Los Lobos Documentary, ‘Native Sons,’ Coming in 2025 (EXCLUSIVE)

Los Lobos, the iconic East Los Angeles band that elevated that helped bring Chicano music to the masses over the last 50 years, is the subject of the feature-length documentary with the working title “Los Lobos Native Sons,” currently in production and slated for a 2025 release. The film features testimonials from George Lopez, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, Dolores Huerta, Bonnie Raitt, Flaco Jimenez, Cheech Marin, a trailer below.

Formed more than 50 years ago in East Los Angeles, the group is unique and versatile, able to play roots rock, Musica Mexicana, soul, folk and a galaxy of other styles. The film is co-directed by veteran filmmaker, producer, and editor Doug Blush (“Like a Rolling Stone,” “20 Feet From Stardom,” and last year’s Academy Award winner “The Elephant Whisperers”) and photographer/filmmaker Piero F. Giunti, and produced by Robert Corsini (“Architects of Denial,” “Hate Among Us”) and Flavio Morales (“LOL: Last One Laughing,” “Nicky Jam: El Ganador”).

More from Variety

Blush says,  “Los Lobos, as much as any modern band, has expanded and re-defined what’s possible in American music, and in their phenomenal half-century and counting, they’ve created a global fan base that proves that the wolf is very, very alive.”

The group was founded by David Hidalgo (vocals, guitar), Louie Pérez (drums, vocals, guitar), Cesar Rosas (vocals, guitar), and Conrad Lozano (bass, vocals, guitarrón), who played revved-up versions of Mexican folk music in restaurants and at parties. The band evolved in the 1980s as it tapped into LA’s burgeoning punk and college rock scenes, sharing bills with the Circle Jerks, Public Image Ltd., and the Blasters, whose saxophonist, Steve Berlin, would eventually leave that group to join Los Lobos in 1984.

A major turning point came in 1987 with the release of the Ritchie Valens biopic “La Bamba.” The quintet’s cover of Valens’ signature song topped the charts in the U.S. and the U.K. Rather than capitalize on that massive commercial success, Los Lobos instead chose to record “La Pistola y El Corazón,” a tribute to Tejano and Mariachi music that won the 1989 Grammy for Best Mexican-American Performance. The group has moved from strength to strength in the years since, receiving everything from a Hispanic Heritage Award to transforming their song “Kiko” into a surreal skit about Elmo on “Sesame Street.”

A Q&A with the group’s Louie Pérez follows:

What made you say yes to a documentary?

To tell you the truth, I really don’t know! Honestly, all seriousness aside, I think it was due. We are at a milestone, to say the least. I think there’s a little bit of vanity. I think it’s important for people to know what we’ve been doing for the past fifty years and how significant it is culturally and as a people, as Americans of Mexican descent living in the United States. It’s an important thing.

Your career spans an era where music and social justice worked together. How important is that to your legacy?

It’s very important. We started at a time when there was a huge cultural renaissance among young Mexican people throughout the country, throughout the Southwest to be exact. There was a parallel thing happening politically and there were walkouts that happened in the late ‘70s, protesting the educational system for Mexican American kids in the barrios of some of these cities like Denver, and of course L.A., where we’re from. So it was important that we were able to align ourselves with some of these causes, namely the United Farm Workers of America and Cesar Chavez. But I have to be perfectly honest with you, we were attracted to it as artists. It was the music that fascinated us. We would have done it anyway but the motivator was because we were musicians and we were fascinated by the music, that was, you know, in the background. That was at home and because we were fully homogenized young people we didn’t even notice it until we were well into our teens and playing music so, to answer your question it was very important.

What are the band’s plans?

Is there a life after fifty for the band, is that what you mean? Well, the immediate plan is to continue to tour and perform.  We just completed a series of shows at the end of last year celebrating our 50th anniversary, which was cool. Instead of playing big venues we decided to do a series of smaller ones that had some significance to the band.

You were one of the original Latin rock bands – what do you think of the current surge of Latin music on the charts and concerts today?

Well, for one thing, it’s always been here. Mexican bands have been coming to the United States and quietly filling up arenas like the Sports Arena in LA for five nights (chuckles). Nobody even wrote about it! Everybody was writing about the Stones coming to town and filling up a stadium when quietly bands like Maná and Los Bukishad been selling out these places for a whole week. So, it’s always been going on but, of course, like anything else that happens to ethnic people, or minorities, whatever you want to call us this week, we were the shadow people, it’s happening in the shadows. But now we can’t be ignored, we can’t be stepped over, and we can’t be sidelined anymore because the strength is in numbers. So, uh, I’ve been touring since 1983 when seemingly you couldn’t find a Mexican in Manchester, Vermont if your life depended on it, but we’ve always been here. We’ve just stepped forward because there’s strength in numbers. And I’ve seen the face of America change. That face is brown.

There have been so many music documentaries in recent years, do you think there’s a big appetite for your story?

Absolutely, I mean, I’m 70 years old, which is a scary number, but now I’m thinking about, you know, “What was that all about?” I’m looking back at my story, and I’m interested in learning about other people’s stories. I’m reading more biographies, how did they do it, you know? And the way that I can reference my own career and life, I’m interested in that and I think many people are really fascinated by the back story. Documentaries are ubiquitous; they’re everywhere. You could spend a month watching them 24 hours a day on streaming channels. I think there’s a natural curiosity for people to know how someone ticks and I think that now there’s an opportunity, in this particular case, for Piero, Doug, and the crew that have been following us around for the past couple of years to, you know, cover that story, to unravel that ball of twine and find out what’s at the center of this band.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.