BBC Radio Scotland
Ricky Ross interviews Robert Reynolds, Paul Deakin & Raul Malo
Broadcast: February 1, 2013
Robert Reynolds, Raul Malo, Ricky Ross, and Paul Deakin, Glasgow
R Ross: Now tonight we're going to spend a lot of the time in the first hour in the company of The Mavericks, and why not, because it's such an interesting story - of course they were hugely successful back in the '90s. Two years ago at Celtic Connections, we had Raul in as a guest on our little songwriting round which we did down in the foyer down there in Pacific Quay, which was wonderful, he was in great voice. He brought with him an accordion player, and interestingly enough, when I saw the accordion player in The Mavericks I thought 'Aha, we've met before'. That gentleman was with Raul back then. He's a fantastic player, he's really, really talented. And then the news broke that the Mavericks had decided to get back together, and in doing so had also recorded a new album, which is out on Universal, and it comes out on Monday. And of course they were here to play old songs. They were also here to play that new album. They were augmented with about four extra musicians. There was the core Mavericks band, they'd brought in a new double bass player, they'd brought in, as you can expect, a horn section, that accordion player that I spoke of, and we're going to play you some of that stuff live in the next little while. But I met up with The Mavericks the morning after that special show, and Raul, Paul and Robert told me what it was like to be back on stage inRER: It was a delight to be back. Maybe the biggest thing for me is that it was The Mavericks, and it was nothing short of the band that always loved being here.
RM: It was fantastic. I mean, there was certainly a lot of anticipation on our end. I myself have played Celtic Connections the last couple of years, and it is an honour to be invited. And then on top of that, we're coming in as The Mavericks, we haven't played over here in 10 years or so. So we were all excited, and a bit nervous, I think. But really excited to play last night's show and play for a
audience for the first time in a very long time. And it was everything that we hoped it would have been. Glasgow
R Ross: Well, I was at the show. I thought it was wonderful, I have to say. It was great. Because, after about an hour I thought, 'Oh, well, the guys are doing a short show, finishing with Dance The Night Away.' I thought 'There we go, that's great, it's been great to have them.' How wrong was I? That was only the start. And I loved the pacing. Because then, to let the audience know what happened, the band went off... you came back on, Raul, with a beautiful sounding Spanish-sounding guitar. You went into a couple of acoustic songs, you went into Blue Bayou... And then you just cranked the whole thing up again. I just thought, is that years of being on the road, you know how to pace a show?
RM: We hope that by now we know how to pace a show. [laughs] But we like to do the show a little differently. We break it down, and I go out and do an acoustic thing. I don't always do three songs. They know, they always want me to do more, so that they can take a break, of course.
RM: But last night, it's such a beautiful hall and it sounds so nice - and it lends itself to that sort of the show. When you have that audience and that venue, you can really stretch it out and pace it that way.
R Ross: If there was a hometown gig for The Mavericks now, where would the hometown gig be?
RM: Well, we just did it, I guess...
now. But in the old days, it would have been...? Nashville
RER: It would have been
R Ross: It would it have been
RER: And we still would consider that kind of a hometown gig.
PD: Yeah. A homecoming gig.
RER: I don't know what to expect from it any more.
forgets. Miami doesn't have a long memory... Miami
R Ross: Is there a transient population in
RER: ...and it's on to the next thing there. I felt we had to leave. I felt we had done all we could do in
. Does anyone disagree, really, was there any sustaining The Mavericks down there? Miami
RER: It was time to go when we left there.
R Ross: That was where the band started?
RER: Yeah. And very much I love the memory of the Mavericks there. There was nothing wrong with where we started, and how we grew it out of theR Ross: My brother in law, who was there with me last night and I were having whispered conversations during the show, asking each other questions, and one of the things he said to me was 'I wonder how it started.' Did you start as a Latin band who wanted to be a bit of country? Or did you start as 'We love country music but we're not going to give up our roots'?'
RM: I think more the second one.
RER: I very much agree with that.
