Ma$$ore Means Money
Ma$$ore is raking in the moola.
“For many years, when my father worked as the chauffer for Juan Name, he overhead many people tell his boss, ‘quiero massore,’ which he found out was the Arabic word for money. We all liked the way it sounded, so my father named our group as a tribute to him,” Erick Sánchez Tovar said during an exclusive interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.
Erick is the lead singer for who is probably the hottest, most eminent Mexican cumbia group in this decade; and his father Miguel Ángel Sánchez García, a former drummer and timbales player, is Ma$$ore’s founder, general director and manager.
Musically the family’s roots go back to his maternal grandfather, Raúl Tovar Cantú, who sang and played guitar with Orquesta Carta Blanca. Erick’s mom, María Eugenia, also sings and can be heard in the chorus of “Chaparro De La Cumbia” in their latest compact disc.
As Ma$$ore, the Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico-based group dates back to the summer of 1996 when the Sánchez Tovar brothers – Miguel Ángel Jr., bass and vocals; Hugo, keyboards and lead vocals; plus five-year old Erick, who played güiro and danced. Ricardo Guadalupe, guitar and Daniel Gómez, percussion rounded up the rhythm section.
If you want to see little Erick in action, just go to www.youtube.com and type in “Massore sus inicios.”
“While most artists start counting from their first hit record, we started counting our musical career since we did our first gig at a quinceñera,” Erick said of their sixteen years in the business.
The first recording to make some waves was “El Pachuco,” a cover of a Maldita Vecindad hit. However, their father, who was very calculating and shrewd, came up with the perfect vehicle to promote his sons, in 1998 he opened Fiesta Casino Disco, which had a capacity of 1,500 people, and created his own venue – actually the ‘only’ ballroom in Nueva Rosita where regardless of who performed, the headline act was always Ma$$ore.
As their popularity grew, people came from all over to see what all the hoopla was about and this created countless other gigs.
The year 1999 became a landmark year for Ma$$ore when the release of “El Pajaro Cenzontle” off their “Sonidera” compact disc became a regional hit and the money started pouring in. This was also the year when Erick sang the intro to “El Mojado Acaudalado,” a norteño tune. While Ma$$ore is best known for their cumbias, they are also very good at interpreting norteño tunes.
“The first genre I recorded was norteño for the mere sake of losing the fear of the microphone. However, the money was in cumbias and that’s what we concentrated on, but the truth is that I’m a rocker. All I like is rock,” Erick confessed. “It’s what they say here, ‘kick ass.’
“But it would hurt me to form a rock group because no one is going to go see us because Coahuila is cumbia country. So yes my personal preference is rock and as a result, we are mixing in rock in some cumbias.”
One of those tunes is “Chapparo de La Cumbia,” an autobiographical tune written by the 5-foot-3-inch tall vocalist/timbalista, which features some fantastic heavy rock guitar licks in what could be the creation of a new music genre, rock cumbia. In addition the hybrid tune also has a few bars of hip hop.
Of his height, the diminutive vocalist said, “They say intelligence is measured from the head to heaven so I hope it’s true.”
One of the early signs of his intelligence surfaced at age eight, when Erick saw Melody, a Spanish singer perform “El Baile del Gorilla” on a kid’s television program. He envisioned it as a cumbia and since his brother Hugo is a musical arranger, he urged him to arrange it as a cumbia. It caught on at gigs. So they went to the recording studio owned by Virgilio Canales of Liberación in Monterrey to do their own take and the result was that their version, featuring Erick on lead vocals, was better than the original and it received airplay as far as the tip of South America in Argentina.
“With that theme, we had our boom and we were wanted for guest appearances on television programs,” Erick continued. “All of a sudden my father was offered $15,000 American dollars for us to perform in the United States. So he took care of getting us visas and all required documentation and took the group out of Mexico. Now instead of performing for 1,500 people, we were playing in front of crowds of 5,000 plus.
“I remember the first time we performed in San Antonio, as we drove to Planet Rodeo (now El Fuerte) and I saw long lines of people waiting to get in, I asked myself, ‘I wonder who we are opening for?’ and it was only us. We were the sole act.”
In 2001, Ma$$ore’s “El Pajaro Loco” CD contained “El Oso Polar.” However, it did not become a hit until ten years later when soccer player Matias Bozo adapted that tune and each time he made a goal, he celebrated with that tune because part of the lyrics are, “Me roba, me roba el bozo polar.” And of course oso rhymed with Bozo.
“That international television exposure brought the tune back to life. Then other groups started to cover it, but thanks to the internet, people now know we were the originals,” Erick explained.
