This ska reggae rock band, hailing from Amsterdam, always leaves a room moving. Having been to almost every gig in the uk leg of their European tour I have been lucky enough to meet the band and hang out with them. A dangerous occupation as I have already lost an eyebrow. The drummer David "the germ" Germaine hailing from Boston, previously of the rock/metal band Shadows Fall, plays fast loud and with military precision, even when songs change at random. The bass player, Jan Jaap "Jay" Onverwagt, previously on keys, can play a bass line flawlessy whilst dancing and drinking a beer. The new keyboard player, permanently in shades, Dan certainly has a way with the ladies and bounces behind the keyboards like he has been doing it all his life. He met Jaya at a surf tour and has been partying with them ever since (just don't tell his parents). The guitarist Jordi "pockets" Nieuwenburg plays solos everywhere, as he is Jaya's resident metal head. He might play like the apocalypse is tomorrow, but if you're there he is always willing to give a wave and metal fingers even if he is supposed to be riffing at that point in the song. Having been to a music school and played instruments since he was fourteen, he is probably the second most talented guitarist I have ever met. The first is Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge fame and if you have heard Alter Bridge you will know that that is high praise indeed. Finally, we have the amazing front man Geoff Lagadec, he is everything you want from your bands' front man, drunk, hung-over, aggressive, and with a voice as rough as sandpaper in gravel. I cannot imagine anyone else with the charisma or power to front a band as wild as this.
Having met them in a car park at Tesco's in 2010, whilst refuelling on beer (and for some reason lentils) they wandered over to me and my friends, said we had a cool van, drank our beer and told us to come to their gig; all whilst taking pictures in a fur coat and a pilot hat we had lying around in the van. That same night they got all of us in and Jordi dragged me on stage while Geoff went to get another beer and made me play a solo telling me it was in E…I can't really play guitar. So for what seemed like two hours to me but was two minutes in real life I was on stage with Jaya the Cat! Until finally, Geoff dragged me offstage by my hair for playing so bad! Then, one year later, we went to four gigs in five days. I passed out once, ran out of money twice, made a girl cry and broke my friend's nose (ironically the band opening for jaya the cat is the ska-core welsh band Broken Nose). I can only hope that their wild antics and amazing music stay the same, if so the future of music looks good.
The music is loud, the lyrics mostly about "that time I got drunk" and the hooks and riffs, melodic and addictive. Even as I write this I can still hear Hello Hangover and my personal favourite Closing Time. Their early hits such as Are You With Me are still played and are just as powerful as their new stuff. Even if you have never heard this band before you would still sing the chorus lyrics to Mistake after only hearing it once and most people do. With a back catalogue of four albums and a live set including at least one song off each, all fans even from the early days are pleased. If you only discover one band this year and love reggae or rock, I urge you to listen to Jaya the Cat.
By Ben "Banjo" Higginbotham