Thursday, March 28, 2013

Coachella acts playing headline shows in Pomona, Calif.

A version of my story originally appeared in Foothills Magazine. 

Each April, the crème of the alternative rock, electronic, hip-hop crops and more head to Indio for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Both weekends are sold out, but a dozen acts will do their own headlining gigs in our area between appearances at the world-renowned event.

Below are some highlights:

The Postal Service


A decade ago, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and Jimmy Tamborello put out the indie pop/electronica-tinged CD “Give Up.” The platinum seller (second only to Nirvana in Sub Pop Records’ sales history) spawned three hits, including “Such Great Heights.” A deluxe reissue just arrived in stores.

How to Destroy Angels

The industrial music project from Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, his wife/former West Indian Girl singer Mariqueen Maandig, Reznor’s longtime collaborator Atticus Ross (the pair won an Oscar and Golden Globe for “The Social Network” score) and Rob Sheridan finally released full-length effort “Welcome Oblivion” this year.

The xx

This acclaimed London rock trio won the UK’s Mercury Music Prize for their brooding 2009 self-titled bow; latest effort “Co-exist” continued a minimalist approach.

Modest Mouse

Emerging in 1993, the quirky Washington State band led by Isaac Brock found major success in the 2000s via the top 10 modern rock radio hits “Float On” and “Dashboard.” The latter, from chart topping CD “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank,” featured ex-Smiths guitarist/short term member Johnny Marr.

Vampire Weekend

A mainstay on college and modern rock radio, the scholarly indie rock quartet from New York City updated Paul Simon’s Eighties Afro-pop sound on its eponymous 2008 debut and a follow up two years later. Highly anticipated album “Modern Vampires of the City” is due in May.

Dinosaur Jr.

Formed nearly 30 years ago in Massachusetts, this noise rock trio was an early influence on Nirvana and The Pixies.  It lured a broader audience on the heels of the mid-‘90s Seattle grunge explosion with the CDs “Where You Been” and “Without a Sound” before fizzling at decade’s end. Returning to active duty in the late 2000s, the band unveiled “I Bet on Sky” in 2012.

The Selecter

Pauline Black fronts the seminal 2Tone ska band from England, whose 1980 debut “Too Much Pressure” is considered a genre classic.  Initially together for just three years, they later inspired and toured with No Doubt in the ‘90s. The latest incarnation has released albums on a more regular basis lately, including the newest digital one, “String Theory.”

The Three O’Clock

Recently reunited, this L.A. group was a leading light of the 1980s Paisley Underground scene with The Bangles and others. Fusing power pop and garage rock, they were best known for the KROQ fave “Jet Fighter” and put out a final album through Prince’s Paisley Park label.

301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona;
April 10 – How to Destroy Angels
April 15 – The Postal Service
April 16 – Modest Mouse
April 17 – The xx
April 18 – Vampire Weekend

200 W. Second St., Pomona;
April 6 – The Three O’Clock
April 10 – Beach House
April 11 – Yeasayer
April 15 – The Selecter, Lee “Scratch” Perry
April 16 – The Makeup
April 17 – Dinosaur Jr., King Tuff
April 18 – Portugal The Man, Lord Huron
April 22 – Japandroids, Cloud Nothings

Empire Polo Club, 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio

April 12 & 19 – The Stone Roses, Blur, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse, Jurassic 5, Passion Pit, How to Destroy Angels, Grinderman


April 13 & 20 – Phoenix, New Order, The xx, The Postal Service, Sigur Ros, Grizzly Bear, Hot Chip, Franz Ferdinand

April 14 & 21 – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Vampire Weekend, Social Distortion, Wu-Tang Clan, the Lumineers, Dead Can Dance, James Blake

Mika concert review: Los Angeles

A version of my review originally appeared at:

