Mavericks Record Album During Party
Apr. 11, 1998
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Dozens of guests in black tie mingled with musicians and a chef, while a camera crew captured on film all the fun of recording a Mavericks album.
``I remember watching a Sinatra documentary and they actually show the recording of `Strangers in the Night' and he's standing there in the middle of the room with the orchestra around him,'' lead singer Raul Malo said. ``There's tons of people around. You know, friends and hangers-on and whoever else was hanging around.
``Man, that's the way to make a record, with all your pals around and drinking and having a good time.''
That party atmosphere ignites The Mavericks new CD, ``Trampoline.'' It's the fourth album from the four Miami transplants, who like to bring the spontaneity and excitement of a ``live'' concert to their recordings.
The black-tie day was to celebrate Malo's 32nd birthday. But the group had other theme dress-up days as well while they worked in a Nashville studio they had decorated with various circus props. A chef was on hand to cater to their taste buds.
Bassist Robert Reynolds likes to talk about the day Malo announced he needed a drink.
``I guess word got to the head chef that there were some thirsty performers in the studio,'' Reynolds said. ``So he took it upon himself to mix up a batch of margaritas and he came waltzing in mid-session, drinks held high on a tray. And we're in the middle of making this song.''
But for The Mavericks, the objective of recording in such a free and spirited way is not merely to have a good time; it's to make a better record.
``I hate to sound like a musical snob, but there really hasn't been much recorded in the past 10 years that has really knocked my socks off,'' said Malo, whose other band mates are guitarist Nick Kane and drummer Paul Deakin.
``Nothing holds up to what Ray Charles did in the early '60s with Quincy Jones producing.''
Technology may be the culprit, Reynolds said.
``Studios can be very isolated, very sterile and very cold,'' he said. ``The difference between those (Ray Charles) records and records now, it's that they captured a performance, whereas now they fabricate a performance. ...
``You know, you rely on the technology and you build the tracks, you mix it down perfectly, everything's played perfectly and all that. Well, back then you just threw the tape machine on and let the musicians play and if there were imperfections sometimes you had to live with it, or you just had to do another tape.''
That's the way ``Trampoline'' was recorded at Ocean Way Studios, a plush new studio in a renovated church. It was a lively open house. Visitors were encouraged to attend, as long as they signed a release for the film crew.
Reynolds laid out the mission for guests, who included Emmylou Harris and singer James House:
``Hang out, have dinner with us, enjoy the music, dance, sing quietly in another room 'cause we're making a record here ... . These songs weren't created in the laboratory, they were created in life.''
The Mavericks sold more than 1 million copies of ``What a Crying Shame,'' their second MCA album, released in 1994. It yielded three minor radio hits with a jangly guitar sound and Malo's vocals, which sometimes evoke Roy Orbison.
And because of their freewheeling attitude, The Mavericks have become industry favorites. In 1995 and 1996, they were named Vocal Group of the Year by the Country Music Association.
``Trampoline'' comes at the end of a yearlong hiatus for the band, and after 1995's ``Music for All Occasions,'' which sold about half as many as ``What a Crying Shame.''
The band is touring with a horn section and other extra musicians this year so they can play the songs on ``Trampoline,'' which isn't likely to get much support from country music radio stations.
The album barely offers anything to fit country playlists. The first single, the mid-tempo ballad ``To Be With You,'' only made it into the 50s on the country music singles charts.
But The Mavericks are used to making their way with limited radio support. They think the more than 100 hours of footage from the recording sessions will help promote ``Trampoline,'' but haven't decided how to use it yet.
``I don't think we can afford to wait for (radio stations) to play it,'' Malo said. ``I don't know what country radio will do, and frankly I'm not that worried about it.''
Elsewhere in country music ...
SOUNDTRACK: The latest Nashville-based movie soundtrack is for ``Black Dog,'' a Patrick Swayze action flick that features Randy Travis. The soundtrack includes songs from Travis, David Lee Murphy, Steve Earle, Patty Loveless and others. A single by Rhett Akins is being promoted to country radio stations. It's a remake of the Eddie Rabbitt hit ``Driving My Life Away.''
REBA VAN WINKLE: Reba McEntire has just wrapped up filming ``Forever Love,'' a movie to be aired on CBS in the fall. She plays a woman who struggles to return to her life after 20 years in a coma.