Meet Giovannie and the Hired Guns, the Mexican-American group signed to a country label playing 2000s pop-punk

GTHG-Promo-4_David-McClister-2 – Credit: David McClister*

When Giovannie Yanez was writing the moody ballad “The Letter” for his band’s new album Giovannie and the Hired Guns, he kept hearing the voice of 70s country crooner Freddy Fender in his head. Yanez wanted to sing a verse of his song in Spanish and he figured if Fender, a fellow Texan of Mexican descent, could do it, so could he.

“I was thinking ‘Before the next tear drop’ and I thought, ‘What if I do this?’ And it worked,” says Yanez.

Of course, Fender wasn’t singing a Xanax habit in his 1975 weeper. Yanez, however, detailed in English and Spanish verse the zombie state he was in a few years earlier. “It’s easy for me to ride the school bus for free all day,” he sings in the very first line of “The Letter,” a street reference to the yellow depressor bars.

“I had Xanax on me all the time. I took just enough so I wouldn’t get caught, or if I got arrested I could just eat it and be fine. But then an ice storm hit and we got stuck in Kyle, Texas for five days in a hotel and I ran away,” says Yanez, 28. rolling stone. Dressed in all black – pants, T-shirt, baseball cap, a tattoo reading “Time Is Money” on his right arm – he sits on a couch in his manager’s loft in Nashville, relaxing under a huge American flag on the wall .

“I would go to the van and try to find some, even though I knew there were none. That’s when I was like, ‘Oh the fuck, what’s wrong with me?’ Now people should know I got a little [problem]…” he said, his voice trailing off. “Because someone might be facing the same thing as me.”

It’s this unflinching honesty and willingness to write and sing about personal failings — from addiction to bad romance — that has helped make Giovannie and the Hired Guns one of the most surprising buzz bands in the world. the year. Musically, the quintet – Yanez on guitar and vocals, his cousin Carlos Villa and Jerrod Flusche on guitar, Alex Trejo on bass and Milton Toles on drums – sound like early 2000s pop-punk; they would make the perfect opening act for Blink-182’s reunion tour. But there are also hints of country music and a healthy dose of Tejano rock that suggest appeal to a wider audience. When the Texas-based band released their first major label, Tejano Punk Boyzon Friday it will arrive on Warner Music Nashville, but in partnership with Warner Music, for rock distribution, and Warner Music Latina.

“Who’s to say I can’t hit No. 1 on rock, country and Latin America [charts]?” Yanez asks. “Why not all three? I want to at least try.

With “The Letter” and the self-eviscerating guitar and tuba number “Overrated” (“She says I’m a waste of time / And I think she might be right”), Tejano Punk Boyz is anchored by Hired Guns hit “Ramon Ayala,” a big, guitar-fueled rocker that topped the Active Rock and Alternative radio charts last year. Its title is a nod to the working-class norteño singer known as “The King of the Accordion” whose music shaped the youth of Yanez and his peers. The song itself is a metaphor for what Christopher Moltisanti might call the “regularity of life”. “I’m just your regular asshole / There’s nothing special about me,” Yanez sings. “I always bang Ramon Ayala when I get drunk.”

“Ramon Ayala, even though I don’t know him personally, he’s been a big part of my life. Every Christmas, every Thanksgiving, every family barbecue, he’s there in the background,” Yanez says. During their concerts , the group, with Trejo on tuba, preface “Ramon Ayala” with a cover of “Tragos Amargos” by Ayala, integrating it perfectly with covers of Hinder (“Lips of an Angel”) and Foster the People (“Pumped Up Kicks”).

“When we do a Ramon Ayala cover, everyone is in sync. The fans are so loud,” Yanez says. “We’re all one.”

The idea of ​​unity often comes up in conversations with Yanez. He laughs at the memory of how his Mexican-American father, raised in Abilene, Texas, met his mother, from Jalisco, Mexico, and started a family (“They went on a first date by bike !”). He talks at length about the camaraderie of his band’s gigs at Lone Star State venues like the Twisted J in Stephenville, where cowboys mingle with young Latin skaters. And he says his fellow Mexican-Americans don’t care much about controversial wall talk, political or literal. “They ignore this. They’re like, fuck, who cares, move on,” he says. “At the end of the day, we laugh. La Raza been here so long and taken so much bullshit that we don’t go to the news and shout or rage.

“I’m so happy to be a Latino, a Latino,” Yanez says. “At our shows, you see young Latino kids. The thing that hit me in the stomach one time was a kid came up to me and was like, ‘Man, thanks.’ I said, ‘Why are you thanking me, brother?’ He said, “Brother, you give people like us the motivation, that we can do anything we want to do.”

Giovannie and the Hired Guns imagine a nation where everyone has a place at the table, and nowhere more so than on the stunning album cover of Tejano Punk Boyz. It’s a chaotic but colorful caricature of the White House, with a low-rider parked on the lawn, a barbecue happening near the front door, and the Mexican flag flying just below that of the United States. Spray painted on the wall of the White House? “We all belong.”

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