Catching Up With: JEFF the Brotherhood

Music Features JEFF the Brotherhood
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Catching Up With: JEFF the Brotherhood

JEFF the Brotherhood’s frontman and guitarist Jake Orrall has a lot to do before he and his brother leave on tour. He recently bought a house in his native Nashville and needs to build a bedframe, clean the gutters, and patch a leak in the roof in four days before a few nearby kickoff shows, so Orrall calls on his way to a Home Depot.

The Nashville duo—comprised of Orrall and his younger brother, drummer Jamin— released its 11th studio album, Zone, last month. The brothers began recording together while still in high school, and their sound has evolved into a deliberate mix of slacker lyrics and tight punk punctuated by psychedelic spin-offs and interludes. It’s a kind of weedy weirdness akin to King Tuff, but more garage rock than glam.

Paste caught up with the Brotherhood’s eldest to talk about Zone, the state of the music industry, the band’s independent label Infinity Cat, and more. Check it out below and see JEFF the Brotherhood on its East Coast run that starts Sept. 25, in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Paste: JEFF the Brotherhood has five studio LPs on Infinity Cat, 11 albums in total, and has already been a band longer than most groups stay together. What’s the dream at this point?
Jake Orrall: I think what we’re doing right now is pretty good! It’d be nice to get paid more, but I’m pretty happy with our current situation making records. But it’d be nice to make as much more way as we would have in like 1995. That’d be sweet.

Paste: Yeah, but you’d have been what, like in second grade?
Orrall: I was probably 10, but whatever. All the bands that I love were making music.

Paste: Well and they probably had labels that actually had budgets…
Orrall: Well and people actually bought music and went to shows.

Paste: How did your label, Infinity Cat, come together?
Orrall: Me and Jamin made some recordings in high school and when we decided we wanted to release them on a CD and just make copies. But there weren’t really any labels, like indie labels here in Nashville, so we just did it ourselves.

Paste: Where did the name and art come from? I love the sketch!
Orrall: I used to do a little doodle of a cat with a little infinity sign over its head standing next to a weird stick figure man with a tiny penis with an infinity over his head. So it was naked man and infinity cat. I dunno, I would doodle it a lot on my tests and stuff.

Paste: I’m sure your teachers appreciated that.
Orrall: Oh yeah!

Paste: Why release Zone on Dine Alone Records instead of your own label?
Orrall: We kind of got used to recording in decent studios and with talented engineers, which costs a lot of money. Infinity Cat has absolutely no money, so we needed someone to fund an album and they were happy to do it…Whenever we do home recordings and that kind of stuff, we can do that on infinity cat because it doesn’t cost us anything.

Paste: Zone is the last album in “a spiritual trilogy.” Is that part of some sort of master plan?
Orrall: We were in the same headspace when we made [Heavy Days and We Are the Champions] and they were made under very similar circumstances…We really didn’t realize it until we were in the studio recording. We were like, “Oh, this is the same thing we were doing on those two albums and we haven’t done that in a really long time. That’s really cool.” And we kinda went with it.

Paste: Okay, cool. Thanks for clarifying. I couldn’t tell if that was snark or had sentiment to it!
Orrall: Yeah, you can never tell with us!

Paste: After learning about “infinity cat and man with tiny penis,” I had to ask!
Orrall: Totally.

Paste: How’d you get together with Bully’s Alicia Bognanno for “Roachin?”
Orrall: Oh, she’s been hanging with us since before they were a band.

Paste: I noticed that recently you guys did a show in Nashville where the proceeds went to Showing Up for Racial Justice. What’s that organization, and why was that important to you?
Orrall: That was actually Jamin’s doing…but from what I understand, it is a non-profit that promotes awareness about racism and specifically white supremacy and tries to destroy it through awareness and understanding. It was our friend’s going-away party and I think he picked that charity. Jamin looked into it, and it was something we wanted to support.