The Mavericks Are Anything but a Strictly Country Band

click to enlarge The Mavericks Are Anything but a Strictly Country Band
All Eyes Media
The Mavericks have a sound that true to their name, is hard to pin down. Sure, the band might’ve made a lot of noise on the country radio charts in the ‘90s, racking up a string of hit singles in that format, but it’s anything but strictly a country band.

In fact, across the history of the group, which now spans nearly 30 years, it’s continued to expand on and wrap in more of its collective influences, genres be damned, to create music that incorporates any sort of style you might be able to conjure — all in the name of good songs.

Brand New Day, their latest album and the first studio material they’ve released independently on their new label, Mono Mundo, finds them continuing to explore. The majestic title track recalls the mammoth sound of popular music in the ‘60s, most notably Phil Spector’s legendary “Wall of Sound” production. The group carried those influences with it into the studio, literally, as each band member arrived at the studio every day with a stack of his own favorite albums. They sat around the console, having their morning coffee and listening to music as they waited for album co-producer Niko Bolas to get ready for that day’s session.

“We were talking about what turned us on [about the albums], and it’s always a great time,” guitarist Eddie Perez shares during a recent phone conversation. The band performs on Sunday, Sept. 10, at House of Blues. “Because it just seems to really fuel what comes next. On that particular day, we were listening to all of that Phil Spector stuff on the big studio speakers and just thinking and imagining what it must have been like to be in that time and recording those things.”

Perez says that as the band worked on that title track, it quickly became apparent “how much we were vibing on all of that stuff.” It left a definite imprint on the song that came out.

“All of us, we really are students of all of that stuff. I mean, that’s kind of the world that we live in, in terms of our inspiration,” he explains. “With those things, you try to take the stuff that turns you on about that particular era and then you try to throw yourself into it and I feel like we were pretty successful.”

He says that track in particular has a “bigness” to it and features “Wall of Sound epic production.”

“The thing that I’m most proud about all of that is that that’s entirely us,” he says. “Each one of us, we play lots of different instruments, all of us. [Drummer] Paul Deakin was on the big mallets with the church bells and the tympani and then the vibraphones. [Laughs] I mean, it was pretty massive, to think about it now! But you know, we’re such big fans of the Wrecking Crew and all of those guys — and lady, I should say. You know, we can’t forget about Carol Kaye in all of that! But what a sound they created and what an era it defined. That’s certainly a tip of the hat to that stuff that we love so much.”

The band first began working on material for the new album in 2015, knocking out two songs at the legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood. They continued to craft new material for the developing album in between touring, logging additional recording time at home in Nashville. Perez says that the road work along the way added a healthy energy to the sessions.

“We’re always trying to find a block or a space of time where we can go in and try to harness some of this creative energy that we seem to have,” he says. “I think it all spawns itself. It starts with the shows and the energy from the audiences and the venues and also too, the traveling all of the time. You’re always in motion and you’re always thinking about it, so it’s kind of like a big creative wheel that happens. Over the last couple of years, we’ve actually been able to map out a few different breaks in the action in terms of the touring schedule, so that we could pop into a studio and try to see if we’ve got something worth recording.”

Interestingly enough, Perez says that they didn’t have a lot of material — or even necessarily a full album in mind when they first began working on new material at Capitol. All they knew was that they wanted to plant some seeds for the future, wherever that might lead. A combination of heavy touring mixed with navigating the logistics of having their own record label for the first time found them doing a bit of juggling.

“[The sessions at Capitol] were a very inspired affair,” he says. “That took a couple of days and that’s really what got the ball rolling. And then we kept doing the same thing. We kept trying to see where it would make sense for us to be able to get into a studio and to try to take another swing at it. Before we knew it, we had amassed a record. Then we just kind of started honing it in. But really, it was done because of the way the schedule was. It was the only way we could do it. We were so busy all of last year and toured extensively. Europe, Canada, the States, I mean, back and forth every which way! So we were quite busy and I think it’s quite a feat that we found a way to put it all together. And especially, being our own label now, we were not just doing the music, we were also doing the artwork and doing everything. For a bunch of guys that have been at it a real long time, I feel like we made a really great effort at it.”

Perez is quick to admit that is was a total thrill, getting the chance to work at Capitol Studios.

“It was beyond cool, I’ve got to tell you. All of us in the Mavericks, we’re all really big audiophiles,” he says. “We all are record collectors, and we’ve been doing that since our teen years. The historic content of what that building stands for is completely not lost on us. In fact, I feel in large part for our time that we were there, I feel like we really channeled a lot of that great legendary stuff that was there in terms of spirit and energy. It really is what kicked off this new record. That’s how we kind of started it. It was pretty amazing, the energy there and the sounds and the equipment and just being there was pretty spectacular and we all felt the specialness of it. There are a few tracks on this Brand New Day record that really show that part of it too.”

In the live setting, the band tours with an expanded lineup, adding accordion and a horn section, and the guys mix in a diverse selection of choice cover songs that offer additional examples of the versatility of the group. Bruce Springsteen’s “All That Heaven Will Allow” has become a setlist staple, while the band’s version of “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young sounds like a lost Mavericks catalog classic.

“Raul [Malo] is really the spearhead of all of this creative stuff. The way we work, it usually starts with him,” says Perez. “I mean, first of all, you have that beautiful, lush voice. That rock 'n' roll, operatic, beautiful toned voice. So that certainly gives you a wide range of music to pull from when you have a singer that has that ability. And then on top of that, you’ve got a bunch of musicians who are well-versed in American music, let’s say, in general, from '30s jazz to ‘70s rock and roll to soul music, Motown and everything else in between. When it comes together in that playful way, it’s a lot of fun.”

When you’re least expecting it, they might pull out something that really will surprise you, like their epic and lengthy version of Pink Floyd’s classic “Us and Them.”

“You know, that just evolved out of soundchecks. Whenever we do soundchecks, we have been known to work up something and just throw it into the set for that night and then we never play it again,” he shares. “I think that’s one of the biggest things and it’s also showing our influences. It’s also showing the range of what this band can do together. I think it’s a special thing to showcase, because you know, there’s not a lot of bands out there that can do that sort of thing, I think. You know, do their own music in their own particular style and then on a dime, turn into something, whether it’s Neil Diamond or Engelbert Humperdinck or Pink Floyd, for that matter."

He says that "just good playful fun" remains at the heart of the band's approach.

"We hope that people respond to it favorably, but it’s just a lot of fun," he says. "At heart, I will tell you that it’s just a bunch of guys who grew up together, knowing how to play music from being in the garage with all of their friends. We’re still that bar band that played covers five nights a week.”

The Mavericks, 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583. Tickets: $35-$60,