There’s a song on Mika’s latest album The Origin of Love where he continually repeats the phrase, “all I want to do is make you happy.” 
The European pop star had no problem pleasing very excited fans during a sold out El Rey Theatre show. Some had made signs and waited hours in line to get prime places in front of the general admission stage, and then tried to run inside once doors opened. 
On the current tour, Mika (born Michael Penniman in Beirut, but raised in Paris and London) provides a rare opportunity to experience his frequently over-the-top arrangements in a pared-down format. 
Here, the lanky singer played piano; two other musicians added backing vocals, bass, keyboards, clarinet, xylophone, melodica or a drum (each guy had a single one to pound simultaneously) wherever needed. 
Back in 2007, Mika’s ebullient debut disc Life in Cartoon Motion was a sensation throughout Europe and Australia. It drew comparisons to Freddie Mercury and Elton John and sold close to 8 million copies in France and the UK (five top 20 singles) alone. Stateside, “Grace Kelly” and the Grammy-nominated “Love Today” made minor inroads on the charts. 
Underrated third effort Love - among my top picks of 2012 - saw Mika mix his fun, dramatic pop with some dance music strains, courtesy of collaborations with Empire of the Sun’s Nick Littlemore, EDM master DJ Benny Benassi, Pharrell Williams and Klas Ahlund (Madonna, Usher and Robyn tunes bear his handiwork). 
In Los Angeles, the delightful 20-song, 90-minute set started with Mika alone at the black grand piano for “Grace Kelly.” Simply lighted by a couple dozen bulbs hanging from strings and clad in tasteful black attire, his helium falsetto vocals were more of a wonder to behold without the usual embellishments (the same held true for a finger-snapping “Lollipop”). 
Before the rollicking “Blue Eyes,” Mika said he’d always wanted to play the El Rey since it was the first place he’d ever seen in show in LA. Conversely, the chatty singer also admitted to being reluctant to tour the U.S. often (“I think nobody will come”) and gravitating toward writing piano rags. 
A humorous anecdote about childhood tap dancing lessons led to a sprightly “Stuck in the Middle” as the other musicians rapped on the piano for a rhythm. Later, Mika would give an example of his soft shoe talent amid the wild extended main set closer “Love Today.” 
Other standout moments included the high energy “Origin of Love” (the first time I’ve heard cigarette cessation product Nicorette used in a lyric, to compare love to a drug); an elegant “Underwater,” “Make You Happy” - a stark revamp with regular Mika producer Greg Wells guesting on piano - and the empowerment anthem “Popular Song.” 
The latter, in a nod to Mika’s theatrical bent, is loosely based on a song from Stephen Schwartz’s Broadway musical Wicked. Revolving around teen cliques and bullying, the personal lyrics (key line: “it ain’t a bad thing to be a loser”) were wrapped around some frantic piano work and vocals. 
This rare Southern California appearance definitely breathed fresh life into Mika’s music. 
Set list: Mika at the El Rey Theatre
Main set: Grace Kelly/Toy Boy/Lollipop/Blue Eyes/Billy Brown/Popular Song/Love You When I’m Drunk/ Only Lonely Man/Underwater/Stuck in the Middle/Elle Me Dit (Emily)/Hia Leah/The Origin of Love/Make You Happy/Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)/Century Man/ Relax (Take it Easy)/Celebrate/Love Today
Encore: Over My Shoulder

The return of Alison Moyet

photo by Tom Martin
A long awaited return. I've been looking forward to new music from her since seeing the Yaz reunion at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa several years ago...

On June 11, Cooking Vinyl/Metropolis Records will present the minutes, the new album by Alison Moyet. The veteran singer has achieved sales of more than 20 million, both as a solo artist and as half of influential duo Yaz. Her first album since 2007, it was written with and produced by Guy Sigsworth (Björk, Madonna). 

The minutes has parallels to her synth-pop past, but also takes in elements of pop, R&B, modern club sounds and electronic experimentation.

"I avoided listening to anything during the process of writing and recording this album, choosing instead to be lead by my own melodic voice, the one I now find myself with 30-years-in," says Moyet.

"Guy Sigsworth returns me to a programmer's world and marries it with perfect musicality. I have been waiting for him. We have made an album mindless of industry mores that apply to middle-aged women and have shunned all talk of audiences, demographics and advert jazz covers. This has easily been my happiest studio experience."

In anticipation of the album's release in June, USA TODAY premiered the video to first single "When I Was Your Girl": Album track "Changeling" is now available as a free download for a limited time at

She recently told a music writer that "When I Was Your Girl" is less electronic than the rest of the album, but it "an appropriate call to 'please gather.' It is a track I like very much. The video was taken on Southend Pier, a location that figured highly in my girlhood years. It was a shocking weather day. The sky was a colander and consequently we got about two full passes in before the rain told us all respectfully to pig off. Here: Child me. Adult me and ever, my Essex."

Fall Out Boy tour dates

Decaydance/Island Records group Fall Out Boy have announced a fall arena tour, which  starts in September.

The first single from album Save Rock and Roll (due April 16)“My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)," is currently top #10 on the iTunes Singles Chart and is already RIAA certified gold. Elton John, Courtney Love and Big Sean collaborated on the album.

