It’s hard to believe: but over 30 years ago, long before Maná became the unparalleled kings of rock en español, they nearly called it quits.
“Our record label told us there was no future for the band,” says drummer Alex González from New York’s Soho Grand Hotel, a few hours before Maná’s sold-out concert at Barclays Center in October. “[They said] rock en español was just a fad, and we should try another style of music. We felt gutted because of all the negativity.”
Comprised of Fher Olvera on vocals, Sergio Vallín on guitar, Juan Calleros on bass and González on drums, the Guadalajara band decided they were much too mighty to give up their dreams. They promptly ditched their old label, signed to Warner Music Latina, and went on to release their first-ever hit song, 1989’s “Rayando El Sol,” which would help light their path to superstardom. The band would go on to write many more memorable Latin rock anthems, from “Oye Mi Amor” to “En el Muelle de San Blas.”
But besides their knack for radio-ready, cinematic storytelling, the multi-Platinum rockers have also established themselves as environmental ambassadors and defenders of immigrant rights. They’ve established their Selva Negra Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to species preservation, environmental education and conservation; and more recently, a scholarship program for students who identify as Latino/a/x. “I see [our music] as a means to protest, to spread ideas and share them,” said frontman Olvera to Rolling Stone. “As a Latin group, Maná carries that [activist] ethos and that way of thinking.”
This winning formula of compassionate rock would earn them four Grammys, eight Latin Grammys, and a total of 10 Number One hits on the Billboard charts. “Fher has a way of telling stories that really connect with people,” says González. “[But] never in a million years did we imagine that we would have that kind of success. This is the first time we are touring internationally without a new album.”
Indeed, this year’s Rayando El Sol tour marks another career benchmark for the legendary band. Maná recently broke the record for playing (and selling out) The Forum a staggering seven times as part of a single tour: they are the only act in history to achieve this feat. Their final date at The Forum, the show that will close their tour, takes place on December 7th.