July 04, 2008
This JoJo has never been a loner.But he doesn’t mind gettin’ back — if that means kicking back down-home in San Angelo, his beloved hometown. That’s because he and his band Los Lonely Boys are all about home and family.JoJo Garza, along with his brothers Henry and Ringo, are known as much for that blood connection as they are their platinum-selling Latin rock hits.But music “is what we’ve been doing all our lives,” said bassist and singer JoJo Garza, 28. He is an affable character, prone to ending his sentences affectionately with “carnal,” “bro” and “God bless.”Los Lonely Boys are one of the stars of Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Friday, July 4.They’re promoting a new album “Forgiven.” The San Antonio Express-News caught up with JoJo at home to talk about it.Q. Are you excited about the upcoming tour with Los Lobos?A. Oh, yeah, bro. It’s gonna be a good time, man. Los Lobos have always been a big inspiration for us.
Q. There seem to be clues in the new lyrics about heartbreak, tough times and professional pressures. What are the songs about?
A. No, man. It’s everyday stuff. Things that a lot of us go through. It’s just being able to channel that, and get it out on paper. Like ‘Heart Won’t Tell a Lie,’ that’s a pretty good message: search your soul and you’ll find it, but a heart won’t tell a lie.
Q. Where do the outrageous chords for ‘Make It Better’ come from?
A. I was here at the house, and I was jamming around with an acoustic guitar, recording. I just started playing. I had the music before I had the words were even done. We got together, us three, and finished it off.
Q. Was there a lot of pressure after “Heaven” and winning a Grammy Award?
A. Not really, bro. It’s never really about pressure, carnal. The way I see it is, you’re either going to like it, or you’re not. If you don’t, that’s fine. If it doesn’t float your boat, that’s OK.
Q. Are you saying there weren’t record company people begging for another “Heaven”?
A. Oh, yeah. They were saying that a lot. All we can say is, ‘Hey, there’s only one “Heaven.” You can’t (force it). I don’t think there’s any reason to have any kind of pressure on a musician. Because music is from the soul, brother.
Q. What did you think of Hector Galan’s film?
A. I was completely surprised by the way it turned out. It was really good. And a lot of information was really piled down to 90 minutes or whatever it was, man. I think that’s pretty amazing, to take a life of a family and turn it into (a movie).
Q. What about all the bad publicity with the drugs and sex party scandal?
A. Basically, you just ride the wave with the storm, man. I mean, it is what it is. I don’t want to get into that too much. All I can tell you is that nothing ever in your life seems to happen until you come into the public eye. When you get in the public eye, you’re all of a sudden not human anymore. You know what I’m saying? That’s really not the way it is. We’re still human, and there are ups and down in life. But false accusations are there, too, brother. False accusations exist, as well.
Q. Is that something that comes with fame?
A. It’s just something you have to deal with, definitely. Once that public eye is on you, you’re no longer who you were. All of a sudden you have to be perfect for certain people. We’re human, brother. We just do our best to roll with the punches as they come to you.
Q. What did producer Steve Jordan bring to the game?
A. Just really the guy being around. He’s a really good guy. He’s got a great presence about him. He’s got a good heart. He brought a lot of years to the table. That’s one thing. The guy’s been around. He’s basically a legend.
Q. Did you lay it down differently?
A. Yeah, that’s a good question. Actually, we recorded it on a soundstage, bro. Basically, we did it like a live show. So that was one of the big techniques he did bring in.
Q. Why did he do that? Were you unhappy with the recordings?
A. For one thing, the last two album we had done, we always felt, like, it wasn’t being captured, what we do live wasn’t being captured. When we met Steve Jordan, he said, ‘I know how to get this sound. Because you guys have a swing that isn’t coming out in your records. I can see it and I can hear it live, and we’re gonna get that.’
Q. Were you uptight before?
A. Maybe not uptight, bro. It’s almost not like planting a flower, bro. It’s like making a flower. That’s the difference in the studio, as opposed to what we do live.
Q. So live is ‘planting’ it?
A. Planting it with soil, with the earth, with the roots. When you’re in the studio, you’re basically finding a petal, trying to make the petal. You know, you kind of construct this fake flower. It’s kind of weird.
Q. What’s something that’s dead wrong about you guys?
A. I ain’t really heard nothing like that, man. Because we’ve been so honest about who we are and what we believe and stuff.
