Celebrating 30 Years of The Mavericks with Guitarist Eddie Perez

Since The Mavericks held a reunion in 2012, this most singular of bands has re-established itself as one of the most exciting and joyfully entertaining acts on touring and festival circuits across the planet.

It’s a reputation based on their irrepressible mix of country, tex-mex, rockabilly and latino sounds plus a riotously entertaining, world-renowned live show.

The country/tex-mex band is currently on the road celebrating their 30th anniversary and the upcoming release of a new album of cover songs of artists that inspire them. The Mavericks will release an entire album of covers, Play the Hits, on November 1st via their own label Mono Mundo Recordings. The first single is a rip-roaring version of “Swingin” by country legend John Anderson.

The band – consisting of Raul Malo on vocals, guitars, Paul Deakin on drums, Jerry Dale McFadden on keyboards, vocals and Eddie Perez on guitars – are playing a whackload of concert dates across Canada in October, including two in Southwestern Ontario. They visit Centennial Hall in London on Oct. 27 and Centre in the Square in Kitchener on Oct. 28.

We spoke with Eddie about the band, the anniversary and much more.

I have to say, I just got to hear your take of John Anderson’s Swinging. That sounds like it was made for you. What can you tell me about that song?
When we were thinking about doing some more music, Raul had an idea. He said, “I’ve always wanted to do a record that kind of was directly responsible, in some way, for inspiring some of this music that The Mavericks make.”

When we started getting deeper into those kinds of conversations, all of us started throwing out songs. We were like, “It would be cool if we covered this song. It would be cool if we did this, and that, and vice versa.” We went around for, I think, a good portion of the last year or two.

Finally, the timing was right to do it. Swinging was something that honestly, Raul, he came into the studio, and it was one of those last minute, “Hey guys, I’ve got an idea to cover this song. This is what I think we should do.”

To tell you the truth, he sat down at the piano in the recording studio, and we just kind of all started playing along. Before you knew it, our engineer, Nico Bolas, he was in the studio talkback, he goes, “Whatever you guys are doing, keep on doing that, but let me hit record first.”

It kind of happened quite quickly, not as much thought as the other ones. When we got into the making of that track, it started being pretty obvious that it felt like it was tailor made for us somehow.

Really, what you hear was, I think that was probably the second take that we did of that song, and we knew we had something on that track. I feel like a moment of creative energy was captured, and I think it sounds like it. You can hear it, it sounds real spontaneous, and it sounds alive.

I know that we’re all very proud of it. It’s just yet another thing that we get to showcase what the Mavericks and the band that we have, the breadth of music that we really can take on. I think playing it, it was just a fun song to do, and we loved how it came out. We hope that everybody else will too.

Is Swinging from the cover album that I’ve been hearing about?
Yes, it is. We have a record coming out in the first part of November, I believe. I’m not sure what the exact date is, but I know that it’s slated for the first week of November. It’s a collection of covers songs that that have inspired us along our musical journey.

Of course, in typical Maverick fashion, we get the songs and we kind of tear them apart. We kind of try to figure you out, what are The Mavericks going to do with this? We try to re-imagine some of these tunes. The ones that did make the record, we feel really great about.

As an artist, you always want to feel like you’re hitting your personal mark, you’re hitting the best that you’ve got in that inspiration. I can confidently say that we all feel that same way about all these tracks.

That’s coming out, like I said, in the first part of November. It’s a collection of cover songs that have been inspirations to us along this musical journey.

How did you guys go about picking or selecting the covers? I’m sure there would have been an insane amount of songs that inspired you guys. How did you choose?
Well, trust me, it was a massive list at first. Then we started whittling it down. During a soundcheck, we’ll mess with a certain verse of this song, or we’ll mess with that song, or whatnot. We’ve been doing this a really long time, so we can really tell pretty quickly if something’s going to work for what it is that we do, and something is maybe not working.
You can always tell, because if you have to labor on it too much, something’s not quite clicking. At least that’s how we do it. A lot of the stuff that we’ve recorded over the years happened very spontaneously. We happened to be in the creative moment, and we captured some of these tracks.

It started with a really massive list at first, but the ultimate way that they get chosen is our awesome front man, and lead singer, and primary songwriter, Raul Malo. He’s the voice out there that has to communicate these songs. These songs that we picked were songs that really have to resonate with him first. He’s going to be singing these songs night after night, and he’s going to be conveying those messages.

The list got whittled down rather quickly. Before we knew it, almost like we would plan a show, we kind of had a working set list of what we were going to do. Eventually, as we get farther into that process, then the editing begins, and then we start really hearing … it’s like carving something out of a piece of wood. It’s kind of the same sort of thing.

The ones that did make the record after the end of the process really are those that really resonate with Raul. He’s conveying those songs and those messages. The way we feel, we could have taken a number of them and they could have been just as great, I feel. We have a lot of stuff that we didn’t include on the record, but that’s kind of the process.

