Andy J. Chaves, the dynamic and ever-unique founding member of Tempe, AZ-based indie/alternative band Katastro, has died at 32. Known for his hard-hitting verses, overflowing charisma and spectacular style (in both fashion and overall swagger), the untraditional vocalist always marched to the beat of his own drum. The very drum that fellow band member and co-founder Andrew Stravers unwaveringly beat for Chaves from their early days, playing in small local venues to sold-out ragers at the world famous Red Rocks in Morrison, CO with bands like Dirty Heads, Iration and Sublime with Rome most recently.
A report published by CBS LA on May 12th states:
“Three people were killed in a violent collision on the Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach early Thursday morning. The crash took place at 12:46am on the PCH, near Newport Boulevard. According to Newport Beach police, a car carrying three people that was traveling east on the PCH hit a curb in the median and then slammed into roadwork construction equipment. The three people in the car, two men and a woman, died on scene. They were identified as Crystal M. McCallum, 34, of Texas; Wayne Walter Swanson Jr., 40, of Newport Coast; and Andrew James Chaves, 32, of Arizona.”
The news sent shockwaves through the reggae rock community, with condolences and words of admiration pouring in from around the world via social media.
Fans, crew, fellow artists and friends posted their respects beginning Thursday, continuing into Friday the 13th, with emotional captions ranging from utter disbelief to gutted heartbreak, written below their favorite picture of the enigmatic frontman.
Katastro made an official statement via Instagram this morning:
“We are completely devastated to have to announce the loss of our brother and singer Andy Chaves. Please respect the privacy of Andy’s family and members of the band as we all begin to process this. Thank you for the love and support. — Ryan, Tanner, Stravs”
The energy Chaves brought to stage — and life in general — was infectious and left an indelible mark on everyone who was lucky enough to bask in his aura. The French say, “je ne sais quoi”, which roughly translates to “I don’t know what”. Andy possessed that special quality; with a spark in his soul and a twinkle in his eye, Andy was magnetic.
A video uploaded to Instagram and created by Sam Scarce, Katastro’s sometimes videographer, attempts and succeeds at capturing a glimmer of Chaves’ magic in a thoughtfully produced tribute montage, contrasting his highest moments onstage in front of thousands with raw, vulnerable solo portraiture.
Katastro’s genre-bending style of Jared Watson-esque rap and alt-pop fusion is as individualistic as the vocalist. The group formed in 2007 with guitarist Tanner Riccio and drummer Andrew Stravers, before later adding Ryan Weddle on the bass. 2011 breakthrough album, Gentle Predator, a mixture of bouncy party anthems and moody guitars, put them on the map, while 2016 single “Flow” from Strange Nights solidified their status as serious rockstars, with over 18M Spotify streams. Devotion to fans sets the quartet apart from the rest, evidenced by their highly engaged and adoring social media audiences.
If you’re a Katastro fan, Andy influenced your life in some way. All we can do in return is pay it forward and attempt to spread the joy he so freely bestowed on us all. That and stream their music nonstop and buy Katastro merch.
Photography by Sean McCracken & Brian “Porkchop” Nicholson