Interview: JEFF the Brotherhood

Erika from Rockin’ The ‘Burbs had a chance to chat with Jake Orrall, one-half of the brother duo JEFF the Brotherhood (FYI, Jake is the sexy mustached fellow on the right). JEFF the Brotherhood is currently wrapping up a US tour that started in March in their hometown of Nashville and has taken them across the country (and ending in Washington, DC on 5/25). They recently played 2 nights in a row at Philly’s Kung Fu Necktie and Erika was able to catch them on their second night (which ended up getting cut short due to the fire alarm going off). Stay tuned for photos from that crazy show.

Keep reading to learn about the band’s plans after their tour, as well as Jake’s near death encounter with an 8-foot stingray. For your listening pleasure, also below is the excellent track “Sixpack” from their 2012 LP Hypnotic Nights – it will no doubt be your jam of the summer.

JEFF the Brotherhood (Publicity Photo) | © Jo McCaughey

JEFF the Brotherhood (Publicity Photo) | © Jo McCaughey

RTB: Let me just start off by saying last night was my first time seeing you and it was awesome! I thought my camera wasn’t going to make it out alive, but we survived.
Jake: (Laughs) That’s awesome. I love hearing when it’s someone’s first time seeing us.

RTB: So was that the first time a show got cut short due to the fire alarm going off?
Jake: No, that actually happens a lot. But usually from smoke bombs or fireworks. One time our drum powered speaker caught on fire, but someone poured beer on it and put it out.
RTB: So there won’t be any less smoke at your shows?
Jake: F*ck no.

RTB: So you guys played two shows here in Philly back to back, you obviously must like playing here?
Jake: F*ck yeah! We love playing in Philly. We’ve played a bunch of times here before.
RTB: Any other cities you really liked playing in?
Jake: Well, most cities are pretty fun. Sometimes the random, small ones are pretty cool. We played in Knoxville and it was crazy – people were climbing up the walls.
RTB: Do you usually get time to explore?
Jake: Sometimes. A lot of the time it’s just about work. You spend so much time doing sound checks and preparing for the shows, so you don’t have a lot of extra time. We spent four years playing in basements and there was so much extra time. Now after seven years of touring, you find the fun things you want to do and kinda stick to that routine while on tour.

RTB: What brought about the way you do your shows – with the first half just you and Jamin, and then the second half with a complete band?
Jake: Jamin and I have been been playing as a two piece for ten years and we just kinda got bored with it. Now it’s a lot more fun.

RTB: Do you have a preference when it comes to playing smaller vs. larger venues or festivals?
Jake: I like all kinds. The worst thing is when you don’t have a full crowd, but it really depends on the audience and the city. We’ve been a band for so long so we know our audience.

RTB: I read you once played a show on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Any plans of doing another show like that?
Jake: Yeah, we played on a raft in this bay. It was at this sandbar like a year and a half ago. We towed a raft out and had this floating half pipe. Boats pulled up to the sandbar and there were all these skateboarders on the half pipe, skateboarding on the ocean. I almost died though.
RTB: Oh no! What happened?
Jake: I was jumping off the boat, and I went to swim back to the sandbar to the boat and there was this like 8-foot stingray.
RTB: Yikes!
Jake: Yeah, it was crazy.
RTB: So I guess no plans for another raft show anytime soon?
Jake: Well, you can’t live your life in fear.

RTB: Any other crazy places you’ve played?
Jake: It’s hard to think ’cause there have been so many. There was like this 17th Century cave in Paris. It was the last night, it was being shut down. It was weird.

RTB: How is being in the band and always being around your brother? If I had to do that with one of my sisters I’d probably go crazy.
Jake: It’s not that bad, I mean we have our times. But it’s good.

RTB: So you started off playing a guitar with two strings, and now play with three. Will you ever add more?
Jake: Well the second half of the show when we have the whole band, we use a normal guitar. When it’s just me and Jamin playing, three strings make sense – it’s not as heavy.

RTB: How do you come up with your lyrics and how is the writing process?
Jake: Lyrics-wise, it’s mainly just me. Writing feels like a chore. I feel like I’m terrible at it and I hate doing it. But I don’t really care, it’s about the rock music – that’s what rock music is.

RTB: I’ve heard your music described in many ways – from psychedelic rock, garage rock, punk, to pop. How would you classify it?
Jake: Yeah, people just say everything. I’d say rock music – contemporary rock.

RTB: Your 7th studio album, Hypnotic Nights – which by the way I heard you want it pronounced HIP-NO-TIQUE – so I hope I got that right.
Jake: (Laughs) Yeah you did, you can say it however you want.
RTB: So I heard you recorded it in one week. Did that just happen or is that normally how fast you work?
Jake: Normally it’s like three days to do an album. For this album we had two weeks. We tried to take our time. The record was ready to record. We rehearsed and banged it out. Then we had a week to mix.

RTB: Do you plan to work with Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) again for your next album?
Jake: Not for the next album. But who knows, we may again in the future.

RTB: What are your plans after the tour? Anything else planned for the rest of the year?
Jake: We’re taking the summer to write our new record. We’re halfway through writing. Then in the fall we’ll record and then tour in the spring. We’re going to Australia in the winter – which is nice.
RTB: Sounds awesome, I’m jealous.
Jake: Yeah, it’s fun there.

RTB: Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with Rockin’ The ‘Burbs. Looking forward to the next time you play Philly and hearing your new music!
Jake: We’ll definitely be back!


– Erika Reinsel