Posts Tagged ‘ JEFF the Brotherhood

New Video: JEFF the Brotherhood – “Six Pack”

One of my favourite bands of the past few years are Nashville duo JEFF the Brotherhood. The real-life brothers, Jake and Jamin Orrall, drop their latest full-length, Hypnotic Knights on July 17, on Infinity Cat with distro via Warner Bros. Check out the apropos fun-in-the-sun video for “Six Pack” below.

Record Review & Interview – JEFF the Brotherhood – “We Are the Champions”

This review originally appeared at

After toiling away for a number of years, Jake and Jamin Orrall turned many heads with 2009’s Heavy Days and its mix of Nirvana-esque power chord riffing and psychedelic garage rock. Parts of We Are the Champions follows in the go-for-broke spirit of the Nashville duo’s last effort while adding new dimensions to the band’s sonic palate. There were hints of this on “Bummer,” from their split seven inch with Best Coast, which found the brothers slowing things down to achieve a heavier sound reminiscent of Weezer’s Blue Album. “Endless Fire” takes the comparison even further, with Jake and Jamin aping the twin vocal approach Rivers Cuomo and Matt Sharp used to great effect on Weezer’s first two records, singing over keyboards and even a sitar. Of course, anyone who has seen the band live over the past year-and-a-half can tell that these guys love to rip it up and there’s still plenty of that here. “Stays Up Late” and the aptly named “Shredder” pick up where Heavy Days left off, even if, at times, the songs lack the breezy feel of that album’s best tracks. Matching the ferocity of their last album, We Are the Champions manages to push forward without losing the band’s hazy, lo-fi charm.

When was the record recorded?
Guitarist Jake Orrall: We did two songs at one session [“Bummer” and “Mellow Out”] and then a couple months later we did the rest of them.

Did you record “Bummer” and “Mellow Out” with the intention of putting them on the record?
Yeah, we thought we were going to re-record them, but we ran out of time. We only had three days.

You recorded the whole album in three days?
Except for those two songs, and there was some stuff that we didn’t end up using; we’ll see where they end up.

Do you normally go into the studio with the idea that what gets recorded will be one coherent album?
Yeah. During the time we recorded the album we were touring most of the time, by a pretty good margin. We recorded it last year and we did 260 shows last year so we had to be very, very specific about when we were going to record and when we were going to mix, because we were home for so little time.

Was the album written on tour?
Yeah, mostly.

Is that how you normally write?
No, but we had no choice for the last couple albums.

Does it change the kind of songs you write?
I don’t think so.

Many of the song on We are the Champions are slower and heavier. Was that something you were trying to achieve?
It kind of happened that way.

A bunch of reviews have compared it to Weezer’s Blue Album.
Yeah. I’ve read a lot of those ― a lot of them.

Are you and Jamin fans?
Absolutely. That’s a huge, huge album for me.

Is there anything particular about it or was it just the time in your life that you discovered it?
I think it was just the timing; I was 11 when I became aware of it. Those are pretty formative years: 11, 12 and 13.

Has their influence come out on your past albums?
I think so, in some ways. Definitely not so obviously, I guess; it’s not necessarily just that album though. Smashing Pumpkins are my favourite band. Veruca Sault and Nirvana were huge for me. I started listening to that stuff again a year ago, just really getting back into that era of my life, because I found all my CDs from middle school.

Had they been in storage somewhere?

What made you pull them out?
I moved into a place. I didn’t really live anywhere for a long time so I just had my shit in storage for a couple years, living on couches.

But you’ve settled into a place now.
Yeah, we run our record label [Infinity Cat] out of a house and I live in the house.

Many people heard about you guys through your live show. Was there any pressure to capture that element on this record?
We try to keep our live shows and our record really separate. We have such an intense live show that we don’t usually try and emulate that on record. Most people that try and have that same live experience listening to the record fail at it. We just try and have the best live show we can have and make the best record we can make.

Was there a pressure in knowing that more people would be listening this time?
I definitely wanted to make it better than the last record, but I think we got better as a band.

