El Paso Music Scene

David Garza Interview

Photo by Ellen Tunney

Born and raised in Irving, Texas, David Garza was brought up listening to cumbias and rancheras. Before reaching his teen years, however, Led Zeppelin changed his life. He played in the requisite high school garage bands in Irving, then enrolled at the University of Texas in 1989 to study classical guitar. While there, he started a very popular trio called Twang Twang Shaka Boom. When the other two members of the band insisted on sharing in the writing, Garza promptly quit.

He started his own record company, Wide Open Records, and released 10 records before signing with Lava/Atlantic. He recorded This Euphoria for them in 1998, and Overdub in 2001, as well as being featured on the soundtrack for the movie, Great Expectations, which starred Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Since leaving Lava/Atlantic after Overdub, he has continued to record his own albums, many at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, as well as having his music featured on other soundtracks such as Spy Kids and Free Enterprise. He worked on his friend, Juliana Hatfield's 2000 release, Beautiful Creature, and in 2004, he released A Strange Mess of Flowers, a $31.98 box set that includes seventy-one songs.

EPMS: Do you tailor your show for largely Hispanic places like El Paso?

David Garza: Maybe I rock a little harder. Maybe I'll do a couple of songs with a more Latin style of things. Back in Texas, especially San Antonio or El Paso, when people hear a cumbia, they start moving. It's not something I plan.

My family is from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. They're river people. Everybody's always going back and forth, this side, that side,.. I think my parents' and grandparents' people go back and forth, this side of river, then the other. People think of it as one place.

They all love music, and they passed that on to me. Music is a large part of our culture, and it's been passed on to me.

EPMS: When was the last time you went to a quinceañera?

David Garza: I love quinceañeras. They're beautiful. They pay well. Gosh, I don't remember when, but it was pretty recently.

EPMS: Who are your favorite Spanish-language artists?

David Garza: Gosh, it's hard to pick favorites. Lidia Mendoza, Julieta Venegas. Gosh. Gustavo Santoalla-he's Argentinian There are lots of great guys out there.

EPMS: How many times have you been to El Paso?

David Garza: A hundred. I record in Tornillo. I'm in El Paso all the time.

EPMS: Sonic Ranch?

David Garza: Yeah. I used to play Club 101, Wild Hares. I go way back with El Paso.

EPMS: Have you ever been to Chicos Tacos?

David Garza: Hell, yeah, Chicos Tacos rules. Give lots of love to Bernie.

EPMS: At which Chico's Tacos does he work?

David Garza: He's one of the GMs. They'll know who I mean.

EPMS: How many interviews do you do in a year?

David Garza: Many. I can't count.

EPMS: Have you done any more TV or movies besides Spy Kids and Great Expectations?

David Garza: Oh, yeah, lots. Yeah... I did something for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I have a song on a movie that's coming out. A cool thing, definitely.

EPMS: You quit Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom when the other two members wanted to write some of the songs. How big of an impact on you did this have?

David Garza: Not much, really, after all this time's passed. I keep doing what I do. If I felt I need someone else's opinion, I'd still be in that band.

EPMS: Was that your first taste of success in music?

David Garza: Yeah, definitely.

EPMS: Top five guitarists all time?

David Garza: You're going to tell me the top five guitarists of all time? OK, let's hear them.

EPMS: LOL. Well, I am a huge Ritchie Blackmore fan.

David Garza: Hell, yeah! Very underrated. I like Perfect Strangers. Bad ass. Definitely one of the most underrated guitar players. (sings Perfect Strangers, in a kind of falsetto).

EPMS note: Possibly the highlight of my life up until now.


David Garza: I don't know about that one. Nothing comes to mind.

EPMS: How about new guitar players? Who do you like?

David Garza: I like the dude from Interpol (Daniel Kessler). Also Jack White (The White Stripes).

EPMS: How often are you confused with (Tejano band leader/accordionist) David Lee Garza?

David Garza: More often than people know. We're definitely completely different. He plays a different type of music than I do. He's great, but not what I do.

EPMS: I saw your music referred to as "Elvis Costello meets Lenny Kravitz." How does that strike you?

David Garza: I guess that's nice, I like both of those. I think I'm different, but I consider it a compliment. I think more I'm more Texas than those guys. I have more of a live rock 'n' roll quality. I don't have so many words like Elvis Costello. Like Lenny Kravitz, though, I play older, throwback-type music. I'm like old Lenny Kravitz.

EPMS: You studied classical guitar at The University of Texas. How fast did you get away from classical guitar?

David Garza: LOL. I lasted 2 semesters, probably.

EPMS: You said, "The music today, some of it offends me to the point of anger." What is your idea of rock and roll?

David Garza: Rock 'n' roll is something that should have a bite, also some joy and exuberance to it. It doesn't have to be happy, shiny people. Generally, when people have right instrumentation, it's too perfect, computers, taking over. Rock 'n' roll was invented to escape work. Rock 'n' roll today sounds like work.

EPMS: I notice on your voice mail you pronounce your name, David, with the Spanish pronunciation. What do you call yourself onstage?

David Garza: That's how I grew up being called. It doesn't matter to me.

EPMS: You grew up in Irving. Do you know a restaurant there called Danals?

David Garza: Yeah, I grew up there, off Pioneer. I played at Las Lomas near O'Connor and Burnwood. I spent the first sixteen years of my life there.

EPMS: How many gigs do you play a year?

David Garza: Depands on which year you're counting. I pretty much play most weekends. I take a couple of months off here and there.

EPMS: Why do you tour so much?

David Garza: It's my job, what I do best, I play live. I grew up playing hospitals, churches, restaurants. I'm more a live than studio guy.

EPMS: How successful was the release of your 4-CD boxed set, A Strange Mess of Flowers?

David Garza: It sold real well. Every time you put out a record, it's like having a kid. I'm very proud of it.

EPMS: You have referred to your music as, "That stripped down, lo-fi thing." What do you mean by that?

David Garza: Sometimes you can say something and use fewer words, but make it mean more. Music doesn't have to have five drummers and two bass players. I like to play with bands that are kind of stripped down, that leave more to the imagination. The Stray Cats are a perfect example. The Rolling Stones. We're in flash era right now. Flashy style without substance.

I've got a sound check right now. Do you have enough?

EPMS: Yes, thanks a lot for your time.

David Garza: Thanks. Hope to see you out at the show.

David Garza will be appearing at The T Lounge on July 2 and 3.

- Charles Hurley

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