Tall Juan: A Modern Punk Hero

(c) Matthew Volz courtesy of Tall Juan's Facebook
(c) Matthew Volz courtesy of Tall Juan’s Facebook

We have people who claim punk is dead, but then there’s us lot who know that it isn’t. It won’t ever die. It’s something you have inside of you. It’s not just a sound. It means something different to everyone. For me, it’s an attitude but for others it, and I don’t understand it, is a safety pin through their ear.

I’ve idolised Joey Ramone for so long, I can’t remember what life was like before he found a way into my heart and mind. His voice was something I latched onto and found comfort in. Nobody else sounded quite like him. His lanky frame and distinctive voice made outcasts feel alright. Twenty-seven years ago a kid called Juan entered the world in Buenos Aires, and now he’s making music that makes you feel like you’ve discovered Joey’s voice all over again.

Earlier this year I caught both of Tall Juan’s shows in London, one at the Lock Tavern and the other at the Shacklewell Arms. The first gig felt calmer, and the crowd was quite timid. His show the next night was rowdy and equally as brilliant as the night before.
He speeds through the songs with such force and such urgency. His set includes covers by the Stooges and the Ramones. His lanky frame flails on stage like a hyperactive kid who has discovered the joys of being on stage. His mouth grips around the mic as if he’s a wolf attacking its prey. He is gentle with his words, but feral with his performance. You can’t help but leave feeling as if you’ve watched something a little mind altering. I took a couple friends to see his shows with me who hadn’t heard his music before, and they left feeling a little in love with the guy!

On record it’s different. On record you feel as if you’re intruding on someone pouring their heart out in their bedroom late at night. His songs have a typical punk feel to them. Basically if you’re like me and idolise Joey Ramone, you’ll fall right in love with Juan. His cover of ‘Chinese Rocks’ would probably even melt the heart of Johnny Ramone! Juan makes the kind of music you blast in your headphones whilst roaming around doing a whole load of nothing.

If you’ve got people in your life that like to dictate your every move and tell you what you should be doing, or how you should behave, go for a walk and listen to Tall Juan. Maybe move out to Far Rockaway and hang out with him. The world is yours. Juan’s laid-back sound is really easy to get into. Sure you feel as if you’re in 1976 in some respects, but really, it does sound like something you’ve not heard before. We’re always waiting for something new to come take us over, so dear reader-take on Tall Juan!

On record he’s obviously perfect, but when it’s brought to life on a stage in front of you, you really pick up on what these songs mean. There’s heartbreak in some of the songs, and you immediately remember all the wrong you’ve done and all the wrong that’s been done to you. It’s easy to dwell at times, but where does that get you? His songs are full of lust, longing and the desire to shake someone by the scruff of their neck. Juan’s songs were made to be played loudly and for you to sing along as loud as you can.

Like most have already stated – this year has been pretty shitty. We live in a world where the greatest musicians are no longer around. I’ve still not got my head around the fact that Lou Reed isn’t here anymore, and I still get misty eyed over Joey Ramone. But there are always new voices to be heard and Tall Juan is that voice we need. His music is made for roaming around on your lonesome. It’s made for telling someone you dig them, play the one you want “Why Not?” and they’ll be yours, and his music was evidently made to be seen live.

Juan strikes you as the kind of person you can just hang out with and have the best time imaginable. You’d probably walk around, talk about music, eat pizza and hang out at the beach. That’s all you should want from anyone – to me that’s the perfect way to spend a day. His music is so freeing and when you listen to it you really can’t help but smile. You feel as if you’ve gone to that place where nothing and no one can bother you – your ultimate idea of happiness.
His take on ‘Chinese Rocks’ makes you think he wrote it, yet he still manages to beautifully make you think you’re listening to the Ramones. He’s got something about him that gives you hope for what’s to come in music. I think it’s because his music gives you a real sense that he’s a good guy, and that alone can make you feel a connection to the music.

With only one EP released, I really don’t believe it is too early for me to declare Tall Juan as a real punk hero. We all have our own idea of punk, and Juan is keeping what I believe to be punk alive. It seems he never stops touring, and although that’s pretty tiring, it means more people are going to get hip to this great guy.

-Olivia Cellamare