Also, the band unveiled the video for “The Phoenix,” which serves as the prequel to the “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” video which stars 2 Chainz as the lead. The band notes, “It tells the tale of how we ended up blindfolded in the back of the black van in the MSKWYDITD video. This is chapter 2 of 11. Stay tuned for chapter 3...”

The band gear up for the week of release with a performances on Good Morning America (April 16) and Conan (April 17).

Save Rock and Roll is Fall Out Boy’s fifth studio release and first since Folie Á Deux in 2008.


Uncasville, CT
Mohegan Sun

Lowell, MA
Tsongas Arena

Brooklyn, NY
Barclays Center

Philadelphia, PA
Liacouras Center

Fairfax, VA
Patriot Center

Cleveland, OH
Wolstein Center

Auburn Hills, MI
Palace of Auburn Hills

Toronto, ON
Echo Beach at Molson Canadian

Broomfield, CO
First Bank Center

Anaheim, CA
Honda Center

San Francisco, CA
Americas Cup Pavilion

San Diego, CA
Valley View Casino Center

The Woodlands, TX
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Grand Prairie, TX
Verizon Theater at Grand Prairie

Alpharetta, GA
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Tampa, FL
USF Sun Dome

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Moody Blues box set coming in June

The Moody Blues will release a career-spanning box set, “Timeless Flight,” on June 4 via Universal Music Enterprises. The 17-disc set will include digitally remastered CDs, DVDs of rare television performances, audio discs, a hard back collector’s book, and more.

Housed in a heavy-duty LP-sized hard-back slipcase, this lavish box set contains 17 discs including:

* 11 remastered CDs featuring key album tracks, previously unreleased mixes, out-takes and complete live concerts
* Three DVDs of rare television performances from around the world, promotional videos and the previously unreleased live concert from Olympia, Paris in 1970
* Three DVD audio discs containing the long-deleted 5:1 surround sound mixes of Days Of Future Passed, On The Threshold Of A Dream, To Our Children's Children's Children, A Question Of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Seventh Sojourn
* 120-page hard-back book including a new essay by Moody Blues researcher Mark Powell plus rare and previously unseen photos on heavy weight paper

* Replica full color tour poster and discography
* Replica “Threshold” press pack containing photos and memorabilia
* Exclusive “Timeless Flight” fabric patch

There will also be available a limited edition version of “Timeless Flight” available exclusively from Universal Music’s Box Sets store.

The Moody Blues, still with original members Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge, have released 24 albums in a career spanning nearly five decades. They have sold more than 70 million albums, earning them 18 platinum discs and all manner of awards including Playboy “Group of the Year”, the “Golden Ticket” award for selling the most tickets at Madison Square Garden and an Ivor Novello for Outstanding Contribution to British Music; the band has even appeared in an episode of “The Simpsons”

“I suppose that it is our songs, and the way we interpret them that has seen us travel so far,” says Justin Hayward. “It means so much to us that some of our recordings have really meant something to people.”

AXS TV to broadcast Stagecoach Festival

I wish I had this channel. For those that do, read on...
AXS TV will broadcast the Stagecoach Country Music Festival live from the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA throughout the three-day event. This exclusive broadcast partnership marks the first time country music fans will be able to watch some of the music festival live across the country. The 7th Annual Stagecoach Festival will take place April 26-28.
The six hours of live continuous coverage each day will feature live performances, interviews and more.
Commander Cody, Dwight Yoakam, Jeff Bridges & The Abiders, Justin Townes Earle, Lonestar, Nick 13, Rodney Atkins, Tanya Tucker and Trace Adkins are confirmed performers appearing as part of AXS TV’s live coverage. Additional participating artists and content details for live broadcast will be announced throughout April.
Fans can keep up-to-date with AXS TV’s Stagecoach announcements, news and live coverage by following @AXSTV on Twitter and Instagram and using hashtag #axsStagecoach; and by becoming an AXS TV Concerts friend on Facebook at axstvconcerts. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Simple Minds career set due

I've always been a huge fan and once interviewed Kerr (for Good News). Can't wait to hear the new material and hoping for a tour. Read on for CD details...

“One of the things I’m most proud of is that people say to me what Simple Minds are you talking about? The avant-garde, the art-rock, the pop, the ambient, the instrumental group, the political, the folk, the stadium band? We’ve been on one hell of a journey. To play all those different styles but at the same time be quintessentially Simple Minds is an amazing thing.” 