RM: And I think as time went on... because we did start off as a country roots sort of rockabilly band. We've always tried... I've always tried to find just the little seams, the little connections to all kinds of music. I remember when I heard Elvis' 'It's Now or Never'... that blew my mind, because that was an Italian aria, you know, that was now the greatest rock and roll record I'd ever heard.
clip: Elvis - It's Now Or Never
RM: It was that kind of record, that kind of thinking about things that really inspires us, inspires the music.
R Ross: And it's not just Latin music as such, it's also... because you still have that that huge Tex-Mex thing going on as well. You brought your accordion player, Michael, who was last here with us a couple of years ago. His playing's beautiful. Because originally some of his parts were Flaco Jimenez', weren't they?
RM: Yes, you're right, and Flaco was on our big record, Bring Me Down. And then Michael, he's been with me the last couple of years, and when we got the band back together, I told the guys, I said ‘we have to have Michael be a part of our touring band...
RER: He's a treasure. He's a treasure.
RM: ‘...and add that sound to the record.’ And, you know, he's so much more than just the Tex-Mex thing, he's really a world-class player, and I think it shows. He's all over the record, and we're real proud to have him as part of our touring band.
R Ross: So the elements are... there's a core band, there's the brass section as well, which is fantastic. And I was wondering about the other Latin elements. The only thing I could think of that was missing was... there was a lot of percussion going on, but did you ever have a... congas, timbales... did you ever go down the whole route?
RM: Oh, sure.
R Ross: You've done that one as well?
RM: Believe me, the only reason we don't have it is the financial reason. If we could afford it, you know, we'd have a percussion...
R Ross: Really?
RM: Well, it adds so much, you know.
R Ross: It just seemed... I thought that was probably the one thing... In the '70s, I was a big fan of the Stephen Stills' album, the
album, and I was thinking about that... Manassas
RER: It's funny you mention that...
R Ross: He did that whole thing, didn't he?
RER: Yeah, He sure did.
R Ross: He brought these elements... he had Latin, he had Joe Lala and the Congas. He had...
RER: Al Perkins.
R Ross: Al Perkins. And it was a country band at one point, and it was a Latin band... So I guess it's not that...
RM: It's not that crazy.
R Ross: No it's not...
RM: Although if you know Stephen Stills... maybe it is really crazy.
Music: Come Unto Me (Recorded live at Celtic Connections)
R Ross: The Mavericks, recorded live at the Concert Hall on Tuesday 22 January as part of their Celtic Connections show, and Come Unto Me, which is from their new album. I think that will be a future single, that's the word on the street. It wouldn't surprise me at all, it does sound great. The gig was great because of a number of reasons - not least the singing of Raul Malo. He just held it... You know, he just... His singing was consistently great, up-tempo and upbeat, but also in the ballads, that bit I talked about, when everyone went off stage, it was just phenomenal. And also he's a pretty amazing guitarist himself... brilliant guitar playing within the band as well... Fantastic rhythm section, you see the whole thing just sitting down in that groove. And of course these guest musicians, they had some brilliant trumpet playing as well... And also Michael Guerra there on that button accordion solo, it was just phenomenal. And when you get all these bits together, and then you throw a
audience in, and you throw Celtic Connections into the mix, you get a pretty good night. Glasgow
R Ross: You're listening to Ricky Ross here on Another Country here on BBC Radio
. I'm talking to the Mavericks - and in particular here Raul - about the decision to get back together. Scotland
RM: The original idea was for us to do a tour, and just go out and play festivals. But I didn't feel like that was reason enough to bring the band back. Not that it wasn't reason enough, but I just thought 'If we're going to do this, I really want it to be special, not just a reunion tour and play all the old stuff.' So how do you do that? Well, you have to have a new album. I happened to have a couple of songs that were really sounding like a Mavericks record. And when we got together to have a meeting about said tour, I told the guys, I said, 'Well, we're going to do a record too.' And I think that made it really a special thing...
RM: ...because now there is a whole other reason to do this.
R Ross: Because then there's a creative tension as well, a good creative tension.
RM: That's right. And we were ready. We were ready to make some new music together. And I think the record shows that. And we're all proud of it.
R Ross: It does indeed. Absolutely, you should be, it's sounding great, we're already playing it, it's already getting played on the radio, which is fantastic. You've come back once before. What was the problem originally, and what's the difference now?