It starts with everybody chiming in, and then it starts getting serious, and then it starts whittling down, and then ultimately comes down to, “Raul, how do you feel about this?” He’s like, “Yeah, I feel good about this. I think we should do this. I think we should do that.” That’s kind of our process, at least for this record.

The Mavericks has been around for 30 years this year. How are you guys celebrating that milestone?
Well, we’re trying to make healthier choices. We’re trying to figure out how we can have a little bit more longevity with us. I’ll jest, the truth is that the biggest thing of all of this is that we all have to try to figure out how to stay healthy in all of this. It’s a very rigorous lifestyle.

At this point, 30 years into it, you can imagine how many miles all of us have put on together throughout this experience of being The Mavericks. That’s the first thing. We try to figure out how to just stay healthy in all of this. Our creative muscles and our creative ambition in life is just as strong and burning as bright as ever.

We’ve got lots of irons in the fire right now, and like I said, a new record getting ready to come out in November, followed up by another one in the first part of next year that is an all out Latin record. We also have a documentary film that we’re in the process of doing at this moment, documenting the 30 years of the band’s history.

It’s a really challenging, busy, beautiful, big, ambitious, wonderful time for us right now. I’m really proud to say that the fact of the matter is that we’ve worked really hard and we’ve overcome a lot of things to get to this point. I must say, in all honesty, this point for us right now, in my experience, has been the most fulfilling, the most satisfying, and the most fun, just flat out fun in general. I think that resonates with the audience.

Out of those 30 years, you’ve been with The Mavericks for 16. What drew you to The Mavericks?
When I was coming up in my own journey, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so I lived there and in my young life. When I was coming up in the club scene, I was involved in the same types of music, underground bands.

At that time in the ‘90s, there was a really great live music scene happening in Los Angeles. There was a lot of venues and a lot of places to play. There was a scene, hot rods, and pinup artists, and there was a really vibrant, real ‘50s and ‘60s rock and roll and soul kind of scene going on at the time.

When I first heard The Mavericks’ music, it just instantly resonated with what I was already doing and what I was already into. Back in the year 1996, I remember going to go see The Mavericks with my father at the Greek Theater, and sitting in the seats with him, looking at the band. I leaned over to my dad at the time, and I said to him, “I could play in this band.”

I actually said that to him. I said, “I could play in this band.” There was something about it that I just felt linked to, stylistically, visually. I felt like there was something there for me. Mind you, I said this at a time where I didn’t know any of these guys. Talk about manifesting something. Boy, I’ve lived it.

I was just a fan just because I was involved in that music in in my own right, playing in bands that were playing the same type of music, country, honky tonk, kind of with a blues and rock and roll tinge to it. At the time, that’s what The Mavericks were doing. In my own right, I was doing the same thing with certain individuals that I was playing with. I was involved in that scene, but in the LA West club scene.

I finally had an opportunity to move East. I moved to Austin, Texas, for a while. Then from Austin, Texas, I moved to Nashville, finally. Then finally, when I moved to Nashville is when I started really getting to know the guys and being friends.

Before I knew it, I found myself being asked to be a part of The Mavericks. I think it’s a unique story, but it is one of manifestation, no doubt.

As you mentioned all the different types of music that you guys play, how would you describe your sound? It’s quite different. How would you describe it?
Well, I think a lot of people, they get caught up in the labels of the genre. “Well, what do you guys do? Are you guys country? Are you blues? What are you?” That is always the nonstop question. It always is. Every time we get asked that, and it’s not just me, it’s my other fellow compadres as well, but we all say the same thing. We say, “I don’t know. We make Mavericks music.”

It’s a funny thing, because when you look at music right now, it seems to be at least in fashion right now that there are all these different collaborations going on. It’s like Sting and Shaggy, Justin Bieber and Luis Fonsi.

The reason I’m talking about this is because I feel today, music is so cross-pollinated with so many different things at this point, that I feel like classification is kind of an outdated concept in the way that we know it traditionally.

Can you really say that anybody today is in the rock and roll genre? Can you really say that anybody really is in the soul genre, or in the pop? To me, it all kind of has a blending of sameness somehow. There’s something going on with music in general right now that sounds like it’s gone on to create others things that really, the traditional labels, I feel, don’t really apply.

To me, how I describe The Mavericks music, I say if there was a new genre, the genre would be called joyous. We play joyous music.

Joyous music, I like it. That’s the way we should label things.
Thanks. Who wouldn’t want to go to the music bin on that and say, “Man, I want me some of that.”

Especially the world we’re living in today. It’s not just our country. It’s around the world. It’s crazy times we live in, and I think that a band like us, I think that’s another reason why we’re having a moment.

I think that people are responding to that joy that we seem to have, not just for the music, but for the times that we get to play music with each other on stage as really close, tight friends of 30 years, 25 years, 30 years. It’s a special thing, and we certainly do feel the moment that we’re having, and we’re really, I will say that we’re probably having more fun now than we’ve ever had. As cliche as that sounds, it is the truth.