Jeff the Brotherhood is one of those bands you see live and you feel like there's no other band in the room. There's just you and JTB. They're playing rock 'n' roll that you love, that your stoner uncle would love, and even your mom could dig. Sure, they're probably the only band playing at that moment, but they're like the only one you remember at the end of the long, drunken night.
Jeff the Brotherhood are Nashville brothers Jamin and Jake Orrall, who have been playing together since before they were even of legal voting age. They've released five LPs on their own label, Infinity Cat Recordings. A live album with Jack White's Third Man Records led to an unusual collaboration with Insane Clown Posse.
Currently on tour with the Kills, they're making their way to Revolution Live this Saturday. We asked drummer Jamin Orrall about opening for Sonic Youth and the Gathering, and he told us about Ke$ha, Care Bears, and faking it.
New Times: You guys opened for Sonic Youth when you were members of Be Your Own Pet. Was that like a fantasy gig unparalleled by any other experience? Or were you intimidated or unimpressed?
Jamin Orrall: Jake [Orrall, JTB singer, multi-instrumentalist] is a big Sonic Youth fan, but he wasn't in Be Your Own Pet. A lot of people think he was. I was just getting into their music when those shows happened, so it wasn't really fantasy level for me. It was fun, though I'm not sure if their crowd liked us. They were good live.
What's your oldest music-related memory?
Jake and I made guitars out of cereal boxes when we were really little, and I remember the theme songs for Care Bears and David the Gnome.
Did you get to hang out with the guys from Insane Clown Posse? If so, what was that like? Have you ever been to the Gathering?
Yes, they were in the studio with us when we recorded. They were supernice and genuinely excited. It was their first time working with a live band. I have never been to the Gathering, but I know a couple of people that have. I don't think I would want to go; I don't have much fun at big music festivals.
Who came up with the idea to use Mozart?
The Mozart idea was Jack's [White]; he was surfing the web the night before and stubbled across the song, I think.
What's going on with Infinity Cat? Who are you guys working with these days? Is there a band you want on the label but haven't lured in yet?
Infinity Cat is our label. It's mostly run by Jake and our dad and Holland [Nix]. I don't do much anymore. I don't think I have the right mindset for running a label; they are really good at it. We have a bunch of rad records out right now and a few coming out: Uncle Bad Touch, Peach Kelli Pop, Heavy Cream, Diarrhea Planet, and a new Jeff the Brotherhood rarities record. We mostly put out our friends' bands.
What was it like gaining so much more success with your fifth album, Heavy Days? How precipitous was your spike in fame? Like, did you get recognized at the supermarket more, or was it just media attention?
We were very surprised when Heavy Days started getting people's attention. A lot of it had to do with the fact that it was the first record we ever worked hard at getting people to hear. We quit our jobs and moved out of our places and just went on tour nonstop, selling that record anywhere we could. We had a press campaign and college radio too. We aren't famous; Ke$ha is -- she rules. I don't get recognized ever.
What do you think makes We Are the Champions different from Heavy Days?
It was the first record that we got to do in a real studio, so I think it sounds bigger and better. It's not that different other than that really. I guess it was thought out more. I like it.
Do you guys live in Nashville still? Do you ever get to play in your hometown or only on tour?
Yep, I live in east Nashville; Jake lives in south. We love it there. We play sometimes but not often.
This will be your first time playing South Florida? If so, what are you looking forward to most about visiting us at this end of the Earth? If not, when was it you last played here?
First time! I think. Touring makes everything a blur. I'm excited! New places, new people, new food, and fun.
The energy at your live shows is infectious. Do you enjoy being onstage as much as we enjoy watching you onstage?
Most of the time, we do. If we aren't having fun, you can usually tell. We aren't very good at faking it.
Jeff the Brotherhood open for the Kills. 8 p.m. Saturday, January 28, at Revolution, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $21.50. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net.
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Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.