SWAG : PRESS
Country Music Channel, Australia, March 2013
Robert Reynolds, minus milkshake, in LA, October 2012
Interview with Robert Reynolds
The street sounds of LA drift down the phone receiver as Robert Reynolds walks through Hollywood and chats with CMC. Car horns, a chopper passing overhead, the clanking of diner cutlery - all can be heard as Reynolds heads out to reward himself after a long day of press commitments - "I may as well have a milkshake while I'm talking to ya, ya know what I mean? I deserve that. Don't I?"
Reynolds does deserve it. Since his band, The Mavericks, re-formed last year after an eight-year hiatus, they've been flat out touring, recording, reclaiming their devoted fan base and winning over an entire army of new fans. The band's most recent record, In Time, is a charming collection of country, rock 'n' roll and Americana and is the band's most impressive musical statement in a long, long time.
As Reynolds sipped his strawberry milkshake, he told us why The Mavericks needed time apart to make this record, how he thinks In Time will just be the start of a string of new Mavericks albums, and the prospects of playing in the bush when they headline the Gympie Muster later this year.
CMC: Before this latest record, In Time, The Mavericks were separated for eight years. What's the feeling like within the band these days? Is it fun to be back playing songs that you hadn't performed for a long time once again?
RR: Yeah, it’s weird in the greatest way. Bringing the band back after a long time away from each other almost creates a necessity to restart. In a weird way, we’re meeting a variety of old fans, sometimes we’re meeting the second generation of fans - quite literally kids who heard the music because their parents were playing it. In other cases they’re just finding us for the first time. We happen to be coming back on an album that has some strength to it and I guess that makes our job a little easier in a weird way.
It’s been a joy having this band back. To give you some balance to that answer - some contrast to that question, we had the band back together in ’04… Like ’03, ’04, and it wasn’t really right. We felt - I don’t want to say half-hearted, we were trying with all our might - but I don’t think we were hitting it on all points. So when we walked away again I didn’t have a guarantee that we would ever do this again. Now that we’re back we feel refreshed, it feels like we’re firing on all cylinders, it feels like the real thing again.
I’d say that it’s pretty rare that any act, any artist, any performer gets a second life and I feel we’re sort of experiencing a second life. We’re super blessed to get a second life - who gets that? When I used to watch this from a fan’s point of view, if I saw this with an actor, with an artist, somebody I love musically, and I saw them come around and have a second life, a kind of a rebirth and suddenly it was happening again - I was thought that was amazing. I get the feeling that we’re getting every bit of that right now and I could not have predicted [that].
CMC: What were the circumstances in which you guys decided to get back together and play together again this time? And was this time around a totally different feeling to that first attempt in 2004? Did it feel “right” instantly or did it take a little while to come together?
RR: No it was pretty instantaneous. We were brought together by the notion that we would have a great summer playing reunion shows. We talked at a dinner one night, the band did, about getting together and almost immediately it felt more legitimate to come together. More true to form to come together with new music than simply going out and doing a reunion tour that felt a little cheap. That was the first indication that we all really came to play. 'Cause anybody can go out and, “Ok, March 1st we’ll go make money.” If that’s all you’re after anybody can check in for that. But when the immediate discussion was making an album, that’s when I could tell that there was something happening.
Then we got in the studio and we came in for a long weekend, and the long weekend ended up giving us nine tracks. So I could tell we were really firing. We were energetic with songs just falling out of us. The very first track we cut was ‘Back In Your Arms Again’. A fitting title for a group of guys getting back together again and falling back into it. So it was highly energetic. People were in good spirit and good form with each other.
CMC: The latest album has been out for a few months now, what's the reaction to the record on the road been like What are fans responding to?
RR: You know, ‘Come Unto Me,’ is just a great live track. But, you know, we were excited enough in this record and had enough confidence that we put about five or six songs immediately into the set before the record was even out and probably were up to seven or eight songs from the album sprinkled into the live show. The fans - they’ve been really supportive of this album in its entirety - and I’m not just saying that. We’ve had to slog through some developmental times before when the fans didn’t know the album and we were trying to tour piece by piece, but this is really working.
CMC: Have you noticed a change in yourselves as musicians since that time apart?
RR: Some confidence. A little bit of less trepidation. There was a change in a couple of ways. One, we did what we did with solid confidence that this is who we are now. And the other thing was as people we were far warmer with each other. There was a genuine family kind of feeling. So on a human level and on a music level and on a whatever it is where those two meet, it was with a confidence that was not always available as younger guys.
CMC: Do you think that time apart was influential on how this record has come out?
RR: Completely. I do feel that it had to happen. To have any extended life it required a break. Was it eight years that was needed? Maybe, I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. You get to a point in life where you start to not question anything, you just do it. I could ask myself why it worked at this point, but I think the answer would be, 'I guess'. The reality is at this point the eight years was somehow fruitful. If it took all eight years to do this. Now hopefully that’s enough of a break and we can get a few albums. [laughs] We can’t do an album, take eight years off and do another album at that rate. We’d only have [one] more record in us to do it! [laughs]
CMC: Is that the general feeling the band now? Are you already looking to the future and when you can start to write and record a new album?
RR: I think the question is 'Are we here to do this ongoing? Are we back today?' I think the answer is 'Yes', because the results have been good. If the results had been had been fair or less than as good as it’s been feeling, I think maybe we would be more sporadic. I think if we were, for whatever reason, finding this to be a lukewarm reception or a lukewarm result at the end of it all, knowing the personalities [of the band members] might be prone to drifting a little bit and trying different things and drifting back - but the result was so truly exceptional, that it’s kind of giving us the feeling that we need to keep paying into it. That we need to keep investing in this. We already have new music. We have a sense of - when you first start it feels like you against the world. After a while, maybe you lose a bit of that. You’ve got a lot of people paying you to be successful. You’ve got people paying you for about everything you do. Maybe you get over-paid at some point. I don’t know. But you lose that sense of 'us against them'. That team against the world. I believe we’ve come back to that sense of us - it’s us against the world. We’re like a good team of athletes or something. We run a great game and we feel compelled to stay united. I would be absolutely shocked if this wasn’t the beginning of a series of records and/or projects with this band.
CMC: You’re set to return to Australia for the first time in a decade - are you excited to return?
RR: To be real clear, it will be the first time the Mavericks have performed at all [in Australia]. The previous performances have been either solo or some of the guys in different projects but thus far we’ve never had the Mavericks there. So it’s really exciting! We’ve been wanting to do this for a long, long time.
CMC: You're headlining the Gympie Music Muster when you come down here, which is a really unique festival way out in the bush - are you ready for the trek into the Queensland outback to perform?
RR: Yes, I am. I rather like the outback. I like the Australian 'bush', as it were. Nature’s my calling!
CMC: What can Australian Mavericks fans expect from these upcoming shows? Does the band have any surprises in store? Any big plans for us?RR: Probably the greatest thing about this group is that we’re built for the live show. Truly in the most wonderful way we are first and foremost a live band. Australians that get to see us for the first time - maybe they heard about us and our reputation to be a good live act. I feel like the best we’ve ever been. In essence I think that’s what lies ahead, more live shows!
The Mavericks' latest album, In Time, is available now.
For Gympie Music Muster news, head to the festival's website - www.muster.com.au
Words: Nathan Wood
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