Los Tigres del Norte have been performing on stage since before most of us were born, and they don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. The Grammy-winning ensemble from Mexico was honored with their very own MTV Unplugged session, and they brought a whole bunch of their A-list admirers along to help turn up the volume on their set. Artists who joined Los Tigres on stage include Paulina Rubio, Rene of Calle 13, Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Diego Torres, and Juanes, who brought down the house with a tearful performance of "La Jaula de Oro," a song about immigrants who must give up their own countries for the dream of a better life in America.
MTV Unplugged: Los Tigres Del Norte & Friends airs this Sunday, May 22 at 8PM EST on MTV Tr3s. We managed to get Los Tigres’ saxophonist Eduardo Hernandez on the phone during on of the bands brief breaks to talk about the show, reflect on the group’s four-decade-long career and tell us how they keep fit for their strenuous stage shows.
What was it like having so many artists come support you in this show?
Everyone that participated has a really special place in my heart. Especially Paulina Rubio, at the time she was having emotional problems because her dad died and she had a lot of things going on with her. So she was amazing for doing this.
We were really excited about working with Rene from Calle 13, because he raps the songs! He wrote the rapping part to our song “America,” and he did an amazing job doing it. And he wore a jacket that said Mexico on the back. That was great.
From one generation to another, did you clue the other artists in to what it takes to have a long career?
We don’t give any advice. We just tell them, keep your feet on the ground and don’t believe in negative things. As for us, we’ve been here for so many years because of our public is always there for us.
Do you ever get competitive with your brothers?
Never, never. We feel that we are brothers first. We keep working for our family to give them a future. When we’re not working, we’re always together with the family. That’s what gives us our confidence.
Who inspires you musically these days?
My brothers keep me inspired. I started playing music really young and they were already musicians, so I was inspired by them my whole life.
What’s the last thing you do before hitting the stage?
We always thank God for letting us do what we’re doing, and we pray for everyone to be safe. That’s what we do right before we go on stage.
Los Tigres del Norte was formed in 1968. How has the landscape changed in America for Latin artists in the past four decades?
At the beginning when Los Tigres started, there wasn’t even a Spanish radio station. Then there were a few that played two or three hours of Spanish music. As time has passed, they’ve added more stations for the Spanish community. Now there’s a whole bunch all connected by satellite—if I’m in Los Angeles, I can be heard in Chicago at the same time! There’s more ways now to connect to people.
The president recently gave a speech on immigration, which we know is an issue close to your heart. Do you believe he's lived up to his promises?
I hope he isn’t just saying these things because he wants to be reelected. I hope he really means what he’s saying. He knows that there’s a big Hispanic community in the US. If I had one wish, I wish everyone who lives in the US illegally and works here gets to live here legally.