When the Mavericks called it quits in 2003, the band was barely even on speaking terms. It looked like their unique fusion of country, rock and Latin music would be lost for good. But now the group has settled their differences and returned with a brand-new album, In Time.
“I think time is an awesome healer,” says energetic multi-instrumentalist Robert Reynolds about their reconciliation. “So we’re back together, and here we are.”
Standing at the crossroads of up-tempo Latin dance music and heartfelt American country, In Time began to take shape when bandleader Raul Malo approached his former bandmates with a new batch of songs. It seemed like they would fit nowhere except on a Mavericks album.
After almost a decade apart, their issues seemed like water under the bridge, and big-voiced Malo says it took no time at all to convince the guys to give it one more shot.
What emerged from their recording sessions were songs like the Buck Owens -influenced “Dance in the Moonlight,” the Roy Orbison -flavored “Born to Be Blue” and the horn-punctuated lead-off track, “Back in Your Arms Again.”
During a recent visit to CMT’s offices, Malo, Reynolds and guitarist Eddie Perez talked about why they decided to get back together.
When you finished the last album, did you know that was going to be it for a while?
Reynolds: If they did, they didn’t tell me. I was spending money like an asshole. (laughs) I don’t know. We’re not the best communicators in that regard. But we had said even from the very earliest days that we wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t right, and I think that’s what we hit some time back. We just hit a period where the joy was coming out of it. If it’s out of sync, you’re not delivering the right thing to the fans, and the music suffers. So I think we quietly walked away, and we only came back because it felt right again.
So what is it that makes it feel special now?
Malo: I don’t know that there’s any specific reason. I know that I had a batch of songs that sounded like they would make a Mavericks record. So when we got into the studio and started playing together, we were quickly reminded as to what that is. I think we’re all in the position now, being a little older, that we can talk about things like that. Whereas before, it seemed kind of weird. But we realized everywhere we went, people would always ask about the Mavericks. That band meant something to a lot of people. So, in turn, it started to mean something again to us.
Aside from the comeback storyline, what does In Time represent for the band?
Perez: For me, eight years is a long time to be away from this special thing. And it kind of just went away. So I missed playing music with these dynamic individuals. There’s nothing like it. And in this business, you meet lots of different people and personalities, and these guys are my most favorite people to hang out with. So, to me, In Time represents a new era in this band and the brotherhood. Now isn’t the time to slow down. Now is the time to run toward it. The fans are ready for it, and I know I personally was ready to get back to this.
Tell me about the stylistic variety on the new album. Where does it come from? And what are your connections to it?
Malo: I think it comes from life. We’re all on our own journeys, and we’ve been separated for the last seven or eight years. And we each carved our path. Inspiration comes from anywhere. And if you’re open to it, life gives you messages. It gives you signals. It’s up to you if you want to read them or not. And the same goes for music.
Raul, you’ve said that “Back in Your Arms Again” hit you like a ton of bricks. What do you remember about the day you wrote it?
Malo: I remember it was before there was any talk of a Mavericks reunion. It’s funny how things work out. My buddy Seth Walker had this song, and when he played it for me, it stopped me in my tracks because it sounded like something that would fit the Mavericks perfectly. So I ended up helping him finish it, which in songwriters’ terms means I weaseled my way onto his song. (laughs) And I’m so glad I did because it really was what started this whole process.
The song “Born to Be Blue” had this really classic feel to it. I almost felt as if I had heard it before.
Perez: The moment I heard it, we were in the control room. Raul was playing it and was reading his lyrics off a handwritten paper. Instantly, for me, it was like what you said, it was like, “Have I heard this before? Did you play this for me before?” And it felt like it was not only a classic song, but like it was classic Mavericks. Something about it instantly that I completely identified with. I don’t remember us laboring over it that much. We kind of just do what we do. And most of all, if it feels right to Raul, then chances are that’s usually what we want.