The highly anticipated Q&A with Maná’s Fher Olvera and Alex González closed Billboard’s Latin Music Conference on Wednesday (April 25) at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.
Eager to talk about their philanthropy work and a new project in the works, frontman Olvera and drummer González also spoke to Billboard’s Leila Cobo about the importance of education on social and environmental issues, the lack of rock in español on radio airwaves and even fútbol.
The iconic Mexican rock band will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at Billboard Latin Music Awards ceremony on Thursday. The chart-topping band will also take the stage for a special performance.
In case you missed the live stream on Facebook, we’ve got you covered with the most memorable moments and quotes from the Q&A:
When music and social responsibility intersect
Fher Olvera: “When we started the band and released our album Dónde jugarán los niños, I was trying to write a song [“Vivir sin aire”] about the environment and my heart betrayed me. Because I was also love-struck so the hybrid of the lyrics was very interesting. It says, ‘I can’t live without air, can’t live without water and I can’t live with you’ so I was considering both things because at the end, love and everything that surrounds us is part of a world that is alive, that should be cared for, loved and respected. So, that song has been used to promote proper usage of water but also in weddings. It’s a song that brings us much satisfaction because it has that double meaning.”
— billboard latin (@billboardlatin) 26 de abril de 2018
The importance of educating society about social and environmental issues
Olvera: “We’re lacking education and not full understanding what’s happening from a very young age, when we’re at elementary school or high school. I recently discovered that my son at age five doesn’t have in his science books specific details about how to take care of the environment. So, why do we need mathematics when we won’t have apples to count… We need to implement this type of education early on just how we implement mathematics and history. Why do we need to learn about history if lakes or humanity will disappear?”
New tour on the horizon
Alex González: “When we heard the wonderful news that Billboard was going to give us this prestigious award and recognize our career, because of this, Fher and I are always in contact and after extensive tours we do, we need to rest, too. But then this award came up and there are other things we’re working on and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but we’re in talks of a new project, a new tour “bien chingona (kick ass)” as we say in Mexico for next year, and if it extends beyond that, even better. We love music and it has become a platform for us to talk about ecological issues and human rights. When we’re on tour, fans approach us about some problems in their hometown. So, we investigate those issues … and we’re always working with people on a local level.”
Chill fútbol fans
González: “Personally, I think it’s a great sport. I love the World Cup because you see great players from every country. But I don’t go crazy like other friends of mine who get into fist fights, enter depression and just become very affected. I remind them, it’s just a game with a ball. We always root for Mexico but when Mexico loses, we support the other Latin teams that still remain. Fortunately, Latin America has great players… The World Cup is great but we don’t go crazy like other people.”
Olvera: “I like soccer a little bit more than Alex. When he talks about the crazy friends I think he’s talking about me… During the London Olympics in 2012, I got tickets last minute because Mexico played the final against Brazil. I went with a friend from England and I knew there would be many Mexican fans. I didn’t have security or anything and thought, well, what should I do. I decided to wear a luchador mask and people would stare at me like if I was crazy. Everyone at the stadium was cheering for Brazil but Mexico scored the first goal and the Mexicans went crazy. At the end of the first half, Brazil was close to scoring and I realized that I was finishing my beer and thought, ‘I need a drink.’ So, wearing my mask, I go to the bar and as I’m buying my beer an alarm goes off and they don’t sell me the beer anymore. I turn around and there were some guys from Mexico and I wanted to buy beer from them, but they didn’t want to sell me the beer. I take off the mask and say, ‘Are you going to sell me the beer or not?’ And they were like, ‘oh my God it’s Fher from Maná.’ I tell them, photo in exchange for a beer.”
No more rock en español on the radio
Olvera: “It’s evident that rock will not disappear. I mean, we were behind one of the most important tours of this country. Reggaetón is fine, it’s a type of music, very repetitive but it’s fine… Alex and I were looking around and the reggaetón scene is everywhere. It’s great to be a band that in the midst of this swirl of the same thing, we’re doing something different and that’s fine. It would be great if there were more bands, too. Reggaetón shouldn’t be the only thing that there is.”
González: “It’s great what’s going on in other genres. What I do feel is that there is no space for rock on the radio, or space for pop. For example, a new band playing in a little bar and starting to gain following on social media and they take their demos to a radio station but they don’t get played. They won’t have the same exposure. Same thing with record labels. If they think something that is gaining traction, they follow the trend. We’ve had the chance to see many genres come and go but we haven’t changed our style, whether people like it or not. Maná is like that. The important thing is, and this is directed toward musicians, play whatever you want to play. Be authentic. People will appreciate what you’re doing. I only ask the radio industry and music labels, give other genres an opportunity.”