JEFF the Brotherhood Interview: “Lo-fi rarely works in my opinion, it’s terrible as an aesthetic”

jeff the brotherhood interview

New Album Zone  Is Due On September 20th Via Dine Alone Records.

By anyone’s standards, releasing eleven studio albums over the course of fourteen years is amazing. That is precisely what JEFF the Brotherhood will have done with the release of their eleventh album Zone this September. For perspective, that’s the same amount that Dinosaur Jr. have released, but they’ve been in the game since 1985. Extra impressive is the zeal with which the duo explore new paths and the high standard of their work. Amazing.

We had a chat with Jake Orall, one half of JEFF the Brotherhood, about the new album, working with Alicia Bognann from Bully, and his dislike for lo-fi recording.

October Tour Dates

15 Reykjavik, Iceland @ Hurra
18 London, ENG @ Borderline (TICKET LINK)
21 Paris, FRA @ L’Espace B
23 Geneva, SWI @ L’Ecurie
25 Munich, GER @ Orangehouse
26 Berlin, GER @ Badehaus
27 Cologne, GER @ Blue Shell

Overblown: Your new album Zone is your eleventh (I think?) since 2002 and the third you’ve released in the last 18 months. It seems that you get more prolific the longer your career goes on. How to manage to maintain this level of output?

Jake Orrall: We basically record anytime someone gives us some money or access to a studio, Global Chakra Rhythms, for example, was recorded over two years in various studios. If we had a home studio we would probably put out 5 albums a year now that we’ve slowed down on touring!

O: How has your approach to writing and recording changed and developed over the years?

JO: Recording really hasn’t, we’ve always tried to make the best sounding recording we could possibly make with whatever resources we had, that’s the main thing that’s changed, the resources. The process is always the same, drums and guitar live, then vocals, then we listen and try and get a feel for what kind of overdubs would make the song interesting. As far as songwriting goes, it’s varied so much over the years it would take too long to explain.

O: You recently released a new track from the record called ‘Roachin’ which is a collaboration with Alicia Bognann from Bully. How did that come about and what was it like to work with her?

JO: We’ve all been friends for a long time you know, it’s a small town here in Nashville so it was super chill, she sang on ‘Wasted on the Dream’ too a little. Alicia’s an amazing singer, I think it took her two takes and we were like, “Ok A, you’re done!” and she was like, “Really?” and then we drank some beers.

O: Zone is being released by Dine Alone Records and will be your second album in a row to be released via that label. What’s it like working with them?

JO: Technically it’s the first, they distributed the last one. So far it’s been amazing, they are super easy to work with and passionate and responsive. They care about the music we are making and are willing to take risks for us which is so rare in this industry now. Also, every time we get to hang with that crew we have a great fucking time!

O: Zone has been lauded as a return to your garage rock roots. Was that an goal when writing and recording the album?

JO: We really don’t identify with “garage rock” to be honest, we never have. The idea of modern garage rock makes me think of bands that play three-chord jangly pop songs though vox amps with way too much reverb and intentionally slacker sounding vocals. That really has nothing to do with our identity or sound. Our roots are in 90’s alternative music and 70’s punk, haha. It is a special record for us though, wasted on the dream was a crack at making a BIG ROCK record, like Siamese Dream or Eight Arms to Hold You. I think we did a good job, but as our fans know, we try all kinds of shit. ZONE is just us being us with no incentive or reason to push our sound any certain way.

O: For your tour in the summer of 2015 you changed to a four piece to mix things up a bit live. How did that go? Is that something you will continue or consider on future tours? Or perhaps recording an album as a quartet?

JO: We actually toured as a quartet from 2012 to recently, our September-October US and European tour will be our first major tour as a duo since then. We loved playing in both incarnations of the quartet and hope to be able to tour lucratively as a quartet in the future, but right now it’s too expensive.

O: Over the last few years it seems to me there’s been a bit of a revival in lo-fi, stripped down rock bands. Who have you been particularly enjoying in that time?

JO: I like some low fidelity music but it’s all older obscure stuff, people recording albums on four-track cassette that they never released. Maher Shalal Hash Baz (whom I LOVE) just released a new record that’s really lo-fi, but i didn’t buy it because it sounds like shit compared to the rest of his recordings. Lo-fi rarely works in my opinion, it’s terrible as an aesthetic, I believe it is only justified as a necessity, and even then it only works if the songs hold up on their own.

O: You have always toured extensively and have a European tour set for October. Is there anywhere you have yet to play and would love to play? Why?

O: We want to play Japan, it has been our number one goal since we started touring 10 years ago.

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