Tucson's Lenguas Largas to tour the Land of the Rising Sun

In Spanish, the band’s name refers to a busybody whose slander is typically untrue. For those not in the know, Lenguas Largas are a badass, genre-crossing amalgamation delivered with a punk rock sneer. In mid-March, they’re embarking on a two-week tour of Japan.

Absorbing the mélange of sound that overlaps two worlds — norteño, punk, psychedelic, indie, rock en Español, ranchera, soul and R&B — Lenguas Largas’ music uniquely reflects cross-cultural life in the Borderlands.

“I grew up in Nogales, on the Arizona side. Two streets north of the border,” frontman Isaac Reyes said. “(Guitarist) Ricky Shimo grew up on the Mexican side.”

They were poor kids with no coins, saving their lunch money to buy comic books and Thrasher magazine.

“I got into punk rock through skateboarding,” he said.

Reyes’ and Shimo’s musical interbreeding began while they were in junior high school when a friend’s older brother opened up Roca Rola, a record store in Nogales, Ariz. Most days, after class the two would walk first to Instrumentos Musicales (a branch of Tucson’s venerable Chicago Store).

“We would play every guitar in the store until they’d kick us out for not buying anything,” he said.

Reyes and Shimo would then head to Roca Rola for another music fix.

“We would hang out there everyday listening to everything,” Reyes reflected, wistfully. “People from both sides of the border would hang out there.”

・・・

Lenguas Largas first gig was at a house party on Valentine’s Day in 2008.

Since then the band has released four studio albums — starting with “Lenguas Largas” (2011), “Come On In” (2014), “Abba Daddy” (2016), and, most recently, “Is This Still Laughing Hyenas?” (2022) — in addition to several singles and EPs.

The band’s recorded output defies most points of reference. Reyes fleshed it out, “We don’t like to write or sound like something we’ve already done. We listen to lots of different music. We filter and interpret sounds and they come out the way they come out.”

Fast forward. So how did these punks from Nogales end up touring Japan?

Reyes explained, “I believe the reason we get asked to play over there is because we’re fun to hang around with. We’re not really a career-oriented band. We just want to play fun shows with our friends.”

“This will be the third time Lenguas Largas tours Japan,” Reyes said. “We’re very excited.”

Japan, a country with one of the lowest birth rates on the planet, where a celibacy syndrome has been previously reported, seems an odd choice for a marauding rock ‘n’ roll band.

“Everything in Japan is amazing. Everywhere you look you see cool, rad shit,” he raved. “Besides the food and culture, the raddest thing in Japan is the way everyone in the music scene respects each other. The sense of community is very strong regardless of musical style.”

“Also, our friends in Japan obviously have great taste in music,” Reyes said.

“We’ve been practicing a little bit of everything for this tour.” Their set includes songs from “Is This Still Laughing Hyenas?” plus some unreleased material.

“We’re trying to keep it upbeat.”

The Lenguas Largas 2024 Japanese tour will take them to Fukuoka, Fukuyama, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nagoya, Okayama, Tokushima, Tokyo, Yokohama, y mas.

“There’s a few cities on this tour that we’ve never played before,” he said. “Really excited to play in Tokyo. That’s where a lot of our friends live.”

In the same way that music knows no cultural bounds, food is also universal.

“I’m really looking forward to eating everything they put in front of us. Everyone in the band is into trying new foods,” Reyes said. “We eat a lot of onigiri (rice balls commonly filled with pickled plums, salted salmon or bonito tuna flakes) from convenience stores (places like FamilyMart, Japan’s second largest konbini chain behind 7-Eleven) while we’re traveling around.”

・・・

So, what lies ahead for Lenguas Largas?

“We have a new LP. We were trying to get it pressed before the tour. It’ll ship here the week we leave,” Reyes said. “But, that only means we gotta set something up in town when we get back.”

・・・