As the Zoé tour makes its way through California, the Mexican rock artist looks back at the early days.
It’s late morning and Leon Larregui sounds a little groggy, but it’s understandable. By night he’s the frontman of Zoé currently on a 15-city tour of the United States and seeing more sold-out shows than ever before. By day, he sleeps in and rests.
“Each time you get more ruco,” says Larregui with a slight chuckle, referring to growing older. “It’s a little more painful now being away from home, but it’s also beautiful.”
For 20 years, Larregui has been writing and singing for the band that has seen its share of ups and downs. In the early days, they experienced the pangs of finding their sound, being rejected by labels, making albums that received lukewarm receptions and wondering if they would even get past the first few years.
None of that is lost on Larregui and the rest of the band: Jesus Baez (keyboards), Sergio Acosta (lead guitar), Rodrigo Guardiola (drums) and Angel Mosqueda (bass).
Over two decades, the five bandmates have sold more than 1.5 million records, their 2011-2014 tour was seen by 2.5 million people and their last tour spanned 100 concerts, with 40,000 people attending closing night at Foro Sol in Mexico City, according to their official bio.
To mark their milestone 20th anniversary, the celebrated Latin alternative band is traveling the world one stage at a time armed with a catalog of music and new offerings from their current album Aztlán, which was written by Larregui and produced by Craig Silver (Arcade Fire, Florence and The Machine), Phill Vinyl (Placebo, Pulp) and Zoé.
“In some ways it does feel like we just started a week ago,” Larregui said. “When you start looking at our history you see the growth and the five people who have been the same people with dreams all these years.”
As the band nears the end of their U.S. tour with a show in Anaheim tonight (May 15) at the House of Blues in Los Angeles at The Wiltern and Thursday in Riverside at the Riverside Auditorium, Larregui sounds calm, confident and at peace.
“We’ve earned our place through work and successful albums,” said Larregui, a fan of sci-fi, who wants to go beyond making music videos by directing films in the near future. “The Zoé audience keeps growing and it’s bigger each time. We’re seeing more sold out shows and bigger theaters.”
The benefit of being a band that released its first album on cassette, then saw CDs come and go and now the world embracing all things digital is something Larregui welcomes. However, he pauses somewhat in his response when asked if Zoé seeks to follow trends, record an urban song or cut a record in English.
“It wouldn’t make sense,” Larregui said. “It would be cheap if we were into something because people are listening to it. We have a label (EMI/Universal) that trusts us because we have successful careers.”
As for recording in English, Laguerri has a clear position. “We’ve already recorded in English and the Anglo market would not have it,” he said. “We thought about never doing it again, but maybe one day.”
All the frontman hopes for is that in 100 years and beyond for people to discover Zoé and sing the music. His last few words are measured when asked about the impact of his music on longtime fans. “It’s all about listening,” said Larregui. “You arrive and serve. It’s really just about that.”
Watch Zoé’s “Azuel” video here: