Giovannie & The Hired Guns
One of the most crowd-thrilling bands to burst onto the national scene in recent years, Giovannie and The Hired Guns have pushed the boundaries of rock-and-roll and country to forge an irresistibly gritty sound all their own. After building a massive grassroots following on the strength of their explosive live show, the Stephenville, Texas-based five-piece ascended to new heights with their smash hit “Ramon Ayala”—a 2021 release that climbed to #1 on the Active Rock Radio Chart and the Alternative Radio Chart, marking the first time in over 15 years that an artist’s first career-charting radio single reached the top spot on both tallies. Fueled by the enormous success they’ve achieved as an entirely independent act, Giovannie and The Hired Guns have now signed to Warner Music Nashville just in time for the release of their third full-length, Tejano Punk Boyz: an immediately vital body of work cementing their status as an essential new force in redefining the possibilities of Texas music.
The start of a bold new era for Giovannie and The Hired Guns—vocalist Giovannie Yanez, guitarists Carlos Villa and Jerrod Flusche, bassist Alex Trejo, and drummer Milton Toles—Tejano Punk Boyz expands on the wildly catchy brand of guitar-heavy alt-rock they first honed back when Yanez was working the counter at a local pawnshop. Like their self-titled 2020 sophomore effort, the 10-track album finds the band joining forces with producer Taylor Kimball (Koe Wetzel, Read Southall Band, Austin Meade), fully harnessing the band-of-brothers chemistry that makes their live set so exhilarating. In addition to delivering songs in both English and Spanish for the very first time, Tejano Punk Boyz doubles down on the culture-bending sensibilities that have long guided the band, fusing elements of everything from Red Dirt country to post-grunge to la musica norteña. “We didn’t want to hold back at all with this album,” says Yanez. “We all come from different walks of life, and we wanted to mesh those influences together and come up with something that feels really free. Because of that, I feel like we created something that’s completely true to us, and like nothing else out there right now.”
With its title taken from an inside joke between Yanez and his cousin, Tejano Punk Boyz infuses that free-spirited energy into every song, ultimately embodying a more joyful mood than their past work. “‘Ramon Ayala’ really set the tone for the album,” says Yanez. “Songwriting is an outlet for me, and on the last record I was going through some dark times in my life. But ‘Ramon Ayala’ came from thinking about my family and the music we love to listen to when we’re all partying together, and that sort of carried over into the rest of the album.”
Along with “Ramon Ayala”—a track that spent five weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Rock & Alternative Airplay Chart and earned acclaim from outlets like American Songwriter, who hailed it as “a cathartic anthem for the underdogs and rejects of society”—Tejano Punk Boyz features more emotionally raw offerings like the album-opening “Overrated.” Rooted in the band’s signature collision of combustible guitar work and unforgettable melodies, the sing-along-ready track serves as a prime showcase for Yanez’s reflective yet down-to-earth storytelling (from the chorus: “I’m such a freak/I love the way she hates it”). “At the time I was fighting with my girlfriend, so it was the perfect moment for that kind of song,” he notes. On “Numb,” Tejano Punk Boyz shifts into a darker tone as Giovannie and The Hired Guns channel the ache of disconnection, amplifying the track’s moody urgency with serpentine rhythms and brooding guitar tones. “Recording ‘Numb’ was probably the most fun we had in the studio—we didn’t try to force anything, we just let it all out and put everything we were feeling into the song,” says Yanez. And on “The Letter,” Giovannie and The Hired Guns share one of the album’s most vulnerable moments, a heart-on-sleeve love song that slips between English and Spanish as Yanez bares his soul with brutal honesty. “I’d always wanted to sing in both languages, but for some reason I was always too scared,” says Yanez. “When I was writing ‘The Letter’ it just happened naturally, and it instantly felt right.”
Originally from the Northern Texas town of Mineral Wells, Yanez first explored his unfiltered approach to songwriting at the age of 17 (“It pretty much started right after the first big heartbreak,” he notes). Around that same time, he began performing at local dive bars while holding down a job at a rock quarry. “I’d go play gigs and be out till about three in the morning, then get up to go to work at seven—it was a struggle for a while, but I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life,” says Yanez. Not long after landing his job at the pawnshop, Yanez crossed paths with Trejo and soon began assembling the Hired Guns lineup, then pushed forward with an equally grueling gig schedule. “When we first started out it was always, ‘Hey guys, can you play a four-hour set with two breaks? Here’s $200,’” Yanez recalls. As word got out about their can’t-miss live performance, the band began selling out shows all across Texas, in addition to sharing stages with the likes of Read Southall Band and Kody West.
With the arrival of their self-released 2017 full-length debut Bad Habits, Giovannie and The Hired Guns offered a first glimpse at the unbridled eclecticism that now defines their sound: Toles, for instance, brings a soulful intensity informed by playing music in church as a kid, while Flusche’s background includes session work with such prominent country acts as Sam Riggs & the Night People. Another independent release, Giovannie and The Hired Guns featured standouts like “Rooster Tattoo,” a slow-burning track that quickly amassed millions of streams on Spotify thanks to word-of-mouth buzz. As they set to work on Tejano Punk Boyz, Giovannie and The Hired Guns landed on Amazon Music’s 2022 Artists to Watch list, then later inked their deal with Warner Music Nashville in a partnership with Warner Music and Warner Music Latina.
With their career highlights to date including opening for platinum-selling country star Jason Aldean to a crowd of 36,000 at Globe Life Park stadium, Giovannie and The Hired Guns have spent much of the band’s lifespan on the road, delivering an electrifying show that invariably leaves audiences sweat-drenched and ecstatic. “At this point my house is mostly just a place where I collect mail,” says Yanez. “We’ve played an insane amount, but we love getting out there and connecting with the fans. The craziest thing is when they tell us that our music has saved their lives, because I’ve had that happen to me with the music I really love.”
As their following continues to grow far beyond the borders of their home state, Giovannie and The Hired Guns have found their sense of purpose ineffably deepened with each new album they create. “To me making music is a godsend,” says Yanez. “I generally don’t tell people what’s on my mind or how I’m feeling; I hold it in and then get it all out by picking up a pen and paper or strumming my guitar. So the fact that our songs might end up helping other people in some way just makes it all even sweeter.” And with Tejano Punk Boyz dropping in the midst of another extensive tour, Giovannie and The Hired Guns look forward to strengthening their extraordinary bond with their audience. “The goal for the live show is always to take people away for that hour and a half,” says Yanez. “Whatever problems they’re dealing with, whatever they’re going through or whatever’s happening in today’s world, we want them to forget all about it for those 90 minutes. If they want to get sad and cry, then I’ll cry with them. If they want to let loose and have fun, I’ll do that too. We just want to feel connected to everyone, because we truly are—we’re exactly the same as every single person out there in the crowd.”