For the first two decades of their recording history, Los Lobos worked with outside producers in the studio, including T-Bone Burnett and Mitchell Froom. But for their last few albums, they've taken on the production work themselves. Not that even they themselves can define exactly what the words "produced by" even mean.
"To be absolutely honest, what producers do is not clear to me, either," Los Lobos singer/guitarist Louie Perez said in a recent interview. "Rolling the tape back to the beginning of this movie, this band formed in 1973 and made our first real record in 1983. So we'd been together 10 years by then. Had we been together 10 months instead of 10 years, maybe we might have needed more hand-holding. But there's not much you could've told us.
"From our experience with Mitchell Froom, I'll tell you what a producer should be doing. We went into the studio with him to do [1992's] 'Kiko,' which is still my favorite of our albums. He created this environment that was comfortable and creative, and he was there to move things along without getting in the way. I believe that's all you can do with a band like us -- just sit back and create a space to move it along."