The groundbreaking Latin Grammy-winning Mexican group Café Tacvba has been reinventing its sound for 27 years. With nearly four million followers on Facebook, the band enjoys a popularity equivalent to that of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or U2. Café Tacvba's 1994 album, Re, often makes the list as one of the greatest Latin-rock albums in history. Earlier this month, the bandmates launched the most extensive U.S. tour of their career, including more than 20 stops in six weeks. They'll come to the Fillmore Miami Beach Thursday, September 28.
The group came of age in the late 1980s during the rock en español era. They have been experimenting ever since. They are now touring in support of their eighth studio album, Jei Beibi (pronounced “Hey, Baby”), the first release in five years. These days, the audience is a little different from the one listening to Cafe Tacvba for the past 27 years, most of which has been spent touring the United States. There's more tension in the air as the band encounters America’s ethno-political crisis.
Café Tacvba has never shied away from controversial subjects — such as tourism causing environmental degradation of Nayarit beaches in western Mexico. Dealing with the world’s issues has become more important to the group, says songwriter and bassist Quique Rangel. “The members of Café Tacvba have become parents, so we see life in a different way,” Rangel says. “I see through the eyes of my little girl. Suddenly, your existence is linked to another person, a special person that depends on us.”
The band's new album begins with the song "1-2-3." Says Rangel: “Though it is a pop song, it talks about violence in Mexico and the disappearance of 43 students at the hands of the police in 2014. It is very important to us as a band [to be] part of our conscious society. It is important for us to use our music to not forget these things that happen and affect us.”
Café Tacvba's albums have mixed everything from rock to cumbia, as the group did with the Rangel-penned song “Futuro,” a recent release accompanied by a video. The song is especially poignant, addressing the challenges of divisive politics and Rangel’s struggle to influence the future.
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“The video shows an ironic way of seeing the future, like science fiction, futuristic. It is a way of traveling through time and space on a spaceship bus,” Rangel says. “There are some characters around that are important in politics... and the way they affect your life. It is a philosophical questioning with a bit of a sense of humor."
Rangel says music helps the members interpret what they experience as humans. All four bandmates — himself, Rubén Albarrán, Emmanuel del Real, and Joselo Rangel — have writing credits on the album. They understand that the current political direction in America is making their fans nervous.
“We want our music to bring some hope to our fans who are feeling a disconnection to the place where they decided to work and blossom,” Rangel says. “For us it is important to come to the United States and play in large cities and small towns. The United States is a nation built by immigrants. By bringing our music to people living in fear of their future, if our music helps comfort them, then we hope we can do that for them.”