- Jim Kerr

Following last year’s X5 box set and the “5 X 5 Tour,” Virgin/UMe will release the Celebrate collection, a comprehensive overview of 35 years of one of Britain's most successful bands, including two new tracks: “Broken Glass Park” and “Blood Diamonds.”

Celebrate will be released April 16 in two configurations: a 2CD version which features 36 songs, spanning 12 albums over 34 years, and a 3CD which features 50 songs, spanning 13 albums over 36 years, including their interpretation of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” from their 2001 covers album, Neon Lights.

Simple Minds have influenced acts as diverse as the Manic Street Preachers, Primal Scream, Moby and The Horrors. They have been sampled by Nicky Minaj, David Guetta, Joey Negro and Freddy Bastone. They have provided memorable movie moments for directors Cameron Crowe (Elizabethtown) and John Hughes (The Breakfast Club).

They have topped the British charts half a dozen times, with the studio albums Sparkle In The Rain (1984), Once Upon A Time (1985) and Street Fighting Years as well as the Ballad Of The Streets EP (both 1989), the concert recording Live In The City Of Light (1987), and the compilation Glittering Prize 81/92, and returned to the UK Top Ten with Graffiti Soul, their most recent studio album, in 2009.

It is an active year ahead, sharing this March 21 message on the band’s Facebook page: “Tour starting now… Recording in summer… Hopefully US/Canada to follow… Arena tour to finish the year… New album next spring…”

Simple Minds are core members Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Mel Gaynor, plus Andy Gillespie and Ged Grimes.

2CD version, digital:


1. Life In A Day
2. Chelsea Girl
3. Changeling
4. I Travel
5. Celebrate
6. The American
7. Love Song
8. Promised You A Miracle
9. Glittering Prize
10. Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)
11. Waterfront
12. Speed Your Love To Me
13. Up On The Catwalk
14. Don’t You (Forget About Me)
15. Alive And Kicking
16. Sanctify Yourself
17. All The Things She Said
18. Ghost Dancing


1. Belfast Child
2. This Is Your Land
3. Kick It In
4. Let There Be Love
5. See The Lights
6. Stand By Love
7. She’s A River
8. Hypnotised
9. Glitterball
10. War Babies
11. Space
12. Cry
13. Spaceface
14. Home
15. Rockets
16. Stars Will Lead The Way
17. Blood Diamonds *
18. Broken Glass Park *

*New 2013 track

3CD version, digital:


1. Life In A Day
2. Chelsea Girl
3. Changeling
4. I Travel
5. Celebrate
6. The American
7. Love Song
8. Sweat In Bullet
9. Theme From Great Cities
10. Promised You A Miracle
11. Glittering Prize
12. Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)
13. New Gold Dream (81,82,83,84)
14. Waterfront
15. Speed Your Love To Me
16. Up On The Catwalk


1. Don’t You Forget About Me
2. Alive And Kicking
3. Sanctify Yourself
4. All The Things She Said
5. Ghost Dancing
6. Promised You A Miracle (Live)
7. Belfast Child
8. Mandela Day
9. Biko
10. This Is Your Land
11. Kick It In
12. Let It All Come Down
13. Let There Be Love
14. See The Lights
15. Stand By Love
16. Real Life


1. She’s A River
2. Hypnotised
3. Glitterball
4. War Babies
5. Space
6. Jeweller To The Stars
7. Dancing Barefoot
8. Cry
9. Spaceface
10. One Step Closer
11. Home
12. Stranger
13. Stay Visible
14. Rockets
15. Stars Will Lead The Way
16. Stagefright
17. Blood Diamonds *
18. Broken Glass Park *

*New 2013 track

Sigur Ros news

Sigur Rós have announced that they will release their new album, Kveikur, on June 18 via XL Recordings. The new video, directed by Andrew Huang, is for “Brennisteinn,” the first single. The release was self-produced by Sigur Rós, who are on tour now.

