He may look like Johnny Thunders! He may sound like Johnny Thunders! But Johnny Thunders he ain’t and he’s no wannabe either. This is Juan Zaballa, better know as Tall Juan, Argentine axe strummer and resident of Rockaway Beach, New York.
Some of you may recognize him as a one time member of The Beets (much missed primitive rock heroes) and playing sideman to Uruguay’s own Juan Wauters, but Tall Juan has stepped forward himself, releasing the ‘Why Not?’ EP last year produced by none other than Mac DeMarco, indie heart throb and Tall Juan’s housemate. The EP is quick and very catchy, continuing the lineage of so much great New York punk and containing the same South American inflected vocals that charmed so many of us in Juan Wauter’s work.
I asked Juan why he chose to sing in English rather than his native tongue, especially when we live such a globalized world where the last thing we need is more homogenized lazy lyricism. His answer was simple – “Though I don’t know half of the (English) language yet, I feel pretty limited in Spanish trying to capture emotions or feelings. I always do my best to express myself.” There is an immense pay off in his hard work, his lyrics come across as witty and direct, with no pretensions of pretty poetic language, not to mention having his Lower East Side sneer down to an art form.
Tall Juan insists though that his live show is the purest form of his musical expression, that is what he brings with him this July when he plays his only UK show at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton.
28th July – Acid Box presents: Tall Juan + support @ Sticky Mike’s – Brighton
Lucky for everyone Tall Juan has done a reworking of the 60s Psych nugget Moulty by The Barbarians to convince you to clear your schedule, leave your house and head down to his shows…
Words: Jake Willbourne
Photography: Yuki Kikuchi