menu Home chevron_right
Music News

Forever Maná: Latin Music’s Most Successful Rock Band Is Back On Tour… And Talking   

Mr. Nimbus | 02/15/2024

The street that leads to Luna Líquida Hotel Boutique, above the center of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is steep and cobbled, ending in a modest gate painted sky blue with the number 409 embedded in a yellow tile on the wall. 

It’s the kind of place you find only if you’re looking. And it’s exactly how Fher Olvera, lead singer of legendary Mexican rock band Maná, imagined it when he bought it in 1994, after the group’s first major hit finally allowed him to purchase the house of his dreams: a small, rustic property with an ocean view. 

“When I bought the house, I asked the agent if it had any capital gains, and he asked, ‘What do you want it for?’ ” Olvera recounts as we chat on the rooftop of Luna Líquida, from which you can see the sea, the tower of the old cathedral [Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe] and the orange tile roofs of old Puerto Vallarta. “I told him I wanted it to make songs. He asked, ‘How many?’ I said, ‘Judging from the view, at least one album.’ ‘Buy it,’ he said.” 

Trending on Billboard

Exactly 30 years have passed since Maná debuted on the Billboard charts in January 1994 with Dónde Jugarán los Niños, an album of songs about love and spite, set to rock and reggae beats that revolutionized what was known as rock en español. It peaked at No. 2 on the Top Latin Albums chart. As a result of that success, Olvera bought this house, and he and the rest of Maná — drummer Alex González, guitarist Sergio Vallín and bassist Juan Calleros — hunkered down here to write the albums that would cement their position as the most successful Spanish-language rock group in the world. 

“Many Maná songs were born here,” says Olvera, standing in a sunny room painted light blue with tile floors, wooden beams and long, transparent gauze curtains. Olvera, who is wearing a necklace with a silver sea turtle, his favorite animal, lived here before buying the property next door and converting both homes into this 17-room hotel that’s filled with thousands of Maná’s stories. 

“Here, I finished ‘Vivir Sin Aire,’ ‘Cómo Te Deseo,’ several songs. Then on the next album, Cuando los Ángeles Lloran, you can hear the church bells from the cathedral below. The next one, Sueños Líquidos, is very linked to Vallarta. In fact, the cover — the mermaid with four arms — is the sea of Vallarta. We made all that music here with our little tape recorders. The four of us slept here, some in double beds. We hired a woman to cook for us, and our routine was to be up very early drinking coffee and stay up very late drinking red wine. Then on Wednesdays, we would go to a club called El Cactus where women got in for free. It was…” he chuckles. “You can imagine.”  

Fher Olvera of Maná photographed on Dec. 1, 2023 in Fresno, Calif.

Fher Olvera of Maná photographed on Dec. 1, 2023 in Fresno, Calif.

Martha Galvan

It’s Olvera’s first interview in years, just days before the band’s México Lindo y Querido Tour, its first in Latin America in eight years. The act will play 16 dates, starting in Asunción, Paraguay, on Feb. 16 and including five at Buenos Aires’ Movistar Arena and an appearance at Chile’s Viña del Mar Festival. Maná will then headline the Bottlerock Festival in Napa Valley alongside Pearl Jam, Stevie Nicks and Ed Sheeran before continuing to Spain for 11 additional dates and its first-ever London concert, at the OVO Arena.  

“For me, it is a dream to play in London,” says Olvera. “Since I was a teenager, I saw The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and said, ‘Wow.’ ” 

What was admiration is now, in a way, understanding. Like The Rolling Stones in the English-language market, Maná has kept its integrity and its production quality, and its live touring schedule has remained active through the decades. In 2023, the quartet played more than 55 concerts, including 16 as part of its residency at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum, where it sold over 220,000 tickets, according to promoter Live Nation. (Maná does not report its sales numbers to Billboard Boxscore — a decision based on its philosophy of valuing the artistic over the monetary.)  

