Jake and Jamin Orrall were raised in Nashville’s music scene, where their father, Robert Ellis Orrall, settled down to be a musician, songwriter and producer. He’s made records for RCA, written for Taylor Swift and Reba McEntire, and produced albums by Swift and Love & Theft. This music-making spirit definitely rubbed off on his sons.
The brothers have been making hard-hitting rock ’n’ roll as Jeff the Brotherhood since 2001, and starting with 2002’s I Like You, released several albums on the Infinity Cat label they founded with their father. In 2004, they briefly joined Be Your Own Pet, a punk/garage outfit that had a handful of albums on XL, Infinity Cat, and Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label, but quit four years later to focus on Brotherhood.
After receiving praise from Jay-Z and Jack White for their rawkus live shows, the duo deservingly blasted onto the national radar in 2010. On their seventh LP, We Are The Champions (2011), they take the Ramones’ no-bullshit punch and marry it to early-Weezer’s spunky-pop to birth their most over-the-top, pedal-to-the-metal, party-or-die tunes yet.
In early October, they plan to drop a 7-inch featuring two songs produced by Jack White and released on his label, Third Man Records. Last week, they began a 21-city tour with Pentagram and Valiant Thorr, and they’ve temporarily broken away from the caravan to play Philadelphia’s Bookspace tonight along with local bands Dry Feet and the Bad Doctors. PW caught up with Jamin en route to their Chicago gig to talk about books.
What was one of your favorite books as a kid?
Goodnight Moon. I don’t know who wrote it, but it was a good book to go to sleep to.
Have you read anything good recently?
I think most recently it was Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree. I like the way the characters talk and the time period. It takes place during the 1960s in Tennessee. It was really sad, but it was very good.
What’s your favorite book?
I really like Down and Out In Paris And London by George Orwell. But my favorite book of all time is John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. It’s a perfect book. There are so many things I like about it, but I mostly love the characters and how Steinbeck portrays their emotions so well.
Do you read many music books?
Yeah. I just read the Neil Young biography, Shakey. That was amazing. I also really enjoyed This Wheel’s On Fire about The Band. It was written by their drummer, Levon Helm, about 10 years ago. The Band’s probably my favorite band ever.
They’re one of my faves, too. They’re not discussed as much as they should be.
Yeah, that’s true. But I’m OK with that because if they were I would probably get sick of them.
If you could choose a writer to write the story of Jeff the Brotherhood, who would it be?
Well, my favorite author is John Steinbeck, but I don’t think I would want him to write about us.
I don’t think he’d be interested. [Laughs.] I don’t know. Maybe he would be if he was alive.
Jeff the Brotherhood play Wed., Aug. 24, 8pm. $10. With Dry Feet + the Bad Doctors. Bookspace, 1113 Frankford Ave. phillybookspace.blogspot.com
PW's Music Issue 2014