Bronco's Lupe Esparza Discusses Group's Grand Return With New Album 'Primera Fila'

Courtesy of Sony Music
Bronco

"They say that when an artist's time has passed and they've already gone through their best years yet, it's difficult for them to come back and be what they used to be," Bronco's lead vocalist Lupe Esparza tells Billboard. "We want to break that stigma." 

It's been a year of many firsts for Bronco, the legendary regional Mexican group, who became a household name in the '80s with classics like "Sergio el bailador," "Que no quede huella" and "Adoro."

The five-member group's comeback, with three new additions to the band -- René, José and Javier, who join veterans Lupe and Ramiro -- includes their first performance at a Vive Latino, an uncommon stage for gruperos since it's a rock festival. The quintet also just released a Primera Fila album/DVD -- becoming the first regional Mexican group to  to record in that "Primera Fila" concept, which is an intimate, live concert featuring special guests and collaborations.

Bronco tapped artists who are musically on the opposite end of the spectrum, including Zoé's León Larregui and Julieta Venegas

Fresh off the Vive Latino stage and the release of their new LP, Billboard caught up with Lupe to talk about their grand return to the spotlight. 

Bronco makes their "return" in a pretty unconventional way for regional Mexican artists, which is performing at a Vive Latino. Why did you guys decide to go that route? 

Everything just started lining up for us. I really thought Bronco had already had its best years, but we're back and stronger than ever. They invited us to an international event like Vive Latino where 80 percent of the people there are rock fans. We were happy, but I admit that we were definitely nervous, since we felt out of our habitat. But when we started playing our classics, the audience went crazy. They were our people. I now know that our history continues, and this is just the beginning of many things. Bronco is making noise again. 

The group's Primera Fila includes four collaborations with artists that would never cross your mind were Bronco fans. How did those collabs come about and how were the songs chosen for each artist? 

We had a crazy idea of inviting artists in opposite genres. We knew Cristian Castro was a fan and had been covering our song "Nunca voy a olvidarte," so it made sense he would sing that one. But it was beautiful to see Julieta Venegas sing "Adoro." We sent them a list of the songs were were going to perform, and they each picked the classic they liked best. León picked "Que no quede huella," and the Argentine hip-hop duo Illya Kuryaki and The Valderramas chose "Sergio el bailador." I never imagined those artists would listen to our music but they did and still do. 

Two of the three new members are your sons José and René. How does it feel to share this new Bronco era with them?

Honestly, it never crossed my mind that I'd perform with my children. I remember when they were little they would cry when I left the house to go on tour. I was actually scared that they'd want to follow in my footsteps, because this industry is tough -- I didn't want them to be part of this world. When they turned 18, they created their own little band with their friend Javier and I thought, "OK, it's just a phase, and it'll pass,' but it didn't.

Then one of our original members José Luís Villareal gets sick and Javier Villareal retires... I thought it could have been the perfect time for Bronco to retire feeling proud, but instead we invited René, José and their drummer to join us. Now Bronco is re-energized, and our music has a freshness to it because of them. We understood that if we wanted to keep going, we also had to do our part to stay relevant. 

You've been in the industry for more than 30 years now, what has been one of the most gratifying moments in your career?

Just as I've seen the glory as a musician, I've also felt defeated. There will always be ups and downs, but I love what is happening with Bronco right now. And the best part is that I have my children performing next to me.