“It feels incredible that the band remains relevant after so many decades,” González says. “Because the songs are so good, both lyrics and music. And also, because of the way Maná plays live. And third, and most important, is that our music has been handed from family to family, from grandparents to brothers to parents and children.” 

“More than representatives of Latin culture, I think we’re one of many Latin colors and that through our music, people relate in many ways,” adds Vallín.  

When it comes to staying power as a live act, “Maná’s connection and reach is undeniable,” Live Nation senior vp of global touring Jared Braverman says. “The band’s total commitment to their music, their stories and their passions have meant that they reach many generations and have an influence that never passes.”  

Alex González of Maná photographed on Dec. 1, 2023 in Fresno, Calif.

Alex González of Maná photographed on Dec. 1, 2023 in Fresno, Calif.

Martha Galvan

In terms of recordings, Maná is the rock group with the most entries (33) and No. 1s (10) on the Hot Latin Songs chart, with the most albums (15) and No. 1s (eight) on Top Latin Albums and is the Latin band, of any genre, with the most No. 1s (eight) on Latin Pop Albums.  

“They’re an iconic band,” says Warner Music Latin America president Alejandro Duque. “We’ve fallen in love, mended our broken hearts and celebrated our Latin culture with them. There is no other band like them. They’ve put Latin American music at the highest level on a global scale.” 

Last November, the group achieved its first Regional Mexican Airplay No. 1 with its new version of 2011’s “Amor Clandestino,” alongside Edén Muñoz. The song will be part of a currently untitled covers album of Maná’s greatest hits reimagined as duets with Mexican influence. The collection will finally arrive later this year; the band has been releasing singles from it (including “Rayando el Sol,” with Pablo Alborán, and “Te lloré un Río,” with Christian Nodal) since 2019. 

“Don’t scold me, don’t pressure me,” Olvera says sheepishly. “We have been lucky — because from the beginning, we said we’d release the albums when they were ready. Less money? Yes, it is less money. It’s not an album per year.”   

His attitude reflects the ethos of Maná and its other three members, who remain united “like little brothers.” 

Olvera spoke to Billboard Español about what’s next for Maná, the secret of its success and what he really thinks about reggaetón and the new wave of regional Mexican music. 

This is exactly where you wrote or were inspired to write some of your most iconic songs, like “En el Muelle de San Blás.” 

There’s a very interesting story in this room. We went to party at one of those dives where you stay out really late. We finished like at seven in the morning, and like good Mexicans, went to kill our hangover at a taco stand. I was with my buddies, and one of them says, “See that woman over there? They call her ‘the crazy woman from the pier’ because every Sunday, she dresses in white to wait for her betrothed. So I went up to her and asked, “Why do you go to the pier?” “To wait for my boyfriend, my betrothed.” “Where is he coming from?” “From the north. By boat.” “And when is he getting here?” “Tomorrow. He hasn’t come in many years, but he’ll come tomorrow.” Then she ignored me and left. 

When I came back home to this room at 8 a.m., I grabbed a pencil and wrote on the wall: “She waited for him at the pier until her eyes flooded with mornings, and her hair, like the foam of [the] sea, white.” Every time I left the room, I would read that and think, “I have to write a song about that story.” I never found the woman again, but I did find out that there were no roads back then and many people arrived by boat. So probably everything she told me was true. I called it “En el Muelle de San Blás,” which is up north, because “Puerto Vallarta” didn’t fit the song’s meter.  

[embedded content]

What other stories does this room keep? 

Tons. If this bed could talk… Once I was with a girlfriend. We were already with the candles and everything, romantic, and — I swear it’s true — this is a tile roof, and something fell through the tiles and started to move. It was a snake. We’re like, “Aaahhhhh!,” and took off running. A snake expert had to come and take it out. 

What moment are you at in life right now? 