“Four years later, I still had a child’s voice when my dad contracted one of the musicians from Los Angeles Azules and I took trumpet lessons, mastered the instrument and played trumpet on the ‘El Gato Volador’ CD. I also played the horn in some of our live shows, but no more.”
In 2006, they released “El Huevo.” That one laid a big egg,” Erick quipped.
This was followed by “Libres y Locos” and “En México Se Baila Asi” in 2007 and 2008. Two years, “La Cusinela” CD, which contained “El Baile Costeño (Arremangala, Arrenpujala),” became a huge hit and it landed Ma$$ore on Don Francisco’s “Sabado Gigante,” Charytin’s “Escandalo TV” and “El Gordo y La Flaca.”
“With ‘El Paso Del Monkey’ a year later, we went back to Miami and did ‘Nitido’ with Natalia Villaveces, ‘Despierta América’ and ‘Al Rojo Vivo.’
“It was also in 2010 that I began to write my own material after a passing through love situation,” Erick said with an innocent child’s grin. “It’s not a romantic tune, but I was crazy about someone and I wrote ‘Loco.’ ”
Ma$$ore’s had gigs galore because it made one want to dance and they had gigs galore, but CD sales waned because there was no promotion from the record company, who was now digging into their catalog and playing it safe by releasing compilation CDs.
To top it off, last year Ma$$ore did a gig in Houston without realizing that the record label owner was recording the concert for a DVD, which was later released as “En Vivo Desde Houston.”
Earlier this year they re-recorded and re-released “El Baile del Oso” to capitalize on Bozo’s use of it during soccer games and their popularity continued to grow. However, they lacked attention from the print medium.
“We had lots of work, but no publicity,” Erick said. “That’s when we realized we needed more exposure and I turned to Carlos Ramos, whom I first met at Cattleman’s Square in 2010. So in addition to radio and television, we’re seeking more print media coverage. Hence this exclusive interview with StreetTalk Magazine.”
To make sure, someone was on top of things on this side of the border, in May Erick moved to San Antonio, while his brothers, who are now all married family men, remained in Nueva Rosita.
Asked what set Ma$$ore apart from other cumbia groups, Erick said, “Cumbias are identified with drums, but I said, ‘I want to do it with timbales,’ so I changed la onda de la música cumbia and turned it into a good combination that other groups have since copied.”
Here in the states, to date, Ma$$ore has performed in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas. So image what is going to happen when they start doing shows in California, Arizona, Illinois, Florida and other states with a heavy concentration of Latinos.
“Now the Tejano market wants Ma$$ore and that’s what led to our appearance at this year’s Tejano Music Awards. Yet our music never changed, it’s the people’s taste that is changing. We’re proud because we are crossing over into many other tastes and that our music is popular with fans of other music genres,” Erick said with a hint of pride and determination.
In spite of Erick’s quote, Ma$$ore is changing in the sense that they have become more innovative in creating new hybrids that defy definition. And Erick’s love of rock and obviously some pop is very evident in tunes such as “Yo Tengo Tu Love” in duet with Jair Alcala of El Plan. Listening to this tune, there’s no doubt that Ma$$ore can be assured of a long successful career and will become as famous as Jaguar, Mana and countless other Mexican super groups.
In “Baila, Baila,” which Erick co-wrote with Othon Guerra of Los Súper Reyes de Cruz Martínez, he raps in both Spanish and English in the tune he describes as a ‘cumbion.’
If you haven’t seen Ma$$ore in person, be sure to catch their act the next time they are in your city and rest assured that Erick will also sing the hits he recorded when he was eight and nine.
“After I warm my voice with about seven songs, I can drink some cold water and sing those songs, but in a key lower. As for rapping, while it’s hard to rap, it comes easy to me because I speak real fast.”
Erick, lead vocals and timbales; Hugo, keyboards and second voice; Miguel Ángel Jr., bass and second vocals; Manuel “Melin” Martínez, guitar; Javier López, percussion; and Edel “La Perra” Rivera, drums; make up today’s Ma$$ore.
Their father Miguel Ángel Sr. remains their manager and booking agent because as he says, “I’ve been doing their contracts since the days when no one wanted to manage us and I’ve seen how other bands are taken advantage of and how promoters steal from them and who better than their father to take care of his kids.”
“That’s right, Ma$$ore is not exclusive with anyone, only with my dad,” the 20-year-old lead vocalist said. “As for the future, que sea lo que Dios quiera (it’s whatever God wills).
For bookings, contact their father at (830) 352-6298 and for publicity/public relations; call Carlos Ramos at (210) 845-7761.
Massore will be at San Antonio’s Graham Central Station on Sunday, October 7. For other dates and venues, call Carlos.