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On tour for “En Español,” Mavericks’ Eddie Perez explains band’s success from embracing diversity Nashville execs shun

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Although country music’s roots are multi-ethnic, the rosters of musicians with top billing in Nashville haven’t exactly reflected that diversity. Nevertheless, that did not faze The Mavericks; whose lead singer and principal songwriter, Raul Malo, was born the son of Cuban immigrants in Miami – and their biggest hit on the US Hot Country Songs chart, “All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down,” was a collaboration with legendary Tejano accordionist Flaco Jimenez.

Today, The Mavericks are touring behind their latest album, “En Español” — which is appropriately named, as it’s their first album recorded entirely in Spanish. That’s a far cry from the album that launched them into the mainstream: 1994’s “What a Crying Shame.” Released on MCA Nashville, it went double-platinum; and it was followed by The Mavericks winning Top Vocal Band at the CMA Awards for two years in a row.

With “En Español,” The Mavericks defied Nashville industry customs across the board – not only did they eschew English, they also released it entirely by themselves, and at the height of the pre-vaccine pandemic in September of 2020. Amazingly, it paid off: “En Español” debuted at number one on the Billboard Latin Pop Albums chart.

WOUB’s Ian Saint had the chance to speak with lead guitarist, Eddie “Scarlito” Perez, shortly before the band’s return to Ohio on tour. When Perez joined The Mavericks, they were signed to Sanctuary Records – a British record label owned by the management of heavy metal titans, Iron Maiden (whose lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, WOUB recently interviewed) – a testament to how the American country band, once again, kept living up to their name of The Mavericks.

The Mavericks pose for a promotional photo with beams of white light illuminating them.
The Mavericks [peoplesbanktheatre.com]
Perez and Saint had a wide-ranging chat on a variety of topics, including: the surprise of Perez being born and raised in the entertainment industry capital of Los Angeles, but having to head for the heartland to forge a sustainable music career; why cutting a number one Latin Pop Album in Tennessee is more natural than a Nashville record executive might think; how The Mavericks are enabling a variety of demographics to feel welcome in the country music scene, despite the narrow confines of country radio programming; why The Mavericks decided to free themselves of record deals, and release their albums independently; reasons that budding artists might want to consider grounding themselves in smaller communities; and much more. Click the Play button on the SoundCloud widget beneath the headline to stream the full interview segment on-demand.

The Mavericks will play Ohio twice this month: first, the Peoples Bank Theatre in (222 Putnam Street) Marietta, on Friday, March 11; then, the Packard Music Hall in (1703 Mahoning Avenue NW) Warren on Thursday, March 31. For a full list of The Mavericks’ tour dates, visit their official website: themavericksband.com.