We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite new bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.
In prepping for this lil’ conversation with Jake Orrall, one half of rising underground classic rockers JEFF The Brotherhood with brother Jamin Orrall, I put on the band’s latest long-player We Are The Champions (released June 21 on Infinity Cat Recordings) to see what it stirred up. And then I played it again…and again…and again…six times in a row in total. More than any coherent thought, JEFF stirs up feelings, energy and an uncontainable wildness. This pair are pure rock beasts and their output is increasingly varied, a pleasant devil-may-care attitude infecting the all-over-the-damn-place nature of We Are The Champions, which shrinks not even a little at the Queen reference inherent in its title. They aren’t the polished creatures Freddie, Brian and the boys represent but they’ve got similarly sized stones and befuzzed hooks aplenty. JEFF The Brotherhood rattles cages willfully and successfully, even if underneath it all there’s just the usual girls, parties, fights and remorse that haunts most rock, rebellious by nature but without a stated platform. Whatever they’re on about, it goes straight to one’s head and permeates into the rest of one’s red meat soon after.
We grabbed singer-guitarist-songwriter Jake to discuss the Brotherhood.
Why do you think you’re a musician?
I guess I was just born that way.
You live on the road. You live differently than folks at home with a mortgage and time clock.
I think it’s still easier for me than when I used to have jobs at grocery stores and stuff. I’ve only been a musician without any other kind of work for about a year, but I’ve been a touring musician since 2006.
It seems like for you and your brothers, a concert is a ritual more than a show with the way you throw yourselves into it.
It’s totally like a ritual. We don’t have rehearsal anymore but it’s all very dramatic from setting up our gear to taking it down at the end. I kind of go into character and do this kind of performance art piece. That’s how it feels to me anyways. There are parameters we set and then we try to tailor it to the audience and the room each night.
That’s a challenge to adjust nightly and not rely on the same tricks.
That’s what keeps it interesting. We were doing a lot of touring where we’d do like five shows in New York and then drive back down. We’d do that once a month for six months, and that’s how we got a booking agent because people didn’t get bored even with five shows in a row, and more and more people kept showing up. So, we just keep it changing.
Does it make a big difference when you have an audience that’s into it as much as you and your brother?
It definitely makes a big difference.
Your music makes it hard to stand off in the corner and not engage.
That’s boring. We want to engage everybody. We just call what we do rock, and if people want us to get specific we’ll say we’re influenced by a lot of early 70s hard rock and experimental, minimalist German rock and 80s punk and grunge music.
Those are all pretty primal sources, not a lot of million dollar studio album sounding stuff. Do you have any interest in that area? It does seem like with We Are The Champions you added some interesting new layers to your sound.
There are so many facets to a live experience, and there’s really only two for the studio – the sound and the sleeve art – which doesn’t give you much to work with. So we mess with stuff to keep it engaging.
You’re able to attempt quieter moments that would be hard to pull off in front of a bunch of screaming people.
Well, we try to do that live [laughs]. It’s fun to try and control that energy, where you can bring everyone down to just a guitar and singing on a ballad and then see how fast you can bring it up again.
Has there been any temptation to expand the live lineup beyond you and your borther to build on the studio complexities you’ve got brewing?
No but we’ve discussed writing stuff for more than two people. But live, we do just fine with the stuff we’ve written for the two of us. We take the attitude with this band that it’s not just a two-piece; this is just who’s in the band right now and here’s what we can do with it.
Not everyone can go out and play music with their sibling.
We just work really well musically. I’m trying to push everything to the extreme and really, really over the top and extravagant and he’s really, really good at balancing that. Nothing gets too out of control. If it were up to me every song would be 20 minutes long and have 50 guitar tracks on it [laughs].
What’s usually going through your head right before you go onstage?
I’m usually trying to remember the lyrics of the first song we decided on [laughs].