The West

Disciples of the simple life
Disciples of the simple life

When he's not playing guitar and singing as one half of Jeff the Brotherhood with his drumming brother Jamin, Jake Orrall likes nothing better than to fire up the barbecue and cook some pork ribs.

"I let them sit in a rub and then I smoke them for the first couple of hours," he explains from his native Nashville, Tennessee. "And then towards the end, when the heat is super low, I baste them with barbecue sauce for the last hour."

The Orrall brothers are fans of the simple life. Jake has already laid out his retirement plans in Country Life, the opening track of Jeff the Brotherhood's seventh album, Hypnotic Nights.

"I want a place where I can smoke meats," he sings over a surging garage rock rhythm. "Where I can drink and swim in the creek."

The following track, Sixpack, details a beer-fuelled road trip with some buddies.

"It's kind of what Nashville's like, it's cheap and you don't really have to work much," Jake drawls. "Everyone wants to just sit on their porch or by the fire-pit and drink beers."

And play rowdy rock music.

The Orrall brothers, who are making their second trek to Australia for the Big Day Out this month, grew up surrounded by music. Their father, Robert Ellis Orrall, was a producer, singer and songwriter who worked with top country acts ranging from Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett to Reba McEntire and Taylor Swift (he co-produced her self-titled debut album in 2006).

Despite the proximity to such star power, Jake didn't like what he saw. "The music business in America, in particular country music and contemporary Christian music businesses, are pretty sleazy, backwards industries, so we saw a lot of that unfairness and just general grossness," he says. "I think that made us want to play punk music."

Nashville is changing, with cheap rent attracting rockers, including Jack White, whose Third Man Records label released the Brotherhood's live album in 2011, and the Black Keys, whose frontman Dan Auerbach produced Hypnotic Nights.

"He's a pretty cool dude," Jake says of Auerbach. "I guess he's a fan and he asked us to come in and do some songs and asked us if we wanted to use the studio."

So, a week later they had the album recorded, mixed in another week, then released last year via Warner Bros Records - the duo's major label debut. Warner made their previous album, 2011's We Are the Champions, which was released on their family label, Infinity Cat Recordings.

Jake enjoys the muscle of a major, while retaining most of the freedom of being an independent artist. "We weren't looking for a record deal, so we kind of had the advantage," he says. "It took us a really long time to negotiate something that we were both happy with, but we did. The whole time, we knew that we didn't need them."

Jeff the Brotherhood released their first album, I Like You, in 2002. Back then it was more of a hobby, something to do after school. But then after releasing three albums, the boys decided to get serious.

"We bought a school bus and built it out like an RV and converted it to run on waste vegetable oil," Jake recalls. "So, we could live in it and crisscross the country. It broke down after a couple of months, but that's when we like 'We've got to do this full-time'."

They managed to cover most of the eastern half of the US in the bus.

"We were usually playing for 15 kids in someone's basement without any money," Jake laughs. "Those were really great times."

The West Australian

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