For a time in the mid '90s, the Mavericks were on top of the neo-traditional country world. The Miami band featuring the amazing talents of singer Raul Malo scored a hit in 1996 with "All You Ever Want to Do is Bring Me Down" and even won a Grammy Award. Sadly, Malo went solo in 2004 and the Mavericks called it a day.
Thankfully, the Mavericks reunited in 2011 and released the album In Time two years later. The album received rave reviews and the band has been touring the world ever since. With the band set to visit the Granada this Saturday, drummer Paul Deakin spoke with DC9 about The Mavericks breaking up, getting back together and how commercial success may be a thing of the past.
DC9 at Night: The Mavericks were one of the first bands to be tagged alternative country. What do you think about that label?
Paul Deakin: It's kind of archaic at this point. Everything is called Americana these days. I don't know if we were the first band to be labeled that. We may have been the first band to have success under that label. Before us there were Jason and the Scorchers. Obviously, k.d. lang was around. Those bands actually inspired us to follow the path that we did.
How did the Mavericks come together then?
We started a country band in Miami with a Cuban-American singer who sounded like Roy Orbison. Our first gig was 25 years ago. We were playing in these punk clubs. It was all wrong. Somehow, it kind of worked out.
Before joining the Mavericks, were you playing in a progressive rock band?
Yes, as musicians, you play whenever you can. You have to eat. I had a great time doing it. I don't know if I would call it a progressive rock band. I did that when I was in high school. It was more of a B-side, alternative thing in the late '80s. Maybe it was even a new wave thing. I was doing it to make money. Then I went to college and studied jazz. There are not too many styles that I haven't played. I am not saying that I did them all well.
Were you into country music before you joined the Mavericks?
As a matter of fact I was. It was probably the impetus for the original members to form a band. I saw k.d lang on The Tonight Show and I was blown away. I had known Raul Malo from other bands. The Mavericks were the first band he sang lead for, strangely enough. People said that if I liked lang, I should listen to Patsy Cline, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. They were the outlaws of the country music of their day. They weren't safe and it was amazing music.
The first single to break nationally was "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down" in 1996. When I first heard that, I thought it was a long lost Doug Sahm song.
That's hilarious that you should say that because we just finished recording our next record and we recorded Sahm's "Nitty Gritty." We just ended up recording that a week ago. Yes, our first single did sound like Sahm. We had Flaco Jimenez play on that and he knew Doug. We loved that style. We incorporated it into what we did.
How challenging was it to get the band back together when you did?
After we took a hiatus and didn't play for seven years, I played with many other musicians. When we did get back together, I was worried about how we would sound, but things happened right away and that sound came back. I guess that it is true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That chemistry was there.
Why go on hiatus in 2004?
I'd say the primary reason was burnout. Raul wanted to do his solo thing. We were 10 years on the road. It was the first any of us had seen mega-success. I think we all went a bit crazy. I know I did. It was just time to stop. I think it had stopped being fun in 2004 and we took a break. The band just kind of broke up, but we never said we would never get back together. I am glad we didn't because coming back together has showed we have grown.
What did you do while the band was on hiatus?
I played with some artists, but I primarily stayed home with my wife and small children. I made good money with the Mavericks. My wife had a good job, so we were okay. I had seen the world. But at home, I had to find some way to be productive. My wife asked me what I wanted to do and I told her that I wanted to be a carpenter. She told me to go for it. I had to buy some tours. It was Merry Christmas for me. I used the same theory when I wasn't a very good drummer. I bought all these tools and pretended that I knew what I was doing. I ended up starting my own company. Now, my carpentry pass has been cut off and I can only work on my own house. It was being the opposite of being a musician. I was getting up at 5 am instead of going to bed at that time. I was done with work at 4 in the afternoon which is kind of when your work starts when you are in a band. I flipped schedules and spent lots of time with my children. There were times when I was crawling under a house during Winter time in Nashville and I would see a tour bus go by and I would wonder what the fuck I was doing.
Were you surprised by the positive reaction given to In Time?
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Yes, I was. I was told that people rarely saw a review scored so highly and never on a reunion record. I really didn't want to call it a reunion record. I was pleasantly surprised, but I knew we had done well. I did wonder if it was just me because I am a part of it. I knew we really made a great record. The creative process was incredible. Raul wouldn't give us any songs. He said we were not going to do that, not going to use that crutch. We were going to do it organically in the studio. In Time is a totally live record.
The Mavericks had albums go platinum. How did the band manage to make such diverse music attractive to a wide audience?
We haven't had a hit record in a long time, at least not in the U.S. The album What a Crying Shame was almost double platinum. The climate for that doesn't really exist anymore. The landscape of the music business is different. I remember when the Mavericks were on the radio. What a Crying Shame made it to number 25 on the charts and stayed there for six months. I think it was about people hearing something that they haven't heard before.