Growing up with a father who was a musician, joining the band came naturally for brothers Henry, Jojo, and Ringo Garza who since 1996 have been Los Lonely Boys.
Texas natives, the sons of Ringo Garza Sr. left their home to spend several years in Nashville, but it eventually became clear they were ahead of their time in some ways.
“For some reason it really didn’t work out for us there,” said Jojo, who plays bass and provides vocals. “One of the first ideas we worked on in 1990 and ’91 was that our dad wanted to be the first Mexican American family country band, but it didn’t happen. So we came back home to Texas.”
Grammy Award-Winning song
Seeing his boys growing into their own musically, their father stepped to the side, and Los Lonely Boys was born. In 2004 they released their debut album which hit the ground running with a smash single, “Heaven,” charting on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary charts. The success led to two Grammy nominations, and although they lost Best New Artist to Maroon 5, they did snag the award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group in the 2005 ceremonies.
Not a bad introduction to the music business.
Of course family acts are not altogether unusual in pop or rock music, but the ability to keep the band together works differently for different families. The Everly Brothers and the Gallagher brothers of Oasis have had well-documented periods of strife, but Jojo said that they haven’t really had those kinds of problems in the decades they’ve worked together.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” he said. “In the beginning there were little things here and there. But since we started out in a band with our dad, he eventually stepped aside, and we were ready. And then out popped ‘Heaven.’”
Facing modern industry challenges
Los Lonely Boys continued to release albums regularly through 2014, making the time since the release of Revelation the longest break of their career. Jojo said that doesn’t indicate a lack of new music, just the taking of time to get it right.
“We always have new music in the works,” he said. “We’ll pick certain songs that we’re into, have music that’s being worked on. It has been a while since we put out something new, and it mostly has to do with time. You can squish the wine out of the grape and drink it right away or you can let it age a little and get better. We don’t have a plan right now for putting this music out. I think we’re just going to let it sit awhile to make sure it’s as good as it can be.”
He also acknowledges that the changing music industry, which has dramatically been altered since the Garza brothers began recording together, has something to do with the time lag since they put out a new album.
“The business has changed a lot with digital recordings and social media,” he said, adding, “With piracy, it changes things a lot, too. If you play one or two new songs before you’re ready to, they can get out there and then people get used to this or that when they never should have heard this or that in the first place.”
Pleasing the crowd
Culling from more than a decade of music and from several successful albums leave Los Lonely Boys plenty of options for each show’s set list. While it’s impossible to know exactly what they’ll choose to play when they hit The Clyde stage on June 28, Jojo said that they put a lot of thought into what they’re going to play at each show.
“You have to find a balance,” he said. “Some people want to hear stuff from the first album or the second or third. A lot of people know that we came up as a cover band, and they know we play a lot of genres of music. So we try to balance some of those earlier songs, and we’ll vary it every single place we play. If you start too hot, you’ll burnout, but if you start too cold, then you’ll have a frozen crowd. Mostly we go out there and try to melt their faces off or then maybe we’ll tickle them with a feather. It’s up to each night and how the crowd responds. It’s a real give-give. We give them a little, and if they respond and give us something back, then it goes nicely from there. We just balance that out each night based on what we’re getting from the crowd.”
Los Lonely Boys have faced some challenges over the years. A fall from stage led to serious injuries for Henry, the band’s lead singer and guitarist. Jojo developed vocal cord nodules which led to another unplanned break for the band. But through it all — and even following the death of their mother four years ago — Los Lonely Boys keep coming back, keep hitting the stage, keep moving forward.
“Going out on the stage is what makes it all worthwhile,” Jojo said. “Reaching out to people is still what it’s all about. To still be out there working and still playing to great turnouts is great. It’s nice to know that people are still into Los Lonely Boys.”
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