News Column

JEFF the Brotherhood is a band that's been together since birth

May 10, 2013

YellowBrix

May 10--You'd never expect that duo JEFF the Brotherhood would have such a long history.

The band was named one of SPIN magazine's "must-hear acts" at 2011's South by Southwest festival, and the magazine named the group's show one of the "best spring tours." Paste magazine named them part of the "Best of What's Next" in 2010.

But Jamin Orrall, who performs in the group with his brother Jake Orrall, says the two have been making music together for 15 years.

"I was probably 10 and Jake was probably 12," says Orrall. "We've constantly been writing and recording music together for 15 years. I'm 25 now. We got better and better as we got older."

The band's music incorporates a variety of styles, but has a solid grounding in 1960s garage rock, although it doesn't sound dated. With the release of the group's 2012 album "Hypnotic Nights," JEFF the Brotherhood seems to be gathering steam with the general public.

"In the last year we've got a lot more recognition, but everything has had such a steady pace that I feel like it's just one more step in all the steps we've made before," says Orrall.

The brothers grew up in Nashville where their father, Robert Ellis Orrall, was a country singer, songwriter and a music producer.

Jamin says his father's advice didn't have much to do with how they dealt with the music business (they've truly cut their own path), but his dad's record collection had an effect on the music the brothers make.

"He'd play us old Beatles records, Clash records, Devo and that had a pretty big influence."

The brothers were regular performers at Guido's Pizzeria in Nashville when Jamin was 13 and Jake was 15 and began releasing albums while they were still in high school, creating their own label, Infinity Cat Records, in the process. They released the albums "I Like You," "The Byzantine Empire" and "Castle Storm" between 2002 and 2006.

Orrall says it was with the release of 2009's "Heavy Days" that the two really began to take music as a career seriously.

"We drove our van to New York every month to see how many shows we could get on," he says. "Then we got hold of a booking agent and told him to keep us on the road indefinitely. We figured we'd do two years and if we weren't making money in two years we'd stop."

Of course there were some tough times. Orrall says there was that one show on the waterfront in Brooklyn when Jake had pneumonia.

"He was on stage and started coughing up blood -- he had to go to the hospital."

The group released the live album "Live at Third Man" on Jack White's label in 2011 and then signed a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records for the release of "We Are the Champions," which was released later in 2011 and then followed by "Hypnotic Nights" in 2012.

"Signing with Warners made it seem like, 'OK, this is gonna be a career now'," says Orrall.

Orrall says his long-range plan is not focused entirely on music.

"I'd like to be working with kids or kids with mental handicaps," he says. "I'd still like to be putting out records, but not having to tour at all."

While brother acts can sometimes become acrimonious, Orrall says he and his brother get along well and creating music together might be easier with a sibling.

"We're brutally honest with each other and we know when to walk away. We fight all the time. But I think criticism from your brother is easier than taking it from a friend."

JEFF the Brotherhood

With: Hunters

When: 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 14

Where: Pilot Light, 106 E. Jackson Ave.

Admission: $12

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(c)2013 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

Visit the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) at www.knoxnews.com

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