Q. There are no wrong impressions about Los Lonely Boys?
A. Oh, yeah. Well some people I meet, they’ll be like, ‘Oh, you all have, like, girls everywhere and big cars and a bunch of flashy jewelry and money and all of that.’ That’s probably one of the misconceptions about us. But that’s true about a lot of artists.
Q. What do each one of you bring to the rock ‘n’ roll game? How do you make that flower?
A. Well, Henry is very spiritual, man. He’s kind of like a free spirit. He brings a lot of that to our music. He brings the flowing, the free-flowing. Ringo packs a punch. He delivers to the people. As far as myself, I don’t really talk myself up, man. I just get up there and try to have a good tike and a good show. That’s what I bring to the table. Together, it’s what you hear.
Q. But aren’t you the outgoing one onstage?
A. When I was younger, bro, I was nothing like that. My dad, when he presented us on our own, we had no idea how to talk on a microphone. It was really sad, bro. We just stood up there all night and played some songs and said, ‘Thank you.’ When this started picking up. I don’t know what happened, bro. That shell came off, and I was able to look into the people’s eyes. I love being able to connect, and see what they’re feeling and they’re thinking.
Q. Your audience comes in a wide range of ages. Why?
A. The Latino thing has something to do with it, definitely. Because Latinos are very family oriented, and we’re very close. One thing we’ve always tried to be is not a genre of music. We don’t point in just one direction. It’s all around. It’s circular, man. For a family to be at a show together, instead of just the kids being out alone at a rock concert, is something that is more important and will be a better outcome.
Q. Do you ever have a sense that people root for you because of the family story and Latino thing?
A. A lot of it is because of that. A lot of it is also because we’re not afraid to talk about our spirituality and Jesus Christ and what we believe. And I think a lot of people get connected to that.
Q. Are Los Lonely Boys role models?
A. Definitely. We’re in the public eye. With great power comes great responsibility. To be able to — chingado, what was the question, man?
Q. Why do people have their hope and dreams tied to you?
A. I’ve talked to a few people, and it just comes down to being human, bro. We’re different.
Q. Have you come up against prejudice?
A. Oh, yeah, brother. All our lives we dealt with that. We’d be in Nashville, Tennessee and we’d walk into a bar and it’s be, ‘Get those rednecks out of here. Get off the stage.’ And we were little kids at the time, bro. So we were confused, like, what does all this mean? And at the same time, learning about it. This is really going on in this world. It’s just something you have to overcome, though. Because it’s not real. It’s just something that’s (man-made).
Q. What do you think about when you hear the first album?
A. I think about all the work we did before we got there. It was basically a whole lifetime of work that went down with that album.
Q. Is it true the record company wasn’t happy with the follow-up, “Sacred”?
A. Yes, bro. A lot of it had to do that we weren’t really prepared for the studio, and they rushed us to get in there. I think it was still a great effort. I love the songs and I love the album, and I think it should have done a lot more. There was some good stuff on there, but some people aren’t attracted to certain sounds. But whatever. To me, the songs, and the album had a lot of meaning that a lot of people didn’t really grasp hold of, which was like sacred.
Q. How does “Forgiven” differ?
A. It doesn’t differ that much from either of the two albums. The only thing is there is a lot of maturity and growth in the music and the way we sound. It’s basically still us, Los Lonely Boys family band, brothers doing what we do.
Q. Are you looking forward to the Willie Nelson picnic this year?
A. Oh, yeah, dude. It’s going to get wild.
Great interview with Jojo of Los Lonely Boys!
I bought the new release, Forgiven, last week- and I highly recommend it. There are great songs on that album, starting with “Heart Won’t Tell A Lie”, which I hope will be the next single. LLB are our Tejas Homeboys. We should all get behind them. It was great to read: “Tex Mex” under the description of their music in the list of new releases for the week of July 1st. Who else is doing that for Texas?
Posted by: bordertejana at July 9, 2008 06:33 PM
This has in it the best take on prejudice I’ve seen:
“…it’s not real.It’s just something that’s (man-made).”
Don’t know what he really said, but
“It’s just something that’s man-made.” should be taught to every little kid everywhere, so they don’t grow up hating for no reason.
WOW WHAT AN INTERVIEW, AWSOME DUDE REALLY DOWN TO EARTH CARNAL. ORALE I WILL COME SEE YOU GUYS AT THE SIGNING AT WAL-MART TODAY 7-4-08. STAY KOOL JO JO. -LUCKY LOUIE