Do you think you succeeded in that goal?
Yeah, absolutely. The songs are better, the recording’s better.

You’ve added a lot of sounds too ― there are sitar and keyboards.
Yeah, our buddy Ryan plays sitar. We had a friend who plays sitar and we were making an album and we thought we’d take advantage of that.

Did you want to expand your sound?
Not live, just on record. If we just played the songs through like we do live it wouldn’t be as interesting. And [if we replicated the record] live there wouldn’t be kids jumping off of the stage, you’d just be sitting there listening to it. When we record we try and put stuff that will make it as attention grabbing of a listening experience as it would be live. But live it would be really difficult to incorporate anything else because there’s only two of us. So we might as well keep it simple so we can rock harder.

You’ve always taken a very DIY approach to your career ― starting your label, producing your records, shooting low budget videos ― where does that attitude come from?
Growing up in Nashville, it wasn’t like anyone was going to do that for you. The punk scene was pretty small, pretty underground. Watching kids come through who had obviously dropped out of school and quit their jobs and who were just doing it, that was a pretty big inspiration. No one else is going to do it for you and you can either keep playing local shows once a week or you do some shit.

Did you find it difficult to break out of Nashville and tour?
Yeah, it was horrible. The first four-and-a-half years that we toured it was just trying to find someone interested in having us play in their parents’ garage. We can deal with anything; we just want to play in your town. At that time it was all through MySpace. Everything that we did to book a tour was through MySpace. 2006, ’07, ’08 was all MySpace. We’d find a band that seemed like they’d be pretty cool in the town we were trying to do the show in and then negotiate a show swap, where you book them a show and they book you a show in their town. We did that for four-and-a-half years, then we got a booking agent and told him to put us on the road all the time. It was really hard; we weren’t making any money. You’d make 50 bucks if you were lucky, which would be just enough to get to the next town. But mostly it was spending your money or whatever people would donate. And we’d have to find people’s couches to crash on. It was really hard, but it was really fun.

Is that how you developed your live show?
Yeah, just playing every night for a long, long time.

What turned the tide for you? You mentioned getting a booking agent.
When we put out Heavy Days, we really went for it. We both quit our jobs and moved out of our places and lived in the van for 13 months. Then we got a booking agent and started to make a bit more money.

You recently played a gig in Moscow for Vice Magazine. What was that like?
It’s totally different. We did a Europe tour in the spring and most cities, no one knew who we were. In Moscow, we played with two Russian bands and we were the headliner ― no one gave them the time of day and when we went on people lost their shit for the whole show. And no one even knew who we were. They could care less. We were just some rock band from America that flew all the way out there for one show. They were really appreciative; it was cool.


Live Review: JEFF the Brotherhood @ Wrongbar, Toronto 06/21/2011

This review originally appeared at

Back in the ’90s, any band the major labels spat out seemed to get tagged as “the next Nirvana,” regardless if they sounded like the Seattle trio. Denials in the press were common, but most found the comparison tough to shake — just ask Bush or Silverchair.
Nashville duo JEFF the Brotherhood actually do sound like Nirvana, and they seemingly couldn’t care less. They even carry themselves with the same fuck-off indie swagger that Kurt and co. famously brought into the mainstream.

Openers White Fence and the Strange Boys did their best to win over the crowd with their individual takes on ’60s rock, but quite frankly, most of the efforts were forgotten once the brothers Orrall hit the stage. It was nice to see that the duo haven’t let their newly inked deal with Warner Bros. change their wardrobe, which resembled a one-stop shopping spree at Value Village.

The pair quickly established their presence, laying down some Sabbath-esque riffs. Guitarist Jake yelled into the mic while staring down the audience before launching into “Hey Friend.” This technically being the band’s album release party for their new disc We Are the Champions, JEFF the Brotherhood’s set leaned heavily on the new record and their previous breakthrough Heavy Days. Jake wandered into the crowd several times during the set without missing a note while the crowd cheered on, camera phones in tow. If the audience were unfamiliar with the new material, they certainly didn’t show it, as a mosh pit quickly opened up near the front of the stage and beer cans started flying.

