Juan Calleros: Looking Back on 40 Years With Maná

We caught up with the legendary bassist at his band's Los Angeles residency

Juan Calleros: Looking Back on 40 Years With Maná

We caught up with the legendary bassist at his band's Los Angeles residency

MANÁ formed in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1986 after performing as Sombrero Verde since 1981. Founding members Vocalist/guitarist Fher Olvera and bassist Juan Calleros have been making music together for nearly 45 years. Drummer Alex Gonzalez joined when the group was still known as Sombrero Verde, and guitarist Sergio Vallin joined in 1994. There are also three touring members: Juan Carlos Toribio (Keys), Fernando “Psycho” Vallin (Guitar) and percussionist Hector Quintana. To describe the band’s sound it is a mix of Rock, Latin Pop, Pop Rock, Progressive Rock, Ska, Reggae, and Calypso. MANÁ has broken all kinds of records for a Latin group having 133 Certified Gold Albums, 256 Certified Platinum albums, Four Grammy Awards, 9 Latin Grammy Awards, 25 Billboard Latin Music Awards, 15 Premio Lo Nuestro Awards, and special awards including the 2018 Latin Billboard Lifetime Achievement Award & 2018 Latin Grammy Person of the Year Award and just last year the 2021 ICONO LATIN BILLBOARD Award. 

MANÁ kicked off a historic residency at the Forum in Los Angeles, CA, which was their first shows of 2022. The residency was originally scheduled for four shows then became eight shows with two each month (March, April, June, July) and the day before opening night another two shows were announced in September making this a 10 night residency. 

We caught up with Juan Calleros to chat about their residency and also to look back at his four decades of laying down the low end for Maná.

Looking back at MANÁ’s touring history in Los Angeles, CA you had played the Universal Amphitheater many times before Staples Center, then played there until The Forum reopened with 19 sold-out shows leading up to the 10- show residency. How does it feel to go from a 6,000 seat venue (Universal Amphitheater) 25+ years ago to 18,000 seats for 10 nights? 

It’s an incredible feeling! I remember all those trips we made to the United States in the 90’s to promote our shows and we would perform at small intimate venues. Fast forward to now and after all the hard work there are millions of people who like Maná’s music and want to come see us. To know we have sold over 100,000 tickets to the residency shows…wow. It’s an indescribable feeling. 

What is the amp setup you’re using on this tour? 

On this tour I am not using an amp, I am only using a Noble Direct Box D.I.  

How did you come to play a 5-string bass? 

I started playing a 5-string bass when I heard the lower frequencies it created. Since Maná is all about fusing different sounds, I felt it would be a great sound for our band.

You and Fher formed Sombrero Verde together before MANÁ over 40 years ago. Could you ever have imagined the success you have today? 

No, I could have never imagined having the success that Maná has today. I remember seeing other bands play live and on TV when we first started and being in awe by them. I’ve always loved to play and have always felt the need to play an instrument and be part of a band. But I didn’t expect this. 

It has been seven years since MANÁ has released an album. Are there talks of new music? 

Yes, we definitely have plans for a new music. But right now we are concentrating on our collaborations project with other guest artists like our most recent release with Christian Nodal called “Te Lloré un Río.” 

What did you do the last two years during the pandemic with not being able to tour?

We did a couple of streaming concerts and some content from home. We had more free time to spend with our families and I spent a lot of time outdoors cycling and riding motorcycles.

Who are some of your favorite American bass players? 

My favorite bass players are Neil Stubenhaus, Paul Turner, Lalo Carrillo, Marcus Miller, Pino Palladino, John Paul Jones, Hedy Le, Tony Levin, and Jimmy Haslip.

Alex Gonzalez was just 15 years old when he joined the band and you were 22. Do you remember what it was like playing with him when he first joined? 

When Alex came into the band it was definitely a different sound, but it added to the Maná vibes and we all clicked very quickly.  

MANÁ has received numerous Latin Billboard Music Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award and Icon Award, four Grammy Awards, nine Latin Grammy Awards, and many other awards. What else would you like to accomplish with the band? 

I would love to bring Maná live shows to new parts of the world. 

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Alex Kluft   By: Alex Kluft

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