Jumbo Returns to U.S. Stage After 10-Year Hiatus: ‘It’s a Great Reason to Celebrate’

After a decade-long absence, Jumbo, a cornerstone of Latin alternative rock, are making their return to the U.S. stage, joining forces with genre peers División Minúscula. Their much-anticipated comeback follows years of setbacks due to a “critical error” that led to visa complications, preventing them from touring stateside despite the release of three albums brimming with tour-worthy material.

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Now, armed with renewed vigor and passion, the Mexican rock band — consisting of frontman Clemente Castillo, guitarist Jorge “Flip” Tamez, bassist Carlos Castro, drummer Alberto Ramos, and producer Iñigo Rizo — are ready to captivate audiences once again as they crisscross the United States, hitting major cities from coast to coast. Promoted by Live Nation, the tour kicks off in Chicago on April 17, followed by a show in New York City the next day. The tour route includes stops in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, and culminates in Houston, Texas on August 14.

Celebrating 25 years since the release of their debut album, Restaurant, in 1999, Jumbo’s significance extends beyond mere longevity. This album not only marked a milestone in the band’s career but also played a pivotal role in shaping the Mexican music scene of its time, particularly the musical boom known as La Avanzada Regia scene of that era in Monterrey.

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“The grand merit of that generation was to be able to break [barriers] and show that in a city where there was no music scene suddenly thundered and became so big,” Flip (real name Jorge Tamez Chapa) tells Billboard Español. “Plastilina Mosh was nothing like Zurdok, which was nothing like La Flor de Lingo, or Niña, or Kinky. Unconsciously we valued being original, and I think that created a very rich movement. Thirty years later it is beginning to be romanticized a lot. I feel very proud to be from that generation”.

Jumbo

Jumbo. Photo Credit: Juan Rodrigo Llaguno Juan Rodrigo Llaguno

“División Minúscula and Jumbo are two bands with different backgrounds but equally important in the alternative rock genre. They belong to an era that defined many fans on both sides of the border,” adds Manuel Moran, vp of Latin touring at Live Nation. “We are proud to be part of this great celebration and we are very grateful for the trust they have placed in us to surprise their fans in the United States with a comeback tour and an unexpected collaboration like this one.”

Jumbo’s latest release, Manual De Viaje A Un Lugar Lejano (En Directo), earned them a Latin Grammy nomination for best pop/rock album in 2019, further solidifying their status as stalwarts of the Latin alternative rock scene.

In this interview, Flip delves into the band’s journey, from the highs of success to the challenges they’ve faced along the way, shedding light on their experiences and aspirations for the future. And yes, he explains why they could not enter the U.S. for over a decade.

What does it mean for you to take the stage again in the United States, and how did the opportunity to collaborate with División Minúscula for this tour come up?

We are very happy to tour the United States and celebrate 25 years of our career. We had an issue, a very serious mistake we made that kept us away from the United States for more than ten years. During the first albums Restaurant (1999), D.D. y Ponle Play (2001), and Teleparque (2003), we had great tours over there. We were building a market early in our career. Saúl Hernández from Jaguares invited us to be openers along with Julieta Venegas and La Gusana Ciega. I remember they were incredible tours, and suddenly there’s this break.

Many years went by — and fortunately we managed to overcome this — and now we have the opportunity to share the stage with División Minúscula. Although they are from Matamoros, most of them have been living here in Monterrey for many years. They are very good friends. It’s the first time we do a tour as such and we are very happy; I think it’s going to be very fun.

Jumbo

Jumbo. Photo Credit: Juan Rodrigo Llaguno Juan Rodrigo Llaguno

As you celebrate these 25 years, what do you consider has been the key to staying together as a band?

It’s very difficult. The other day I read a report by Sting that said, “I don’t think any grown man can be in a band.” He said it had to do with this youth gang dynamic that gets a little lost as you get older. And you notice that the relationship does change — you change as a person, you are no longer that youth [from before] — but I think we are still united by the desire to make music.

Jumbo is a band that from day one, we set out to make songs that would go beyond the barrier of time. We were never very attached to any fashion — although when we came out, we sounded like what was going on in the early 2000s. In our journey, we have seen many things come and go. We’ve had to change formats, first digital, then streaming. Many things have happened to us that I think the love of making music has brought us back into alignment. Fortunately, we have never fought or disrespected each other, but we have an admiration for each of the members.

And although at times we do have different artistic goals and visions, it always ends up falling in the same place. Many of us in the band are producers of other projects, we have other activities, but all related to music. As long as there are people who lend us their ears, there is no reason to stop. The 25 years was a number that hit us like a motherf–ker. It’s a great reason to celebrate.

Being one of the pioneers of La Avanzada Regia movement in Monterrey, how do you see the impact of this movement on today’s music, and what do you think has been your most significant contribution to this legacy?

I always say that I’m very proud to be from that generation. I grew up playing in many bands, and it didn’t cross my mind to dedicate myself professionally to this, or to be signed by a record label or go on tour. And suddenly the scene was big enough, the Monterrey scene. There were like 10 to 15 bands playing in four or five places, and the rest was the audience. This is before the internet — I mean, we took our flyers to the show and handed them out to perform the following week.

La Avanzada, we were very united as bands; there was the same hunger to go out and dream, to take this to the next level. Monterrey, being the industrial capital of the country, had a very rigid scheme of opportunities. You had to study, work in one of the big companies, and make your life. It was very difficult to dream of a profession outside those schemes. The great merit of that generation was to be able to break [barriers] and demonstrate that in a city where there was no professional music scene it could become so big, and in a few years permeate the Latin market so strongly.

When Control Machete came out, it a huge boom that the rest of Latin America turned to see what was happening in Monterrey. They were looking for a hip-hop movement, but they found something very different. Plastilina Mosh was nothing like Zurdok, which was nothing like La Flor de Lingo, or Niña, or Kinky. Unconsciously we valued very much being original, not looking like anybody else and I think that created a very rich movement. Thirty years later this scene is beginning to be romanticized a lot.

What’s next after the tour? Any final thoughts?

One goal that we had for many years was to get back to the United States in some way. I think the next thing after this tour is to get into the studio. There are no concrete plans yet.

I’ll tell you the anecdote so that there is no mystery; I think it’s something that new [foreign] bands learn from. We made the very serious mistake of going to a show with a tourist visa. The work visa has a shorter amount of time. It happens to [foreign] bands that the work visa has a short period of time. Suddenly there is an isolated show, and even though we had an arrangement with the promoter that could be for promotion, we got too close to the line and fell into a problem. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to play a free show, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to tour very casually. Playing in the U.S. is work, and that cost us to stay away for many years. If it’s any moral for bands, don’t make that mistake. We learned the hard way and fortunately we are back.

We are really excited. We had a hard time having three albums and not being able to tour there. So we bring all that accumulated energy and we are sure you will notice it in the shows.

Check out Jumbo and División Minúscula’s full tour dates below, second slide:

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