Dropping the needle on Tall Juan's freshly released new album, Olden Goldies (BUFU Records), one is immediately captivated by the headlong collision of savvy pop smarts and an insatiable lust for the wild life. Over 15 propulsive tracks of buzzing, undeniable Ramones-y pop, Tall Juan holds court with a growl, a shout and even a croon, spinning heartbreak and hard-luck stories.
For a record that sounds so focused, Juan remembers the recording of the album very differently: "I recorded the album in my room, and around that time there were a lot of people visiting my house ... so it was a bit difficult to focus on it. I don't know if I was sure of what kind of sound I wanted before I started to record."
But the record only gives you a hint of the extroverted anarchy that is Tall Juan live. Listen to the man when he sneers, "I'm a time bomb baby, yeah!" Once he gets on stage, the already imposing musician somehow grows another 2 feet (1 foot of which is coif) and morphs into the spidery offspring of Lux Interior and the Slender Man. When asked what inspired him to such feats of extroversion, Juan cops to a taste for the real good/bad stuff: "Marilyn Manson and the Ramones really influenced me."
Tall Juan has been on tour almost constantly since 2014, both solo and in tandem with frequent collaborators the Juan MacLean and Mac DeMarco. The peripatetic lifestyle agrees with him. Juan's not one to fall victim to tour doldrums, enthusing, "I'm traveling and playing music; it's perfect."
It's been a long journey from Argentina to Far Rockaway, New York, where Tall Juan now hangs his leather jacket. The music bug bit him at an early age and there was no turning back, as he admits: "Going to see live shows as a kid, that turned me on. And also, I needed to express some things that I wasn't able to do offstage." As a young gigging musician in Buenos Aires, he became frustrated with the music scene there and made the jump to New York all alone, to try his hand at playing solo, playing his own songs. Soon enough he fell in with the aforementioned MacLean and DeMarco, both eager to collaborate with this young firebrand, and the rest of the story is unfolding right before us. It's not been the easiest road for Juan, but it's made for some great songs.
For now, though, Tall Juan has more pressing concerns: "I wanted to go to one of those amusement parks in Orlando, but that stuff is too expensive." Someone help a national treasure out ...