Los Amigos Invisibles: "We Want to Leave the Crowd Sweating From So Much Dancing"
Put on your funky shoes and get down with Los Amigos Invisibles.
At a time when most bands were either grunge, punk, or nu-metal, Los Amigos Invisibles took a different route -- danceable Latin funk -- and it was a path that led them to becoming the premier party band in Venezuela.
Over the last 20 years, these chamos musicales have definitively proved that Latin dance music is more than salsa and that the guitar can do more than rock.
And yesterday, Crossfade spoke with guitarist Jose Luis Pardo (AKA Cheo) ahead of Los Amigos Invisibles' show at Grand Central.
He talked about everything, from the time Amigos won their first Latin Grammy (but never made it onto the stage) to the band's first bi-lingual album, Repeat After Me, and Venezuela's political future.
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Crossfade: Where did the name Los Amigos Invisibles come from?
Jose Luis Pardo (Cheo): It was a phrase from Arturo Uslar Pietri from the TV show Valores Humanos that they made us watch as kids. It was something generational. Everyone in our age group knew about it. And with the name, people made the connection.
You guys have been together since the early '90s. How have you kept thriving for more than two decades?
It's actually been 22 years. The secret is the music. We still like to play and make music that we really like, and we have a good time doing it. And no one [in the band] has a bad attitude.
Your music has been described as dance, funk, acid dance, gozadera, electroparranda, disco. What exactly is it?
We've always been a party band. Everyone who sees us perform goes to a party, not a concert. We've done it all -- salsa, merengue, funk -- but all of our music is danceable.
What would you consider your big break?
We're still not that famous. But David Byrne, the ex-vocalist of Talking Heads, discovered us. From there, we became an indie, underground Venezuelan band and [eventually] transitioned more to mainstream.
You guys have worked with Louie Vega. You've been nominated for several Latin Grammys. And you've won the 2009 Latin Grammy for your album, Commercial. What has been your most memorable experience?
We've had very memorable experiences. Almost all of our performances are memorable. But without a doubt, the Grammys was a lot of fun because when we received the award, there was an issue with the door and we couldn't make it onto the stage to accept it. [Laughs] We were at the door, but couldn't go in. We were among the last winners and we waited like 45 minutes. When we finally made it onstage, everyone was gone. I was mad and happy at the same time. So we just had a drink and made a toast. It was everything but glamorous. It was a losing and a winning moment.