World tour dates

3/24/2013                   Washington, DC @ Patriot Center
3/25/2013                   New York City, NY @ Madison Square Garden
3/26/2013                   Boston, MA @ Agganis Arena
3/27/2013                   Montreal, Quebec, Canada @ Bell Centre
3/29/2013                   Ottawa, Ontario, Canada @ Scotiabank Place
3/30/2013                  Toronto, Ontario, Canada @ Air Canada Theatre Bowl
4/1/2013                     Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre
4/2/2013                     Chicago, IL @ UIC Pavilion
4/3/2013                     Saint Paul, MN @ Roy Wilkins Auditorium
4/4/2013                     Kansas City, MO @ Starlight Theatre
4/6/2013                     Denver, CO @ 1st Bank
4/8/2013                    Dallas, TX @ Verizon Theatre
4/9/2013                     Houston, TX @ Bayou Music Center
4/10/2013                   Austin, TX @ Cedar Park Center
4/12/2013                   Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre
4/13/2013                   Indio, CA @ Coachella
4/16/2013                   Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
4/17/2013                   San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic
4/19/2013                   Santa Barbara, CA @ Santa Barbara Bowl
4/20/2013                  Indio, CA @ Coachella
5/10/2013                   Jakarta, Indonesia @ Istora Senayan
5/14/2013                   Toyko, Japan @ Nippon Budokan
5/15/2013                   Nagoya, Japan @ Zepp, Nagoya
5/16/2013                   Fukuoka, Japan @ Zepp, Fukuoka
5/17/2013                   Osaka, Japan @ Kobe World Hall, Osaka
5/19/2013                   Seoul, South Korea @ Olympic Gymnastics Arena
5/21/2013                   Hong Kong, China @ Asia World Arena
5/25/2013                   George, WA @ Sasquatch Music Festival
5/26/2013                   Bend, OR @ Les Schwab Amphitheater
5/27/2013                   Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada @ Deer Lake Park
6/19/2013                   Dresden, Germany @ Junge Garde
6/21-23/2013              Scheessel, Germany @ Hurricane Festival (One performance, Date TBA)
6/21-23/2013              Neuhausen, Germany @ Southside Festival (One performance, date TBA)
6/23/2013                   Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands @ Best Kept Secret Festival
6/25/2013                   Warsaw, Poland @ Sowinskiego Amphitheatre
6/28/2013                  St. Gallen, Switzerland @ Openair
6/30/2013                  Cornwall, United Kingdon @ Eden Project
7/4/2013                     Werchter, Belgium @ Rock Werchter
7/6/2013                     Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival
7/14/2013                   Joensuu, Finland @ Ilosaarirock Festival
7/18/2013                   Ostrava, Czech Republic @ Colours of Ostrava
7/20/2013                  Salacgriva, Latvia @ Positivus Festival
7/26/2013                   Ferrara, Italy @ Piazza Castello
7/27/2013                   Lucca, Italy @ City Square
7/28/2013                  Rome, Italy @ Ippodromo Delle Capennelle
8/30/2013                  Cheshire, United Kingdom @ Jodrell Bank
8/31/2013                   North Dorset, United Kingdom @ End of the Road Festival
11/16/2013                  Dublin, Ireland @ O2 Arena
11/19/2013                  Nottingham UK @ Nottingham Arena
11/20/2013                 Brighton UK @ Brighton Centre
11/21/2012                  London UK @ Wembley Arena
11/23/2013                 Luxembourg @ Rockhal
11/24/2013                 Frankfurt, Germany @ Jahrhunderthalle
11/25/2013                 Dusseldorf, Germany @ Mitsubishi Electric Hall
11/27/2013                 Malmo, Sweden @ Balgiska Hallen
11/28/2013                 Oslo, Norway @ Spektrum

Bonus Q&A with The Mavericks

photo by Mark Tucker/courtesy Valory Music Group
Here is more from the insightful interview I had with Mavericks guitarist Robert Reynolds...

Q: Earlier this month, all of you were immersed in the craziness of SXSW. How did that go?
Sometimes you ask yourself why you go do it. I don’t mean to be too harshly critical of this very notable music fest, but if I’m trying to be honest here, it’s madness. It’s a little intoxicating, so you buy into it one more year. That can leave you a little hungry for more. What we really seem to love is being in Austin. In that regard, we’re just celebrating being in Austin, Texas. It’s so musically and culturally developed. Really wonderful for us. 

Q: How have the new songs been going over live with the fans?
It would sound almost boastful if I tell you, but it’s crazy. We’ve been selling out venues, so that’s amazing. The sales of the new album have been really nice - both out here on the road, in the shops and the digital realm. People are singing the lyrics; they already know the record or know what they’ve heard and are anxiously buying the record. The comments have been phenomenal...We want to take care of the fans and really protect the music - make sure we get to each show with the right amount of energy to give that night’s audience the best night ever. You got to pace yourself for that. [Yesterday] we were shooting a pilot for a TV show.

Q: Really? What was it about?
It’s a dramatic police kind of thing, like “Walker: Texas Ranger.” We did a bar scene with some cool Tex-Mex sounding music. It puts more music on network television. That’s always worthwhile.

