JEFF the Brotherhood Have the Best Band Dad in the World
Photos Courtesy of Robert Ellis Orrall
|Robert was more than happy to send us some childhood photos of his sons. We hope they aren’t too mortified!|
If your father doesn’t kick you out of the house for joining a band, chances are he’s one of two things: the Joe Jackson type, who will break your ribs for dropping out of 4/4 time, or the Billy Ray Cyrus type, who buys his child’s fame and assured psychological implosion. Then there’s the rare third breed who is just happy that his kids are doing something creative and nurtures their talent without ruining their lives. Robert Ellis Orrall is one of these dads. His sons, Jake and Jamin, are JEFF the Brotherhood, a poppy and raw two-piece punk band from Nashville who’ve been touring and releasing records nonstop for the past few years. Robert is their secret weapon, biggest fan and he helps run their record label, Infinity Cat Recordings. We called Robert and demanded that he tell us embarrassing stories about his boys. Because he’s a good dad, he was a little sheepish at first, but eventually he caved and gave us the goods.
Growing up, the boys always stuck together. They were constantly playing in the woods and finding coyote bones and building forts. Jake was intense, confident, and curious—almost magic in a way. His brother looked up to him. When Jamin was little, he wore a different costume every day, always doing characters like Luke Skywalker or Batman, and they had to be perfect. Anything he set out to do, he mastered. One day he wanted to be a magician, and the next he decided he wanted to play music. He was the most brilliant little-kid musician I’ve ever seen. Then, all of a sudden, he lost interest for a bit and started with the yo-yos. But he got back into music quickly.
Jamin got his first drum set when he was eight. We set it up and he started playing in perfect rhythm—like it was just beating inside him. He became obsessed, sleeping with the sticks under his pillow. Funnily enough, he tap-danced his way into the Nashville School for the Arts but spent his entire time there drumming instead.
Their first real band was called the Sex. They were maybe 15 and 13 years old at the time. I remember going to see them at the Muse, which was this weird all-ages club that served alcohol. I was standing in the back of the room and it was obvious that Jake’s guitar was horribly out of tune. I asked the sound guy for a tuner, walked up to the stage, waved it at him, and said, “Jake! Your guitar is way out of tune!” I slid it over to him and he just looked at me like, “Why are you up here?” Then he kicked the tuner off the side of the stage and kept playing.
I decided from the beginning that instead of trying to teach the guys about the music business, I should just shut up and learn from them. I’ve never written a song with them. I’m perplexed by the way they do it. It just seems to happen. But I’m still making music too. Singles pay the bills, but I have fake bands that I’m in and we make entire albums. My band Monkey Bowl used to be on our label, Infinity Cat, but I got dropped. So the next Monkey Bowl record is coming out on a subsidiary, which I started. [laughs]
I’ve had discussions with friends at parties who say, “I feel sorry for kids today. They’ve got no good music. It’s crap!” I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” I think it’s better than it ever was. You just have to go to the right shows. I saw the unfortunately named Diarrhea Planet for the first time a while back because the kids had been raving about them. They blew my mind.
Watch a live set from JEFF the Brotherhood and tons of other bands at our new music site, Noisey.com.