Family tradition runs deep in Texas. The state lays claim to everybody’s favorite Frat Packers, Luke and Owen Wilson, musical maestros Ashlee and Jessica Simpson, and let’s not forget the political legacy of the brothers Bush (at least not until November, anyway). And then there are the Garza brothers. While they might not be a household name, thanks to the 2004 hit “Heaven” their musical alias, Los Lonely Boys, most certainly is. But long before Henry, JoJo, and Ringo Garza were recording and releasing their unique blend of Texican rock ‘n’ roll, they were singing backup vocals for their father’s band. “Heaven” might have seemingly come out of nowhere, but it was born from a musical tradition that has now spanned two generations and yielded three albums, a documentary, and live shows alongside the Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, and Carlos Santana. On tour in support of the recently released Forgiven, Los Lonely Boys will join Sheryl Crow at the Santa Barbara Bowl this Thursday, June 12. Brett Leigh Dicks recently spoke with JoJo Garza.
Does having a band with your brothers make things easier or harder? I think it makes it easier. When you’re doing something with your brothers all your life, it becomes so easy. At the same time, there are still those hills you have to climb. But nobody’s got your back like your brothers got it, man.
Is it a union that transcends the music? In a lot of musical families there have been hardships and they end up separating or splitting up, but the way we’ve been raised, family’s been first always. The way we see it, we’re brothers first and the music is an addition to what God has already blessed us with, which is such a beautiful family. That’s the concept that carries through everything we do.
Los Lonely Boys have supported their fair share of rock ‘n’ roll royalty. What is it like walking out onstage knowing that the Rolling Stones or Sheryl Crow are going to follow? For us to be in that sort of environment is a chance to be opening new ears to what we do. It’s cool for us because we’re able to cross so many different genres of music. But what it all comes down to is the fans. It’s just a chance for us to get our music out there as much as we can.
You alluded to your music crossing genres. Your sound is very much a melting pot of influences. Where do you see yourselves in the world of contemporary music? We don’t believe that any type of music should have a label on it, or there should be any boundaries separating it. We have never wanted to classify ourselves in any kind of genre, man, so we came up with what we called “Texican Rock ‘n’ Roll.” But at the same time, brother, we know that there is a place for that. So we’re pretty much a rock band.
You hail from Texas. What role has your home state played in your music? It’s everything, brother. Every morning, [from when] we wake up until when we go to sleep, it’s there. Don’t get me wrong, every place is special, but here in Texas, man, there is something about the earth and something about the air and something about the water. This is not just the place we live; it’s the place we call home. We’re from Texas and we’re Mexican Americans, and all that plays a very important role in what we do in life. But at the same time, it’s not something we’re overstating. We don’t need to-it’s there naturally.
You had a huge hit with “Heaven,” which came off your debut album, and then there was pressure to follow that up with Sacred. What was it like going into the studio for a third time to record Forgiven? We didn’t feel any stress when it came time to make the second album. The way it turned out is what it is. We really don’t feel the need to stress about what we do or what we give to the world musically. For us, being in the studio is just another exciting adventure.
Comparing your recordings to your live shows, where do you think Los Lonely Boys make their greatest mark? I believe the live side of Los Lonely Boys is where you can really see what we’re about. As far as albums go, this last album was one of the better albums we have recorded because of the style that we did it in. It was a real live recording. It was like a live environment, which offered us a really cool vibe.
With a new album coming out, the road is presumably going to consume your life for a while. Are you ready for another round of touring? I’m very excited. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to miss my kids and my brothers are going to miss their families and stuff. But it’s time for us to get out there and start pushing a new album and to start making some new tracks in the sand.
Los Lonely Boys will open for Sheryl Crow at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 12, at the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.). Visit sbbowl.com or call 962-7411 for tickets.