Café Tacuba (often stylised as Café Tacvba) is a band from Naucalpan, Mexico. The group is widely credited with being a pioneering group of the Rock en Español movement, which gained popularity in the early 1990s. They were founded in 1989, and since then have had the same musical lineup of Rubén Isaac Albarrán Ortega (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Emmanuel "Meme" del Real Díaz (keyboards, piano, programming, rhythm guitar, melodica, vocals), José Alfredo "Joselo" Rangel Arroyo (lead guitar, vocals), and Enrique 'Quique' Rangel Arroyo: (bass guitar, electric upright bass, vocals). Mexican folk music player Alejandro Flores is considered the 5th tacuba, as he has played the violin in almost every Café Tacuba concert since 1994. Since the Cuatro Caminos World Tour, Luis "El Children" Ledezma has played the drums in every concert but is not considered an official member of the band.


Formation (1989-90):

Previously known as "Alicia Ya No Vive Aquí" (a tribute to Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore), the band took its final name from a coffee shop (el Café de Tacuba) located in downtown Mexico City. The cafe, which opened in 1912 and had its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, was representative of the Pachuco scene at the time, something the band would later acknowledge as an influence. The Café de Tacuba is still in operation as a coffee shop and restaurant on Tacuba Street, in Mexico City's Historic Center. The band changed its name to Café Tacvba (changing the u for a v) in order to avoid legal issues with the coffee shop.

Singer Rubén Albarran and bassist Enrique Rangel met while studying graphic design at Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City. Rangel's brother Joselo completed the group's lineup in 1989. The group began playing music in the garage of a house in their neighborhood, Satélite, an upper-middle-class suburban area in the Naucalpan municipality, in the northern region of the Mexico City metropolitan area. They were principally influenced by alternative rock bands of the 1980s such as The Cure, The Clash, The Smiths, and Violent Femmes. Despite their English-language influences, they wanted to represent their native culture, so they incorporated Mexican influences into their music. They began singing primarily in Spanish and changed their name to Café Tacuba.

Café Tacuba went from being a garage band to a concert act in 1989, when they joined the scene surrounding El Hijo del Cuervo, a cultural club in Coyoacán featuring writers and musicians. As they performed in various venues around Mexico City, they were discovered by Argentinian music producer Gustavo Santaolalla, who at the time was producing albums for leading bands of the burgeoning Rock en Español movement of the time. Santaolalla arranged a contract for the band with Warner Music Latina (WEA), with plans to produce its debut album himself. Café Tacuba in turn proceeded to record their first song for commercial release, "Tamales de Iguanita," which WEA released as part of a Christmas-themed rock en español compilation, Diciembre 25, in 1990.

Early success (1991-96):

The group's debut album, Café Tacvba, was released in 1992 and was extremely popular in Mexico. The group experimented with many different musical styles, from punk and ska, to electronica and hip hop, to regional Mexican varieties such norteño, bolero, and ranchera. Café Tacuba released five singles from the album -- "Maria," "Rarotonga", "Las Persianas", "La Chica Banda" and "Las Batallas" -- with a music video filmed for each, with the exception of the latter.

Two years later, the group released their follow-up album, Re, in 1994. The singles "La Ingrata," "Las Flores," and "El Ciclón" were also commercially successful. On the album, collaborators included Luis Conte and Alejandra Flores, while unconventional rock instrumentation such as jarana, guitarrón, melodeon, and drum machines were employed. The album's mixture of genres such as alternative rock, punk, and metal with traditional Latin American styles helped the group develop a dedicated cult following. During the promotion of the album, the band's attendance at the 1995 New Music Seminar in New York helped garner some media attention in the United States.

In 1996, the group released Avalancha de Éxitos, meaning "Avalanche of Hits", a covers album in which they performed songs by other Spanish-speaking artists. The tracks were recorded while the band was in the studio working on Re and grew tired of recording new material.Avalancha de Éxitos marked Café Tacuba's first appearance on Billboard's album charts (number 12 on the Latin Pop chart, 28 on Top Latin Albums), and the band commenced an international tour to promote the album. In 1996, the band also contributed to the AIDS benefit album Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin produced by the Red Hot Organization performing along with David Byrne.

