By Jeffrey B. Remz, October 2003
he Mavericks have not exactly been lying around for four years plotting their next step.
For starters, lead singer and writer Raul Malo put out a Latin-influenced solo album in 2001, toured behind it and produced albums for other artists.
Bassist Robert Reynolds worked on other projects including a side band, and drummer Paul Deakin also was tied up with musical endeavors.
But now The Mavericks along with new guitarist Eddie Perez are back with a new, self-titled album on a new label.
And as has been the case for the feisty Mavericks, this band is not strictly country, but explores various elements including The Beatles, some Latin sounds, rock, roots and country.
So why get together now after what was at varying times deemed a band on hiatus or a band in music heaven?"In between recording my solo record and touring and producing Rick's (Trevino) record, I had this batch of songs, that at the end of the day sounded like a Mavs record," says Malo in a telephone interview from his hotel room in Austin, Texas. "The process was the same. Now we're going back because the music sounds like a Mavs record."
The 11-song disc was recorded in May. The timing was good for Malo's band mates. Deakin and Reynolds were in between touring with Kevin Montgomery.
"It worked out to be perfect timing for everyone," says Malo, a Miami native.
For Malo, who usually does all of the songwriting on Mavs albums with non-band members, the music resulted from wanting to "write songs that were meaningful to me in a real personal sort of way. I set out to write songs about whatever I set to write about instead of love or love gone bad. There is some of that on the album."
But Malo focuses on another aspect of the album - songs that question the state of the world.
"The songs kind of reflect that yearning - the wanting of the answers or certain answers or wanting a guideline perhaps. No one has the all the answers. No one does. I think most thinking people think that. You can be guided toward the answers."
When Malo started thinking about the new Mavericks recording, he said from a songwriting standpoint, "There are songs that really pertain to situations in our world right now and what is happening. I wanted to ask questions, questions to our leaders, local leaders, national leaders, our president, our congressmen, our representative, and I think even our religious leaders. There are songs on there like 'Shine Your Light' with everything that's gone on in the church as of late the last couple of years that has really blown my mind. I've never gone through anything like that personally, but I know people who have, and it's terrible. If you can't get guidance from the people who are there to give you that guidance, then who are you going to get it from?"
The questioning starts from the get go with the first single and opening song, "I Want to Know." Almost every line in the song starts with those words. Among the things that the 38-year-old Malo wants to know is "what promises to keep, how guilty people sleep, why the devil's not run dry, why politicians lie, if all you need is love."
And that launches Malo into perhaps the most political diatribe this side of Natalie Maines, though with far more thought.
"'I Want to Know' is based on a lot of things that we're going through right now as a culture, as a society as a nation," says Malo. "It touches on several things, and you can apply that to any number of debacles. WorldCom. Enron. This war on Iraq, 9/11. What led to 9/11. We want to know. I think I'm not the only one who really wants answers. I really want to know why we went to Iraq especially after they said they said there were ties to Al Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction of which they have found none. I want to know the real reasons we have gone there. I want to know why none of their kids have gone to war. The Republicans have beat this drum so hard over the years, and no one in that administration has served in the military, but they all were quick to point out Clinton's draft dodging. They never served anywhere."
Don't accuse Malo of ever being a friend of George W.
"Let's not even touch upon the (2000) election," says the Florida native, who now lives in Nashville, adding, "I think they have managed to wrap themselves up in the flag, and it's kind of shielded them. People have stopped asking questions, and the media has just gone to bed. No one's asking tough questions any more."
"We've managed to squander whatever good will there was to the US after 9/11," says Malo.
Malo says his thinking has changed over time. "It's funny because I sound like such a freaking bleeding heart liberal, and I've never been one," says Malo, who registered Republican when he grew up in Miami. His family escaped Cuba three years before he was born. "It's amazing that this administration has managed to (do) this. I can't help but say something because I'm frightened for my kids. I'm frightened for their future."