A great moment. I feel very whole. My voice is whole. Emotionally, I suffered a little crisis, I had a little depression. I had many blows in a row after my father died when I was little; then another sister died, about 20 years ago; then my mother and my sister both died in 2010. I found myself almost alone with my [last] sister. There were six of us, and now there’s two. So I did get a little freaked out.

On top of that, I had some complicated relationships, and we did not have good management. But thank heaven, I’m pretty well now. I’m no longer medicated, and I just have to worry about continuing to meditate, not getting too stressed and trusting the new management we have with Jason Garner and my sister, Lourdes. They’re like a Ferrari. 

Maná was always a band that sang only in Spanish. Now that music in Spanish is global, do you feel vindicated in some way? 

Actually, yes. We feel good, we feel proud that as Mexicans, as Latin Americans, we said, “We’re going to do it in Spanish,” and in Spanish, we’re bigger bosses than in English. And the truth is, a culture was created through this, where we spoke about the rights of migrants, the rights of people in the United States. It’s given us credibility and consistency, and we have license to talk about all this because from the beginning we did not betray our language.   

Juan Calleros, left, and Sergio Vallín onstage at Toyota Center on March 30, 2023 in Houston, TX.

Juan Calleros, left, and Sergio Vallín onstage at Toyota Center on March 30, 2023 in Houston, TX.

Juan Botero

Fher Olvera, left, and Alex González onstage at Oakland Arena on March 18, 2023 in Oakland, Calif.

Fher Olvera, left, and Alex González onstage at Oakland Arena on March 18, 2023 in Oakland, Calif.

Juan Botero

A band that stays together over 30 years is almost a miracle. What’s your secret?  

One, we’re still very good friends, which is very difficult. It’s like a marriage, and we are truly like brothers. And second, we haven’t fallen into the clutches of drugs, alcohol, ego, which happens to many artists. It’s hard for one person to take on so much adulation. It’s very complicated. 

How did you handle those challenges? Is that something you strategized as a band?  

No. Otherwise, everyone would do that. I think we’ve been blessed because we’re people who love music, love what we do and truly give our all to fans. On the other hand, the rise of Maná was slow, and we were able to understand what was going on, and we didn’t go from one day a one-star hotel to another in a five-star hotel and a private plane. No. It was little by little, and we’re still very down to earth. I can tell you Sergio sometimes comes by bus because there are no flights. I just went to see U2 in Las Vegas, and I flew commercial. We’re pretty normal.

Sergio Vallín of Maná photographed on Dec. 1, 2023 in Fresno, Calif.

Sergio Vallín of Maná photographed on Dec. 1, 2023 in Fresno, Calif.

Martha Galvan

In fact, people may not be aware that you cap the price of your tickets. 

Yes, it’s one of the things we like to do. We want everyone to have accessible ticket prices. We have tickets from $35 … Now, if you want to smuggle a little bottle of something, it’s up to you. 

In all these years, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned? 

First, let’s define success. Success is making a living doing what you like. Whether you’re a farmer, a musician or work in architecture or design, if you’re happy doing that, you made it. You don’t have to be a superstar. So what all this has taught us is, first, that friendship is worth a lot. And also, know that you can control your ego, that it has reins like a horse, and you tell him, “Wait a minute, cabrón, you’re getting out of hand.” 

How do you control your ego? 

I personally meditate and say, “OK, Fher, what have you done wrong? I haven’t been too tough on so-and-so. You need to relax and let people do their jobs,” because I’m a perfectionist and I want to do everything. We can’t be saying we’re the most important rock en español band; all those things are … a bother. We truly only want to feel that we’re musicians, and that’s what we have to give. 

Maná could live on its catalog and never tour again. Why do you do it? 

We still love going onstage. We go out as if Mexico or any other country was playing the World Cup against another team. Every concert, we give it our everything. Everything, everything, everything. We don’t hold back anything. To this day, when I’m waiting for the curtain to open, I’ll tell Sergio, “Feel my heart. It’s going tuck-tuck-tuck.” And Maná is a band that really likes to connect with their fans. Our fans are the fifth bandmember. 

Fher Olvera onstage at Kaseya Center on April 15, 2023 in Miami, FL.

Fher Olvera onstage at Kaseya Center on April 15, 2023 in Miami, FL.

Juan Botero

This is the first time you’re playing Latin America in eight years. 

And we’re also returning to Spain. For the production, we hired people from Belgium, Argentina, Mexico, the U.S., so they could create a fun, beautiful production in which music is the most important element. We really enjoy the island — the set we put in the middle of the audience. That makes things a little more democratic for people who don’t have enough money to buy expensive tickets. 

Why is the tour called México Lindo y Querido? 

The band has always loved Mexican culture, those magical aspects of Mexico. There’s so much joy; it’s something [filmmaker] Guillermo del Toro says: “We even party with death.” Mexico has many things. For example, José Alfredo Jiménez’s songs, like “El Rey,” all that ranchera music culture narrates what happened in Mexico. Mexicans are also melancholy, our hearts ache. José Alfredo used to say, “You’re born in tears and die in tears.” That culture is embedded in Maná’s lyrics: “I cried you a river, now cry me an ocean.”

They are all evocative lyrics. You have said in other interviews that you are not a fan of reggaetón lyrics. 

They’re very violent and very repetitive lyrics and sometimes even lack respect for women. That’s my feeling. I think you are running out of literary resources if you resort to that type of lyrics to be able to release your song. I respect the genre a lot, but the lyrics are not lyrics that appeal to me. Most of them are quite empty, quite simplistic, and it doesn’t look like real work was put into them. That’s my point of view. There are some better lyrics in reggaetón, but I think most are pretty poor. I don’t know if many years from now these songs will still be heard. Probably not, because they lack literary strength. 

I think there has been a lot of pressure from the industry itself for artists to release a lot of music and very quickly. But I feel like right now we’re going in the direction of more melodic and crafted songs. Do you feel that way? 

I think there is a point where people are going to get tired. But hey, musical taste is up to each person. Sometimes I say, “Well, it’s great that there is reggaetón and that Maná sounds different. Now, whether I like it or like it enough to dance to…” The one I definitely can’t listen to much is Bad Bunny — and I really respect him! (Smiles good-naturedly.) He has reached places no other Latin artist has, and that has merit, on the one hand. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it. It’s great to have everyone do well, but we need to change that trend. If you write a letter to a girl, you’re not going to put that stuff in there. Where’s the romance for women? Or for men, for that matter?  

What do you think of the new wave of Mexican music? 

That’s interesting. For example, the way the guitars and bass intertwine, everything is very well done. And suddenly they switch from four-four to three-four [time]. They’re creative. I don’t like the lyrics very much either. Our country is already violent enough. But we go back to the same thing: I see them as authentic; they’re doing something from the heart. And there are good things in the music, in the guitarrón arrangements. There are very talented people.

Juan Calleros of Maná photographed on Dec. 1, 2023 in Fresno, Calif.

Juan Calleros of Maná photographed on Dec. 1, 2023 in Fresno, Calif.

Martha Galvan

Do you see Maná as a Mexican rock band? Or simply a rock band? 

Along those lines. A Mexican rock band, rock pop band or whatever you want to call it. There are many fusions. Alex is Cuban, and Maná is like mestizo music. Last Saturday, I went to see Carlos Santana, and it’s the same thing. Many say, “It’s not rock,” or “Yes, it’s rock.” At one point, some bands were looking down their noses at us, saying we weren’t rock. It really bothered Alex.

Did it bother you? 

The answer I gave at a press conference was, “You’re right. We’re not a rock band.” If we were, we wouldn’t have made “Mariposa Traicionera” or “Te lloré un Río.” We’re more than a rock band because we broke down the walls of rock’n’roll and went further. This whole discussion of rock, no rock is pure blah-blah-blah. Pure bullsh-t. It’s music. And in the end, Alex also said, “OK. Yes.” 

México Lindo y Querido is a big tour. How hard is it to travel with it? 

We send cargo to South America ahead of time, some by boat, some by plane. We want to have the exact same show as the U.S. show. We don’t have a production A and production B. Many artists, especially non-Latin acts, travel to Latin America with a trimmed tour. We take everything with us and don’t cut any music out. And if people ask us for more music, we keep on playing. 

You’ve spoken for years about migrant rights, and during the U.S. leg of the tour, you donated to many immigrant organizations. What’s your position? 

More than a political position, it’s a humanitarian position. When we spent time with [President Barack] Obama at the White House, we weren’t supporting Democrats. We were supporting the people who work, who put food on the table for Americans. And Obama understood that perfectly. We’re not with Democrats or Republicans. We’re for the people. For human rights. The United States benefits from Mexican workers. 

Fher Olvera at home in Mexico on January 31, 2024.

Fher Olvera at home in Mexico on January 31, 2024.

Paulina Pérez

We’re in Puerto Vallarta, which has a strong connection to your environmental foundation, Selva Negra, which you created back in 1996. The beaches where you hatch the sea turtles Selva Negra is so famous for are close by. 

They’re toward Nayarit, on a large beach called Platanitos. The government has a reserve that is untouchable, and we partner with them to take care of the turtles in a very large area. In Platanitos, we have a conservation station where the biologists and people who take care of the turtles are. Last year, we released almost a million baby turtles into the sea, a record. We’ve been doing this since ’96, so there are many of my daughters in the sea. And we also have a nursery in Jalisco, where we plant trees and sell them to the government, which pays us very little, but we come out even. We’ve planted hundreds of thousands of trees. 

Do you feel that now more than ever artists have social responsibility? 

I believe that if it comes from the heart, it’s OK. If the artist doesn’t really feel it, there is no obligation to do it. The main obligation of an artist is to make good art. Their obligation is to give their best in the songs, in the lyrics, in the arrangements, in everything that makes up a song. Now, if you feel like talking about women’s rights or human rights, education, health rights, the environment, whatever you want, then all the better, I say, because music is very powerful and young people do listen. And I think that many people have been inspired by Maná to protect the environment or think globally and act locally. 

Is it exciting for you to see a new generation of artists, like Christian Nodal and Edén Muñoz, sing your songs, as they’re doing on your duet album? 

They’re paying homage to Maná’s songs even though they weren’t even born when the songs were made. There is “Eres Mi Religión,” with Joy [Huerta]; “Rayando el Sol” was beautiful with Pablo Alborán; “Clandestino” with Edén Muñoz is more reminiscent of Mexican music. Christian Nodal I think is a very authentic guy, a good singer who sings from the heart. And we knew that he really liked Maná. So in this album of duets, which is more focused on Mexican music, we invited him to sing “Te lloré un Río,” and the song was so beautiful because Sergio Vallín and Christian added all this Mexican instrumentation and fusion. 

You’ve told me you would like to record a duet with Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Who else is on your dream collaboration list? 

Last Friday, I heard U2 at the Sphere in Las Vegas, and Bono’s singing is amazing. That would be another one to tap into and see what happens. I love Bruno Mars, too. On the new album, we’re not doing many duets, just two or three. We’re writing. We’re addicted to making music.

Maná Billboard Espanol Digital Cover

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Mr. Nimbus




This area can contain widgets, menus, shortcodes and custom content. You can manage it from the Customizer, in the Second layer section.

 

 

 

Newsletter

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Tiki Town Radio

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Pendulum Radio

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Global Darkness Radio

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Desire Unbound Spa Radio

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Nimbus Hits
    Today's hits and classic favorites

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Nimbus Entertainment 80s

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Nimbus Dark Dance

  • cover play_circle_filled

    Nimbus Punk
    Classic and modern punk and hardcore

play_arrow skip_previous skip_next volume_down
playlist_play