Total party music. That's what JEFF the Brotherhood's songs are. Crunchy, guitar-driven singalongs, tub-thumping drumrolls–if you were old enough to remember the heydey of grunge, their sound is eerily reminiscent of Weezer/Nirvana/Mudhoney/Teenage Fanclub's early days. Yup, totally fun!
Their self-produced EP of covers called Dig the Classics includes JEFF the Brotherhood's versions of songs by the Pixies, My Bloody Valentine and Teenage Fanclub.
The two-piece band made up of brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall are actually too young to remember grunge when it was all over MTV, but their psychedelic punk-garage-pop leanings (that LA Record's Chris Ziegler dubbed “heavy Wipers-guitar-meets-Thin Lizzy-rhythms”) took root during David Geffen's high times.
Over the phone from Nashville, where the band reside, Jake Orrall says the concept for the EP came out of Warner Bros. shelving the release of their latest album. The band finished recording the follow-up to their major-label debut, Hypnotic Nights, in May, but Warner Bros. wanted to wait and release it in early 2015 so the band could have a whole year to promote and tour the album.
“That wasn't going to work for us because we need to be on the road touring, and we couldn't do that since we haven't had a new release in two years. So we knocked out [Dig the Classics] within 10 days of talking about it,” Jake says.
Choosing what to cover was another matter. “It wasn't so much the artists as the songs,” he explains. “There were a million artists we wanted to cover–the first thing we did was make a list of bands, but pretty quickly, we figured out that it didn't really work that way. We really had to pick the song that would work with our style, that we could really make into a JEFF the Brotherhood song.”
The Orralls narrowed the list down to six songs by bands that changed their lives. “The funny thing is, I realized after the fact that half of the songs we covered have a connection to the album DGC Rarities Vol. 1 [a compilation release by DGC Records in 1994 featuring B-sides, demos and covers]. I got it when I was 12, and it started with [Teenage Fanclub's] 'Mad Dog 20/20.' Beck, Sonic Youth, Nirvana are all on there–all the bands I grew up listening to. So it all started with that compilation for me.”
The 28-year-old says that aside from playing covers on tour, JEFF the Brotherhood are also performing as a four-piece. Not only does it give the band a fuller sound (“Our new lineup is the most heavy, intense, rockin' lineup we've ever had. It's very continuous and hard-rock oriented–very loud”), but it also keeps the brothers from getting bored with each other. “We go in and out of phases of getting sick of each other,” Jake says.
Music Band, who are on the Orrells' family label Infinity Cat Recordings, are supporting the West Coast shows. “Bringing friends along always makes it more fun because the more people, the more fun we have,” Jake says. “Even if no one comes to the show, there's still 12 of us hanging out. It's like a big party everywhere we go.”
JEFF the Brotherhood perform at the Constellation Room at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.constellationroom.com. Sat., 8 p.m. $15. All ages.