Maná Drummer Alex González Talks Fans, Topping the Charts, and 20 Years of Latin Pop
Last week, Crossfade spoke with Maná drummer Alex about turning personal tragedy into art, Latin-on-Latin discrimination, and his band's support for the Dream Act.
Today, the conversation continues with González touching on topics like Maná's current stint on the road, selling out stadiums, having the greatest fans on the planet, killing the Billboard charts, and two decades atop the world of Latin pop.
Crossfade: What is it like to be part of the most influential Latin pop group in the world?
Alex González: What can I say? I'm very grateful to be in this band and very grateful to see all the things that the band has accomplished -- being the only Latin artists to sell out the Staples Centers eight times in a row is already a huge milestone. The four shows that we did on this tour were just unbelievable. The crowd was just nuts. It was an amazing feeling to be there every night, and to feel the energy, the passion and the screams of the crowd. It was crazy.
Your newest album Drama y Luz has been really well received, selling 47,000 copies in its first week and getting high up there on U.S. Billboard charts. Did you expect that kind of outcome?
Every time we go to the studio, we don't know what to expect. We don't think about that. We just think about trying to make the best album possible. We just hope that when it comes out people receive it well. And that's basically our attitude. It's always been like that. We're not worried about sales, numbers, or criticism. We're just hoping that we can connect with people once they listen to the lyrics and the music.
How do you think the sound of the band has evolved since your last album five years ago, Amar es Combatir, and from beginning of Manás musical career?
They say the older you get, the better you get. As musicians, we've matured. We're playing better and I think we're writing better music. Every album is like a picture - a musical soundtrack picture - of different moments we're living as a band.
Some people argue that the Maná formula for songwriting has been pretty consistent since the beginning of your run. Have you guys ever considered delving into a new sound?
There isn't a formula, because if a formula were to exist, we would have been famous 20 years ago. We have a way of writing music that fuses different styles of music. That's a big misconception of the band. Musically, we're always trying to do new stuff, but we're not going to try to do something radical just because we want to prove to other people that we can play other types of music. I think at the end of the day we have to stay true to what we like. First you please yourself, and then you hope that other people appreciate what you're doing.
Maná has been making music for more than 20 years. Is there anything that you would personally consider the highlight of your career or the career of the entire group?
We're a band that really cherishes everything that happens to us. There have been so many highlights within our career. I think right now in this moment, seeing how people have reacted to this album and seeing that the industry is so hurt, we're very grateful for all the things that have happened to us. But we've worked for it. Nobody has given us a free ride.
It seems that you guys are really committed to your fans - constantly signing autographs and giving gifts. Why do you guys put such emphasis on fan appreciation?
If it wasn't for your fans, who would buy your tickets to concerts? Who would buy your CDs? Who would be calling the radio stations to ask them to constantly play your songs? It's the other side of the story. Every time we get a chance to stop and take a picture or sign an autograph, we will always do that.
What do you expect of next week's show in Miami?
I expect people to go nuts. Every time I play in Miami, it's me going back to my hometown. Miami has become the melting pot for Latin America. I think it's going to be an amazing concert and people are going to be blown away by the production. I'm just looking forward to being down there with my people.
-- Gaby Izarra
Maná. Thursday, July 7. American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $32 to $110 plus fees via ticketmaster.com. Call 786-777-1000 or visit aaarena.com.
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