Mana at American Airlines Arena July 7

No Latin band has tugged as many heartstrings quite as hard as Mexican rock band Maná.

In its 20-year reign, the Grammy Award-winning group has traveled all over the world, flooding arenas and selling out shows from Guadalajara to Berlin. Currently kicking off its latest international tour, Maná will bring pop drama and 20,000 people to the American Airlines Arena this Thursday.

New Times linked up with drummer Alex González to talk about the band's latest album, Drama y Luz. New Times: All of your music has a strong emotional pull. What were some of the motivations for this album?

Alex González: This album took a real different turn in the beginning, because while we were writing, [singer] Fernando ["Fher" Olvera] suffered the loss of his mother and sister due to cancer. It was a very difficult time for him. We also lost a couple of friends during the process. There was a lot of drama in the beginning. We pulled together as a band, and we helped Fher get through that really sad time in his life. We put that momentum into writing music. And that's why it's called Drama y Luz. That's the way life is. Life is full of drama, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes from tragedy, good things arise.

"Latinoamérica," a song you wrote for the new record, is about discrimination toward Latinos. Do you think that's a serious problem around the world today?

Yeah, I've even seen discrimination of Latinos against Latinos in Miami. I think it's dumb that Latinos, instead of being more united, we sometimes become more separate. I wanted [the song] to be an anthem. I just wanted to say, "Look, we're hardworking people. We're people that share the same history, and we deserve respect." I just wanted to write a song that was uplifting, and make Latinos feel proud of their roots and their heritage.

What do you have to say to all the Latinos in Miami about having pride in their ethnicity?

I'm half Cuban, half Colombian, and I was born in Miami. I'm very proud of my roots. I would say to the generation that came from Latin America: "Be proud of what you've done." To the new generation of Latinos being born in the United States, "Be proud of your heritage. And don't forget them."

Talking about Latino pride, the group has been pretty open about its views on immigration reform and Puerto Rican independence. What can you say about being opposed to some of the U.S.'s policies?

I'm the first one to say it's not right to come into the United States illegally, because they're breaking the law. But I can bet you 90 percent of the people coming in are just trying to look for a better opportunity for their families, for themselves. There has to be immigration reform. If these people have to pay a fine, well, have them pay a fine. Have them pay taxes. At the end of the day, they're the backbone of the economy of this country.

We're also supporting the Dream Act. They want to deport kids that were born with parents illegally in the United States. But you know, it's not their fault that their parents came here and entered the country illegally. We've got to support those students who are in colleges and universities, because they're going to be the future of this country.

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Gaby Izarra

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