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"I really don't believe that they should think that or expect that," he says. "You know, there's a lot of lot of work involved and that has to come from them. They just can't turn around and wait for things to change overnight magically."

It seems ironic that the very bands that criticize Maná don't realize how much of a punk ethic this band possesses -- even if the music is the farthest thing from punk imaginable. You can argue that a crucial aspect of the punk mentality is that you shouldn't have to sell yourself. But, in a sense, it also means that you'll sacrifice for your art. And that's what Gonzalez and his peers figure is missing in today's Latin rock scene.

Here's a sacrifice Maná has made for their U.S cause -- it's forgone independence from the mighty corporate beast. Given the apathy and the trouble fostering a U.S. Latin rock enthusiasm, Gonzalez and company figure, if a Coors Light wants to come around and toss a few bucks their way, then so be it. Hey, if Kid Rock can take a Silver Bullet, then so can Maná. The band might have grown up punk, at least in their commitment to hitting the road, but it's also not dumb enough to turn down a bunch of free tour support.

"I think, you know, all those corporations want a piece of the pie," Gonzalez says of his band's ongoing lucrative four-year corporate sponsorship. "When you have bands that are selling big venues or even small venues, if there are bands that have a huge appeal to Latinos, these companies are going to want a piece of the pie.

"You know, it could have been Corona or a Latino beer company, but this was an American beer company. So that's the way to show that a lot of these American corporations know how potent, how big the market is and they want a piece of the pie. I think it's good.

"I think any band and any artist has the right to choose who he wants as a sponsor or if he doesn't want any sponsors," Gonzalez continues. "So if MTV wants to be part of the scene I think that would be fantastic. There's going to be a second MTV Latin Video awards that are going to be held in Miami. So, I mean, you can sense that things are heading in the right direction even though I think they're moving kind of slow.

"But if you compare things, we have to be honest. As for the magnitude of Maná, as far as the ticket sales and stuff like that, we're practically in a league of our own. Maná can open up the pathways for other bands. I mean, I think that's great. We'd love to see other bands enjoying the successes that we have enjoyed but, I mean, it's not a free ride."

Compounding that feeling even more is Mickey D's entry into the Latin rock game, yet another corporate carrot dangler. McDonald's, under the guise of raising scholarship money for young Latinos, is staging four concerts in November (curiously, New York, Houston, Miami and Los Angeles get to host shows, but not Phoenix) featuring Molotov and El Gran Silencio. The latter is an up-and-coming band that cleverly mixes norteño, cumbia and rock with socially conscious lyrics -- the kind of band you would expect to be happy playing a club for a few bucks. Instead, they recently refused to take less than what they were to receive in Los Angeles and elected to not play to an enthusiastic, albeit smaller, crowd in Phoenix. Apparently it's OK to whore yourself under the Golden Arches but not, it seems, to jump in a van like, well, a punk band.

Sure, it's hard to pass on the huge pull of some of the largest companies in the world. You really can't blame bands. But, hello? "When in Rome ... " anyone? It's no coincidence that the bands in the upper stratosphere of the Latin rock world -- Maná, Jaguares, Café Tacuba and usually Molotov -- have one thing in common. They hit the road, a lot. They all understand that nothing works better than playing to a growing fan base, especially when there really aren't radio stations playing their music.

"A band has to, ought to, promote itself you know. Get out there. No matter what," says Gonzalez. "Playing wherever you can. You have to put a lot of effort on your behalf."

In a bit of a forewarning, he adds, "You just can't leave things in the hands of others. If we would have thought that way, we wouldn't be here today, where we are."

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Dan Cortez