Mano Negra broke up, bitterly, before their best-selling album Casa Babylon was even released. The group had been set up as a democracy but Manu was the singer, songwriter and the artistic visionary, and eventually the tension became too great. The others turned on Manu, and when they refused to let him keep the name Mano Negra to use for another outfit, he thought his career was over. And he had also split up with his long-term girlfriend. He spent the next three years on an extended «lost weekend», pinballing around the world, traveling throughout South America and to west Africa, depressed and often suicidal.
For three years, between 1992 and 1995, he was missing-in-action, a nomad playing the bars of Rio and Tijuana, experimenting with peyote in Mexico City, entertaining the children of insurgents in Chiapas in Mexico. (A supporter of the Zapatistas, he went on to sample the voice of the charismatic activist Subcommandante Marcos on Clandestino). Only following a motorbike ride from Paris to the greenness of Galicia with his father, the writer Ramon Chao, did he slowly return to sanity. «I had a bad addiction to travel,» he later told me. But all the time, he had also been writing songs.