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Chatting with Café Tacvba

By Jade Arroyo

The Mexican alternative-rock band Café Tacvba performed for the first time in the city on November 28. The four members of the group, Rubén Albarran, Emmanuel del Real, José Alfredo Rangel and Enrique Rangel, are all from Mexico City and have been performing for more than two decades.

Vocalist Albarran is well known for his multiple nicknames, which he changes with every new album. On the cover of their previous album, he’s wearing a mask, for which people started to call him “Zopilote” (buzzard). The artist says that these monikers are entirely someone else’s invention. “During a ceremony in the desert, I received the name ‘K’kame,’ which means in the huichol indigenous dialectthe one who walks step by step to knowledge.’ I think I’m keeping that name—it is the one,” he said. Albarran is an activist who works to preserve the Wirikuta dessert. One of his side projects is the band HopPo!, which he formed along with Alejandro Flores, Rodrigo Aros and Juan Pablo Villanueva , from Chile. They recorded the song and video “Wirikuta no se vende” (Wirikuta is not for sale), which has become the cause’s anthem. He is also in favor of animal rights and is a vegetarian.

About San Miguel, he said: “We came running. I would love to come back and see more of it. It’s odd that I didn’t come before.” He likes the book Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, because of the mysticism about the creation of the world and the tenderness of the book. He also likes to read Jodorowsky. From this writer he recalls a part in the book El maestro y las magas (the master and the sorceresses) in which “Jodorowsky throws the tarot for Mexico and the outcome is something like immolation.”

Emmanuel del Real, known as “El Meme,” said that San Miguel reminds him a little of Zacatecas, where both his parents were born, because of its colonial style. “I would like to get to know the city better; one can tell it is a liberal one,” he noted. He is the composer of some of the band’s most emblematic songs.

Albarran concluded: “I love mystery. At one time in my life I worked in an office with beige walls. I was very depressed. I was working several floors underground, so I almost never saw the sunlight. The same day my boss told me I got a raise was the day I quit. From there I went to the recording studio.”

Formed in 1989, Café Tacvba has recorded 11 albums thus far. Currently they’re promoting El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco” (The Object Formerly Called Record). They are considered one of the most important bands on the rock scene in Spanish. They took their name from a café located in the historic center of Mexico City.


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