LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - The members of Los Lobos, who formed the band in 1973 in East Los Angeles, returned to their old stomping grounds to create their new album, “Tin Can Trust.”
Singer/guitarists Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo, guitarist/drummer Louie Perez and bassist Conrad Lozano, currently on a North American tour, recorded the Shout! Factory release with longtime saxophonist/keyboardist Steve Berlin and drummer Cougar Estrada.
In a recent interview, Rosas talked about making the album.
Billboard: The band went back to East L.A. to record “Tin Can Trust.” How did that feel?
Cesar Rosas: It was a very humbling experience; we got a kick out of it. We were right there in the old neighborhood. There were a lot of good eats and stuff. We went into the studio and we didn’t have too many songs. We pretty much wrote everything when we were there.
Billboard: How did being in the neighborhood influence the three songs that you wrote on the album?
Rosas: I wrote a cumbia (“Yo Canto”). The cumbias that I write are not very traditional-sounding. In the ‘50s, the cumbia (which originated in Colombia) was very popular in Mexico, and then came over to L.A. I intended to write a song more in that vein, sort of like East L.A. style, you could say.
Billboard: The Spanish songs on the album are the most upbeat.
Rosas: The thing I bring to the table is to brighten things up. Not intentionally, it’s just the way it goes. You’ve got the darker Los Lobos; Louie and David seem to write that way. (But) people may not want to just hear the social commentary; they may just want to dance, so that’s cool. I also wrote a rock song (“All My Bridges Burning”) with Robert Hunter, the lyricist who wrote a great percentage of the Grateful Dead catalog. It seems we’ve adopted a sort of Deadhead following here and there, and thought it would be fun to contact him and do something along those lines.
Billboard: On September 28 you’ll be playing a mariachi festival at Los Angeles’ Gibson Amphitheatre with Los Tigres del Norte. What’s the secret to maintaining such a diverse fan base?
Rosas: We just do what we do and it just comes out OK. I think musically, the Latin part of Los Lobos plays a big part. We try to keep the old traditions that attract a certain group of people, while the other rock ‘n’ roll stuff touches other people. The lyrics are something a lot of different people can relate to.
Billboard: “Tin Can Trust” is your first album on Shout! Factory.
Rosas: Some of the other labels we were on the past 10 years or so, they just weren’t doing the job. They weren’t performing on behalf of the band. That kind of bummed us out. We said we’d never go on a label again, but we did it. These guys seem to be doing very well with it.