PD: I don't know if it's necessarily a problem. I think that after you do tour for... what was it, the first time we stopped it was ten years or so. Not that you're not enjoying what you do, but we always had a tenet that 'When this isn't fun, we'll stop.' And I think we reached that point. We were burnt out, we were working very hard, and, as I said, not to say that we didn't enjoy ourselves when we were doing it, but more and more it got to be a struggle to get out and do the same thing.
RM: It was strange. I mean, we barely communicated. And yet we were on the road the whole time.
R Ross: But that's bands, isn't it? Because you spend so much time together. People often say that to me, because I'm in a band, they say 'Do you guys socialise?' I say 'Are you crazy?' because you've spent...
PD: But we are now, that's what's nice. Coming back, you get some time apart.
R Ross: You are genuinely seeing each other... sometimes you don't need to spend...
RER: We have nice dinners.
PD: There was a reviewer who was talking about the record to me, and she said 'How did you guys make', in her opinion, 'possibly the best record you've made, after not seeing each other for seven or eight years?' And I said 'Probably because we didn't see each other for seven or eight years''. We came back and we've grown as people, hopefully. I think it's incredibly fortuitous that we went in and did Raul's idea of doing the record, because, before we had played a note live, we went in and that's where, in a studio environment... You don't really know if this is going to work, because you haven't been there in so long. And it was from Note One, you know, it was just like 'Yes'.
R Ross: I was listening to the album again in different situations, driving around... Yesterday, I was listening to Back In Your Arms Again. And I thought this is a really interesting way to open a reunion. Did that occur to you, that double entendre there?
RM: Yeah, absolutely. That song... it's so funny, because that's the one that started it all. That's what started this whole process. And it came from a friend of mine, who... he's not necessarily a Mavericks fan, he's a fellow... he's a colleague, he's a great songwriter, a friend. He had this little song - he goes 'Man, I've got this song I want you to hear.' And so he plays me a little bit of it. I was just like, 'Oh, my gosh'. Luckily he hadn't finished it, so I helped him finish it, which is in songwriter terms... I weaselled my way onto that song. That became the song that started the whole thing. And ironically it's called Back In Your Arms Again.
Music: Back in your Arms Again
R Ross: I just thought that was great, because, you know, it's like a song to the rest of the band, it's a song to the audience...
PD: And the first song we recorded on the record too, the first day in the studio.
R Ross: The first day. Who was your co-writer there?
RM: Seth Walker.
R Ross: And so, when you were pooling songs for the record, you had some of your own. Did you gather any other songs in that seemed right?
RM: No, luckily I had a good sketch of the songs. I had a good idea of how they were... And a lot of them honestly wrote themselves. A lot of them... almost half that record was written here in
last year, during the Transatlantic Sessions. While I was sitting around with nothing to do, while the guys were rehearsing... because I only did... for the Transatlantic Sessions, I would only sing two or three songs... Glasgow
R Ross: I knew there was a good reason for the Transatlantic Sessions. I could never figure that out.
RM: ...I would go off into... You know, that beautiful concert hall has so many rooms, with so many great pianos, and so I would just sneak in there and really wrote almost half this record the week that I was here for the Transatlantic Sessions.
R Ross: Well, isn't that a tribute to Celtic Connections. I never knew that, that's fantastic.
R Ross: The album starts with four songs... you started the show in that sequence, which is a great tribute to a new record.. The one thing you didn't do, however, which you didn't have time to do, probably, was... there's a killer ballad on this record, In Another's Arms.
PD: Oh yeah.
R Ross: And it's just... it's achingly beautiful.
RM: Thank you.
R Ross: When it got to that point, I just went 'Wow', hold on, this is a...' And I did wish to hear it, but I knew why we probably wouldn't hear it last night, but tell me about that one - because that's a winner.
RM: That one was written in one of those rooms.
R Ross: Was it? On piano?
RM: Yeah. On the piano.
R Ross. Because it's got a lovely piano figure on it.
