For this issue, we tracked down Jamin Orrall, one half of JEFF the Brotherhood, a fantastic brotherly duo that is currently getting handfuls of well-deserved buzz since their June 2012 release, Hypnotic Nights. THE BOMBER JACKET met Jamin’s brother Jake at the band’s New York City album release show, where our mutual friends from the band F*ck Ton opened the show and introduced us. The concert was in the low-ceiling, steamy basement of Santos Party House in Manhattan, swarming with an all-ages audience that went berserk during the single “Sixpack” and waited around post-concert for band autographs.
I have to admit to being a little starstruck this time around while interviewing Jamin. I listen to JEFF quite a bit, I play them frequently on my radio show, and I’m really digging the new album. So I was a little nervous during the interview. It didn’t help that I did the interview over Skype (which I had used for the very first time), or that I had to do the interview from the library because my Internet wasn’t set up at my new apartment yet. With all of those factors in play, I did my best to ask Jamin some things I thought our readers would want to know. Due to the connection, and Jamin doing the interview shirtless in his backyard while looking for a dipstick, there were a few words I couldn’t quite make out, even after listening to the recording dozens of times. Forgive me, interwebs and JEFF.
Hope you all enjoy the interview. We chatted about moustaches, drinking, family love, and Europa!
THE BOMBER JACKET: So let’s start out, I heard your equipment was stolen recently. What happened with that?
Jamin: Uh, well, not a lot of it. We’ve had two break-ins in the last year. One just happened to us. They didn’t really steal much of our gear. They stole a synthesizer that we used on a recording and they stole Jake’s wallet and spent, like, all of our band money. The band’s bank card was in there.
Oooooh, that’s awful.
That’s like your whole snack fund.
Yeah. A lot more than the snack fund at this point, but hopefully we’ll get it back.
What jerks…I heard you guys did a show in your underwear recently, is that true?
Oh, I didn’t. But Jake, we played at a festival on Saturday and Jake took his pants off because it was really hot. First time we’ve done that.
So that’s kind of like a one-time thing, not a JEFF the Brotherhood trend.
Yeah, we don’t have any trends, I don’t think. Kinda just, stuff happens.
You guys are known for shredding pretty hard. How long do you think you and your brother could just shred, continuously?
Probably for a pretty long time, but I don’t think you’d really want to see us do that. We try not to.
So what if there were some endurance competition, where it was like, “Alright, see who can shred the longest?”
Oh, probably a coupla days. [Laughs] I don’t know, yeah maybe.
That’d be rad. You could do a live stream, just shredding for hours and hours.
Yeah, that’d be funny.
I saw in an interview you were talking about how JEFF the Brotherhood was kinda like the creature that you guys became, you and your brother when you played. That JEFF was like this Entity. How would you describe Jeff as an entity? If it was an actual person, what would he be like?
Um, he’d be like, he’d probably be a redneck really into hard rock, get drunk a lot. Probably wouldn’t have a shirt on very much.
Would he have a bad-ass moustache?
Maybe, yeah. Yeah, probably.
I see your brother’s been rocking a moustache lately.
Pretty much always has one, on and off. Yeah, he likes it. Girls like it. I can’t grow one, so…
You tried to grow a goatee, or something like that? Alternate facial hair?
A little, no. I keep trying to do it and I can’t.
What do you think your favorite celebrity moustache is, aside from your brother’s?
Um, celebrity moustache? Daniel Day Lewis, maybe?
I heard Ted Leo is a big fan of you guys.
Oh yeah. We did some shows with him, and got to hang out. He’s a sweetheart.
Has he given you guys any good advice?
Well um, we talked about good pre-show drink mixers. One of his that he told us about that he likes to do sometimes, is to take a shot of Everclear and orange vitamin water.
How’s that taste?
I don’t know, I’ve never tried it. So, we should try it.
Maybe on the European tour?
Yeah, I saw the interview you guys did with Dan Auerbach, where you guys were just kinda drinking. That was pretty great.
Oh yeah. That was a fun interview.
That looked painful, having the mic clipped to a nipple.
So your video for “Sixpack,” where was that filmed? That looked like a lot of fun.
That was filmed on the Piney River about 50 miles from Nashville. Our friends Elise and Michael wanted to make a video for us, so I figured we’d just do what the song is about. So we just got a bunch of our friends to come out and we just filmed it.
Was that all just one long day?
All your videos are pretty great, but that one, you felt like you were right there chillin with everybody.
Yeah, it’s a really sweet video I think.
I think one of the things I really like about you guys is that you seem pretty unpretentious, just into it for the music, and you like to have fun.
Yeah, I don’t really see how you can do it any other way.
It’s awesome, it definitely comes through in the music. So how do you feel about your new album?
I’m really proud of it.
The first line of the album is “I want a place where I can smoke meats?” So what’s the strangest meat you guys have smoked so far?
Jake’s more of the meat smoker. He likes to do all kinds of crazy rubs and recipies, and meats. I don’t know what kind of crazy ones he’s done. He likes to do ribs.
Would you guys ever package a JEFF the Brotherhood meat with your albums?
That’d be difficult. That’d be funny.
How strange would that be? Instead of downloading it, you could get the vinyl and get meat along with it.
That would be very strange. [Laughs]
So I saw in an interview that you guys usually have somebody travelling with you, a third person. So who’s traveling with you for this tour?
To Europe? Our buddy Ricky Haley. He uh, he owns a couple vans and some gear, and he drives us around whenever we go over there.
So he lives in Europe then?
Yeah, he lives in London.
Yeah. He’s badass. Someone referred us to him, first time we went to Europe. And then we just really, really hit it off with him, so we’ve been going back to him ever since. He’s pretty cheap, too.
And you guys have been getting a good response from Europe?
Um, yeah. First time was pretty awful, second time was a lot better, so hopefully this time will be even better.
Well that’s good. So what about your sister? Did she learn bass yet?
No, she’s slacking. She’s busy with schoolwork.
Have you guys ever thought about adding another band member?
Yeah, we’ve done it a couple times, for shows and recordings. We played a couple shows as a 4-piece and a couple as a 5-piece, and we’ve recorded as a 5-piece and a 3-piece at different times, so we’ve done it before, we probably will eventually.
So have you been drawing any comics lately? Are there any discussions on reviving some of that, redoing some of the comics?
Jake doesn’t really draw anymore I don’t think. I draw in my journal. Not really comics, but just weird drawings. I’ve done not all of them, but most of our t-shirts. All the drawn ones–they’re mostly done by me.
Oh, that’s great.
Yeah. Sometimes Gerry does them, but if it was drawn, it was probably done by me.
When I heard you guys did comics, I thought “I’d love to see a JEFF the Brotherhood comic.” I’m really curious about that.
Used to sell them at the lunch table.
So how’s Infinity Cat been doing lately?
Pretty good. That’s kinda more Jake’s thing. I don’t really run Infinity Cat anymore. I used to help out, but I’m not really into running labels, I realized. They’re doing well.
You guys have some good bands on there too.
So last year, Bon Iver won best new artist at the Grammys, even though he’d been around since like 2007.
Lately I’ve seen media for you guys and they’re treating you guys like you’re a brand new band…do you think you have a chance to win best new artist this year?
Uh, I don’t think we’re that big. That’d be awesome. I don’t think that’s gonna happen, but that’d be cool.
What if you guys won best new artist this year? What kind of speech would you give?
I’d probably just say thanks and walk off stage somehow. I don’t know what I’d do in a situation like that. It’d be funny though.
So I hear you guys are Celtics fans, is that true?
Jake is into basketball. I don’t really follow it. But yeah, Celtics. We were born in Boston, so.
Oh, okay. Well that makes sense then. So what do you guys do when you’re not playing music?
Um, well, right now I’m walking around in my yard with my shirt off. I do that a lot. I don’t know. I’m trying to find out where my dipstick is for the transmission of my truck, and I can’t find it anywhere. I guess normal stuff. I hang out with my friends. I like riding motorcycles, listening to music, eating food, drawing.
Have your friends been treating you any differently now that you’re getting more exposure? Or they’re just kinda like yeah, whatever?
No. I mean, if they were it’d probably mean that we weren’t that good of friends in the first place.
Yeah, I guess that’s what everybody really worries about, you know, make it famous and everybody else treats you like you’re completely different.
I think the only way it would affect the way someone thought of me is if they like followed every little piece of press that we got which no one does, so… Most people only see a couple of things that we do. It’s not like they know about all the shit that’s going on.
I’ve been listening to you guys for a while. It’s just good to see you really blowing up now. And “The Ripper” is just ridiculous.
Oh yeah, that’s fun to play. People get pretty worked up when we play that.
Well yeah, for a 2-piece you guys have a really big sound. How do you do that?
Jake just plays through a lot of amps. He’s been working on his sound for a while. He’s been experimenting for seven to eight years on how to make his sound heavy and thick. So he’s just had time to figure it out. Puts it through a bass amp and a guitar amp, and a lot of speakers.
It definitely works. Was it helpful to have a dad that was in music too?
It was helpful in the fact that it wasn’t crazy that we were playing music. It was kind of a normal thing in the house, you know? And they were totally accepting of it. Other than that, we were kind of just doing our own thing.
And he’s been totally supportive of you guys?
Totally supportive, yeah.
So is he one of those hands-on, prodigy dads, getting you guys music lessons and such, or was he more hands-off?
No, it was definitely hands-off. Except if we needed help, obviously.
What would you say has been your favorite show so far? Anything stick out, like any venues you just had a really great time playing?
We had a great time in Philadelphia. And New York’s usually fun. Chicago.
Have you guys got to meet anyone you were really psyched to meet?
Yeah, the time before the last time I was in New York, I got to meet Joan Jett, which was pretty cool.
That’s crazy. What’s she like in person?
She’s nice. Short. Jake met James Iha, which he was pretty excited about.
Did you guys talk shop a little bit?
I think they did. I didn’t talk to him very much, I just met him. I think Jake talked shop. I think he was pretty starstruck, he’s a pretty big fan of Smashing Pumpkins.
Is your brother still playing three strings, or has he moved up to a few more?
No, he still plays three strings live.
Do you ever think he’s going to add any more?
Yeah, I’m sure they’ll be times when he uses six too, but I don’t think he’ll ever stop using three. He uses six strings on the album sometimes, on the solos and stuff. And he plays six strings sometimes when he plays with other people.
I heard he’s all into Kombucha and stuff too.
Yeah, he loves his Kombucha.
Have you tried it?
Yeah yeah. I drink it once in a while. I’m not as big of a fan. I just drink a lot of water.
Is there anything people would be surprised to know about you guys that they may not know already?
Yeah, we don’t do drugs!