With more than 30 years and nine albums behind them, it would be easy to call Maná’s record-breaking seven-show run at the Forum a victory lap. But for the rock en Español legends, selling out seven concerts at the Forum over a single tour, eclipsing a record shared by Kanye West and the Eagles, is nothing short of a triumph.
“To me it’s like a dream. We’ve been working for 30 years to be able to do this,” says vocalist/guitarist Fher Olvera, enjoying a rare day off in the band’s hometown of Guadalajara.
Though still based in the Jalisco capital, the group has long considered L.A. its second home, and credits the city and its devoted fan base with kickstarting its career with a sold-out show at the Palladium in 1993. The band has gone on to earn four Grammy and eight Latin Grammy awards and, with over 40 million albums sold worldwide, is widely considered the most successful Latin American band of all time.
Ahead of Maná’s concert at the Forum on Saturday night, we spoke with Olvera and drummer Alex González about the band’s L.A. fan base, their legacy and the challenges of mixing rock and politics.
What has struck you about this run of Forum shows?
González: It’s unbelievable how many people have come to see us here: from L.A., from other cities and even from other countries. You have grandparents, fathers, kids, brothers and sisters, all coming together. It shows what the power of music can do.
Olvera: Every time we come back to L.A. or the U.S., we’re seeing more and more people at our shows who don’t speak Spanish.
González: Latin music has always existed, it’s just become more mainstream in the last 20 years. Social media has really helped. Accessibility is just a click away. It’s incredible how much information people have about Latin music.
How difficult is it for a Mexican band to break into the American market now versus when you started?
González: It’s extremely difficult nowadays. There are not a lot of record labels interested in rock ’n’ roll bands, not a lot of A&R people going into the street, the clubs, the underground. Everybody’s on YouTube, but bands can’t make money selling their music on YouTube. It’s the same thing with streaming. That’s why musicians depend so much on playing live.
Olvera: Everything is very fast. Artists come, they have one or two hits and then go.
González: We’re an exception. We’ve been able to build up a community, and it was all done grass roots and word of mouth. There was no internet. We put up posters, made phone calls. We grew little by little. It took us many, many years and every album was one step.
Maná has been outspoken about topics like immigration reform, voting and the environment. In these divisive times, what has that been like for the band?
González: We use our platform to motivate people and send a positive message. Fher is out there every night sending his message. And people leave inspired, thinking they should reconsider their views, or they’re motivated to participate and take action. It’s not an obligation, but if you want to do it, you have the opportunity.