Detroit :: The Detroit News :: Meet Manu Chao

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Adam Graham / Detroit News Pop Music Writer

Globally celebrated musician Manu Chao

plays Saint Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday.

Manu Chao & Radio Bemba

7 p.m. Tuesday

Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E.

Congress St., Detroit

Kevin Winter / Getty Images


« Clandestino » (1999)

« Proxima Estacion: Esperanza » (2001)

« Radio Bemba Sound System » (2002)

« Siberie m’etait conteee » (2004)

« La Radiolina » (tentative title) (2007)

Other projects

Manu Chao’s first solo project was released in 1999, but before that he was a member of a number of different musical outfits, including:

Hot Pants (1984-1986)

Los Carayos (1986-1994)

Mano Negra (1987-1995)

Around the world, Paris-born Latin music sensation Manu Chao is used to playing to massive crowds brimming with World Cup-like fervor, not small, overheated clubs.


But Chao — whose U.S. club tour hits Detroit’s Saint Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday — is enthused at the notion of bringing his madness indoors to a rabid club. When told Saint Andrew’s holds about 1,000 people, Chao perks up. « Perfect, » he says, on the phone from Vancouver. « It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be great. »

Here’s what the politically active, multilingual singer had to say about his upcoming album — the tentatively titled « La Radiolina » is due in September — the state of the world, and the shrieking sirens that follow him wherever he goes.

Q . Are you focusing on U.S. success?

A. This time is going to be my longest tour in U.S.A. For long years, I didn’t come here, but it was time to come back. I’ve got the same problem everywhere. I was born in France, and now in France, it may be five years I didn’t go to play there. My big problem in life is time.

Q. What was it like playing Lollapalooza and Coachella?

A. It was good for us. Now in Europe or South America or anywhere else, we go to a festival and everybody wants to see us, and they know my music. But in U.S.A. when I go to big festivals, people come maybe for other bands, you know? And people that don’t know us say, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ And to try to get them excited is a very interesting challenge.

Q. How are you able to connect so well with your audiences?

A. It’s difficult for me to analyze that. The only thing I can say on my part, and on part of the band, is to give everything. When I come (off) the stage, I’m scared to death, because I’m a shy guy. I never liked to be the center of attention; I always like to be on the border of the action and to observe the action.

Q. Why do you always have the sounds of sirens in your songs?

A. It’s my surroundings. That’s what I hear in all the (bleeping) cities I go in my life, sirens and more sirens. They are there; they are a part of the background. So in my show, I put lots of sirens, and the message is the world is going crazy. I’m not so sure there’s still somebody at the wheel. Nobody at the wheel, and nobody knows where are the brakes.

Q. Is that a theme on the new album?

A. Maybe. Of course. I think so. For me, it’s too early to analyze what I’ve been recording. I need one or two years for that so I can listen to this record just like it would be the record of somebody else.

You can reach Adam Graham at agraham@detnews.com.