By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 1998
eing a maverick isn't that hard. Nor is being a Maverick. At least that's how Robert Reynolds, bassist for the edgy, sometimes country, band The Mavericks, sees the quartet circa 1998.
"It's unusual to be married to a group like this, and we have our private lives," says Reynolds, husband of Trisha Yearwood. "Our marriages, children, what have you. In my case, I've got on one hand an entertainer and a band I'm married to. I probably suffer from multiple personality syndrome."
The latter marriage - as a member of The Mavericks - is not one based on the been there, done that syndrome.
Nope, this is a band - lead singer Raul Malo, drummer Paul Deakin, lead guitarist Nick Kane and Reynolds - that is content to change musical directions as it ages.
On its first major label album, "From Hell to Paradise," the Miami-bred band clearly honed a country sound. That continued with "What a Crying Shame" in 1994, with a strong tilt by Malo to Roy Orbison vocally.
But then the changes started in earnest with "Music For All Occasions" from late 1995. Yeah, it maintained a country vibe, but there was a lounge music feel, perhaps best indicated by including a duet with Yearwood, "Something Stupid."
Which brings us to "Trampoline." An aptly titled disc.
"This record is all over the place," says Reynolds in an interview from his Hendersonville, Tenn. home.
The 13-track, 51-minute recording runs the gamut from a Latin beat (the lead off "Dance the Night Away" and "Melbourne Mambo") to country ("I Should Know" and "Someone to Tell Her") to blues ("Tell Me Why") to gospel ("Save a Prayer").
This wasn't your typical Nashville recording.
For starters, the album was pretty much a live studio recording.
And what a scene that was with lots of friends hanging around at all hours. But the disc only took about one week to record.
"If you hear the band and an orchestra and a voice, that's how it went down," says Reynolds in an earlier interview from Lake Placid, N.Y. where he sandwiched bobsledding and skiing in between opening for Tim McGraw.
"We used an extremely big room in Nashville. We put the orchestra in with the band. We put in the mikes and let it go. We kept a lot of the first vocals and so forth. It's an extremely old approach to recording. It worked very well for us."
"The recording process was very much a circus, and it was fun. It was a pursued pleasure."
If expecting a straight ahead country record, forget about it.
"A lot of it feels pretty natural," Reynolds says of the musical direction, adding, "The paths we take feel quite natural. Whether the music strikes you as something you like, you love or hate, that's something out of my hands."
"Going along in Miami, we had a certain rootsy kind of elements of country," says Reynolds. "Next thing you know, we wanted to come up to Nashville. Next thing we are a full country act. Suddenly, you get a little notoriety in country music for our work, and how did we stumble upon that?"
While the debut was a commercial stinker, but critically acclaimed, the band took home the Country Music Association award for vocal group of the year in 1995 after "...Crying Shame."
Reynolds indicates the group almost has a need to be musical chameleons.
"When you think someone has you figured out, you express yourself in other sounds and interests that you have and before you know it, you're off on another tangent, another path," says Reynolds. "It all feels just very naturally walked down these paths and these roads."
To some extent, what turns out on disc is heavily connected to what is going on inside Malo's head since he is the primary songwriter.
He expresses the initial ideas, according to Reynolds, puts the songs on tape as demos.
But Reynolds made it clear it wasn't Malo calling the shots for the whole band.
"As a credit to Raul again, when he comes to home base, he always comes in with 'I got this on my mind. What do you think? He genuinely seems to mean the 'what do you think?' He looks to the group fingerprint. He wants the group to put its final stamp on it."
Of course, not everything Malo brings to the table makes it on the silver platter, but he has a high percentage.
"His ratio is really, more like an 80-percent kind of guy," says Reynolds. "He knows how to express through melody and lyric the voice of The Mavericks. He is after all the lead singer of the group. There are discussions on occasion particularly when you come to making a record...It seems when there is a decision to be made, the basic democracy has always been there for us. It's a real nice, solid structure. It really works well."
While most labels put their artist's feet to the fire, MCA has given The Mavs a free rein.
"We were always treated differently than the staple Nashville act. What has become the norm for contemporary country music has not been necessarily the norm for The Mavericks."
"For the past couple of records, we've been allowed to bring it in after the music was done. With us, there's been kind of a carte blanche thing to make the records we make."