Archive Interview: Jeff The Brotherhood

In 2010, I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing Jeff the Brotherhood backstage at Fun Fun Fun Fest. I remember being super nervous about it. They hadn’t blown up yet, this was before they did anything with Third Man, but they were already such a recognizable force to be reckoned with. This was a little over 4 years ago, but now that Jeff the Brotherhood is coming down here to play Galax Z Fair, I figure it’s appropriate to republish this. From what I hear, the guys haven’t changed a bit. 

(Photo: Jamin & Jake Orrall, Credit: Kahan)
This interview was one of the more memorable experiences I had at Fun Fun Fun Fest. For starters, it happened on the floor. When I met up with the band backstage for the interview, they walked over to a nearby tree next to the media tent and just sat down on the ground. I had never done that before in an interview, but I figured, “fuck it”. So, I dropped my bag, sat my ass on the ground, and started the interview. I really enjoyed talking with these guys. They’re both around my age, so it felt more like a casual conversation than an interview. I think that’s enough out of me. Check out the interview below.

The Photon God: So you are?
Jamin Orrall: Jamin Orrall.
Jake Orrall: I’m Jake Orrall.
TPG: Alright, first question. How was your Halloween?
(Jake giggles)
Jamin: Our Halloween…was a bit of a–it was–alright, it was a really nice night. We had a really nice nigh–
Jake: It was a nice night.
Jamin: –yeah, but it really didn’t have anything to do with Halloween. So, it was a bummer because we didn’t, like, go to a Halloween party or see any costumes. But, it was still a really nice night. It’s just the fact that it was on Halloween.
Jake: We just hung out. We played an instore…
Jamin: Yeah we played at our friend’s record store…
Jake: …in Richmond, Virginia which is where we hung out.
TPG: What’s it called?
Jamin: It’s called–um…
Jake: I have the card! (begins searching his pants for the card)
Jamin: Strange Sounds? No. Something Sounds.
Jake: It’s uh…it’s a really great record store.
Jamin: (still searching) It’s brand new, it’s really awesome. My friend Marty runs it.
Jake: Steady Sounds!
Jamin: Steady Sounds!
Jake: In Richmond, Virginia. It’s excellent, excellent, excellent.
Jamin: We played there–
Jake: –after we bought, like, a million records…
Jamin: Yeah, and then we hung out with our friend Marty and his Wife and–
Jake: –they had dinner…
Jamin: Yeah they had, like, a nice dinner and then went to bed at, like, 11 o’ clock.
TPG: That’s cool.
Jamin: ‘Cause Jake lost his voice so were kinda like (shrugs).
TPG: Oh, okay. Can’t sing or anything…
Jamin: Yeah, and we had a show the night before. The two nights before we had some Halloween-vibe shows.
TPG: Did you dress up?
Jamin: Yeah at one of the shows we just dressed up as trash.
TPG: As trash?
Jamin: We just had trash bags on; that’s it.
TPG: Haha, alright. That’s simple, clever. Okay, the obvious question: the band is called ‘Jeff the Brotherhood’, but neither of you are named Jeff.
Jake: Correct, yes.
TPG: Why Jeff?
Jamin: Uh…
Jake: It was really just a ‘name out of a hat’ kind of thing.
Jamin: Yeah, we pulled it out of a hat. We, like–
Jake: Well, we didn’t literally, but it was that kind of a thing. Just whatever. Name it a name.
Jamin: We don’t really know how to explain it.
TPG: You just picked it, like, “Jeff”.
Jake: Yeah. Well we had wanted to name it, like, a name. Instead of like a…word or something.
Jamin: We named it like a person.
Jake: Cause it’s kind of like the entity that we become when we play together.
TPG: Yeah, you guys are really in sync. And ‘Brotherhood’ because you’re brothers?
Jake: Yeah.
TPG: Does that make things difficult on tour? Or in general?
Jamin: Uh…
Jake: Being brothers?
TPG: Yeah.
Jamin: In some ways it does, but in most ways, it makes it much better.
Jake: It makes it better, yeah.
