Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips spoke to Jamin Orrall, one half of Nashville based duo Jeff The Brotherhood about the band’s new album Wasted On The Dream
Nashville-based stoner rock duo Jeff the Brotherhood are living the dream. When I caught up with drummer Jamin Orrall, he was speaking from behind a BBQ at a friend’s house and life seemed pretty damn good. “We got a bonfire goin’… got the BBQ goin’. We got some sausages and about to pull out some burgers and veggies. There’s beer in the cooler and some whiskies and we’re hanging with the dogs in the backyard.” Since their critically acclaimed 2002 debut album I Like You, brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall have continued to release albums, tour the world and party with friends and fans. They have just released album number seven, Wasted On The Dream. Featured on the album are two other tracks referring to dreams, the album opener Voyage into Dreams and track six, In My Dreams. “Dreams are heavy with inspiration for us,” Jamin tells me. “They kind of just seep into everything and not just dreams while you’re sleeping but ideas … things you want to do and day-dreaming as well. It’s a really big part of our lives.”
For the new album, the duo dreamt big. Previous albums saw the band take a minimalist approach to their music. Singer and guitarist Jake played a three string custom-built guitar and brother Jamin’s modest kit mostly consisted of a snare, bass drum and a couple of cymbals. It’s all they needed to create their brand of punk-grunge rock. After six albums of punking it up though, they basically became bored. “You can only do the same thing for so long before you get tired of it,” says Jamin.
With Wasted On The Dream, Jake stepped up to a six string electric, Jamin got behind a full drum kit, they enlisted the help of big time producer, Joe Chiccarelli and recorded a full on, power-riff, rock and roll album. Almost every aspect of the album’s creation was approached in a different manner to what they’d done before, particularly the way they wrote.
“We took a lot more time to flush out songs,” says Jamin. “We’ve never taken more than a week to make an album before, so it’s the first time we’ve taken a few weeks. Normally we write like 15 songs and record them. This time we had about 25 or 30 and picked which ones we liked and we combined some, took some apart and moved parts around, just trying to see what worked the best.”
Chiccarelli, known for his work with The Strokes, My Morning Jacket and Beck, was brought onboard not so much to stamp his influence their music but to help them achieve their goals. “Every band is different,” Jamin says, reflecting on the extent of Joe’s role in the project. “I think some bands don’t have a clear identity or clear vision of what they want but we’ve always had this really clear vision of what we want to sound like. He just helped us take it to the next level because he knows how to make it bigger and heavier. We don’t necessarily know how to do all that stuff. It’s nice to have someone who has been doing it forever to come in and give everything a big boost. He really knows his shit.”
Upgrading to a full drum kit was one thing for Jamin, choosing from over 40 kits in the studio completely blew his mind. “It was kind of overwhelming,” he says of the choice. “The drum sets were from the 20s through to present day, so there were a lot of options. We changed drums for different songs and tried some different tunings, which I have never done before. I loved all of the 70s ones that we used, 60s and 70s … some Slingerlands and Ludwigs, Rogers … I only own two drum sets but I have a 60s Slingerland and a 70s Ludwig, so I am kind of used to that.”
In regard to drum sticks, he’s not fussy at all. In fact, so little does he think about it, that he often arrives at gigs without them. “It’s funny, I will kind of just play with whatever. I just started using 5Bs, I was using 5As. There used to be a funny thing where I would always forget to bring drum sticks to a gig. It’s like a classic thing for me, a bit of a joke. Even when we played on Jimmy Fallon’s show, I didn’t have any drum sticks. I had to borrow some from Questlove who was playing in the house band (The Roots).”
Also as part of the band’s grander vision for this album, out of the blue they decided to ask legendary Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson if he’d contribute flute to their track ‘Black Cherry Pie’. They got in touch with Anderson’s son, who manages his father’s musical affairs and before they knew it, a classic Tull-style flute file had been sent back. “That was really quick, it only took a week” recalls Jamin. “We didn’t expect it to happen. We just asked him out of the blue and he said he might do it if he liked it and he ended up doing it for free and just sent it back within a week. It was pretty wild.”
Both Jamin and Jake are into classic rock bands courtesy of their parents’ record collection. “They listened to a lot of really cool stuff,” he says. “I ended up getting into The Talking Heads through them… The Clash, Modern Lovers, Neil Young and The Beatles. I was freakin’ out when I was younger. I was lucky they listened to that stuff. They’re also both into classic 70s jam band such as The Grateful Dead and Poco and enjoy the way their live shows stretch out. I wondered what was the longest show Jeff The Brotherhood had ever played? “One time we got asked to play liked a corporate party,” explains Jamin. “We ended up getting smashed. We only played like 4 songs but played for hours. I don’t think they were very happy with it.”
Jeff The Brotherhood have fond memories of their trips to Australia, especially being part of the 2013 Big Day Out. “Our Australian tour was amazing. We love Australia. We want to go back so bad. We did the Big Day Out and it was awesome. We hung out with the guys that are in Off!, Steve McDonald and Dimitri and we met with the Alabama Shakes people. They are from near where we are from and we were on the same stage.”
Jake and Jamin have a busy year ahead of them. First up, there’s an extensive US east coast tour, a trip to Europe and maybe Asia too. They will also release another record, a double album of experimental rock. “It’s really jammy and out there,” Jamin says of the next album. “It’s experimental … really freaky shit. Hopefully it will be out for our summer/fall. We’re looking at a doing couple more videos and our own movie which we’re shooting on VHS and hope to come back to Australia soon too.”
Wasted On The Dream is out now via Dine Alone Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia.