I had the pleasure (and honor) of interviewing Saúl Hernández back in December of 2012 in between his slew of solo performances. He invited me to interview him again in the near future, but because of his super busy schedule, it wasn’t until now that we were able to reunite. Here Hernández opens up about his songwriting, clean hands, and the possibility of a new Caifanes album.
Photo Credit: Olga Laris, Courtesy of CaifanesMX
First of all, I’d like to congratulate you on your solo shows back in December.
How did you choose the songs from your vast repertoire to include in these intimate performances?
They were selected as we were working on them. Obviously, some songs shouldn’t be included. Also, a lot of people would ask about certain songs and I based a lot [of] the choices on people’s curiosity. But then there was an opportunity to do songs in a different way and change the arrangements for these shows. In a way, one can say that the songs chose themselves.
One of the things I enjoyed the most was the anecdotes, the verses and stories that you shared before each song. Tell me about them.
I did this when I was presenting my album, Remando. I would play a couple songs and share a story or an anecdote. This idea then made it into the performances where I was showcasing my work as a singer-songwriter. [They] helped show the inner workings of my songs and the many roads that lead me to write them.
How did you start writing songs? Was it through poetry? Or was there a key moment when you knew that songwriting was for you?
Well, ever since I was really young I had the curiosity to write things. I started to write what most caught my attention and it’s become a valuable form of expression for me.
What was the first song you wrote?
Wow, that was many years ago. I believe I was still in elementary school. I would write sentences and add harmonies and melodies to them. Later on, the more concrete work as a songwriter was probably in high school and college. We would play in bands and this created a need to write material.
There is a powerful relationship between us and the fans
You’re about to embark on a new tour with Caifanes. How do you feel about the idea of touring with your colleagues?
Well, right now the group is at a strong moment and sonically it is very powerful. Everything is going really well. The group is in a surprisingly great situation. I couldn’t have said this about the group two years ago, but now I can definitely say it.
It must be a great feeling to see the reaction of your fans and see them sing your songs with so much enthusiasm. You seem to have a very special bond with them.
You are very right. There is a powerful relationship between us and the fans. I see the shows as ceremonies, they’re like rituals. It goes beyond a concert where you have a good time. I feel like we all share a strong cathartic experience, like a moment of light. It’s almost like an exorcism, we purge everything. We experience this together.
Do you have any rituals that you do before each show?
I wash my hands. Really, I do. I go onstage with my hands clean.
There’s this synergy between the members of Caifanes. Do you believe that this chemistry could potentially produce a new Caifanes album?
Well, I don’t know yet. We are still trying to grasp what’s happening and why it’s happening. There are a lot of young people at our concerts now. When we enter the studio, I believe that we have to enter it very clear about what we are setting out to do and for that you need time. After 18 years, you can’t just make an album in two weeks. You have to be ready to record it, promote it, and tour with it. We have to take those steps more cautiously.
Well, I just wanted to thank you for your writing. It was an inspiration to me when I was younger and it was, in part, what made me want to write. Good luck on your tour with Caifanes and I’ll see you in L.A.
I hope to see you there and we can drink a tequila together.
Caifanes begins their new tour in April and the U.S. dates are as follows:
5/17 – Oakland – Fox Theater
5/18 – Los Angeles – Nokia Theater
6/13 – Dallas – House of Blues
6/14 – Chicago – Aragon
6/15 – Houston – House Bllues
6/16 – Austin – Stubb’s