If you were to create a chronological detailing of the history of country music focusing on influence, achievement and diversity across the growth of the genre, The Mavericks would undoubtedly be a significant and integral entry. From their initial formation back in 1989 where they began life within Miami’s alternative and punk scene, the band have been progressive and a driving force behind the international growth of country music whilst have been honoured with awards from the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association and received a Grammy in 1995 in the category of Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for “Here Comes the Rain”
Through various guises and a few different personnel line-ups, the thirty year span of The Mavericks has already produced eleven studio albums and acclaimed internationally as one of the most energetic and hardest working bands in the genre. This Friday (August 21st) the band will release their twelfth studio offering through Mono Mundo Recordings via Thirty Tigers and “En Español” (available HERE) which was co-produced by lead singer Raul Malo along with Niko Bolas marks the bands first ever Spanish language album of Latin music.
This new offering from Raul Malo, Eddie Perez, Paul Deakin and Jerry Dale McFadden may appear a completely new concept by recording a collection of traditional Latin numbers along with some brand new tracks, all of which are recorded in Spanish. Whilst the band have previously performed numbers in Spanish, it marks their debut at recording the entirety of a project not in English, which when we spoke to guitarist Eddie Perez, he talked of how it has not just been an idea that has been looked at over time but also a strong reflection of the bands heritage:
When you look at the band and what it is today with Raul being Cuban-American, he has those Latin roots and my roots are Mexican-American. I come from Los Angeles, California and that’s kind of my geography but when you look at who is in the band today, I always tell people that our band is very reflective of what America is like. It is diverse, it’s not singular and that’s the beauty of it. There’s all this influence and over the course of all the years that we’ve been touring, in our live shows we have from time to time done some Spanish music. Even to the point that people in the audience would shout out in-between songs “Play something in Spanish Raul!” and they do that a lot! I think this is an idea, that inch by inch were getting the bite to do but creating a whole record like that and still holding onto the vibe of what The Mavericks are was always the challenge. I think with the band that we have today, it’s a really fine oiled machine. Up until this pandemic hit, we are a band that plays a hundred to a hundred and twenty live shows a year, all around the world. That’s a lot of living together, eating together, playing music together and it made the process almost naturally develop on it’s own! In the midst of recording other records and other tracks that we’re doing, we would sneak in a Spanish song, then we would put it away and off to the side. Then it really started taking shape in terms of a real artist statement of where we are as a band. It’s certainly a different dynamic and different shade of what the band does, that for me is one of our biggest achievements when I’ve been part of the band and that I’m most proud of as it really allowed us to step into a different realm and explore what that is. Luckily I feel it really turned out well for us, I’m really proud of this record, everyone’s playing on this is just spectacular!
Perez is the newest member of the quartet, having previously toured extensively with the great Dwight Yoakam and joined The Mavericks when the band were initially brought back together in 2003 and having been an ever present since collaborating full time since 2012 described how the process of creating the record was not dissimilar to their previous recordings.
I would say the process was the same but what was different was more on Raul’s end. Writing lyrics in Spanish is a whole different affair, there is a different rhythm and poetry to how’s it’s done, how it’s written and how it’s approached. The process of melding the songs in our musical vocabulary which are some of the cover songs that made the record, we felt that was a really great way to introduce ourselves to the audience listening to this record who might be listening to The Mavericks for the first time. It was a way to say these are our roots and this is where the roots have taken us all these years and I feel like it was a way to build that bridge to that audience both ways. It’s saying hey this is where we come from and another shade of what this band is and also if you have never heard us, take a listen to what we’ve done before because this is where we come from too. I think there is a commonality and that is as artists we’re trying to find that satisfactory spot where we feel like we’ve hit the mark. I think there is such a great combination between the covers and the original songs, above all we just wanted to make a beautiful and artful collection of songs to be able to entertain people with. At the end of the day it really is all about entertaining people and putting your best foot forward, we try to be very much aware of the audience. In short with the creative process, there is a way that we do things which is a really crazy thing but a lot of it is a non-verbal, non-spoken language. When we all put the instruments on, we’re all in the studio together. We cut as if we are playing live! We have partitions and different rooms for the drums but we’re all seeing each other. We have the luxury of recording at Blackbird Studio’s here in Nashville, Tennessee which is set up for a large outfit to be able to record in that kind of way and since we’ve been back together we have recorded every single album at Blackbird as it’s just become a place where we continue to find our mojo. It’s a really great and fun process, they always are and also very much a family affair.
