The Jancos are a four-piece indie rock band from Whittier, CA. They create music that cannot be categorized into one specific genre—with their sound rooted in alternative surf rock while exploring sounds that stem into nostalgic, cinematic soundscapes of guitar-filled beauty.
Fresh off of their set at a cold winter Whittier house show, I sat down with the members of The Jancos to find out more about them, from their history as a band to their shared experience of working with London Guzman of The Buttertones in the studio.
The Jancos are singer and guitarist Ricky Boba, guitarist Joshua Zorrilla, drummer Isaac Herrera and singer, and bassist Andrew Valle.
ALTANGELES: When and how did all of you meet?
RICKY: It’s funny I’ve known everyone since elementary school but didn’t really get to know everyone until after high school graduation. I met Josh when trying out for the soccer team at school, so that’s how I got that connection. After graduation I DM’d Andrew and got Josh and Isaac to jam out with me for the music scraps that I had before The Jancos was even a thing.
Who inspired the way you write, your production style, and lyrical content?
RICKY: Oh man, I listen to a little bit of literally everything but if I had to narrow it down to a couple of inspirations, I would say Matt Shultz of Cage The Elephant, Matt Bellamy, Alex Turner’s singing is amazing, Robert Smith’s voice, Ian Curtis, and Julian Casablancas—I love his lyrics so much. These are some mainstream artists but I really find inspiration from those people.
With that in mind, take me back to the days before your first EP, “Elephant in the Room” was released. How was it recorded, and how did it come about in general?
RICKY: So after graduation my dad sat down with me and had a talk with me basically asking what I was going to do with my life. I told him that I like playing shows and writing music. Luckily for me, he owns a Mexican record label and he invited me to record some songs I had scraps for, so it kind of worked out. I got to record and release it and solidify The Jancos as a legit band. For that EP, I recorded with Josh and Andrew—I did vocals, guitar and drums for it.
Wow! You’re one multifaceted dude. What has changed from that EP to the new EP, “606”?
RICKY: Haha thanks! Actually, Andrew, I think you would love to tell this story.
ANDREW: So we were out playing a set at DiPiazza’s back in November 2018 when some guy came up to us after the set and told us that we sound good, but we could sound better. So he gave us his business card and told us to hit him up if we wanted to record with some higher quality. And boy did it change our trajectory. His name is Luke Davis, so shout out to Luke. He really helped us to write better and stay calm during production of the “606” EP. He got us a feature with London Guzman, the saxophonist for The Buttertones. London even helped us rearrange some of the songs on the EP, so working with him like that was super cool. Shout out to Luke for making that happen for real.
RICKY: Yeah, with him there was never any pressure or agitation when in production. We recorded “Daydream” with him, and he did this new EP so beautifully.
Continuing with the “606” EP, what was the production like and what is your favorite track and why?
RICKY: I wrote most of the songs on a beach in Mexico over the summer. I still remember being on the plane home just trying to come up with lyrics. For the most part, production was a relaxed time and writing was very fun. My favorite song on the EP would be the self titled song “606” because it was a song that really wasn’t going to be a song in the beginning. And now I am actually glad I brought it out and worked on it and that I had a big inspiration be part of the song as well, which means a hell of a ton to me.
“Daydream” is originally by Fever Blanket, but there is something about your rendition that is so fresh. When you guys performed it just now, people were moshing, dancing, crowd surfing, and shouting the lyrics back at you guys. It was a beautiful sight to see. What is it about that song that is so integral within The Jancos and why does it mean so much to you guys?
RICKY: Aside from what a great song it is, I was introduced to it as an eighth grader by my big brother when he played in a band with his friends. It reminds me of a very nostalgic time as a middle-schooler walking down the sidewalk by my house. I don’t know, it’s just a very nostalgic piece. Their version is not even on Spotify or anything, so I wanted to make it more accessible to the fans. The Jancos version is a modernized version of Fever Blanket’s in terms of production and the style of the recording techniques. But yes, we all love that song very much. Shout out to Fever Blanket for such a great song.
A huge chunk of your listener-base is located in Mexico City, MX. Why is a Whittier-based band so loved over there, and what do you have to say to the fellow Mexican listeners?
RICKY: That is actually a super funny story. Like I mentioned before, my dad owns a Mexican record label. This man named Pancho Barraza of Banda Camino was with me on a drive to Tijuana for work, and he was on his Instagram Live and told me to plug myself and the band in it. Ever since then I have had so many Mexican listeners. I get so many DMs in spanish asking for merch or for us to go over there. So, thank you for that, Pancho Barraza.
ISAAC: Yeah I really want to go to play in Mexico, it’s one of the first things we said from the get-go. We really want to go play over there.
RICKY: Yeah so I would just like to say, to all the listeners of Mexico, thank you and we hope to go visit and play a gig down there. Also, we are planning on releasing Spanish music!
What is the best thing about being in the DIY scene?
ISAAC: It’s really cool having the freedom to do whatever we want. No label to tell us what to do is cool.
RICKY: I really love the community that we have built. It is cool to go to shows and see familiar faces and also new ones every time. It’s exciting because it feels like every house show is getting a little bigger.
JOSH: Yeah, this house show was massive.
Now the opposite, what is the absolute worst thing about being in the DIY scene?
ISAAC: How hard it is to throw a show! Venues are impossible and house show logistics are incredibly difficult. But when it gets done, it is so worth it.
Plans for 2020, go!
RICKY: We are writing new music. Josh is writing leads. We are going to cover more songs.
ISAAC: Cover less songs!
RICKY: No! We are covering more songs this year! We are going to have some live music videos out soon with the help of South Trees of course.
Any final message to ALTANGELES readers?
EVERYONE: Yes, we are so grateful for everyone who listens and follows us. We will not disappoint in 2020, we promise. More shows to come. More genre-less music to come, too. Thank you!
Photos by Martin Quintero