RM: Yeah, and when we recorded it... I'm not a piano player, but I play enough to play that song, and it's not much, it's very simple. And we recorded it that way. And it's just one of those songs that really just kind of wrote itself, and it's a sentiment, I think, that anybody who has ever been in a relationship probably can relate, you know. It's a painful little song, honestly. We didn't play it last night because we figured, you know, the record's not out yet. We played a lot of new material, we played a lot of 'up' stuff. We figure once the record gets out and people hear it, then we'll start incorporating some of those - which I'd like to do...
PD: It's my favourite song on the record. One of my favourite songs we've ever done, and Jerry Dale and I were talking about it - it's one of those ones that every time I hear it I get a hair-raising experience.
R Ross: It's a killer, absolutely.
RM: Thank you.
Music: In Another's Arms
R Ross: I wasn't joking when I said 'achingly beautiful'. It really is. The Mavericks and In Another's Arms, from their new album, In Time. You're listening to a conversation I had with The Mavericks just last week after their gig at Celtic Connections.
It's Ricky Ross with Another Country.
R Ross: And Robert from The Mavericks told me the difference between making and releasing music now, compared with when they first started in 1989.
RER: It's a great question, and I think the thing that we're going to mature into, I hope, is ownership, in ways that weren't possible in the old days. You used to give so much of yourself away to have the privilege of putting a record out on a national, international level. And, you know, you work hard... you end up really working for The
It's a funny thing, you know, it's an old expression. But you really do, you work so hard and you give such a huge percentage back to the record companies and all these various people that facilitate various parts of your career. We're exploring ways where we don't have to give so much away. We love partnership, but equality is necessary. For us to go forward, really we really have got to be able to own some of this. We own it emotionally. Raul's spoken now for the better part of this interview about how he takes, we take, ownership of a great record and how it came together emotionally. And I think in a way it's only fitting that we can own it commercially, and things like that. Man.
R Ross: There was a perception, I think, probably... I'm not saying this personally... I've just been reading back on the notes, reading back in The Mavericks biogs. There was a perception that perhaps, eventually you and Music Row, you didn't get on because they didn’t quite get what you were doing. Is that true, or is that not true?
RM: That's a strange one, because I think we get a lot of support in
. I think a lot of Music Row is either secretly or publicly rooting for us. And then there's probably a segment of Music Row that probably wishes we went away. Nashville
R Ross: Was that because of the cross-cultural thing? Or was because of the fact that they just wished...'I wish they were a straightforward country band, then we could just deal with them'?
RM: I'm sure there are marketing people and the like that probably wish we were a bit more straightforward.
R Ross: Because, you know, when you listen to it... That's, I think, why probably over here people love you so much. Because we grew up with... We were at the show last night, nudging each other with 'That's a ska rhythm there', 'That one's from the
Caribbean'... And then you've got the Mexican stuff coming in, and then you've got the Latin stuff coming in... So I was wondering whether that at times had just defeated you at country radio, for example.
RM: Well certainly at country radio, that's probably as conservative and as difficult a nut to crack as there is, you know. But we tend to forget...We're in the business and we tend to forget that, really, country radio is in the business of selling advertising, they're not in the business of promoting music or breaking new bands or promoting anything new. Leading the people, so to speak. That's not their job. And so, having said that, when you do what we do, we're going to run into roadblocks. But that's ok, we're used to that from the beginning, from way back when. So, you know, you just carry on. 'If you don't play our record or if you don't like this, somebody will, we'll find somebody that will like it. And that's something that's carried us through the years.
R Ross: The Mavericks: Keep Catholic Taste and Carry On. Let's talk about what's going to happen next. Because here you are, you've done this one-off gig in the
UK, it's very exciting that it happened in , it happened at Celtic Connections. I'm pretty sure that can't be the only one that's going to happen in the Glasgow . Are there plans to come back and tour here again? UK
PD: I believe there are - tentatively. I don't think anything's set in stone yet, we don't know where, but we're planning a tour here in May.
R Ross: In May. Fantastic, that will be wonderful.
PD: When it's warmer.
RER: When it's just a little warmer.
R Ross: These guys are sitting here in coats in the studio, so I know how they're feeling. Well gentlemen, thank you so much.
All: Thank you.
RER: Thank you for a great interview.
Music: Dance The Night Away. (Recorded live at Celtic Connections).
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