It takes but a short drive south of San Diego across the one-way tire-tear spikes that define one a major border crossing into Mexico. During the day, or even late at night, the street lights and the stars highlight a drastically different scenario. Grafiti writers tag their gangs, expound on opponents, extrapolate on sex, policia and rampant poverty. It seems mute testimony to the chances of an average person trying to get ahead. Stalled cars abandoned on the roadside underscore the difficulty of moving forward.
Yet as an adolescent in Mexico City, who’d traveled south from Miami to visit family and to see if life was any better, Alex González, somewhat of a child prodigy on drums, dreamed of a day when he would join the ranks of icons such as Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, Clem Burke, Keith Moon and, later, Terry Bozzio. Today, no one would contest the claim that Alex has achieved his goals—and then some.
The pivotal point was a successful audition with a popular Mexican band Sombrero Verde (green hat). It was a green day for Alex, if not green as the color of money, green in the sense of growth. Although there was struggling ahead, he had made the big leagues. All his years practicing to records (with some private lessons but not a lot of formal instruction) had paid off.
That band more or less morphed into Maná. From the beginning, Alex was integral to the point of co-producing the band’s first Warner disk. The group did what other heavy Latin bands (Puya, for example), would have loved: It exploded in LA, center of the universe for recording and also a city with a huge Latino demographic. In 2007 Maná sold out a whopping four Staples Center shows and their albums were going platinum and beyond—a considerable feat for a Rock/Latin band singing in Spanish.
Alex González is an intricate drummer capable of wowing crowds with his popular solos. At the same time, he is extremely physical and plays with real force. The two characteristics, complexity and brute power, don’t often coexist to such a refined extent. To maintain his body stamina, Alex warms up playing single strokes (rather than “cheating” with doubles!) and, in his off time, engages in body training programs. His kit reflects his muscularity and reach. He is surrounded by drums, cymbals, and a variety of LP instruments, starting with his red-rimmed timbales (alternated with a single Tito Puente Timbale plus auxiliary snare), his Cyclops Tambourine, both locked in place to the left and “south” of his hi-hat, and LP bells.