Saúl Hernández, vocalist of the Mexican group that will be part of some of Amnesty International's tours, spoke to us about his new album, 45, a fierce criticism that coexists with harmony

By Andrés Martínez Tutek
September 12, 2008 04:00 PM
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Paying tribute to the 45 million people in poverty in Mexico, Jaguares roars again in the music world with his new album titled 45, calling for awareness with a repertoire that, although confrontational and direct, does not dismiss love or illusions.

Concerned with social issues, the rockers will be part of Amnesty International’s program The Small Places Tour, and will perform in a series of concerts from September 10 until December 10 to put an end to torture, the Guantanamo military base, violence against women, and other human rights violations.

In an interview with People En, Saúl Hernández, vocalist and composer of the band’s successful songs, talked to us about music, how nervous they still get every time they perform live, and about the process of songwriting, which he describes as “mental diarrhea,” a product of inspiration.

Saúl, what makes Jaguares roar now?
We’re here with an album called 45, rooted in the economic situation in Mexico, where there are 45 million in poverty. We want to inspire a culture of reflection and awareness surrounding this problem. In this album, which features 10 songs, there are a couple of topics relating to that situation. Honestly, it’s very different from what has been heard from Jaguares before. A different proposition altogether, much more energetic, more dynamic, with which we liberate ourselves of many things. It’s an album with a certain fury, and it has been well received.

How do you all feel about the public’s response?
Really good. The album was released on September 2 and we’re very excited about its success. After only one day, it made the No. 1 spot on iTunes. Last Thursday the song “Entre tus jardines” (Within your gardens) already had four million listeners. That is the single we’re using in the promotion.

Are all the songs original compositions or are there guest composers as well?
The entire Jaguares material is made up of our own compositions. In this disc I have eight songs of my own; the other two were the result of collective creative work with the rest of the band.

In this creative process, was there a specific place where you found the inspiration to compose?
The only specific place I have to write songs is in my head. There’s no geographical place, and what happens is that the inspiration comes in the spur of the moment. I can’t write something every day, or maybe I could exerting some discipline, but it’s not the same, since the songs have a particular character and magic that you actually feel. In my case, I believe that, first, there’s a process of assimilation, and then, after a few months, my brain gets saturated. I feel something like a mental diarrhea and I begin to compose.

You’ve been working with Jaguares almost 15 years. Has it been difficult to get to where you are?
It hasn’t been easy, but the result has been incredible. What I had once proposed as a music workshop where musicians could freely go in and out, became what we are today, a united quartet. Time has helped us become a solid group.

And in all this time, what have you all learned the most as a group?
What we’ve learned the most is that we still have a lot more to learn. The more we explore, the more we see in ourselves a huge universe with many roads to cover. We still need to grow a lot musically, and that’s precisely what motivates us more. We understand that our commitment as musicians is strong and significant, and Jaguares doesn’t only want to comply with a contract or address situations with artists. What we really want is to grow and that’s what we’re doing.

In this album you’ve addressed the issue of poverty. Do you have a clear idea of what you want to do next?
No. Look, we’re very direct in that respect. Since the albums are like an x-ray of ourselves at a given moment, we can’t determine what we’ll do next. We will live different experiences. As the poet from Chiapas, Jaime Sabines, used to say, you cannot write what you haven’t lived.

Get all the music of Jaguares here You give a lot of importance to social issues. How do you see the behavior of governments as they address the Latin American problems?
Look, to start with, there are models in politics that aren’t working. There is a model based on an oligarchy formed by those who control everything that happens in the country, and it’s sad to see that democracy isn’t more than just an image and a word thrown to the winds. It’s a consolation to see countries like Chile, Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia going in a different direction and doing away with many years of repression perhaps that trapped us in certain political situations such as dictatorships, sometimes disguised, sometimes not. I like seeing that there’s more participation from the people and proposals of change that begin to be heard.

Okay, Saúl, we’re getting very serious here. Why don’t you tell our people something funny that has happened to you during rehearsals…
Wow, let me think. I’m so bad at remembering because I have the memory of an ant. You got me there. Give me about five hours and I’ll come up with an answer (laughs). No, I’m just kidding. But you know what comes to mind? Something that happens a lot with our allies on tour and it’s fun to watch. We call him allies because they’re more than fans, they’re allies. Sometimes we let them get up on the stage and sing, and some of them sing much better than we do. But then there are others who, damn, don’t seem to get it. We like to do things like that to make people feel ecstatic.

And, finally, strictly between us, after all the hard work, do you guys have fun?
Look, we always have fun. Always. We’re a group that gets really excited over what’s going on and what we’re doing. We still get nervous before we perform and those emotions make our tour more energetic. But we definitely consider ourselves fortunate to be able to share our music, and that is an enormous feeling.

Find more information of the series Small Places Tour here