After coming together in haphazard fashion in 2011, Joint Committee is planning to release their first label-backed album this year
By Brian Park
If it wasn’t for the demise of one band, then San Juan Capistrano-based reggae/rock group Joint Committee may have never been.
In 2011, Joint Committee bassist Adam Gerhard and lead singer/guitarist Jeremiah Rich were performing with another local band, The Badfooters, who were set to play a big show, opening for Grammy Award-winning reggae roots group Steel Pulse at The Coach House.
But their bandmate’s personal troubles led to an abrupt end to the group. Not wanting to cancel their show, Gerhard and Rich set out to recruit new musicians, who could, at the very least, help them fulfill their obligation.
Enter keyboardist Lavay Loranger, who knew Rich through their daytime jobs in the pool supply and repair business, and drummer Kevin Lyons, who Loranger recommended and, as it turns out, grew up with Gerhard in San Juan Capistrano.
In one month, the four managed to pull together a collection of songs and took the stage as Damage Control, a nod to their haphazard origin. Two years later, the band is still at it and has garnered a loyal fan base in the process.
What began as a quick fix has potentially become a new life in music and validation for years of practice and performances. In February, the band signed their first record contract with Lake Forest-based Wright Records and are set to enter the studio to produce their first label-backed album, slated for release in the late summer or early fall.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal as a musician is to sign with a label,” Gerhard said. “I took pictures of everybody signing the contract. I felt like a kid.”
While signing the contract may have brought out his inner child, Gerhard believes one of the reasons why the band was able to mesh so seamlessly was their maturity.
“We’re a little bit older. We’re in our mid 30s, so we kind of had the partying thing out of our systems,” Gerhard said. “We all just wanted to focus on our music.”
Even their name, Joint Committee, is a reflection of their musical harmony, on stage and in practice, according to the band.
“It’s crazy how fast we clicked,” said Rich, reflecting on their first few practices. “Everything just clicked—personalities, music, everything.”
Although only Gerhard and Lyons hail from San Juan Capistrano—Rich lives in Dana Point, Loranger in Coto de Caza—the band considers the city their home base. Gerhard guesses they’ve played around 100 shows, many of them at The Coach House in San Juan. They’ve shared the stage with contemporary reggae-pop artist Shaggy and actors-turned-musicians Kiefer Sutherland and Dennis Quaid. Perhaps the most notable group the band opened for was The Wailers, the legendary backing band to reggae’s most iconic star, Bob Marley.
“When you grow up listening to reggae, you probably got turned on to it because of Bob Marley,” Gerhard said. “To be able to share the stage with some of his band members, you think, ‘What am I doing here?’”
Now with the support of a record label, there is little doubt Joint Committee belongs on the stage. But according to Rich, the band is not approaching this new stage of their careers as if “we’ve arrived.”
“It was good, but I keep reminding the guys that this isn’t the goal,” Rich said. “It’s just a stepping stone. We still have a lot of work to do, and this is just the beginning.”