By the show’s halfway mark, a pair dressed as blue and pink Easter bunnies had made their way into the fray, their heads quickly taken as trophies and tossed around in the crowd. Eventually one landed onstage, knocking Jake’s guitar cable loose. But as they did the entire rambunctious set, the brothers paid no mind to the screaming crowd; drummer Jamin didn’t miss a beat while Jake ditched the rabbit head and quickly plugged in.

Stone-faced throughout, JEFF the Brotherhood bid farewell with a slow and sloppy number before returning for one last tune. Whether their major label deal will bring chart success to the brothers remains to be seen, but it’s clearly done nothing to blunt their formidable live show on which their reputation is based.

“Bone Jam”

Live Review: NXNE 2010, Toronto, ON 06/16-20/2010

All reviews originally appeared at

!Attention! – Bovine Sex Club, June 16, 2010

Remember pop punk before it was a dirty word? So do the guys in !Attention! Delivered with winking acknowledgement of the old-school vibes, the Toronto quintet whipped off buzz-saw riffs and whoa-oa-oa singalongs. Mosh pits and crowd surfing ensued as the packed crowd showed their appreciation, pumping their fists and shouting along. Glenn Barrington’s hoarse vocals about working, touring and drinking were reminiscent of Jesse Gander from West coast legends d.b.s., as !Attention! worked their way through tracks from their two excellent EPs. These guys bring it like $5 Fat Wreck Chords comps never went out of style.

DD/MM/YYYY – the Garrison, June 17, 2010

Working through a blown guitar amp, Toronto heroes DD/MM/YYYY (pronounced “Day Month Year”) blasted through a set of frenetic tracks that at times recalled UK jungle (two drummers pounding out furious beats simultaneously) and 8-bit chip tunes (keyboard noises). In a way, it’s like a prog rock version of the early Hot Hot Heat seven-inches. If it all sounds like a bit much to take, at times, it is. But the sheer enthusiasm with which the Toronto five-piece plays is enough to win over sceptics and the sheer originality of the band ensure that their set will not be soon forgotten.

Iggy & the Stooges – Yonge & Dundas Square, June 19, 2010

“We are the fucking remains of the fucking Stooges,” said Iggy Pop during the band’s Saturday night appearance, proving once again he’s never been anything if not self-aware. The perverse irony of a band like the Stooges, born out the anti-establishment fervour of the late ’60s, playing in a place as tacky and commercial as Yonge and Dundas Square seemed lost on the throngs who showed up to watch. So busy was the square that many in crowd had to watch the show through the zoom lenses of digital cameras. Sight lines aside, the band (original drummer Scott Asheton, Raw Power era-guitarist James Williamson along with Mike Watt on bass and saxophonist Steve Mackay) sounded astoundingly visceral and fresh, knocking out classic track after track, including a healthy dose of Funhouse and Raw Power tunes. The quintet even played rarity “No Sense of Crime” live for the first time ever. It was a shame, though, that for much of the crowd, this was the greatest show they never saw.

JEFF the Brotherhood – the Garrison, June 19, 2010

Who starts their set, down on their knees, in the crowd? JEFF the Brotherhood do. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, playing a three-stringed guitar and a five-piece drum set, respectively, quickly distinguished themselves from the myriad of bands in town knocking out Sabbath-meets-Nirvana rock tunes with casual swagger and DIY showmanship. Tracks from their most recent disc Heavy Days found particular favour with the crowd who were pouring beer all over each other before the band’s first song was even finished. It’s difficult to put into words how revelatory their pretension-free set was; it’s quite clear the duo know the punked-up classic rock shtick, they just don’t care.

Kid Sister – Yonge & Dundas Square, June 20, 2010

Hitting the stage to the backing track of “Right Hand Hi,” Chicago’s Kid Sister set out to prove that a hip-hop show doesn’t have to be a bunch of big dudes yelling over each other. Short and lean, Kid Sister didn’t stop moving throughout her short set, augmented only by her hypeman/DJ standing behind the decks. In between tracks from her 2009 debut and a couple verses from her awesome collab with the Count & Sinden, the pint-sized MC dropped several divergent new tunes, whose sounds ran the gamut from New Jack Swing R&B to straight thug.

