Rock gods Cafe Tacvba are back with new music and extensive tour
Chilanga banda: Joselo, Meme, Rubén, and Quique are Café Tacvba.
The wait is over. Acclaimed Mexico City rockers Café Tacvba (pronounced “Tacuba”) are back with a brand-new album and currently touring stateside.
Café Tacvba is arguably Mexico’s most important rock band and one of the most respected in Latin America. The quartet was an early purveyor of Latin alternative music in the 90’s; mixing Mexican and Latin American folk rhythms with rock, hip-hop, funk and synthpop. Café Tacvba claimed its mestizo identity with its name, sound (with its fusion of roots and rock — the native and the foreign), song themes and aesthetic.
When the band made its full-length debut in 1992, its members wore indigenous garb and played a funky amalgam of dance-punk, polkas and boleros. It turned out to be the first phase for the chameleonic band with a penchant for experimentation and reinvention. The band’s appeal spans from low-to-highbrow; its catalog contains chart-friendly love-pop, experimental double albums, and collaborations with likes of David Byrne and string ensemble Kronos Quartet.
Earlier this month, members Ruben Albarrán, Emmanuel “Meme” Del Real, and brothers Joselo and Quique Rangel debuted the lead single to the LP, titled El Objecto Antes Llamado Disco (The Object Formerly Known As Record), due out in October. The song, called “De Este Lado Del Camino” (“From This Side of the Path”) is a psych-tinged tune that posits its narrator as a triumphant survivor. Refrains like “me amo” (“I love myself”) suggests the group’s in happier, more united place after the ambivalence that’s loomed over past albums Cuatro Caminos (which as well as being a metro reference, also allows for the figurative translation, Four Paths) and SiNo (YesNo).
Two decades have moved Café Tacvba from mercurial art curiosity to now elder statesmen of forward-thinking Mexican rock. The outfit isn’t at El Tri-levels of longevity, no. But Café Tacvba is one of the last bandsstanding of its generation, and might be the lone act of its profile still committed to artistic exploration (ahem) and collaboration—both as a group and as individuals.
Following their last album — the classic rock-leaning SiNo from 2007— and their 20th anniversary celebration in 2009 the band-members took a two-year break to pursue independent projects. Rubén formed a new side band and signed onto Wikiruta cause. Joselo published his first book: a compilation of his longstanding weekly newspaper column titled CRockónicas Marcianas. Meme participated in a #YoSoy132 solidarity concert. And Quique produced indie act Torreblanca’s debut album, Bella Época, during the hiatus.
The foursome reconvened last October to form part of an all-star tribute concert for Mexican musician Jaime Lopez, whose song “Chilanga Banda” the outfit memorably morphed into a ‘DF meets Dr. Dre’ hip-hop number on its cover album Avalancha de Éxitos.
Happy 20th birthday, muchachos! It’s actually been 23 years together but 20 since their first album. Photo taken during the mastering of their new album.
The Tacvbos spent the first part of 2012 making the festival rounds and composing its new album. They reconnected with their longtime production team — producer Gustavo Santaoalla, co-producer Anibal Kerpel, and audio engineer and mixer Joe Chicarelli — to record the seventh studio effort. But this being Café Tacvba, you know they had to do something unique. Instead of stealing away to a studio as usual, the group held recording sessions of their new material in front of small audiences at bars and auditoriums in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Mexico City, and Los Angeles.
“Since the industry’s changed, it’s become obsolete; and within the group there’s that interest to see what we’ll do since [the industry’s] going to change so much. This will be our last album with a label (Universal), that’s why it’s time to re-establish things. Maybe that format of ‘record-tour-promotion’ is obsolete, maybe even the record is, since people consume a song not an album.”
Something else that’s new is the band’s growing embrace of social media. Del Real’s Instagram is full of behind-the-scenes action. And on the occasion of its Mexico City session, the band tweeted a call for fans to submit 20-second YouTube clips for tickets. The makers of the most creative submissions were awarded access to the intimate show.
Here are some of our favorites:
Of course, since for Café Tacvba the album is obsolete, they didn’t wasted time waiting for the new album to be released in order to go on tour. The band wraps up the U.S. leg of its tour this week: playing Chicago on the 23rd, Beloit, Wisconsin on the 24th, and New York on the 26th. The group then continues on to South America and Mexico.