No matter how successful entertainers become, they’ll always remember the first gig—whether it was disastrous, wonderful, or strange. Gotta Start Somewhere embraces these nostalgic moments by asking established entertainers to tell the story of the first time they graced a stage, as well as their memories of other musical firsts, from the first record they ever bought to the first concert they ever saw. In this edition, The A.V. Club talks to JEFF The Brotherhood’s Jamin Orrall about pizza, The Beatles, and sex.
Jamin Orrall: I was 12 or 13 and it was a punk band we [Jamin and brother Jake Orrall, also of JEFF The Brotherhood] were in called The Sex. It was at a pizza place called Guido’s in Nashville.
The A.V. Club: How did you guys start that band?
JO: Just fooling around with our friends in our basement.
AVC: What did you play?
AVC: What kind of stuff did you guys play?
JO: Punk and hardcore stuff.
AVC: Was it covers, or were you guys writing originals?
JO: It was original.
AVC: What do you remember about how you guys got the show?
JO: We had been going to all these punk shows at the pizza place—it was a pizza place and a bar, but they always did shows. We were going to punk shows there with our friend Matt and our friend Chuck, who were older than us—a lot older. And then we kept coming with our punk band and finally they just put us on a show, which was really exciting.
First JEFF The Brotherhood show:
JO: The first JEFF The Brotherhood show was at this place called The Muse. It’s this awful, awful club in Nashville; it just closed down. I was 13 when we played that show too, I think. 13 was a big year for me.
AVC: Were you in both bands at the same time? What made you decide to choose JEFF over The Sex, ultimately?
JO: Yeah, we were doing them at the same time. I don’t know. It was just a different kind of music and we were more into it. We had no rules as a band. We were just trying different things.
AVC: You guys were just called JEFF, not JEFF The Brotherhood that point, right?
JO: Yeah, we were just called JEFF. I was playing drums and an ’80s electronic-sampler box, and Jake had a ’70s synthesizer and a two-string guitar. We played the intro to the Dark Side Of The Moon album. We played the intro to it, right up until we started. We thought it was funny that people were kind of offended. Like, “You’re just playing the intro, what are you doing?”
AVC: When did you guys first realize, “Hey, this could actually work”?
JO: That decision was made about three or four years ago. We just decided we were going to really try and work our asses off to get people to hear our music. We quit our jobs and worked out of our houses and just did that for two years until we started making money.
JO: It was a cassette tape by this band called Doctor Pepper Blues Band. I don’t remember the name of the record. It was probably some of their hits. They were this really cheesy but pretty killer blues band.
AVC: What made you buy that record?
JO: Probably the name of the band.
AVC: Do you remember what songs were on it?
JO: I think it was all covers and blues songs. I don’t think they wrote any of their own.
AVC: Do you think the Doctor Pepper Blues Band record has influenced your music in any way?
JO: No. Definitely not. [Note: The A.V. Club could not find any evidence of The Doctor Pepper Blues Band’s existence. —ed.]
First favorite band:
JO: My first favorite band was probably The Beatles. I was probably 6 or 7.
AVC: Did you guys have records around when you were growing up?
JO: Yeah, my dad would play records and stuff when we were little. When I started playing drums, I was around 7. Jake had just started to play guitar, so we just played together. We’d just make stuff up. We were just recording songs on cassette.
First big-deal show:
JO: I think when we first started playing house shows, I think any time more than 20 people showed up, I would be like, “Whoa, this is crazy.” I still feel like that when more than 50 people show up for one of our shows—I get very excited and kind of surprised. Even if it’s like 60 people, I’m like, “Whoa, this is crazy.”