JEFF the Brotherhood plays the Drunken Unicorn tonight (Tues., May 3) with Heavy Cream, the Clap and Chandu’s. $10. 9 p.m. 736 Ponce de Leon Ave.
Nashville’s JEFF the Brotherhood, aka brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, play skuzzy grunge-rock, but unlike the duo’s ‘90s influences, practically every tune is party-worthy. There’s no Infinite Sadness to be found here—just hard-hitting, subtly spacey rock ‘n’ roll soundtracks to pounding PBRs.
After 2009’s catchy-pummeling Heavy Days and the incessant touring that followed, it seemed the boys were bound to be snagged by a major label. Los Angeles consulting firm RM 64 thought so at least, but alas, on June 21, they’ll drop We Are the Champions on their own Infinity Cat Recordings.
Guitarist and lead vocalist Jake Orrall took a break from working in his house-turned-office to talk about the new LP, grunge bands and how they deal with the relentless grind of touring.
After listening to your new album it kind of sounds like you guys spent a lot of time listening to Weezer’s blue album.
We spent a lot of time listening to that album for many years.
Would you say it’s an influence?
Sure, absolutely. It’s just a lot of grunge stuff in general.
What about other bands from that era?
Veruca Salt, Nirvana—the classics. I grew up on Smashing Pumpkins and stuff like... Sonic Youth. I started to do a little more of the songwriting by myself instead of the two of us collaborating, and my style’s a little more grungy. I guess this is why this is a more grungy album. [I’m] getting back to my roots.
How old are you guys?
I’m 25 and Jamin’s 23.
That makes sense—I’m 25 and grew up on the same stuff. This is an obvious question, but I couldn’t find the answer anywhere. Why’d you name the band JEFF the Brotherhood?
We were really young; I was maybe 13 when we started playing. We just thought it’d be funny to name it a person.
There’s no significance at all?
Nah, [it was just] a middle school band kind of thing to do.
You used to play in Be Your Own Pet, right?
Jamin did, I didn’t—a popular misconception. (Laughs) Jamin played drums on the first album. I played the first practice and left for a year. When I came back, they were doing stuff. I don’t even think they had the band name at the time.
What’s the deal with the alien-and-unibrow-dude skateboard you designed with Jessica McFarland from Heavy Cream? I assume you skate?
Yeah, we both skateboard.
Why an alien?
Aliens are awesome. They look good. It’s like an extraterrestrial and human being, sort of like, combining into one life form concept. We only have four of them left, and we’ll have them for the show in Atlanta. We’re just going to sell the last four on tour, and that’s the first day of tour.
I read that you played 230 shows last year. Is that accurate?
Somewhere between 230 and 260. Yeah, we tour pretty much all the time. We’ll come home for two weeks and catch up on all our record label stuff and then go back out.
And y’all run a label! But your dad helps, right?
Well, it’s really me and my dad who run the label—Jamin kind of does his own thing. He comes to my house—the office is at my house—it’s basically like a house that’s an office and I have my bedroom and shit in it. Most of the house is office.
I read his interview in Vice—he said his band, Monkey Bowl, was dropped. How did you handle that?
We didn’t really get too serious about the record label until recently. Mostly when me and Jamin started touring really hard, we got more serious about the label. Back when that was all going on, we kind of just put out whatever—my dad just put out whatever little projects he was working on. Then we got more serious about it and decided we needed to have an aesthetic, you know, that was consistent. We decided that it was just going to be grittier, more rock oriented… Young bands. (Laughs)
Did he get pissed at you guys?
So it’s easy to keep your business and personal relationships separate?
Not really. I wish it was that way, but it’s not. I guess he was very disappointed. I’ve only put out my friends’ records for a living, so it always gets hairy and emotional. But that’s how it goes.
Do you and Jamin ever fight like the stereotypical idea of brothers in a band?
Yeah. Every day. But we know each other so well… We’ll just cool off and be like, “that was kind of crazy, we’re over it.” It’s not that bad. We never fought growing up—it’s just mindless bickering. We just get on each other’s nerves because it’s a stressful lifestyle.
How do you cope with being on tour together all the time?
Firstly, we love it. That’s really the only way we can do it. We also always bring someone with us who’s a friend. But we always make that person a different person. This next tour, we’re flying our friend out from Australia because he’s never really seen the United States. We’ll get to show him this country that we’ve been crisscrossing in our band for the past four or five years or whatever. Stuff like that—you’ve got to make every tour exciting. The last tour we did, we couldn’t get anyone to come with us. We were like, ‘What the hell, we’ll be visiting a lot of friends.’ But…it was pretty brutal. We [also] go try and find good regional food and stuff like that—we’re all about food on tour.
Where do you go to eat in Atlanta?
I like to go to that place Zesto, because you can get hot wings and ice cream. That’s pretty cool.
So last time you played, someone (who was definitely not me) kept screaming “Bone Jam”—but you guys didn’t play it. Is it on your set list this time?
We don’t normally make a set list. We just kind of vibe it.
Do you think you’ll play a lot from We Are the Champions?
We usually try and go with, funny enough, what people seem like they want to hear. But you can’t always please everybody.
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