Revés/Yo Soy (1997-99):

In the wake of the group's international tour, Café Tacuba withdrew from music for a while. When they returned to work, they gathered in their own studio and spent roughly a half-year working on experimental music that encompassed ambient electronica and musique concrète, as well as collaborative work with the Kronos Quartet, an American string quartet. Santaolalla liked the resulting music and deemed it ready for release. WEA, however, did not like the idea releasing an entirely instrumental album of experimental music, after the group had gained success with their more accessible style of music. In the end, WEA and Café Tacuba reached a compromise: if the band would record a second album of more conventional material, the label would release both as a double-disc package and sell it for the cost of a standard single-disc album.

As promised, the group returned to the studio to record an album of previously written material, and released Revés/Yo Soy in 1999. The album was a double-disc set, featuring both the band's instrumental music and the newly recorded album. The album is notable for its unconventional packaging style, designed by vocalist Rubén Isaac Albarrán. In addition, the album titles Revés (which translates to "reverse") and Yo Soy (a palindrome), exemplify the band's eccentricity. The album also featured two popular singles, "La Locomotora" and "La Muerte Chiquita." The album won a Latin Grammy for Best Rock Album.

Hiatus and signing with MCA (2000-02):

After Revés/Yo Soy, the group would not release another album for four years. In the meantime, Café Tacuba contributed recordings to various projects such as the Amores Perros (2000) and Y Tu Mamá También (2002) soundtracks as well as the tribute album El Mas Grande Homenaje a Los Tigres del Norte (2001), which included a cover of "Futurismo y Tradición." In addition, guitarists Emmanuel del Real Díaz and Joselo Rangel produced a couple songs for Julieta Venegas: "Me Van a Matar" and "Disco Eterno". Rangel also began work on a solo album, Oso, in 2003, which was produced by Albarrán. While Café Tacuba pursued these various projects, they were looking for a new recording contract; the WEA relationship had come to an end after a trio of compilations released in 2001: Tiempo Transcurrido: The Best of Café Tacuba; a videos collection of the same name; and Lo Esencial de Café Tacuba, a triple-disc package containing the band's first three albums. Maverick Records, Madonna's label, reportedly attempted to sign Café Tacuba during this time; however, the band decided ultimately to sign with MCA Records in 2002.

Cuatro Caminos (2003-06):

When Café Tacuba began work on Cuatro Caminos, the band took a different approach than in the past. They decided to work with a live drummer, and recruited Victor Indrizzo and Joey Waronker. Secondly, they wanted to work with a couple choice producers besides Santaolalla and Kerpel; they recruited Dave Friedman and Andrew Weiss. Released in June 2003, Cuatro Caminos was met with commercial and critical success. The album won a Grammys for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album as well as two Latin Grammys for Best Alternative Album and Best Rock Song ("Eres").

The group toured extensively after the release of Cuatro Caminos, and released a live album of a performance in front of 170,000 people in Mexico City at El Palacio de los Deportes in October 2004. The album was called Un Viaje, and was a double-disc set. After the release of the album, the group took a three-year break from releasing music.

Sino (2007-present):

In 2007 Café Tacuba returned with a new studio album, Sino. The album has been compared to classic rock groups such as The Who and the Beach Boys, a departure from their previous techno and funk-influenced sound. The band also performed on the main stage at Lollapalooza that summer. On September 10, 2008, Café Tacuba became the leading nominee at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2008 with a total of six nominations: Album of the Year and Alternative Music Album, for Si No. The lead single "Volver a Comenzar" was shortlisted for Record of the Year and Best Alternative Song, the second single "Esta Vez" received nominations for Best Rock Song and Song of the Year. The band took the record for most Latin Grammys won in one night.

In 2008, the band collaborated with Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 on the song "No Hay Nadie Como Tú". The song peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs and number 15 on the Billboard Latin Rhythm Airplay.

Formerly graphic design students, Rubén, Joselo and Quique design their own album covers.


Rubén Isaac Albarrán Ortega:

Vocalist and guitar player. Previously, until 2001, he played in an alternative band called Villa Jardín. In 2006 he announced his solo debut, Bienvenido al sueño (Welcome To The Dream), it consists of electronic instruments with Buddhist influences and Prehispanic Mexican which he describes as "música protónica por no limitarlo o estereotiparlo" (pre-tonic music so as not to limit or stereotype it).

