Wasted On The Dream: An Interview with JEFF The Brotherhood

JEFF The Brotherhood is a Nashville-based outlet that relentlessly presents an explosive delivery of face-melting charisma that incorporates elements of psychedelic rock, grunge and punk into their highly-charged sound. Led by the tag team stylings of brothers (guitarist and vocalist) Jake and (drummer) Jamin Orrall, the band gained a huge following after the release of Heavy Days (2009) and We Are The Champions (2011).

Prior to the release of their March studio effort, Wasted On The Dream, JEFF The Brotherhood broke out the news that they were dropped from Warner Brothers. In a vivid statement released by the band, they enlightened their fans that they were excited to be “dropped from the clutches of the demented vulture.” After parting ways with Warner Brothers, the band went on to release the album independently through Infinity Cat Recordings.

Right after their month-long tour in support of the new album, I had the chance to chat with vocalist and guitarist Jake Orrall about their split with Warner Brothers, supporting Mumford & Sons and Alabama Shakes on the Gentlemen Of The Road Festival, as well as sharing our common infatuation with old-school music video cinematography.

Not too long ago, you finished up a month-long tour supporting your new album, Wasted On The Dream. What were some highlights? Care to share wild stories from your last adventure out on the road?

Oh man… Well, we played Burger-Rama, which was really fun. It was like a big old festival, Weezer was headlining, and it was pretty cool. And then, we went to Canada for like, 10 days, which was insane. We went to all of these cities that we’ve never been to, like Colona and Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon—that was pretty wild. I don’t know, there were some good shows.

The West Coast was amazing, and we had a really good show in Des Moines, Iowa, which is really, really cool. We’ve been there once before like, forever ago, and just coming back for the second time years later and having it just be completely insane was really awesome.

The record has been out for a month. What has been the overall reception of Wasted On The Dream so far?

            People fucking love it! We actually have only been playing maybe five songs off of it. We just normally play the songs that are most fun for us to play (laughs). Reese, the bass player from Bully who was supporting us on that tour, was playing saxophone on “Black Cherry Pie,” which was cool. Then we got Alicia, who is the singer of Bully to sing the duet with me on “In My Dreams.” People really liked that, you know—extra people on stage thing.

When you were dropped from Warner Bros., you guys made your announcement by stating that you have been “dropped from the clutches of the demented vulture.” What was it like to have the weight off your shoulders when this came about leading up to the record’s release?

            Unfortunately, there wasn’t really pressures or expectations, which was kind of the problem. They just kind of were sitting there, and we couldn’t really figure out what we were suppose to be doing. So yeah, the relief was in finally like, having a sense of purpose again, (laughs) you know? Putting out our own record, and knowing what we needed to get done, and kind of just doing it without having to wait to find out what they wanted us to do, or whatever.

It wasn’t that they didn’t care. Like, there were people that did care a lot about us, but it was, you know… the people who had money that didn’t see a correlation (laughs) and didn’t see a point in releasing a second record because of the first one.

With that being said, would you ideally like to work with Infinity Cat Recordings in the future? Or was this collaboration primarily for this specific release?

            Yeah, I help run that label, so everything else will come out on that label.

I recently watched your latest music video for “Black Cherry Pie,” and was very intrigued with everything that was going on. Tell me, what was the main inspiration behind the concept of this video.

            Well, it’s kind of ripping off another video… actually, extremely ripping off another video. I won’t say what, but people will be able to find out for themselves eventually. What we liked about that “original video” that we were ripping off was that’s what music videos were at that time in the late ’70s and early ’80s—it was a new thing. Like, MTV was brand new, and it was a new marketing tool, I guess. There wasn’t a lot of money being spent on them, and there wasn’t a lot of cool special effects or any of that shit. It was just about putting some imagery with the song, and being able to see the artist, you know?

It was totally the opposite of what it is now. Now, it’s meant to be like this super ADD thing that is like super in-your-face, just trying to get as much people to pay attention to it as possible. It’s kind of like more important than the song in a way. We really wanted to do something that emphasizes the music in the song, and also try to move away from all like, you know… changing the shot every second and a half. If you watch like, “mainstream music videos,” there’s the absolute maximum time for a shot, like 1.5 seconds or something like that, it’s crazy. When you start paying attention to that, it makes watching music videos really tiring.

Was there anything you did differently in the production process of this video? Or would you say that it was it similar to past videos you’ve done?

            It was pretty similar. I mean, we made it with our friends. Jen Newman directed it; she’s done stuff for us in the past. So it’s basically us hanging out and drinking beers for a day in a little like… studio. It was cool.

It was a very fun video to watch, I must say. I am always a huge fan of old-school music videos in general. My favorite videos to watch are glam rock videos from the ’80s. Because there is such a huge emphasis on the cinematography, you feel as if you are watching an ’80s film.

            Exactly. Everyone just plays it safe now, and does what they know is working at the time and they copy each other. It’s so boring.

To start off the month of June, you’re going to be a part of the Gentlemen Of The Road Tour this year. How did this opportunity come about?

            Well, Mumford had us on a show a couple years ago in Bristol, Tennessee, which is really cool. Their festival dates [Gentlemen Of The Road] are super awesome—like, they take really good care of the artists, and they just make it really fun for their fans. They’re fans of ours, and [guitarist and vocalist] Winston Marshall comes to town a lot. We worked on a side-project band that will never get released, and kind of became friends. I guess when it came time to book the new ones, they were like, “Yo, lets put them on a couple of dates.” So we’re doing four of them; we’re pumped, they’re really fun.

There is no doubt that the thought of sharing the stage with groups like Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes and The Flaming Lips will be pretty surreal. As a supporting act for GOTR, do you feel like you will stick out any way considering the diversity of this tour?

            Yeah, I didn’t even see the schedule, I didn’t even know that actually (laughs). But I am assuming we are one of the only rock bands playing, so that will make us stand out (laughs). We definitely stood out at the last one we did in Bristol, that’s for sure.

Along with playing widespread shows on GOTR throughout the summer, you also have a few dates in July as well. With that being said, what are some other plans in the works that JEFF The Brotherhood has cooking before the summer’s end?

July, all we have is Forecastle Fest, and I think we are going to take the month off just to hang out in Nashville. Hit the river and stuff.

It definitely sounds like you have a lot of stuff going on these upcoming months. It should be a fun summer, no doubt.

Yeah, it’s going to be cool. I am excited to be going up to the East Coast in June. I think that Seaside Heights fest should be really sweet.


JEFF The Brotherhood will be playing with Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes, The Flaming Lips and more at the Gentlemen Of The Road Festival in Seaside Heights on June 5, and The Wick in Brooklyn on June 12. Their new album, Wasted On The Dream, is out now on Infinity Cat Recordings. For more information, go to jeffthebrotherhood.com.