The Jai-Alai Savant's reggae-punk stylings get a fair amount of air time over here at the The FADER treehouse. We've mentioned their rad roots maneuvers here before. The band recently released a new EP called Thunderstatement through GSL. So we thought what better time to re-intoduce this fine Chicago quartet. After the jump check out our GEN F article on singer/guitarist Ralph Darden and the band, written by our Chi-correspondent, Sam Ada.
Ralph Darden is a cordial gentleman who works at a plant store and peddles tickets for architectural tours of Chicago. He is an expert Brazilian jiujitsu sportfighter who, when three hoods recently tried to mug him, not only proposed a one-on-three throwdown, but also pursued his would-be “attackers” on some shit like: “First of all, I’m broke. Second of all, there’s a lot easier people than me to mug in Chicago. Furthermore, I don’t have shit to live for right now. Somebody’s gonna get hurt.”
Darden is the mastermind behind the Jai Alai Savant—a sparepunk-dub outfit that will soon release Sugar Free, its debut EP. He is also (though he claims he is not) Major Taylor: DJ/selector, Hollertronix cohort, producer-extraordinaire with a Mars Volta remix in the works, and curator of the infamous Philadelphia parties Let’s Get Butt Naked And Fuck and This Party Doesn’t Match Your Outfit, which he will soon be exporting to Chicago.
And more: Darden is a self-proclaimed comic book nerd who doubles as the protagonist on the forthcoming Jai Alai Savant full-length Flight Of The Bass Delegate, a dark, quasi-autobiographical tale of a superhero who “loses his fucking mind” and leaves his hometown only to see it collapse upon his exodus. “I was going through a lot of tumultuous crap in Philly, but it was all good,” Darden says of his real-life transition from Philadelphia to Chicago. “It all happened for a good reason.”
The multiplicity of Darden’s identities is reflected in his musical endeavors. The Jai Alai Savant negotiates the textures of punk rock and dub reggae—one-drop and steppa rhythms provide the underbelly for guitar blasts and urgent-yet-melancholic vocals. Major Taylor, on the other hand, just wants people to lose their collective shit. Longing for the burnthismotherfuckerdown mentality of his Philly parties, he says, “I’m used to seeing girls dressed like prostitutes from outer space with gold teeth spitting beer on each other.” Perhaps Darden’s only real paradox is that despite the science fair for the creatively insane he hosts inside his head, he’s just that guy from your block; the older cat who skateboarded with you and put you on to some cool hardcore band back in the day.