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Silencio Gets Its Point Across Loud and Clear

September 29, 1996|Enrique Lopetegui | Enrique Lopetegui writes about pop music for Calendar

'We always knew the message of rock in Spanish could have a universal appeal."

That might sound like a cliche, but as a member of Spain's most popular rock band, Heroes del Silencio, lead guitarist Juan Valdivia is uniquely qualified to talk about how to reach non-Latin audiences while singing entirely in Spanish.

Four albums after its formation in the industrial city of Saragossa in 1985, Heroes del Silencio has become one of the most popular acts of the global rock en espan~ol world.

The group is the headliner for "Wateke 96," a concert package that combines some of the most important rock en espan~ol artists with an array of the edgiest up-and-coming pop en espan~ol acts on the scene. The tour comes to Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion on Saturday and the Universal Amphitheatre next Sunday.

Heroes del Silencio is a fitting headliner. The group--the virtuosic Valdivia, Jim Morrison look-alike singer-guitarist Enrique Bunbury, bassist Joaquin Cardiel, drummer Pedro Andreu and touring guitarist Alan Boguslavsky--is EMI Records' biggest band in Europe. The group has sold more than a million copies of its last two albums in Germany alone and is also extremely popular in Austria and Scandinavia.

"It's amazing to see the different views of the band people have in different countries," says Valdivia, who adds that because of a critical press back home and Heroes' growing international popularity, the band spends no more than a month of each year in Spain.

"After our second album, critics and audiences in Germany and Austria fell in love with us, unlike part of the Spanish press. I guess it's a matter of different sensibilities."

But in the era of crossover dreams, is Heroes del Silencio ready to do in the U.S. what it has in Europe? Maybe. Last spring's nine-date U.S. tour was enough of a critical and commercial success to warrant this quick return.

"We never thought we would play twice in Los Angeles in the same year," Valdivia says. "And, of course, we would love to convert some new Anglo fans.

"But success in America is not something that rules our lives. Our impact in non-Spanish-speaking countries is very hard to explain, and sometimes things just don't happen.

"Look at England, for example--it is the only European market we haven't conquered yet, even though [legendary Spanish heavy-metal band] Baron Rojo kicked ass over there in the '80s."

In any case, they're willing to keep trying, and the upcoming shows will provide another chance to enhance their reputation as one of rock en espan~ol's best live bands.

Even though their traditionalist pop/hard-rock style makes them seem dated next to the more ethnic fusion-oriented young Latin American bands, few rock en espan~ol groups can match the power and precision of a Heroes del Silencio concert.

"We have nothing against Latin rock fusions," Valdivia says. "But . . . what can I tell you? I like the duros, the hard ones."


Heroes del Silencio, La Ley, La Castan~eda, Victimas del Dr. Cerebro, Shakira and Soraya will perform on Saturday at Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion, 2575 Glen Helen Parkway, Devore, 5 p.m. $7.50-$40.25. (909) 886-8742. Also next Sunday at the Universal Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, 5 p.m. $22-$47. (818) 622-4440.

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