Jamin: Because we’re completely honest with each other, and can like…
Jake: We understand each other a lot more than most people.
Jamin: Yeah we get each other really well, and work together really well. We fight all the time but it’s fine, like, five minutes later.
Jake: We always have someone on tour with us to kinda break it up.
TPG: To mediate?
Jake: Yeah.
TPG: That’s cool. Is it another family member? Or a friend?
Jake: No, no it’s a different person every time. Right now, we have our friend Louisa who’s sitting right there. (turns and points to nearby bench) Louisa!
(Louisa turns around; startled)
Jake: (to Louisa) Whatsup?
Jamin: (to Louisa) Just saying hi.
Louisa: (still startled) …heyyy!
Jake: (turning back) Whoever wants to come.
Jamin: Yeah, whoever can get off work.
TPG: Okay, how long do you guys tour for at a time?
Jamin: Usually, four weeks.
Jake Yeah, three or four weeks.
TPG: Do you guys have day jobs and stuff?
Both: Nope.
Jamin: We tour too much.
Jake: We usually have like, a week or two off in between tours.
Jamin: Yeah we did like, over 250 shows in the past year, so we’re not home often enough to have jobs.
TPG: Wow. But it’s fun though, right?
Jamin: Yeah, it’s awesome.
Jake: It’s great. It’s the best thing ever.
Jamin: Yeah, it’s a lot of hard work, but it pays off.
TPG: Alright, you guys are a two piece, did you intend to be a two piece–just guitar and drums–or did you have trouble finding a bass player and stuff?
Both: No–
Jamin: I think it’s just easier, like, it’s better with just the two of us.
Jake: Yeah, I mean, we kinda grew up in the country when we first started playing together. So there wasn’t anyone else around in the first place. It kinda just worked out that way, I guess.
Jamin: It’s just easier.
Jake: Yeah, everything is easier being a two piece except for sounding big and full. That’s the only really hard part.
Jamin: Yeah, but we’ve figured out ways to cheat.
TPG: Yeah, I mean, you guys were mic’d really well. (to Jake) What’s your setup, man?
Jake: Well, there’s a couple, like, keys…a couple secrets…that I’m willing to disclose because I don’t really give a fuck. I mean, I spent the last 10 years trying to figure it out. But, basically I just play through bass amps, but I have separate amps for my low end sound and my high end sound so I can mix them accordingly to the room. ‘Cause that’s a big problem if you’re just playing through one amp; it’s just gonna sound one way and like, if the room is making it to like–well, I don’t need to go into detail, but anyways, I play through separate amps for my high end and my low end and…uh, I also only play the lower three strings because I feel–I don’t know if this is true ’cause I don’t know about sound and science and stuff but I feel like if I had all six strings, like…if you got six strings that are making sound, then it’s gonna be like, less sound. If you just have three, then it’s all gonna–like, three low ones…it makes sense in my head but I can’t really explain it.
TPG: I get it, though.
Jake: I don’t even remember what the question was now.
Jamin & I: What your gear was…
Jake: Oh, yeah I play through a bunch of bass amps…and a shitty guitar.
TPG: That’s cool, man. I want to get an old, 70s Fender Bassman. I want that low end.
Jake: Yeah.
TPG: I know Sunn O))) uses one of those. Those guys are fucking ridiculous.
Jake: Yeah, they have some crazy sounds.
TPG: Yeah, I want to emulate all of that.
Jake: I use all Acoustic amps right now.
Jamin: He used to use Sunns.
TPG: Oh, okay. They’ve been out haven’t they?
Jake: Oh yeah. They’ve been out for a while. Acoustic just started again. They’d been out for a while, too.
TPG: Okay. So would you guys call yourselves a ‘Garage’ band?
Both: Nah.
Jamin: I mean, if you listen to Garage music, we don’t really have much in common except that we’re loud.
Jake: We’re kinda like a rock band.
