-coiffed, genial trio made a pit stop at a Starbucks in Johns Creek to talk about their burgeoning success.
The home-schooled brothers from Peachtree Corners all took piano lessons as kids – “That was the thing our family did,” Zach said with a laugh – but as they aged, interests in other instruments emerged. The quietly soulful Jacob leaned toward guitar, while gregarious Nich, whose piano teacher often scolded him for hitting the keys too hard, beelined for the drums, and cool-headed Zach took up rhythm guitar, as well as the mic.
“When I was starting, I was kind of shy and nervous to be the front guy,” the newly married Zach said. “You definitely have to do a lot of learning. I always enjoyed being the center of attention, but I was always nervous to sing in front of people.”
He learned by watching Chris Martin of Coldplay, Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and band favorite, Switchfoot.
OBB’s earliest shows were in the most logical of places – Peachtree Corners Baptist Church, where the family worshipped since the boys were kids. The faith-based messages in their music were never intentional, said Nich, but organic.
“We never really had a conversation about oh, we’re going to do Christian music. Our faith is the most important thing in our life, so that’s going to come out in our music. Whatever we do, we’re trying to be uplifting and encouraging,” he said.
Songs such as “Up Close and Personal” and “Who Cares If We’re Dancing” from last year’s “Bright Side” album bounce with a polished pop sheen and the new “I Need You” soars with positivity and a gripping chorus – aural examples of OBB’s mission.
While the demands of road life have eased a bit over the years as the band graduated from a GMC Denali with homemade bunk beds built in the back to an RV with one bed for seven people (the guys, crew members and mom and dad – Pam and David – who handle management and sound, respectively) to their current 12-bed bus, the trio is genuinely cheerful about their continued close quarters.
Jacob notes that when Zach went on his honeymoon, he and Nich traveled to Florida to hang out with some friends. So yes, they really do have a brotherly bond.
“We’re best friends,” Nich said.
Not to mention, winners.
Atlanta Fest. 10:30 a.m. June 17-18. OBB, MercyMe, Natalie Grant, Danny Gokey, Jeremy Camp, Tenth Avenue North, Building 429 and more. $35 (daily ticket) or $85 (multi-day pass). Strong Rock Christian School, 4200 Strong Rock Parkway, Locust Grove. 1-888-407-6896, atlantafest.com.