- Lonely at the bottom: 'I didn't know I was falling.'
On the cover of the latest Los Lonely Boys album, Revelation, is a heart with a flame coming out of its top, a knife going through its middle, and three roses wrapping around it. That imagery says a lot, given all that this power trio has been through and what they're about.
One particularly harrowing moment for brothers Henry, Jojo and Ringo Garza came at a 2012 show in Los Angeles, where Henry rushed forward to shake hands with fans near the front of the stage and ended up falling 12 feet into a darkened orchestra pit he didn't realize was there.
"Next thing you know, I was landing on my face like an arrow," recalls the frontman. "My back bent in half and basically scorpioned — I'm lucky to be alive, man. I didn't know I was falling. All I remembered was a loud crunch in my back and face. I thought a bomb went off or something. The doctors said the fact that I was limber, and didn't brace myself, probably saved my life."
There's a sense of gratitude and religious faith that's kept the three brothers going ever since they were children being taught how to play by their musical father, Ringo Garza Sr. A notable conjunto singer who toured around Texas in the '70s and '80s, he recruited his three pre-teen sons to become his backup band.
On their own, Los Lonely Boys have since gone on to release eight albums, all characterized by a freewheeling sound soaked in the kind of rich guitar riffing that's associated with fellow Texans Jimmy Vaughan, his late brother Stevie Ray Vaughan, and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. The trio has built upon Henry's considerable six-string prowess with killer harmonies and solid songwriting to produce a sound that also embraces elements of soul, country and Tejano music.
That mix of styles was apparent in "Heaven," the 2004 single that became a chart-topping adult contemporary hit. The song connected with audiences, its deep lyrics mentioning God, redemption and salvation. It also kept their self-titled debut album on the Billboard album chart for 76 weeks and won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
With Revelation, the band has teamed up with some impressive co-writers, including alt-country artist Radney Foster, Ozomatli's Raúl Pacheco, and Black Eyed Peas collaborators George Pajon Jr. and Keith Harris. Don Gehman (R.E.M., John Mellencamp) is at the production helm for gems like the conjunto-influenced opener "Blame It On Love" (which makes liberal use of the squeezebox), the Isley Brothers-like swagger of "So Sensual," and Red Hot Chili Peppers-ish stomp of "Rule the World."
Best of all, the Texas trio's warm-hearted personalities also shine through.
"When you get in there and work, you can sometimes get lost, and before you know it, everything starts to sound the same," Henry admits. "But this album was really fun. And we're really excited, too, because once we showed our parents and the rest of our family, tears came out of their eyes. At that point, we know it's a hit for us."