Jaialai has earned its title as one of Miami's most exciting rock bands. By incorporating Britpop and shoegaze influences into its overtly psychedelic presentation, the group has staged some of the most memorable local-act-driven live shows of the past few years.
But the group hit a bump in the road last summer when guitarist Jovi Adames moved to Mexico City. For many acts, a bandmate's relocation to another country would be as good a reason as any to pack it in.
Luckily for Miami music aficionados, Jaialai opted to persevere.
"Having Jovi away has made us more efficient due to the fact that we now need to take better advantage of when we are all together,” drummer Ricky Boullon tells New Times.
"It’s pushing us to be a band that travels more often," singer/guitarist Oscar Sardiñas adds. "Aside from shared folders and setting dates further in advance, as long as we preserve our intentions and, most important, our friendship while living in separate cities, everything stems from that.”
After Adames' move, the quartet played its first international shows with a few dates in Mexico. The tour wound up having an outsize influence on Jaialai's new five-song EP, Culebra.
“I kind of romanticized the desert when I was sketching some of these songs," Sardiñas shares, noting the trip was inspiring both for himself and the group. "When we went to Mexico and rode through it, it kinda brought what was missing out. The actual reality of this completely different environment and actually being there, something in our minds was brought to life."
Jaialai's members synthesized a variety of musical influences during the recording of Culebra. Sardiñas cites the krautrock of the German band Can as a touchstone, while Adames found inspiration from the likes of Deerhunter and Radiohead. Boullon listened to a lot of the Rolling Stones, and bassist Mario Lemus found himself infatuated with a compilation from the record label Habibi Funk collecting "many funk and disco bands from Saudi Arabia in the '70s."
Jaialai's established fans and Miami's musically curious will get a chance to listen to Culebra this Friday, February 28. The four-piece is organizing a concert at Las Rosas to mark the EP's release. In addition to a new song-laden show from Jaialai, Miami bands Ghostflower and Mold will perform in support.
Friday's gig will be the first time Jaialai has shared the songs of Culebra with a live audience. "Now we have ballads and dance-y tunes apart from the rock," Adames says of the band's latest sonic offerings. "It has been fun puzzling the right way to present all of this in one show."
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Adames is looking forward to coming home a slightly changed man. "Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, and music culture here is like no other," he says. "You can be crossing the street in an old town and you'll hear Metallica blasting from a tiny taverna. I think it clicked for me in a way that there is a crowd, a stage, and a fan for everything. And as a band, I don't want [Jaialai] to limit ourselves musically. I've been listening to music in Spanish more than ever and letting that sink in me more than ever. I come from a Spanish-speaking country [Venezuela], and I feel I never gave it too much of a chance. Now I'm blasting Selena while walking around town."
Even with their long-distance relationship, the bandmates already have big plans for the remainder of 2020. The coming months will see Jaialai perform at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival, followed by Miami Psych Fest in April and III Points in early May.
If nothing else, Lemus has one major goal he'd like to achieve this year: "I’m gonna crowd-surf one of these shows."
Jaialai Presents Culebra. With Ghostflower and Mold. 10 p.m. Friday, February 28, at Las Rosas, 2898 NW 7th Ave., Miami; 786-780-2700; lasrosasbar.com. Admission is free.