Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
The Mavericks may still be based in Nashville, but they have long since outgrown the musical constraints of the country format.
The group will release its sixth studio album and its first for Sanctuary Records Sept. 23 in the U.S. and Sept. 22 in Europe. The self-titled CD from the Grammy Award-winning group was co-produced by Kenny Greenberg and Mavericks singer/principal songwriter Raul Malo.
Although the Mavericks never formally broke up, they had not recorded or performed together for three years prior to their reunion earlier this year. Three original members-Malo, bassist Robert Reynolds and drummer Paul Deakin-have been joined by new guitarist Eddie Perez.
Malo says Perez brings "a positive energy" to the band, in addition to some stellar guitar work.
The split happened, Malo says, after touring became "a grind" and he began to feel like the group was "cheating our fans. My heart and soul were not in it."
After a solo set and what he calls a detour into some Latin music projects, Malo began writing songs that, he quickly realized, sounded like Mavericks music again.
Since reuniting, Malo says, "everybody is in a much better head space. When you're 24, you think you know everything. We were just idiots to some degree," he says of the band's early days. "We're still idiots, I don't want to discount that, but we're probably a little wiser for the wear."
Preferring to be thought of now as an American, rather than country, band, Malo speaks from experience when he says that "pigeonholing really hurts. As an artist, you want to try different things and expand your musical horizons, and the moment that you do try to be adventurous, you might as well take a noose to your neck. At least that was our experience in Nashville."
Despite that, the group has always been known for its evolving sound.
"The Mavericks were always about change," Reynolds says. "It was a migration rather than a set sound we could do forever."
Among the changes on this outing, he says, are the "buoyant pop sounds of songs like 'I Wanna Know' and 'Would You Believe.' Those immediately feel like new territory."
Malo says the songs he penned for this album are "more personal" than previous work. "I really divulged more little secrets about myself than ever before," he says. "I don't want to make it sound like I'm a genius or anything, because it could all be crap."
The album includes a duet with Willie Nelson on the Malo song "Time Goes By" and also features a cool cover of the Hollies' "The Air That I Breathe."
The group will headline the Austin City Limits Music Festival Sept. 19. It will also tape an episode of the PBS series "Soundstage" in Chicago, scheduled to air next year.
The Mavericks will launch a U.S. tour this fall. They have already played several dates in the U.K., including an opening slot for Shania Twain at London's Hyde Park in July.
Excerpted from the Sept. 13, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
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