Latin Grammy Winners Los Amigos Invisibles are Julio Briceño, José Luis Pardo, Armando Figueredo, Mauricio Arcas, José Rafael Torres, and Juan Manuel Roura. Armando Figueredo is repping LAI for the purposes of this interview. They are one of the 29+ bands playing one of four stages at the inaugural Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso on Saturday, April 30, 2011.
LAI’s reputation precedes them and they need no introduction. They’re a huge “get” for Neon Desert. They’ve definitely “made it,” but still seem to operate like that new, hungry band trying to make it. Maybe that’s why they’ve been around so long and have been so successful.
Watch LAI’s official video for “Dulce” from their Latin Grammy winning 2009 release, Commercial, available at Amazon.com.
Click the first pic to go to Los Amigos Invisibles’ official site and second, at the end of the interview, to get to their Facebook Page.
1. I’m asking most of the Neon Desert Artists I’m interviewing what their band names mean. So, where did Los Amigos Invisibles come from? It came from the opening of Valores Humanos, an old Venezuelan TV show hosted by the late historian Arturo Uslar Pietri.
2. Congrats on your multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations and on your Latin Grammy win. I noticed they are all in different categories. How do it feel, first, to get recognized by the Grammys, but, secondly, to get nominated for a different genre of Latin music each time, which is kind of what your band and music are about, right? We are grateful for every recognition the Academy has given us and particularly happy about our Grammy victory, which also meant a lot to everyone in our home country. We are also aware that our band has been a difficult band to place in any genre from the beginning; we offer an eclectic mix of styles in our music and play to a diverse crowd worldwide. I remember how record stores would place us in different bins according to their tastes and I guess nowadays we don’t fret much about it and just welcome the compliment.
3. Your 2005 release, Super Pop Venezuela, was a collection of covers of Venezuelan pop classics from the 1960s to the 1990s. Later in your careers you got to put on a concert where you performed those songs with some of the original artists. How did that come together? Was it a dream come true or was it part of the plan when you released the project? Yes, it was a dream come true and one of the concerts we will never forget. Also, originally Super Pop… was to be a concert which proved difficult to produce because of our busy schedules and having to organize it in between our daily work, so then we decided to make an album out of it and then when we had the album out it became obvious that we had to make the concert happen.
4. 20 years is a long time for a band and still all the original members remain. How do you make it work and why do you think you all have stuck around?
I guess we love what we do, we have a lot of commitment for the band and we respect each other very much; we’ve become a family.
5. Any solo aspirations for anyone? Actually, Julio, Mauricio, and Cheo have all released solo albums and I have done some solo stuff. It’s just that we know and respect that our main act (the one that pays the bills) is Los Amigos Invisibles.
6. I know you recently played the new Austin, TX venue ACL-Live in February. What did you think of it? What about the Austin crowd? It was amazing. We loved the venue. People in Austin have always been great and we’ve loved the crew from ACL-Live ever since the first time we played ACL.
7. You’ve probably discussed your latest two releases, Commercial (2009) and Not So Commercial (2011) in many interviews. Do you have to get one to appreciate the other? What is something new and different about both collections that you can tell me? When we began creative work for Commercial we had a wide and very eclectic group of songs that would’ve been hard to fit in just one album, so we decided to make Commercial a more marketable record, shorter in time with radio friendly such-and-such, and left the extended instrumental trippy songs out.
We still think those songs are very much worth being on an album and represent our taste in music as much as the other songs, so we decided not to let them die in a forgotten hard drive and came out with Not So Commercial. When I like a band I like to get the whole discography to understand the band better, but a lot of people are happy with just getting that song they like.
8. You are pretty established at this point in your careers. I assume you can pick and choose the festivals that are offered to you. Why did you decide to play the inaugural Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso, TX? We love playing festival crowds. It’s the best way to bring new fans into our music. Festivals are places where music-loving people gather and go listen to whatever is out there without necessarily having heard of it before. If they like what they see, they become a fan of it. We are always looking forward to doing as many festivals as we can.
9. You have a 20-year deep repertoire. For this Neon Desert showcase are you focusing on material mainly from the latest release, Not So Commercial, or will there be some from Commercial, Los Invisibles classics, and new songs, too? We always go through most of our repertoire. Well, at least as much as we can, given the time. Our live concerts are a non-stop DJ-like live show, mixed with bits of our songs back-to-back, and so, it’s a very energetic fun show to watch and dance to.
10. Give me one exclusive scoop of something coming up that your fans will be reading here for the first time. We will be playing songs from Not So Commercial. We have never played those live before.