Nearly eight years ago, Joel Pimentel, Erick Colón, Christopher Vélez, Zabdiel de Jesús, and Richard Camacho linked up as CNCO on La Banda, the Univision TV show co-produced by Ricky Martin and Simon Cowell with the intent of forming the next big group. And boy, did La Banda succeed with CNCO.
Since their formation in 2015, the group became virtually the only Latin reggaetón group to exist, bringing hits like “Reggaetón Lento” and “Hey DJ” worldwide, and collaborating with the likes of Little Mix, Meghan Trainor, Sean Paul, Steve Aoki, and Becky G. They performed on the largest of stages, and have earned billions of streams across their five studio albums.
Now, a four-piece following Pimentel’s departure in 2021, CNCO is formally saying goodbye — and they’re giving their fans closure as they release “La Última Canción” Wednesday. The band’s emotional swan song makes lyrical references to their biggest hits and is meant as a “thank you” and closure for their CNCOwners. It’s the perfect love letter to those who were there for them from the start, the group says.
“We feel happiness and a bit of sadness, but also excitement for the next stage,” Camacho tells Rolling Stone. “It’s a lot of emotions at the same time.”
“I’m grateful and emotional,” adds Vélez. “It’s a lot of mixed emotions because this song is our goodbye letter to those who were there from day one.”
Along with the song, the group is planning a final farewell tour titled “La Última Cita,” a callback to their first album La Primera Cita, or “the first date” in English. On the road, the group looks forward to giving a proper goodbye to the fans who’ve made them a success.
Ahead of their farewell tour, almost a year after announcing that the end was near following winning an award at Premios Juventud, the boys of CNCO reflect on their legacy and whether or not the “door is open” to a reunion in the future in an exclusive exit interview with Rolling Stone:
Many bands separate much earlier. Y’all lasted 8 years. What kept you guys together?
Christopher Vélez: I think it was that we lived it and didn’t look at the time. We traveled, communicated a bunch, and built a family. This is a for life thing. I think that was the key for us lasting so long.
How did the conversations about the group coming to an end begin?
Richard Camacho: We just felt it. We’ve done so much together and we spent so much time together, it’s like when you’re with your family and you’re like, ‘Yo, bro. I need my space’ — but in a positive way. We each want to experiment on our own through different avenues of art. It’s more of that. At the end of the day, it was like, ‘Cool. We did all of this.’ Maybe in the future, if something happens, we will let God do his thing. But for now, it’s time to find our own way individually.
You guys are leaving with a last song and a last tour. A lot of times, fans of groups like Fifth Harmony, One Direction, and Why Don’t We are left with a bad taste in their mouths when things end abruptly. Was doing this always the plan?
RC: Of course. We have so much gratitude and love for the fans, and we wanted to celebrate the entire career of CNCO. We didn’t want to just disappear out of nowhere. We wanted to do it right and have it be a nice sunset for the band.
CV: It’s sentimental for everyone. We want to celebrate what we had and what we lived with them and just enjoy that last moment.
Is there a moment that resonates with you over the last eight years?
RC: Every time we’d have a fan crying over a song that we made. Those little moments really felt like we were touching people’s hearts and changing lives. Connecting in person made us understand that we were creating something cool, something spiritual.
CV: For me, it was returning to my country Ecuador for the first time and seeing all the people at the airport and the fans waiting outside of the hotel. It was overwhelming but it felt incredible. I’m excited to return to Ecuador for this tour, and I know we’re going to have the best party of our entire lives. More than happiness, I just feel blessed.
Zabdiel de Jesús: For me, it was performing in huge venues in our countries. That was unreal. Performing at El Choli in Puerto Rico was crazy.
Sometimes it feels like it takes a while for members of a group to take off as soloists. What is that looking like for you? Have you given thought to what the music will sound like?
RC: Right now, we’re just very focused on this tour. God will say when the right moment is for us to drop our music. There isn’t really a plan. We’re just making sure this tour is the most loving and special thing we can give our fans. After that, we can focus on our own music.
CV: I have my preferred genres but we don’t know. Art is about innovation, and not doing what you’re used to. I wouldn’t be able to tell you that, what it will sound like. We haven’t been looking at our solo careers just yet. We’re focused on leaving a legacy.
Erick Colón: I think the future is uncertain and you never know what will happen. Even if we’re prioritizing CNCO and this last tour, we are thinking of our careers solo. Not knowing what’s next, I think that’s a fun challenge.
Is there a CNCO song that stands out to you as one of your favorites or you’re most proud of?
CV: I feel like we’d all agree with this, but it’s “Reggaeton Lento” which made us worldwide. We worked with people in other languages, which we never imagined. That was CNCO’s biggest and it made a “Before and After” for the group.
RC: That’s a tough one. I love performing live and that changes things for me. I like to perform “Mamita.” I love “Tan Fácil.”
What was the thought process behind making “La Última Canción?”
RC: This song was the perfect ending. It fit like a ring. We heart it and felt like “Fans are going to love this.” It feels very personal.
CV: This song expresses all that we feel in the last few weeks of CNCO. And from there, we planned La Última Cita tour. It all was born from a genuine place.
EC: It was important to end with this tour because we wanted to give this gift to our fans and remind them of what they’ve done for us. “La Última Canción” is a “thank you” for what we’ve been able to accomplish.
Are you leaving the door open to a reunion in the future or are we closing this chapter forever?
RC: At the end of the day, we never know what God has planned for us so I’m not gonna say, “No or yes.” This is a family so there’s no bad energy regardless. In the future, if something comes up and it looks good for all of us in our career individually, and it’s the time for it, then great. If not, then it won’t happen. The doors are open.
CV: The doors, the windows — they’re all open. The good thing about this is that there’s no beef between us. We’re ending this the best way possible. We’re thinking about our fans and legacy. The doors will always be open and hopefully it will happen in the future.
ZDJ: To the fans who are asking about us getting back together: I don’t know, thankfully we didn’t end on a bad note. If we get la loquera and want to relive this, of course we will.
What would you say to that kid who auditioned for La Banda?
CV: I’d tell him to continue to follow his dreams. Don’t worry, it’ll work out at the end. Do whatever you think is good for you.
RC: Never hold back. Just keep pushing: You’ve got this and and that God is always there.
ZDJ: I’d tell him to enjoy the entire process. Take more photos and videos!