Q&A With Andrea Echeverri of Aterciopelados, Playing Grand Central Tomorrow, June 10

Sure, socially conscious artists are prevalent in Spanish-language music. But few acts have committed themselves so completely to fighting for the greater good than Aterciopelados, whose zeal for placing social and political causes right before the public's eye is legendary.

The band's most recent album, last year's Grammy-nominated Rio, is a prime example. he album and title track inspired by a river in their native Columbia that's seen better days, and the record loaded end to end with tracks meant not only to make a musical impact, but to educate, enlighten, and get the listener thinking about change, while managing not to overburden the quality of the tunes. Never mind their involvement in Amnesty International's "The Price of Silence," a song written and recorded in 2008 to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, based on Atercio's "Cancion Protesta" and featuring a bevy of iartists from around the globe including, among others, Yerba Buena, Julieta Venegas, Stephen Marley and of course, Aterciopelados (video after the jump).

Crossfade recently got a chance to speak with vocalist and one half of the group, Andrea Echeverri, to chat in anticipation of the velvety ones' upcoming show this Thursday at Grand Central.

New Times: I got to speak to Gabriel [Buitrago, the other half of Aterciopelados] last year before the album release. Congratulations on your latest Grammy nod since then. How did you guys feel?

Happy! I feel that that sort of recognition opens up avenues for diffusing your message, above all else. Which is very important when you have a message you want to broadcast. This helps to put it in more people's ear. It creates a great opportunity.

Some have called this your most politically and socially conscious disc to date. Do you guys see it that way?

Yes, I think it has to do with a plan that's grown and strengthened, a result of a very natural flow and evolution. One begins to feel a sense of responsibility. I think that the moment where you begin to write and compose needs to be carefully selected, and this album came to us at an important moment in our careers. And there are messages contained in it that also came very fluidly and naturally, and have become something very real.

Let's talk about another important project you guys were involved in. Tell us about "The Price of Silence."

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Oh, that was something so beautiful. Andres Levin produced it, and that in itself was very important. He also produced Caribo Atomico [for us]. And he did something really nice here using "Cancion Protesta." This was a piece of music that was very valuable, and very nice. I don't normally like those hymns where a lot of different musicians get together; they tend to sound strange. But this one sounds great. It's an interweaving of cultures, and the result is very powerful. It was a great honor for us to work on this for Amnesty International. And the artists who participate on the track are just fantastic.

You guys are presently on tour, and you've got plans to hit some of the biggest festivals in the country.

Yes, we just did Coachella a few months ago. And we're off to Bonaroo. We've got some gigs in Canada, and later we go to Spain. But in between all the shows and the trips we're working on various projects. We're finishing Andrea Echeverri 2 and Con Hector 2, and we're also doing some tracks, one of which is an homage to Caifanes. And also some traditional Mexican music.

Got a lot going on.

Plus kids too! Can you imagine [laughs]?

What would you hope fans take away from your show when you come to Miami this weekend?

Miami shows are always very enigmatic, don't you think? I feel like Miami is like the ocean. It's unpredictable. But we always meet with very close people here. It's always a very gratifying experience. We just want for it to be nice, enjoyable, but at the same time something critical, but healing. And above all, something beautiful.

Aterciopelados. 8 p.m. Thursday, June 10. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $25 in advance; age 21 and up. 305-377-2277; grandcentralmiami.com

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