Dynamic rock/brown-eyed soul/blues band Los Lonely Boys is made up of the brothers Garza: Henry (guitar/vocals), Jojo (bass/vocals), and Ringo (drums/vocals). The band describes their sound as “Texican Rock ‘n’ Roll.” They are best known for their #1, Grammy-winning hit, “Heaven.” Originally from San Angelo, Texas, their music is deeply rooted in family ties. Their father, Ringo Garza, Sr., also played in a sibling band, The Falcones. Ringo, Sr. then went solo and brought along his sons as backing members.
The boys left the nest to form their own group and recorded their self-titled debut album at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales studio in Austin in 2004, on which Willie played. Los Lonely Boys was first released on the small Or Music label, but Epic Records picked it up in 2004. The popularity of the group skyrocketed and their single, “Heaven,” went to #1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart and won a Grammy in 2005 by a Duo or Group with Vocal for Best Pop Performance. Los Lonely Boys ended up going double platinum.
Los Lonely Boys’ latest release, Revelation (2014) came out a little less than a year after Henry Garza was seriously injured from a fall from a stage. After a long recuperation period, he is thankfully back to playing music.
The band strives to put out music that unites listeners. “We want to make music that brings people together, not music that divides people,” Jojo states. “We’re all about having a good time, but we also make an effort to write about things that really matter.”
I must confess that I am a huge fan of Los Lonely Boys. This powerhouse triumvirate with its rich, effortless harmonies is a pleasure to listen to.
I caught up with Jojo Garza when he was in California recently.
Jane Spietz: You refer to your musical style as “Texican Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Jojo Garza: Music has been a major part of our lives forever and so we were exposed to many different artists, styles, genres, instruments and many other things music related. Because of this we were able to learn that the art of music wasn’t something we could make new, but rather that we could create something new with what already existed from the art of music. Basically what I mean is we learned from the teachers and musicians before us. First our father. He was the biggest influence. Songs he wrote along with his personal favorites were what we were fed. Then we started to do our own searching musically and found many other influences along the way. All those ideas, and melodies and rhythms and sounds and artists are the base or platform of what we build musically. There’s nothing new about music. I guess you could say the hammer, nails and building materials were already here…it’s what we do with those things that make what we build ours. We call it Texican rock n roll because they asked us to define ourselves as a genre…we said, well if there isn’t a genre called “Music” then we will just make up our own.
JS: It sounds as though your father, Ringo Garza, Sr., impacted the band greatly from early on. Did you perform with him?
JG: He’s the biggest influence. Our father is the original Lonely Boy. He had his dreams and aspirations as to what we would become. The first Mexican American family country band. That’s where we got all our practice.
JS: Where did the inspiration for your #1 single, “Heaven,” come from?
JG: The inspiration came from personal life experiences. Henry came up with the idea from what was at first a prayer. If you listen to the lyrics, you can understand where the inspiration comes from. The idea that we all have faith and hope, believing there’s a better place with better days, every day.
JS: Los Lonely Boys won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Heaven” in 2005. What did that mean for the band?
JG: First it was unbelievable, and then we remembered that our band name was the one they called out. Ha ha! We really never played for the idea of winning anything, but it’s such a great honor and it means a lot to us to be noticed by many others for what we always loved to do.
JS: Having your debut album, Los Lonely Boys, go double platinum was quite an accomplishment.
JG: When we started selling our album, it was obvious that the music did all the talking. It sold itself and began to grab the attention of many show goers. I guess word got around and we were approached by some cats from Epic Records. The idea of selling millions of records was not something we even knew about. When they gave us our platinum records we asked, ‘where’s the gold ones?’ They said, ‘these are way better than those.’ We were pretty surprised and it was another great moment.
JS: Talk about your collaboration with Carlos Santana.
JG: Working with Carlos was a dream come true for all of us. What he gave to music was always influential as well as inspirational to us. We are just so thankful to God for all the blessings we have received and continue to receive.
JS: Los Lonely Boys covered John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” at Amnesty International’s Make Some Noise Project in 2007. Interestingly, that song was Lennon’s only U.S. #1 single while he was alive.
JG: It was great being a part of it all. We wanted to record “Imagine,” but so did everybody, ha! So we came to the decision to record that tune and it came out pretty cool.
JS: Your 2009 EP, 1969, celebrated some of the great music from that year. What thoughts went into the selection of the songs you covered for that?
JG: Those were just a few songs we chose to put out as some of our favorites. We were paying homage to the 40 year anniversary of music from that era.
JS: In 2011, Los Lonely Boys released Rockpango, which in Spanglish means “rock party.” Describe how the music of Rockpango is representative of a “rock party.”
JG: All our albums are like that really. We always try to give something to the people that flows. If you listen to music at a party, the music tries to please everyone with different styles and genres and so on. Not being big fans of limiting ourselves to styles or musical solidification, we always try to put something out that can keep you listening to the same band without noticing. That’s the idea behind the title.
JS: You followed a new creative path on your latest album, Revelation (2014). Describe the musical stylings you explored for this.
JG: Revelation is an updated version of how we approach our albums. Working with different artists and writers and producers, combined with what we do was an idea we all liked. There is an evident progression you can not only hear but feel. We’ve never been big fans of studio albums, we are a live band, but we really feel we captured something familiar but fresh. Something old but new. A true expression of being part of the change of something that already exists. A musical shift, or Revelation, if you will.
JS: I am incredibly excited that Los Lonely Boys will be performing at the historic Thrasher Opera House in Green Lake WI on October 1st.
JG: Everyone can expect a good time! Plain and simple. People can expect to see a band…that plays real instruments. We also sing and play every note heard. It’s all organic. You can feed your musical hunger with processed and overproduced so- called music, or you can come get some of the good stuff at a Los Lonely Boys concert.