Interview: Eddie Perez Opens Up About the Mavericks’ New Label, ‘Brand New Day’
"Our story is important to tell. We all feel so strong about it, especially this new album."
Guitarist Eddie Perez (far left in the photo above) can't contain his excitement for Brand New Day, the Mavericks' newest studio record. The project is the band's third since reuniting in 2012, but this particular record carries with it an extra sense of meaning, as it is the band's first release on their own label, Mono Mundo Recordings.
"The title of this new album is so appropriate and symbolic for us," Perez explains. "We're a band that has been around 26-plus years now, and we've been hitting it hard for the last five years once again. It feels more empowering and meaningful, in large part due to the fact that we've taken some real control -- not just of the music, but of the business, and how we approach the business with Mono Mundo."
Those who have followed the Mavericks' trajectory over the last couple of decades know that the Miami, Fla.-bred band has never had an issue with creative freedom in the studio. So why the need for their own record label now?
"We've always been in the position to be left alone, musically speaking. For us, the freedom to make music the way we want to make music has never been hindered, in our existence," Perez admits, with a hint of pride and gratitude in his voice. "In terms of the business, though, it makes everything more meaningful, because now we're in charge, now we're responsible for everything that's happening.
"It's all about the spirit -- it's all about the Mavericks' spirit, and that spirit spills over into the music. When you're freer and you're more in charge of it all, you have more confidence, and you challenge yourself to get outside your comfort zone," Perez adds. "Old-school spirit never goes out of style, and I think what we're experiencing now is a return to that. Spirit, for this band, is absolutely paramount."
It's all about the spirit -- it's all about the Mavericks' spirit, and that spirit spills over into the music.
That spirit has always been alive and kicking inside of the Mavericks, even when they weren't in control of every single aspect of their music and business: "You hear horror stories of the business, but that's not the case with us," Perez insists. "The band ceased to exist from 2005 to late 2011; at that time, I was out on the road, recording and making records with Dwight Yoakam, but I was ready to see if my friends wanted to get back together and do this thing. I always felt like the Mavericks had a lot of unfinished business, a lot of unfinished music to make."
Perez wasn't alone in that desire and longing. The Mavericks -- Paul Deakin, Raul Malo, Jerry Dale McFadden, Perez and, until late 2014, Robert Reynolds -- missed hanging out with each other and connecting with their fans. Even though his situation with Yoakam was great, Perez (and the rest of the crew) was ready for something new.
"We had a great relationship with Scott Borchetta over at Big Machine Records ... Scott and the band go way back; there's a 20-year history, all the way back to MCA Records," Perez notes. "One conversation led to another, and all of a sudden, we were making a record. I'm telling you, it was like, 'Hey, you guys want to get back together again?' and that was that!"
At that time, it was key for the Mavericks to not fall into an "oldies" type of thing; instead, they wanted to intentionally focus on creating new music.
"We all agreed that we had new things to do," Perez recounts. "Big Machine was right there for us, and we have nothing but praise for Scott and his whole staff. They allowed us to come back together as band, and we made two records for them."
Ultimately, though, the Mavericks knew they needed to take complete control.
"There's a certain way they do business, and there's a certain method to what they do," Perez says. "They're very strong, and you could argue that they're always riding the top of the country radio charts, but for a band like the Mavericks, we're a moving musical art piece from one album to the next; we're always changing, and eventually, if the business is not working for you, it's working against you."
The Mavericks' relationship with Borchetta never soured, but it was clear that the avenue the label was heading down was not the same avenue by which their fans were receiving music. So, the band "had to figure out where we fit in with all this."
"The next stage of the Mavericks, it needed to be played, to be born, and to keep going," Perez continues. "That's actually how great of a relationship we have with Borchetta, that he knew this was what was best for the Mavericks. We always move as fast and swiftly as we can, and having our own label allows us to do just that. Right now, we're on this creative buzz, and we're not tied to any system other than our own.
"We never look at this as businessmen or musicians," Perez adds. "We look at what we do as people. And we're already at the point where we are thinking, 'What's next?'"
Perez hopes the Mavericks' story is an inspiring one for fans and other musicians, and gives a deeper glimpse into Brand New Day.
"There's a purpose to it," he declares. "The thing that wraps the album together is the fact that there is still a lot of joy and a lot of spirit in all of the tracks. That spirit, that's what moves people, and I'm encouraged by that every single night we play. I feel that there is a lot of purpose wrapped up in that connection with our fans and our music.
"The Beatles connected to people's souls; when Frank Sinatra sang a song, your heart would instantly open. That's connection," Perez muses. "Us old-school guys, man, we still have a lot of oomph when it comes to that!"
That connection, that spirit — that oomph — isn't just Perez; it's the entire band.
"Our singer, Raul [Malo], he's the primary songwriter and has an abundant energy for wanting to make that connection," Perez says. "There are often times when we're playing a show and there are people on their cell phones, and Raul will be like, 'What the hell did you come to this show for? Put that damn thing away and enjoy this experience. I'm trying to give you a piece of my soul!'"
And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about for Perez and his friends: to be able to tell their story with each album and every single live show.
"That is what we stand for, and I think it makes a difference," Perez says. "I think a lot of people, through our music, have made new connections and new relationships. What's more kicka-- than that?"
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