Twenty-eight years have passed since that show at the Palladium on Sunset Boulevard when Maná stood in front of an audience in LA for the first time. That evening, a romance ignited between the Mexican pop-rock band and the Californian city, which today, like Manás, is their second home.
Since then, the acclaimed band from Guadalajara – lead singer and guitarist Fher Olvera, drummer Álex González, bassist Juan Calleros and guitarist Sergio Vallín – has received no venue more often and enthusiastically than LA A few years ago, Maná – holders of four Grammys and eight Latin Grammys and the first Spanish-language rock band that received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – broke an Eagles concert record when they performed seven times at the Forum in Inglewood. Maná returns to the Forum on Friday and Saturday, with two more dates each scheduled in April, June and July, extending his series of annual LA residencies.
“The idea is to keep going until people get fed up with us,” says Olvera.
Olvera and Vallín spoke to The Times about their deep connection to Los Angeles, the politics of COVID-19 and the postponement of a sweeping immigration reform bill.
Many artists are considering doing a musical residency in Las Vegas. They decided to do one in Los Angeles. Why?
Olvera: Los Angeles has it all. It has connections all over the world. It’s a city we love very much. It’s the city, practically anywhere in the world, that suits us best.
They have waited until 2022 to start touring again, although other artists and groups started last year. I imagine you did it with caution to allow people to recover economically from the pandemic.
Olvera: Yes, just like you say. And you seem to be Mexican…?
i am peruvian
Olvera: Ah, Peruvians. But do you know the song “El Rey”?
Yes, of couse.
Olvera: The one who says, “You don’t have to get there first, you have to know how to get there.” The important thing here is that there is access to the tickets, a positive cost-benefit effect. We bring the same gear as a group like Coldplay or U2, tons of gear, but the ticket prices for these groups and many others – I include Latinos – are very different from ours. We make tickets accessible and also approach people who do not have the opportunity to buy such an expensive ticket.
Los Angeles is very important to you. You agreed to donate the rights to your songs so schools in LA can teach Spanish. Why?
Olvera: We deeply admire the Latino community, the Mexican community. We know that they or their parents have had a difficult time in the past and have come here to work – they have made this country great. We have respect and admiration for all these people.
And we have to start at the bottom: the gringos don’t yet trust us to the extent that they should, but here we come. We are passionate about human rights. We’ve spoken to President Obama four or five times, but we didn’t have that opportunity with the next President [Trump] because we broke up with him. He came across as extremely racist and radical to us with the policy he passed. Then come the Democrats [like Biden] who are more pro-Latino.
But the fact of the matter is, Latinos are awesome. And we conquered Los Angeles to take back a part of the Mexicans that was ours and we conquered it culturally, peacefully, artistically and economically. The power Latin Americans hold in the United States, both economically and politically, is impressive. It’s something we’ve lived for the past 30 years.
At the Forum in 2019 you urged people to go out and vote their conscience for who they want, but come out and vote. Today we have a President who understands the needs of Latinos, but the long-awaited immigration reform that was promised is still not here. how do you see it
Olvera: It’s very bad. There needs to be immigration reform to allow Mexicans and Latinos to get jobs. Let’s not play the fool. There’s something strange happening, maybe they still want cheap labor so they can compete with China. I have doubts at the moment because it would be very logical for them to legalize all of them. I said that to Hillary Clinton – we spoke to Obama about it. It’s also important that Americans, that the American government have ID, that people have legal ID, that they can pay taxes, but also that a Latin American person doesn’t feel like they could take it away tomorrow.
Borders between Mexico and the United States have reopened for non-essential travel and for people to reunite with their families. Do you think this decision was delayed too long, or was it timely?
Olvera: I think it was delayed but the COVID thing was difficult too. Wear masks, get vaccinated, for God’s sake. This is a matter of survival. The smartest people are the ones who survive. Those of us who get vaccinated will not infect those who don’t. How is it that these things are still with us in this century – that anyone questions that two plus two equals four?
Vallin: It is very sad that vaccination has become a political strategy in our countries, as is the case in Mexico.
Will we ever have a Latino President in this country?
Olvera: The next one has to be a Latino. Why not?
Vallin: If there is already a Latin Pope.
You mentioned the song “El Rey”. [The King], by José Alfredo Jiménez, which you sang as boxer Canelo Álvarez went to his fight against Caleb Plant last November at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. How did you feel about singing alone?
Olvera: Well it was very easy brother because of this guy is the king. Canelo deserves this and he likes Maná very much. He’s from Guadalajara, from Jalisco, another gran tapatio. And he trains with the music of Maná. We were with him at his wedding before. And now he had this rock ‘n’ roll that he loved, and finally he said to me, “You know, you gave me the power to defeat Plant.”
You will have special guests at the Forum and you have done duets throughout your career – we remember Pablo Alborán, Shakira, Sebastián Yatra. But there is one very important one that you did with Alejandro Fernández last year – a re-recording of Mariposa Traicionera.
Vallin: Yes indeed, we have been working on this duets album project and now it is Alejandro Fernández’s turn with “Mariposa Traicionera”.
Olvera: It’s a mix that Sergio came up with.
Vallin: It’s still the same essence of “Mariposa Traicionera” but with a touch of mariachi. And when we did that, we said, why don’t we invite Alejandro Fernández, who’s also from Guadalajara, who has a great voice and is also our friend. And it fit like a ring on the finger.
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/music/story/2022-03-17/mana-residency-los-angeles-forum Mexican stars Maná on why LA is their second home