The Mexico City quartet have a lot on their plate in this 2014. For one, this year marks 25 years since they first formed and took the world by storm. It’s also the 20th anniversary of Re, their most critically beloved record worldwide. To celebrate, the band is embarking on a US tour.
Here at Remezcla we are going on Tacvbamania mode with this list of curious data and songs about the band. So sit back, press play on the links, and enjoy a few bits of trivia and history you might not know (or might want to revisit). And before you ask: no, we didn’t list Rubén’s many names.
They really are a college rock band.
The four members of Café Tacvba met at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM). They were all graphic design majors.
Their first professional recording was for a Christmas album.
When WEA signed them, the first song they recorded for the label was “Tamales de Iguanita” which was included on the seasonal compilation Diciembre 25. Of course, it’s no carol, posada litany, or anything Mariah Carey might cover.
One of their early signature covers was a song by Agustín Lara.
Any Tacvba fan knows that covers have been integral in the band’ career (for proof, just remember Avalancha de Éxitos). One of the first versions they played regularly at shows was “La Última Carcajada de La Cumbancha” by the iconic Agustín Lara. It’s a fine example of the band’s influences and their spin on Mexican music of every strain. Curiously enough, La Última Carcajada De La Cumbancha (or LUCC) was also the name of a performance space in Mexico City where bands used to play.
Above, you can see them revisit the song live on Viña Del Mar in 1996.
They like to celebrate music by their peers with medleys.
During the Re tour, the band played a medley (or “popurrí” in Spanish) called “Cumbia En Tu Idioma.” It consisted of fragments of songs by their contemporaries Caifanes, Fobia, Maldita Vecindad, and Santa Sabina in a cumbia rhythm. For their 15th anniversary tour, they revisited the concept, playing son huasteco versions (“Son En Tu Idioma”) of snippets by Cono Sur giants like Aterciopelados, Babasónicos, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. Their most recent exploration was in 2012 with “Indisco En Tu Idioma” (indie + disco, get it?), playing around with melodies and lyrics by Zoé, Kinky, Austin TV, Porter, Dapuntobeat, Carla Morrison, and Hello Seahorse!, among others. You can watch a video of “Indisco” above.
Their first music video was homework.
“Las Batallas” was their first track to receive the video treatment. The clip —based on the novel “Las Batallas En El Desierto” by José Emilio Pacheco— was not made to air on MTV but rather to fulfill an academic assignment. Unfortunately, it’s not available online but here’s a fan made one with scenes from the movie Mariana, Mariana, also based on the Pacheco book.
Re’s cover art was first released on various colors.
While the artwork for the band’s celebrated second album is best known for the intense red background, the original edition featured other versions in black, yellow and green. Also, the tape came in a cardboard sleeve.
Their tribute to Los Tres is named after an insult.
Vale Callampa was recorded by Café Tacvba after they learned that their Chilean friends were breaking up. Instead of naming the results after a song or lyric, they went for the above phrase, which means “worthless.” When The Mexican band was on tour in Chile once, a passing car yelled at them “Café Tacvba vale callampa.” Must have stuck with them.
Meme has played for the Cruz Azul FC.
Emmanuel Del Real is a fútbol player and has played for one of the biggest teams in the country…in their amateur division. During their press tour for Revés/Yo Soy, Meme was absent because he broke his leg during a game.
Their self-titled debut spawned six singles.
To promote the album on radio and TV, the label released six of its 13 songs. These were “María,” “Las Persianas” (both which date back to their first demos as a band, back when they were called Alicia Ya No Vive Aquí), “Rarotonga,” “Pinche Juan,” “Labios Jaguar,” and “La Chica Banda.” It might explain why it did so well, but then for their next one, only four songs were released to radio, and did better.
The two bands mentioned in “La Chica Banda.”
One of their early favorites (and usual show closer to date), about a tough street-bound girl, refers to going to punk shows. The two bands mentioned are Atoxxxicoo and Rebel D’ Punk, who are two of the most legendary bands in the Mexican underground. Café Tacvba shared the stage at least with Atoxxxico in their early days (at venues like Tutti Frutti and the aforementioned LUCC). Both Atoxxxico and Rebel D’ Punk are still active.
Wanna know how to get to Quique’s house?
The lyrics to “Esperando” are directions to get to the bass player’s home. Fire up that Google Maps! (NOTE: He might not live there anymore).
Joselo once vented his frustration with the press in song.
When the guitarist released his first solo album, Oso, a recurring question would rear its head from the lips of journalists who would interview him: “Are Café Tacvba breaking up?” Instead of walking out of interviews with people who couldn’t grasp the concept of “side project,” he instead wrote the song “Tomando El Fresco” which was included in the following Café Tacvba record, Cuatro Caminos.
The fifth Tacvbo.
Although Luis Ledezma “El Children” has been their longtime live drummer (since the Cuatro Caminos tour), the honorary member title goes to violinist Alejandro Flores who is said to having played on each one of their shows since 1994. He also played in HopPo! with Rubén, as well as lending his talents to other greats like Kronos Quartet and San Pascualito Rey. Fans will recognize him playing “La Huasanga”, the song attached to “Las Flores” from the MTV Unplugged show; the song was originally by his son jarocho band Zazhil.