Jamin: More like a classic rock–like, 70s hard rock or something. Maybe something like grunge…I dunno.
TPG: You’ve got the riffs; definitely.
Jamin: Yeah, I feel like Garage bands are very Blues-based in a way.
Jake: We kind of, like, avoid blues.
TPG: Any reason?
Jamin: No, I mean, I like listening to it but I don’t want to try to play it. It seem like something that’s pretty difficult to get right.
Jake: It’s also like…there’s plenty of that going on. We’re trying to kinda do something that’s interesting to people…and fun is the main thing.
TPG: Yeah.
Jamin: Like a lot of 70s hard rock music–
Jake: –total party music. It’s total, like, ‘getting wasted with your friends’ music. That’s really what it is.
Jamin: But we’re not getting wasted, just having fun.
Jake: Or, you know, getting wasted doesn’t necessarily have to mean drinking.
Jamin: Yeah, it could mean, like, just having a good time.
TPG: Just wasted on fun.
Jake: Yeah, but for me, it’s usually beer…and whiskey. (laughs)
TPG: Would any of that influence have been in the show today?
Jake: A beer and whiskey influence?
Jamin: Not very much, cause we played at like–
Jake: –like, 1:30 in the afternoon. (laughs) But, a fair amount–come tonight.
Jamin: At the Mohawk.
TPG: I think I’m gonna be there!
Jake: Yeah, it’s gonna be wild! (he was right)
Jamin: It’s gonna be wild.
Jake: It’s probably gonna be completely packed. (It was)
Jamin: Hopefully.
Jake: –and…fuckin’ off the chaiiin. (It really, really was)
TPG: Cool, man. Hopefully I make it to the front. (I didn’t. :-( )
Jake: We’re playing inside! We made sure that we got to play inside because it’s always way crazier inside.
TPG: The sound is great too! It’s perfect for you guys.
Jake: So that’s gonna be cool.
TPG: Awesome. Alright, you have a blog, right? The Blogspot? jeffthebrotherhood.blogspot.com?
Jake: It’s just jeffbrotherhood.blogspot.com. Kind of confusing.
Jamin:You should check it out.
TPG: Oh, I got it on my RSS reader.
Jamin: Oh, I was just telling it to that (my audio recorder) to check it out.
TPG: Oh, right. I’ll edit that in.
TPG: Alright, do you think it’s important for a band to have a blog?
Jamin: Yeah.
Jake: Yeah, absolutely.
TPG: Yeah? Why?
Jamin: I mean, if you’re trying to, like, have a–I dunno…
Jake: Yeah, it depends on what your goals as a band are.
Jamin: Yeah. I mean, I do it cause I want people to know what we’re doing.
Jake: Yeah, you want to be able to connect to the people who are into what you’re doing.
Jamin: Yeah, and it’s fun for me.
Jake: They go on there and are like “oh, look at that! They’re eating at this restaurant; I might check that out the next time I’m in town”!
Jamin: Well, it’s fun ’cause you get bored on tour and it’s something to do for me. It’s also a way for people that like our band to keep track of us. And I think we’re trying to like, do this for a living, so we want to connect with people that are going to support us in our music.
Jake: Right. The blog is also–if you go to the blog, you’ll notice that there’s not really any writing, it’s mostly just pictures and videos.
TPG: Yeah.
Jake: ‘Cause we’re trying to make it like, I dunno, reading can be kinda boring. It’s more fun to look at pictures and stuff.
TPG: Like Tumblr?
Jake: Yeah, and watch videos of us, like, doing stupid shit. That’s more fun than reading.
Jamin: …reading onscreen…
Jake: So, we just try and make it fun for people. Check it out.
TPG: So in one word, what would you describe your goal as a band? If you have one yet.
Jamin: Japan.
TPG: Japan? Budokan?
Jamin: Japan. We just wanna go there.
TPG: Have you played there yet?
Jamin: No, that’s our goal. That’s like number 1.
TPG: Cool, man. Well, I hope you make it.
Jamin: Thanks man.
TPG: Thanks for the interview.

Jeff the Brotherhood will be playing Galax Z Fair IV in 5 days.

 Get your tickets for GZFIV here and at Melhart’s Music in McAllen (ALTHOUGH I HEAR THEY ARE ALMOST OUT, WOW)

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