“The world has too much strife, racial and social divides being fed 24/7; it’s non-stop. It turns normal, loving people into brainwashed zombies who can’t come together. Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me, but I’d like to make a place where all people can come together.”
— Raul Malo
It sounds like lofty “hippie speak,” something the Grammy winner jokes about, but Raul Malo, the son of Cuban immigrants, and his musical comrades believe in bringing people together – often in the name of good times and great music – which is the most universal language of all.
“One of the things we love about our shows is we get all walks of life, all ages, all colors, all politics, all genders, all religions,” frontman Malo states.
From their earliest shows as a garage band playing the punk clubs on Miami Beach, The Mavericks have had a skill for getting people to groove. Drawing on a mix of classic country, cow-punk and standards, Malo and company left South Florida, bringing their rhythmic fervor and Latin machismo, along with Malo’s lush baritone, to the world.
In 2013, after numerous years as a band, multiple gold and platinum albums, world tours, breakups and reformations, The Mavericks recorded their critically-acclaimed album IN TIME and re-introduced music lovers to the band’s genre-defying melting pot of pop music.
With the new release of MONO, The Mavericks find themselves making the most relevant music of their career.
“The experience of making this record was quite unique. We had the luxury of a very finely tuned band and the energy from the last two years of touring under our belts. We all believed that it was going to be special and I think we would all agree that, our record MONO best represents what our band does live,” expresses guitarist Eddie Perez.
While in the studio to record the new album, the band realized that their songs required a different approach. They felt drawn toward the idea of creating an album that shines through its songwriting and instrumentation in a singular mindset without relying on stereo tricks of modern recording – so the idea of recording in mono was born. Drummer Paul Deakin explains, ”As is often the case with The Mavericks’ plans, the idea to mix the record in mono came about spontaneously. During the recording process we would go into the studio around noon and listen to vinyl records for some extra inspiration. At some point, someone noted that almost all of the recordings we were listening to were mixed in mono. Our producer Niko Bolas said, off-the-cuff, ‘we should mix this record in mono.’ And we thought, we can’t get away with that – so of course … we had to.”
Longtime keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden adds, “Most of these songs were recorded live in the studio with very little overdubbing. Some people might even be surprised to know that the tracking vocal is the vocal you hear on the record. Raul didn’t go back in and re-sing anything.”
With MONO, the band embraces cultural and musical diversity. Malo’s songwriting builds on the compositional craftsmanship of early-twentieth-century musical elegance yet demonstrates his skill for writing music that is progressive and timeless. From the thrusting opener “All Night Long” to the pensively sheer “Fascinate Me” and the chaotic thrill of “(Waiting for) The World To End,” the band seamlessly shifts gears.
Elements of ska play a prominent role in songs like “Summertime (When I’m With You)” and one of the most rockin’ tracks, “What You Do To Me,” which Perez believes “has all the energy and style that best represents what it’s like to be at a Mavericks show. It’s a stylish frenzy of electricity and relentless backbeat. This is definitely one of my favorites on the record.”
The seductive swing of “Stories We Could Tell,” the vintage country shuffle of “Out The Door” or the randy blues of “The Only Question Is,” show the band’s instinctive affinity to a variety of musical styles.
“During the writing process, I found myself wanting certain things. When you hear Cuban or world music of any kind, you may have no idea what the singer is saying, but you can feel it. That was what I wanted: to evoke a feeling so you could feel it! When you’re ready to go out, you put on this album… and it creates a vibe, a mood for your night,” says Malo.
“What Am I Supposed To Do” echoes the soulful sounds of The Four Tops or The Spinners while “Pardon Me” and “Let It Rain (On Me)” mine the desolation of road life and stand as MONO’s most somber tracks. McFadden explains, “ ‘Let It Rain (On Me)’ is my idea of a perfect song. It’s hard to write a very simple, catchy song, but Raul has always had a knack for that. It’s why recording the album in mono actually works. Only a great song can stand tall in a single channel mix, not dressed up with all kinds of bells and whistles that a stereo mix would have. It’s really why this record works in mono so well. Not many acts could pull that off. Not many would even try, is my guess.”
“When we went in to record this record, we were very resolved: we’d been through the time on the road, making the last album, living together as friends and as a band…We have nothing to lose, and only the music to gain,” says Malo.
In conjunction with the release of MONO, The Mavericks kick off their MONO MUNDO TOUR with dates in Boston, Philadelphia and New York City before heading to Europe and continuing the rest of this exciting year making music all over the globe.