Having the Mavericks together again is "like having a piece of your soul back, to be honest with you."
That's according to co-founder Robert Reynolds, gushing by telephone from the back of a sandwich shop in Denver about the Nashville group's reunion, which began last year after a divisive split in 2004 and has produced a lauded new album, "In Time," tour plans likely into 2014 and every expectation that the quintet is again a going, full-time concern.
"It's almost unbelievable we would come back and come back with this much energy," says Reynolds, 50. "I'm not trying to be boastful. I'm putting that on the heavens, not on our shoulders. Did we do our part? Yeah, we did. But there's something that lined up that we couldn't control -- this otherworldly, divine intervention that seems to be part of this."
Frontman, chief songwriter and "In Time" co-producer Raul Malo, meanwhile, says he's says he's nothing less than surprised by this turn of events.
"This is nothing I ever would have imagined," says Malo, 47, who released six solo albums during the interim and was also part of the all-star Los Super Seven. "Honestly, I've spent the last few years really fighting the urge to get the Mavericks back together, but there's so much synergy and positive energy pushing this thing forward that I think we're just gonna run with it and go forward."
There's plenty of positivity from the Mavericks' past to build on, of course. Formed during 1989 in Miami, the group notched three Top 10 country albums - 1994's "What a Crying Shame" went platinum, too -- and a handful of hit singles. It also won a pair of Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards each, as well as Grammy in 1995 for Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal.
More importantly was the critical regard for the group and a musical mix that went well beyond the typical parameters of country and embraced blues, R&B, jazz and Latino flavors. "We were never defined by trendy things or by genres on radio or in record stores -- that rarely exist anymore," Reynolds explains. "Our feeling was, 'Why not blend all those things and blend all those different audiences?' It seemed like that would be a truer expression."
The hard work of doing all that ultimately ground the Mavericks to a halt, however.
"We were hitting it pretty hard," Malo recalls, "and everybody was starting to have families and were feeling kind of burned out. I think that had a lot to do with it." Reynolds, who went on to form the group SWAG with fellow Maverick Jerry Dale McFadden and members of Cheap Trick and Wilco, acknowledges that, "the air was out of the balloon by the latter days. It wasn't a band that was ready to love each other very much."
Restoring the "brotherhood," as Reynolds calls it, began during 2011. All of the members had grown used to, and wear of, being asked about the possibility of a reunion. Malo got serious about it in 2011, when the 20th anniversary of the first Mavericks album was accompanied by offers from promoters. Reynolds, meanwhile, was working on a show for CMT -- "Raiders of Rock," slated to debut this June -- and was working with a new manager who was supportive of a Mavericks reunion. In an odd twist, Reynolds actually called the manager just as he was booking a flight to Nashville to go meet with Malo at the singer's request.
One thing Malo was insistent on, however, was that brand new music be part of the Mavericks' reunion equation. "I don't really start out writing for any one thing in particular, but I had these songs that started to sound like a Mavericks record, and that was really the final straw," Malo says. "It was like, 'OK, there's all these things coming together -- the business side with the (concert) offers, the sentimental side with the 20th anniversary and then the music. I just gave in -- 'I'm not gonna fight it anymore. I'm just gonna go with it.' "
Now the plan is to keep going. The characteristically diverse "In Time" debuted at a respectable No. 8 on the Billboard Country Albums chart after its late February release, and Reynolds says the group envisions "a 12- to 18-month" of touring and promotion. Malo notes that his solo ambitions are "on ice" for the time being, and Reynolds he's starting to hear the germs of new song ideas in concern that he expects will be developed further once the group returns to the studio.
"The way we speak of it now is 'forever,' " Reynolds says. "This is what we'll do 'til we can't crawl up on stage again. I believe this is the beginning of the next chapter. 'In Time,' to us, is our best record, and I feel like the next record could be as good or better.
"So there's this bizarre optimism, and a feeling we're at a new beginning, which feels great."
The Mavericks and Seth Walker perform Friday, April 5, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 day of show. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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