The band had recorded the record back in 2019 so were not affected by the challenges of recording in the current environment presented by the global pandemic currently taking over the world. The difference comes after the record is finished! Typically you wrote a record, went into the studio to record it, had it produced and mastered (which all went to plan with “En Español”) then you go out on the road and play the songs live to an audience to promote it, which we have all come to realise is not happening. Perez explained how the year 2020 has presented him with the longest period where he has been in one place in his twenty five plus year career as a touring musician, since the band finished touring in mid-November last year. This has brought about the new challenge of “How do we find a way to bring this to the people?” Which along with the opportunity to slow down and reflect is something that the band have really enjoyed. Through building a strong team and complete backing from their label Thirty Tigers they have worked on ways to proceed with the record and get the message out in new ways:
In the last eight years that we have had the band back together, this has been the first time where we have ever released a record where we have all been home and been able to concentrate on all the tasks. It’s a large endeavour to put a record forward, we’ve been working on it for a good part of the last two years in between tour dates and whatnot but the idea goes back even further. To be able to stay home when there’s no touring business happening, we’ve actually been really able to hone in on some of the ideas in a more focused way. When you’re out on the road, that’s the business you are tending to. Show to show, budgets, is everybody happy? How can we make the show better? It’s all that stuff, so you never really get the, I call it a luxury where you’ve been home, still, with nothing but this creative energy and a whole bunch of time to get to it. On one hand yes, it’s been a bit challenging because you can’t tour it but on the other end, it’s made us be just another side of the creative process. Since we can’t go out and tour, we’re actually trying to bring the people to us! Over the course of the last two or three months, we have taped a lot of content. Some of it interview content, some of it live performance and just trying find ways to survive this quite honestly. At the same time, trying to still be creative which we still have that about us. I can’t entirely say it has been a handicap actually, at times it’s actually quite the opposite.
Spanish is often referred to as the language of love with imagery of romance and passion brought about by it’s sensual sound. It is one of the world’s most widely spoken languages and musically has it’s own version of the Grammy’s to depict the popularity of Latin music. It creates a feel of sun-kissed evenings and melodic vibes that no other genre has the ability to conjure up, where even with a language barrier to other native tongues it entices and captivates as it pulls at raw emotions in a much more passionate sense. It has the ability to transport you to places of beauty which you have never witnessed which is particularly present with the way The Mavericks deliver the cover versions of songs throughout this record. This portrays the heritage aspect that Eddie talked about yet the album also manages to bring their own sound that people are more familiar with and achieves the goal of bringing different styles of music to new places in both ways.
Latin music is one of the biggest genres on earth and we have seen the likes of Gloria Estefan, Carlos Santana, Shakira, Enrique Iglesias and more recently Camila Cabello have worldwide success of Spanish language songs in the English speaking mainstream then we have also seen the way that some of the biggest pop artists like Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Little Mix have collaborated with artists to create massively successful cross-over hits incorporating both languages. However what The Mavericks have created with “En Español” is truly exciting because whilst country music and the scene in Nashville has become a melting pot of sounds and influence from other genres that is having commercial crossover hits, the blend of country and Latin or Spanish music has not yet come to the forefront beyond the occasional melodic aspect of the the occasional drinking song.
The nature of country music brings a very close link to Latin music and a perfect blend of this love affair that has always existed and it fantastic to see an opportunity for this to be delivered commercially in the modern era where The Mavericks have firmly set the scene as pioneers in this direction with this forthcoming release. The perfect blend of traditional Spanish stories intertwined with the charisma and energy of The Mavericks authentic sound to open the door for country fans to discover and appreciate the beauty and close relationship that it has with Hispanic sounds that also allows people on the other side a potential welcoming to country music. I studied Spanish in high school for one year and beyond being able to introduce myself, ask if someone speaks English or order four beers at the bar, I must say my understanding of this beautiful language is not strong but on listening to the record you can instantly fall in love with the passion put into it, the sounds and the delivery which is exquisite even without the lyrical understanding.
1.La Sitiera / “The Sitiera” (Rafael López González)
2.Recuerdos / “Memories” (Raul Malo, Alejandro Menéndez Vega)
3.No Vale La Pena / “It’s Not Really Worth It” (Alberto Aguilera Valadez)
4.Poder Vivir / “To Live” (Raul Malo, Alejandro Menéndez Vega)
5.Sombras Nada Más / “Shadows and Nothing More” (José María Contursí, Francisco J. Lomuto)
6.Mujer / “Woman” (Raul Malo)
7.Me Olvidé De Vivir / “I Forgot to Live” (Pierre Abel Billon, Julio Iglesias, Jacques Able Jules Revaud)
8.Pensando En Ti / “Thinking of You” (Raul Malo, Cynthia Susana Medina)
9.Sabor A Mí / “Taste of Me” (Alvaro Carrillo Alarcón)
10.Suspiro Azul / “Blue Sigh” (Raul Malo, Alejandro Menéndez Vega, Lisset Diaz Guevara, Miguel Comas)
11.Cuando Me Enamoro / “When I Fall In Love” (Mario Panzeri, Daniele Pace, Roberto Livraghi)
12.Me Voy A Pinar Del Río / “I’m Going to Pinar Del Rio (Néstor Manuel Pinelo Cruz)
This album is a beautifully crafted collection that brings a flavour of traditional Spanish sounds to be infused with the majestic musicianship of The Mavericks and the incredible vocals of Raul Malo to deliver their own authentic sound in a new light that is the perfect soundtrack to any late summer evening and offers a two way introduction to a pair of musics most real genres.
The new album “En Español” from The Mavericks is out through Mono Mundo Recordings via Thirty Tigers is out on August 21st which you can pre-order/pre-save HERE and you can keep up to date with the band on: TheMavericksBand.com – Instagram – Facebook – Twitter – Spotify – Apple Music – YouTube