Q: Speaking of TV, you’ve had a song featured in the ABC-TV show “Nashville.” Have you watched it?
Yeah. It’s come closer than any other show before to getting the essence right. I don’t have to praise the show, but I have enjoyed it. I can’t keep up with it on my current schedule, but when it premiered, I probably stayed tuned for at least six or more episodes.

Q: Regarding the reunion, were you surprised when everyone was fully on board with the idea?
Once you’re talking to one another, the surprise is over and now you’re down to the nitty gritty. The surprise comes on that initial phone call, like ‘wow, out of nowhere, the band wants to talk again.’ We can’t do it without each other because that’s how we’ve arranged it - that it would only be The Mavericks, when it was truly The Mavericks [guys] and nothing short of that.

Q: Did you miss playing with these guys over the years?
Completely...I’ve played with some great people, but it doesn’t equate to the Mavericks, you know? I’ve played great songs that were written by incredible writers. I’ve done things that are extremely enjoyable but none of it is the Mavericks. So there’s only the Mavericks to fill that void…among the things that would give you a pang of sadness or a lonesome feeling was imagining not playing those songs for an audience again. Sure, I could go out there and riff through a Mavericks tune or two in a solo performance, but that’s not the same thing. 

I’m probably taking a real risk here [but] Raul probably had to learn himself that going out and doing songs he had written and had been lead vocalist on was still not always the same as bringing the Mavericks back out. Here’s the voice of all the songs out on solo efforts, solo periods of his career, and even that would not fulfill the void of the Mavericks. I think he had to reckon with that and decide whether or not he too felt the void and wanted to get back to it. That seems to be the conclusion. We all thought that ‘this is something worth returning to.’

Q: Weren't some of the new songs recorded live?
That is true. ‘Live’ doesn’t have to come off a live concert stage and become a ‘live’ album. Live can be a band performing in the studio and playing as fully orchestrated combo with 5, 8, 10 pieces, whatever and leaving very little overdubbing processes because you were actually recording performances. 

Q: I could tell because a few times Raul is heard saying things like, ‘ok guys, one more time.’
Those calls you’re hearing are actual cues. In certain cases, you could edit them out if you wanted. Or you could leave them so they become a little evidence of your truth and honesty. We serve up something honest. We live in an age where you can make a marginally talented person sound like a supremely talented person. I’m not being hyper-critical, but if you fool people over the course of a decade or two, we lose our ability to gauge things. We get lost along the way. It takes something like going out to see a band. 

Q: A couple ballads, like “In Another’s Arms” and “Amsterdam Moon” have a timeless quality. Did you intend to leave the musical arrangements sparse on those?
It’s a music we all love in our own private way, these classic recordings. Raul, having co-written all the songs and always our chief songwriter/vocalist, he always interprets things the way he loves them. In a way, you’re hearing our contribution to traditionalist song craft of yesteryear. Stuff that I don’t hear enough of really these days.

Q: What was it like working with veteran co-producer/mixer Niko Bolas in the studio?
Raul and Niko had worked on a solo project together…he came in as an engineer, but Raul enjoyed the collaborative nature of it. So it shifted to a co-production. It’s quite true to the nature of this album. It mutated in the moment. Niko became a part of the family. He did what Raul knew he would do: come in and kick some ass. And be one more of the musical minds that were swirling around.

Q: How do you think country music has evolved in the time the Mavericks were away?
I live in Nashville. I have not shied away from anything. I remain a student of that stuff. I feel a huge blessing to live in Nashville, wake up every day and your office is a historic music epicenter. In the years were we apart, you saw mega-stardom happen like Taylor Swift. Doesn’t mean you always identify with it. I believe she’s a gifted voice of her generation and it permeates. We get those earworms into our head. I think she’s a good example of what can happen in this town I’ve enjoyed. 

Q: The album cover has a sideshow theme. What was the thought behind it?
It’s part of a visual dialogue we wanted to have. We knew we were going to do vinyl and have the larger format…we’ve explored that before with ‘Trampoline’ and the fact that there’s a little possible thread of continuity is more coincidental. Or maybe it’s just in our DNA. The cover is not what we were first working with – our first non-band cover. There were [things] to deal with and different points of view. We chose an alternate outtake photo for the cover because it was perfectly expressive of who we are…on the inside of the sleeve are these portraits shot on a period camera from the 1860s. It literally had no negatives and printed on a tin type metal plate. Those portraits are closer to the kind of expression we were aiming at: old time photography and still life, a flower.