|Jordi "Pockets" Nieuwenburg - Jaya The Cat - Interview Exclusive|
|Written by Rich Hobson|
|Friday, 11 November 2011 05:00|
Jaya the Cat currently stand as the primo party ska punk band on the contemporary scene. Formed in Boston, USA in the early 2000's before relocating to Amsterdam in 2004, prompting a line-up shuffle. The band have three releases under their belt so far and are mainstays of the UK's Rebellion Festival. They are also developing an ever expanding crowd of fervent fans attracted to their dance driven, party heavy brand of ska punk, something that they deliver oh so well.
Always happy to chat, it was great to catch up with the band's guitarist Jordi Nieuwenburg recently to see how Jaya The Cat are getting on and what their plans are for the future, as well as casting an eye back on some of the bigger shows that they have played this past year.
Hi Jordi, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. If we could start with the basics for our readers that would be great. So lets begin with your history with the band, as they originally formed in Boston right?
Well, I myself am Dutch, but Jeff (Lagadec, vocals) and "The Germ" (David Germain, drums) are from the States yeah. See, it used to be an all-American band, but then two of the guys quit so Geoff and Germ were like "fuck it, let's move to Europe - the music is better and it's more fun there anyways! That's when they needed new musicians, and here we are.
Indeed, though the all-American Jaya The Cat released albums prior to their relocation, it is with their new Dutch collaborators that they have released their finest (and most popular) record to date; 2007's 'More Late Night Transmissions With...', an epic consisting of party anthems like 'Night Bus', honest love songs 'Good Morning', hangover laden songs 'Hello Hangover' and 'Closing Time', social issue tackling songs 'Voice Of The Poor' and 'Government Center' and even 'Thank You Reggae', a song which at a little over 4 minutes pays homage to many of the band's preceding ska, punk and reggae contemporaries.
Speaking of lyrical content - a lot of the lyrics in the band deal with partying - would you say you are a very party-centric band, and go for the whole "Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll"?
Absolutely! The lyrics are basically just Geoff's life! He writes all of the lyrics, and what you hear is what you get. He doesn't sit around saying "what shall I write now?" he basically writes about what happened last night - it cracks me up.
Being a partying band, have there ever been any gigs you've been too wasted?
We try to be cool before most of the shows; it's afterwards that we can really let our guards down. It's nice to have a few beers in you before a show, but of course if you don't have enough focus you're gonna play a crappy show, and we still take that shit seriously. But we do like our drinks, and we try to keep on each other so we can get away with it.
Speaking of live shows, earlier this year Jaya The Cat managed to secure a lucrative slot alongside the primo alt. ska punks Sublime, in their latest outing as Sublime with Rome. Being a band that was mentioned in the aforementioned song, it goes without saying the band were happy to get the slot.
How did the Sublime with Rome shows come about?
It wasn't really anything to do with management or whatever - it was mostly down to clubs. The clubs were like "What's the right support for the Holland shows? And they came up with Jaya The Cat", or at least that's what they told us - and we were really happy to hear that. We were really happy to get those shows - some good slots.
And how were those shows for you?
For a support show that was the best thing you could get in the world. And for us and our style? Really good. The crowd loved it, and so did we.
In addition to these shows the band also performed a mighty set at this year's Rebellion Festival (covered way back in August here on Uber Rock), performing to a gathered crowd who had enjoyed the Sunday's ska offerings in the form of acts like Sonic Boom Six, The Beat and Citizen Fish to really warm them up for the band's act.
How was this year's Rebellion show for you?
Awesome! It was so awesome, it was just too short! Too many friends to be sharing it with, y'know?
Having seen the band twice this year, both at Rebellion and again in Derby, I found it interesting that though the setlists both covered the band's main hits, the Rebellion setlist was much more relaxed and Reggae oriented than its frantic Derby counterpart.
When I saw you back at Rebellion the setlist had a much more relaxed, Reggae feel to it - how did you choose the different setlists for the shows?
(Laughing) Y'know, I think we stopped using written setlists like 3 or 4 years ago - now Geoff just calls out the numbers and we go with the flow of the evening. I expected to play a few more punky songs [at Rebellion] but it just didn't happen.
In the UK ska seems to be gaining mass popularity again as acts like the King Blues, Random Hand and the old guard of The Specials and Bad Manners all tour relentlessly and release new material, so it seems prudent to ask Jordi if he has noticed any change in the crowds the band are playing to.
It's always been pretty good, and I've seen it grow gradually over the years but with every album we get new people in and so we can hope to keep doing that with the next album early next year. We can release that, and then we'll see what happens. We're definitely on the way up still!
When is the next album out?
We're almost done with it now.
What can we expect of it?
It'll be a bit like the last one, and maybe a bit poppier even, but we'll always have the Jaya the Cat edge. It'll never be slick; it'll always have a punk attitude. We always call ourselves a punk reggae band, and that's what you can expect. It'll be a bit more produced sounding.
Do you have any producers in mind?
Yeah we have a few friends back home we can get to help us out with it, and they'll make it sound AWESOME.
Can we expect a full Euro/UK tour?
We'll definitely be coming back again. As soon as it's released we'll be back over - we've got some shows booked for this November so you'll be seeing us again then anyway, which is real cool because you guys have got such good energy.
You can see Jaya The Cat throughout November at the following shows;
SALISBURY - ARTS CENTER - FRIDAY 11TH NOVEMBER
BRIDGEND - HOBOS - SATURDAY 12TH NOVEMBER
DERBY - OLD BELL - SUNDAY 13TH NOVEMBER
NEWCASTLE - TRILLIANS - TUESDAY 15TH NOVEMBER
BRISTOL - THE CROFT - THURSDAY 17TH NOVEMBER
MANCHESTER - MOHO LIVE - FRIDAY 18TH NOVEMBER
LONDON - 02 ISLINGTON ACADEMY - SATURDAY 19TH NOVEMBER
Or if you cannot make one of these check out their website http://www.jayathecat.com/ for all the latest news on the band.