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Back for more smiles

Carlos Santana back in Bangkok. Photo provided to The Nation

Publication Date : 21-02-2013


Carlos Santana dug his 2011 Bangkok gig so much that he's returning with a whole new show


Exactly two years after Santana's last performance in Bangkok, the Latino-American rock and rhythm band is returning with "new music, a new beginning, new middle and new ending", says its founder, guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana.

One of the few modern musicians to have stood the test of time with grace and dignity while continuously accumulating more fans, he certainly appears to live unaware of the years passing.

Thirty-six albums in 40 years, 90 million copies shifted, eight Grammy awards and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All this on the backs of timeless hits going back to "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va" and as recent as "Smooth" and "Maria Maria".

But the 2013 event carrying Santana around Asia and back to Impact Arena on March 6 is called the Sentient Tour, and Carlos explained why in an exclusive phone interview last week.

What was the most memorable part of your previous visit to Bangkok in 2011?

People's eyes: They were happy, and we were happy because they were happy. I had a lot of fun playing in Bangkok. There's a lot of inspiration and I'm very happy to come back.

What do you have planned for us this time?

We have new music, a new beginning, new middle and new ending. The thing about Santana is that we're always altering the frequencies of sounds, resonance and vibration. It's like it's the same hug and the same kiss, but it feels different.

We invest emotionally in wanting to create genuine, sincere, true, real and authentic notes, not plastic notes or computer notes. These notes come from your heart, and when you do that, everything is going feel completely new like your first date.

Why is this called the Sentient Tour?

Sentient: I discovered this word with my wife Cindy and we were talking about it.

A sentient being is like a Christmas tree, where he or she is being adorned with words like honesty, kindness, compassion, considerate, generosity, suppleness, gentleness, sympathy, integrity, mercy, grace, dignity, sincerity, reliability, dependability, punctuality, impartiality, efficiency, self-reliance, decency, loyalty. Each word has positive power.

So a sentient being is not a person who makes excuses or is lazy or a "victim". There are a lot of negative-thinking victims who make a lot of excuses. And they are always tired and lazy and angry. That is a not a sentient being, that is the opposite.

We assume that's also your life philosophy.

Yes, absolutely, because, at where we are now, it works for us. When you repeat these words early in the morning, especially with gratitude, you get energy. Words give you energy or words can drain you. If you say, "Oh, I have a job," you get tired. But if you say, "Hey, I have a goal and opportunity to do this and touch people's hearts," then of course you're going to get energy.

What's the secret to staying so successful over the years?

I'm not in a position to say to a person what to do or who to be. But I am in a position to share my experiences.

If you like, you should invest more in positive thoughts. You might want to invest more emotionally in waking up to an adventure rather than being a victim. Invest more in art, rather than show business or entertainment. Being rich and famous can be really boring, but being extremely in demand, like Bob Marley or Santana, can be really, really fun.

But there must have been hard times. What did you do to get through them?

I asked for help and the universe gave it to me. Every time I got into a place where I felt I needed to do something outside of me, I asked and the universe sent my the right people, like [concert promoter] Bill Graham, [record-label executive] Clive Davis.

I found people who went out of their way to put me at centre stage. And they invested in me. It's important to trust that there's a universe looking after you, that wants for you supreme success. If you don't get success, it's because you don't know how to ask.

You don't blame it on luck, then.

I don't believe in luck, chance or fortune. I believe in God's grace. Luck, chance and fortune is like throwing darts in the dark and trying to hit something. With grace, you never miss.

Are you working on material for the next CD?

We're releasing two or three albums pretty soon. One is going to be like "Supernatural" but with lots of Latino people from South America and Spain. But first we have to work on some songs, and then we'll call in some people to see if they're interested.

You know, from the day I first picked up my guitar 'til the day I die, I basically play 99.9 percent African music, whether it's rhythm, colours or melodies.

I don't play polkas. I don't play waltzes. I could, but I don't yet. If I play a polka, I might put some Jamaican ska in it! Straight-ahead polka I'm not too crazy about. For me, unless I inject some African rhythms in it, it sounds like somebody else's music, not mine.

Any more collaborations in the future?

I think I want to know what it's like to collaborate with Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga, or more African musicians perhaps. Maybe young people from Bangkok who are practising right now in a garage or something.

Not just well-known artists, but also with young people with great songs because to me the most important thing is not the rich and famous person, but a song that could be like "Imagine" or "The Love Supreme" - songs that are memorable forever. So I'd rather work on a song than with a person, because songs stay. The people die and go away in another dimension.

Santana will be at Bangkok's Impact Arena on March 6 at 8:30pm.


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