JEFF The Brotherhood is a bit of an anomaly in the rock world.
The “art project” of brothers Jake Orrall (guitar, vocals) and Jamin Orrall (drums) — sons of famed Nashville songwriter Robert Ellis Orrall — the Brotherhood has shifted course a number of times over the last 16 years, moving between genres, major and indie labels, and auxiliary band members.
When the Brotherhood returns to Savannah in early October, for a Savannah Stopover/Graveface Records co-produced show at Starland Dairy, they will come in a new five-piece incarnation.
JEFF The Brotherhood last played Savannah at the 2017 Savannah Stopover Music Festival with just brothers Jake and Jamin on The Jinx stage.
Labeled at different times in their career as stoner rock, garage rock, psychedelic, punk and power-pop — always existing with tinges of jazz, black metal and Kraut rock — the literal brotherhood released their 13th album earlier month. “Magick Songs,” a monster album that includes a fourth side available only on the LP version and not on the digital rendition, is an even deeper exploration of the brothers' version of rock ’n’ roll without boundaries.
Opening with a hazy psychedelic pilgrimage and ending with a heavy trilogy of hard rock tracks, the brothers Orrall took a drastically new approach to the writing and recording of their latest album, which stems from being untethered to any sort of normal career route.
From 2002-11, the Orralls released four albums on their own label, Infinity Cat Records, that earned a solid underground following. In 2011, they seemed primed for a major breakout. After recording a live album with Jack White’s Third Man Records, they signed with Warner Bros. in 2012 and recorded their fifth album, “Hypnotic Nights” with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach producing.
The album hit 198 on the Billboard charts. Weeks before releasing their sixth album, “Wasted on a Dream,” Warner Bros. dropped them from the label. But, after what would be defining moment of defeat for any artist, the brothers chose to just keep doing what they’ve always been doing.
They released “Wasted on the Dream” on their own label and moved on. For the last three albums, they signed to the Canadian indie label Dine Alone Records (Dashboard Confessional, Diarrhea Planet, Dune Rats, Fidlar, Jimmy Eat World, SUSTO, The New Pornographers, The Lumineers).
“It’s our art form,” Jake Orrall said in an interview with Do Savannah. “The idea of being a band is more of a product you’re selling. We’re doing this to express ourselves. We’re not trying to follow any trend or market ourselves to a certain demographic or anything like that. We’re just playing exactly the sh!t that comes out of us, without any outside influence. If people don’t like it, whatever.”
In the past, the Orralls spent very little time recording. For “Magick Songs,” they spent an elongated six months in Jake’s living room, writing, recording, scrapping, re-writing and re-recording until they were happy.
They also added three members to the project in bassist Jack Lawrence (Raconteurs/Dead Weather), multi-instrumentalist Kunal Prakash and vocalist Jenna Moynihan (Daddy Issues). Bully bassist Reece Lazarus also made an appearances on the album, playing clarinet.
“I think we were mainly just bored,” Jake Orrall said. “We’ve done so many different styles over the years, I thought it would be fun to just, not really going into it thinking about stylistic elements. The album took so many forms over the six months. It was this kind of album and that kind. Then we scrapped half of it. Then we scrapped the whole thing and started over.
"Kept changing and morphing with no end goal in mind, until it felt finished. There was a lot of unused material. Just a different approach.”
Their current tour features everyone on the album with the exception of Lazarus, morphing the band into a five-piece and allowing some freedom for improvisation and experimentation in the live set.
“It’s very different,” Jake Orrall said. "It’s a lot more complicated. It’s a lot more arranging and gear. It kind of gives us a lot more freedom. We don’t have to be doing something all the time. Not many of the songs we’re playing on tour have a set structure. We’re just kind of improvising certain parts. Feeling it out. It’s different every night. I get to play a synthesizer half the time. I get to play a recorder and thumb piano. It’s great.”
When asked about the specifics of the set list, Jake said, “People will just have to find out about that. Gotta come to the show to see.”