What: The Mavericks
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where: The Butchart Gardens, 800 Benvenuto Ave., Brentwood Bay
Tickets: $32.10 (adult), $16.05 (youth 13-17), or $3 (child 5-12)
Note: Includes admission to the Gardens
In the four years since they reunited, country-music iconoclasts the Mavericks have found a renewed sense of purpose.
The Miami-bred, Nashville-based group — one of the most adventurous in modern music — is known for its fusion of Latin and country music, which presents an unlikely combination of elements.
That format hasn’t changed in the years since they reunited, after an eight-year split. In fact, their passion for co-joining disparate styles has only grown stronger in their 25th year as a group.
“Coming back together, it instantly felt like it was the right thing to do,” said guitarist Eddie Perez. “But as in all things with the Mavericks, just when you think you have the answer, the entire opposite seems to work best.”
The group took a novel approach when recording its new album, Mono. Forgoing the advent (and ease) of multi-channel technology, the band turned back the clock and recorded the album in single-channel monaural.
Perez said they were inspired during early studio sessions for the album by the Beatles and the Beach Boys, who created some of their best work in the mono format.
“We started each day off in the studio listening to a lot of records, all of which were recorded in mono,” Perez said.
“It seemed like it was a natural thing in the way it happened because it was an off-the-cuff remark from our engineer, who said we should do the whole thing in mono. It was a joke at first, but when we got into the process, the theme stuck throughout.”
Perez and his bandmates — singer-guitarist Raul Malo, drummer Paul Deakin and keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden — also took inspiration from the country greats of the 1960s, with whom some of their work has been compared over the years. (Malo has a peerless vocal tone not unlike that of Roy Orbison, which has earned the Grammy-winning group plenty of accolades.)
When it was all done, Perez said the band couldn’t believe they had created something that sounded so similar to the scratchy vinyl they all used to listen to as kids.
“Mono is tied into that feeling,” the guitarist said. “As the record started blossoming, it was clear that was the spirit with which we needed to proceed. We wanted to shake it up for ourselves, and get back to that thrill when we were kids and teenagers. The romance of that notion has always been there in the Mavericks. We’ve always thought in those terms.”
Life was never going to be easy for a country-leaning band coming out of Miami, but the Mavericks earned their success with a sound that incorporated equal parts of Los Lobos and the Texas Tornadoes. They took their Latin roots with them when they relocated to Nashville years later, but that only shook things up even further for the group.
Their return has led to warmer waters. It’s clear to Perez how much their longtime fans missed their rare brand of music during the hiatus.
“The absence was a great thing on a multitude of levels,” he said.
“Creatively, in the time this band was not in existence, Raul [Malo] experimented and made six or seven solo records, each one a different shade of what he was interested in. When we decided to do this again, there was more richness, and that was through experience.”
In the early days of the group, music aficionados in the cities they visited on the road had no problem finding a point of entry into their music. But as time wore on, representatives at their record labels presented another matter entirely, Perez said.
“Getting started in Miami as a country band in the early ’90s, there was a thriving music scene in downtown Miami at the time. The music business supported it. Now, it’s a different business altogether. Small clubs and club owners, where musicians like us used to hang out, don’t exist anymore.”
The Mavericks have since formed their own record label, Mono Mundo Recordings, on which they plan to release future recordings. After a quarter-century of up-and-down activity, Perez said life as a Maverick is back to feeling right again.
“The Mavericks have always been in their own lane, this ever-evolving art piece from one creative energy to the next. If you look at the discography, you’ll see a natural progression of sorts.
“Being a musician and trying to not be closed in by a specific set of titles, you have to go at it with that point of view. It takes a lot of effort and work and heart and soul, with no guarantees. You have to believe in it to go all the way. It takes tenacity to persevere the pitfalls. But if you’re loving the music you’re playing, you hit the X-marks-the-spot on the map.”