He is also known as "Juan", "Pinche Juan" (Fucking John), "Tachuela" (Tack), "Cosme", "Masiosare", "Anónimo" (Anonymous), "Nrü" (pronunciation given as "Dshiu" in Spanish; perhaps intended to be dʒy, "Amparo Tonto Medardo In Lak'ech" or "At Medardo ILK", "G3", "Gallo Gasss" (Gasss Rooster), "Élfego Buendía", "Rita Cantalagua", "Sizu Yantra", "Ixaya Mazatzin Tleyótl", "Ixxi Xoo" and now "Cone Cahuitl". He lived the first four years of his life in Monterrey. Studied at UAM (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana) where he received a bachelor's degree in Design and Graphic Communication. Ruben, or however he is now known has always pushed gender norms through provocative lyrics, and the occasional skirt worn on stage at concerts.

In the shows prior to the release of their first album, people would yell"¡Pinche Juan!" ("Fucking Juan!") (the name of one of the band's first underground hits) to Rubén, so he kept the name for the release of the first album. Two years later he got bored and changed it to "Cosme" for the release of "Re". Since then, he has changed his name for every album and world tour.

In 2010, while on break from Café Tacvba, Rubén Albarrán formed a side project called HopPo! He briefly toured during the fall of 2010 in South and North America with HopPo!

Emmanuel Del Real:

Emmanuel "Meme" del Real has been in the band from the moment they took the name Café Tacuba. Since the beginning he became in charge of the keyboards, acoustic guitar, piano, programming, vocals, melodeon, and melodica.

For a long time he only sang backup, but since the release of Re in 1992, he began singing lead on songs like El Borrego (The Lamb) or Pez (Fish), he also began playing the guitar more than before.

On the covers album Avalancha de Éxitos he plays guitar on No Controles (Don't Control). Since then he's also been known to play the jarana. Del Real has written some of the band's biggest hits such as La Ingrata (The Ingrate), Las Flores (The Flowers), Aviéntame (Throw Me) and Eres (You Are).

He is known in the Mexican electronica scene as "DJ Angustias"; is part of the Noiselab collective; and released a solo album in late 2005. Del Real has also produced songs for many Mexican artists like Julieta Venegas, Natalia Lafourcade, Ely Guerra, and Liquits, among others.

José Alfredo Rangel Arroyo:

José Alfredo Rangel spent the first 9 years of his life in Minatitlán, Veracruz, until his family moved to Mexico DF were he studied industrial design in the UAM. During his youth he had various hobbies like comic books and design even though he decided music was his major passion. While in college he met a person with a peculiar voice and extravagant ideas: Albarrán. They became best friends and with his brother Quique and Beto they formed a band called Alicia Ya No Vive Aquí.

Later on, with the arrival of Del Real the band became Café Tacuba with Rangel playing electric guitar, acoustic guitar and vocals. After 13 years with the band Rangel decided launch a solo side project. He has released two albums: the first, 2001's "Oso" (Bear), named after Joselo's childhood nickname; the second, titled "Lejos" (Far) in 2005.

Enrique Rangel Arroyo:

Enrique Rangel Arroyo plays bass guitar, electric upright bass and vocals for Café Tacuba.

At the beginning of Café Tacuba Rangel brought Del Real to join them on keyboards. Thanks to Joselo he began learning the guitar, but in time stopped his graphic designer work to further dedicate himself to various musical projects. He designed the covers for his brother's albums "Oso" and "Lejos". Rangel now plays in a band called Los Odio ("I Hate All of You"), which includes Paco Huidobro, Jay de la Cueva, and the drummer from La Lupita. Along with Del Real, Rangel has written some of the bands biggest hits.

Alejandro Flores:

Folk musician Alejandro Flores plays violin and is considered the fifth Tacubo. He has played with the band since 1994. He has also participated on two LPs by San Pascualito Rey.

Luis Ledezma:

Also known as "El Children", Ledezma is the band's live drummer but is not considered an official band member.


Their musical style covers a wide variety of genres, though it is most commonly labeled as Rock en Español. Their music has been heavily influenced by Mexico's indigenous population and folk music traditions, but also by punk and electronic music and other bands on the Mexico City scene. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of their music is Albarrán's nasal voice, which, combined with his impressive lung capacity (as demonstrated on "La Ingrata", a homage of norteño music), makes for a very distinctive sound. They sing entirely in Spanish but have a significant Anglophone following regardless.

The song "Chilanga Banda" has a hip-hop beat under a stream of Mexico City slang originally written by Jaime López, "María" is a 'bolero' ballad about a street prostitute, "El Fin de la Infancia" a brass-heavy 'banda ranchera' sound that reflects the influence of 'banda sinaloense', "Desperté" has a tango-driven melody while "El Borrego" mocks speed metal.