Home Away From Home: Tall Juan finds a welcoming community in the Boston scene


Tall Juan has only been to Boston a handful of times, but given the reputation the man born as Juan Zaballa has in the Allston scene, you wouldn’t know it. Peek into almost any Boston flea market and BUFU Records will have the retro-punk project’s Why Not prominently on display, next to the work of other Allston basement-cred-certified bands and artists like Jim Leonard and Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser.

This Friday, BUFU adds a new Tall Juan record to their roster with Olden Goldies, a 15-track jump into the deep end of a ’70s-era rock and roll pool party.

“I’ve only been to Boston five times,” the Argentina-born, New York-based Zaballa says. “I still put out my music through BUFU, they are my Boston connection. Right now they are releasing the Olden Goldies album, and we’ve always had a mutual great experience working with each other.”


Tall Juan’s show in Cambridge on Thursday (May 4) serves as his official album release show and marks his last gig before jetting over to Europe for the second leg of his tour. Tall Juan joins Math The Band, Nice Guys, halfsour, Salty Greyhound, and Puppy Problems for Deep Shred Fest at the Middle East Upstairs.

Parsing through the tracks on Olden Goldies, Juan says “Far Rockaway” best sums up the entire album; not a shocking answer, considering that the Queens suburb is not only where Waters currently resides, but where he recorded the whole album. “I wrote that song in Far Rockaway, in the same room I recorded the whole album and around the same time too,” he adds.

Pre-dating the album release is the video for “I Wish I Knew,” which was filmed in Paris during Tall Juan’s last European tour. The video strings together footage from the singer’s rehearsals overseas, capturing the simplicity of the DIY style that has spanned from the times of his main influence, The Ramones, to the modern aesthetics of punk.

“Baby,” on the other hand, helps Juan live up to his self-proclaimed “Latin Elvis” persona; the cover of the song from the Argentinian band She Devils blends lighthearted punk and Spanish lyrics. But in a recent press release, Tall Juan confirmed that the song is more than just a nod to his heritage.

“They fought for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and were advocates for freedom of choice,” Zaballa says of She Devils. “I dedicate this song to all the people in my life who struggle and support them in their fight against this macho world.”

Seeing that there’s nothing more punk that standing up for the rights of other groups of people, Tall Juan shouldn’t have an issue fitting into the mold (or breaking it) at Deep Shred Fest on Thursday.

DEEP SHRED FEST WITH TALL JUAN + MATH THE BAND + NICE GUYS + HALFSOUR + PUPPY PROBLEMS + SALTY GREYHOUND :: Thursday, May 4 at the Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, MA :: 8 p.m., 18-plus, $10 :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page

Deep Shred Fest