Cafe Tacvba: Don't Call them the Beatles or Radiohead

Q&A with the Mexican band's bassist Quique Rangel.

ByABC News
November 8, 2012, 2:13 PM

Nov. 9, 2012— -- A couple weeks ago, iconic Mexican alt-rock band Café Tacvba dropped its first album in five years. The new 10-track release, titled El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco (The Object Previously Known As Record), thoughtfully explores and challenges what an album is in 2012.

For this, the band's seventh studio album, members Rubén Albarrán, Emmanuel "Meme" Del Real, brothers Joselo and Quique Rangel partially pulled back the curtain on the band's recording process.

Instead of heading into a studio with its longtime production team (lead by Gustavo Santaoalla), this past spring, the Tacubos recorded the album in front of audiences at sessions held in Buenos Aires, Santiago (Chile), Mexico City, and Los Angeles. Yet, Café insists this is not a live album (you don't hear applause or the band addressing the audience).

It's hard to measure the extent that this recording experiment molded the new effort. But when compared to the band's body of work, El Objeto becomes a solid, contemplative effort built with patience and steadfast maturity that demands a commitment rare to this 140-character-sized attention span age.

But after all, Café Tacvba's course and career has been anything but usual. For more than 20 years, "Cafeta" has proven that it is possible to make music for art's sake and still fill stadiums. They remain one of the most popular, groundbreaking, and influential in Spanish language rock bands in history.

So respected is the band that Rolling Stone magazine just named their 1994 album, Re, the #1 most important album in the history of Latin rock. The mag also compared them to the Beatles or Radiohead, prompting a slew of complaints from fans, and even a dramatic editor's letter from Rolling Stone Mexico distancing itself from such "reckless" claims by its gringo parent publication. Such are the heated emotions Café Tacvba fans feel for the group and its uniqueness.

We spoke with Café Tacvba's bassist, Quique (with the 'stache and green buttoned-up shirt, above), recently about the making of The Object—its process and its meaning—as well as the foursome's future plans. The following is our Q&A translated from the Spanish.

ABC-Univision: How did this new album come about? Earlier this year, we reunited in Tepoztlán, a city about an hour from Mexico City, to begin showing each other songs (because each member of Café Tacvba is a songwriter). Each one of us has different curiosities and different styles. After a few months, we realized that we had 10 songs. We sought out our head producer, Gustavo Santaoalla, and showed him those songs. There are times when we get to that point and he's told us, "Well I think you need to work a bit more [or] I think we have to work this way." But this time he said, "I think have a finished album—a mature album. And the only thing that's left is to see how you want to record."

Where did the live recording session idea come from?