Metz – the Garrison, June 17, 2010

Toronto bands can often have a hard time pulling a big crowd at a fest like NXNE due to the number of out-of-town groups they have to compete with. But Metz had a great crowd out at the Garrison, which was rewarded with a pummelling set of Jesus Lizard-meets-Tool tracks. It’s an impressive feat for a band with only a pair of seven-inches to their name. Metz’s live performance has come a long way in the last year, and their precision now matches their energy, often thanks to their drummer’s crushing blows.

Mudhoney – Yonge & Dundas Square, June 17, 2010

Watching Mudhoney sober in a big, noisy outdoor venue like Yonge and Dundas Square seems unnatural, but the one-time grunge kings made the best of a bad venue, knocking out early ’90s staples like “Suck You Dry,” and “Touch Me I’m Sick.” Neither front-man Mark Arm or guitarist Steve Turner have aged since ’93, and Arm in particular remains a force onto his own, channelling Iggy as he writhed around the stage. But bands like Mudhoney tend to translate better in dank, dark bars where guys like Arm can get right up in everyone’s face as guitars cause the ears to bleed out. Still, it’s fucking Mudhoney, so it’s hard to complain all that much.

Said the Whale – Yonge & Dundas Square, June 18, 2010

Vancouver indie rockers Said the Whale have made a lot of stops in Toronto and it showed, as an enthusiastic crowd greeted their early Friday night gig. Neither the band nor their fans seemed to mind the spotty sound that kept getting blown around by the breeze. And that bad sound did have a benefit: the quintet were sounding particularly muscular as Ben Worcester’s acoustic guitar was malfunctioning and was forced to rock an electric (a spare acoustic popped a string the minute it hit his hands). Said the Whale were genuinely appreciative of the love and what they lacked in sonic perfection (group harmonies were a little off key), they more than made up for with passion.

The Video Dead – Bovine Sex Club, June 16, 2010

The Video Dead’s set began in the ebb between early birds heading home and night owls coming out to rock, but the veteran punks didn’t let that slow them down. By their set’s midway point, the Bovine had repopulated and fans demanded the volume turned up as someone handed lead Video Dead singer Ben Rispin a pair of earplugs (“People used to give us mushrooms,” he quipped). Along with tracks from both their albums, the Toronto band threw in a cover of Kid Dynamite’s “Cop Out.” As the crowd’s energy surged, so did the band’s, ending their short but sweet set on a total high.

X – Yonge & Dundas Square, June 17, 2010

A live show from OG L.A. punks X is a rare sight, so it’s no wonder they were greeted by a more than enthusiastic crowd. The band, whose members are well into their 50s, were in top form, displaying the virtuosity that set them apart from their contemporaries. Concerned about the short amount of time the quartet had (they were only allotted a 50-minute set), singer-bass player John Doe played band leader as the group blasted through classics like “True Love” and “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline.” Singer Exene Cervenka, recently diagnosed with MS, was particularly magnetic on the big, distracting open-air stage. Guitarist Billy Zoom wore a shit-eating grin the entire set, and while he nailed each guitar lyric with panache, looked slightly distant. And X drummer DJ Bonebreaker was in particularly top form, putting most of the drummers at the fest who are half his age to shame.

Zola Jesus – the Garrison, June 18, 2010

“There was nothing wrong with that set,” said Zola Jesus’ Nika Danilova at the end of her Friday night gig. Well, that’s not quite true. The much-hyped chanteuse is a magnetic personality on stage: her deep haunting voice can send chills down the spines of an audience. And the interplay between her vocals and the music, triggered and sometimes played by some dude with glasses standing off to the side, was note perfect. But while Danilova remains a confident performer, she still doesn’t seem to know what to do with herself while on display. So yeah, nothing wrong technically, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve.