Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jun 21st 2007 5:00PM by Steve Baltin
You've been touring behind 'Under the Skin' for quite some time now. Has the new material changed for you?
We started off wanting to have a certain level of fidelity to the recordings. But certain songs do evolve and become more unleashed. I think that's a general tendency you see on stage. There's a sense of what something should be on a recording, and then usually what you arrive at for a live presentation is taken up a couple of pegs. And that's most specifically with the acoustic songs. We're opening the set with 'Not Too Late,' and it has become much more aggressive than the recording. The last encore we do -- 'Shut Us Down' -- is way more aggressive, even though it's just me on guitar. Somehow it's coming from a completely different place now -- more sung out, more unleashed, more raw.
In addition to sonic alterations, have any of the song's meanings changed for you?
Well, yeah. You can take a song like 'Shut Us Down' -- which was very specifically about a relationship -- and you can see that the audience is reacting to it. One of the lines in that song is, "I'll stay around as long as I can." And people take that to mean you, as an artist, will be here committed to the kind of integrity you want to stand for, for as long as you possibly can. And some of that has become part of the meaning for me. Even if you go back to something like the [Fleetwood Mac] 'Rumors' album, where we as writers thought we were writing very generic love songs. It was only when the audience defined it as dialogues to each other that we went, "Oh, yeah, I guess that's what we're doing." So, whether it's live or a recording, an audience completes the experience.
What was your aim with the Fleetwood Mac songs you're incorporating into your set? More specifically, how did you envision their execution?
We began the considerations for the tone of the show by thinking about 'Under the Skin,' and having that be the core. Everything branches out -- up or down -- from there. Songs like 'I'm So Afraid' or 'Tusk' begin much lighter. There was a context that we wanted to hold onto that would connect inherently with the stuff on the new CD. These are structural and tonal considerations that I think about. It's very hard to be that objective about motivations. A lot of the time, your gut is telling you to do something and you do it.
What was the first concert you remember attending that was your choice, as opposed to your parents' choice?
When I was about 8, I made my parents take me to a San Francisco production of 'South Pacific.' Before my brother brought Elvis home, that soundtrack was in the house. I loved the music and still do. As far as role models go, it would probably be folk acts from the early '60s. Peter, Paul and Mary, and the Kingston Trio -- all of that kind of stuff. That was what I latched onto when rock 'n' roll died down for a while, and there were a lot of Fabian types that took over -- kind of like right now.
I recently spoke to Steven Van Zandt, and he talked about how downloading, especially singles, are taking us back to 1962 -- pre-Beatles -- when songs seemed to matter more than the band.
But it's also with things like 'American Idol.' There's a style that's being made from the top down and not from the bottom up. And that is not a good thing -- when a corporate formula is trying to define what gets heard. It gets a little scary.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of 'Rumors,' which spent 29 weeks at No. 1. Do you think that there could be an album that has that kind of impact today?
That's a good question. The album as an art form -- the way it got built up through the '60s and early '70s -- is certainly not what it once was. That's a problem. To some degree, the fact that there are so many other options for kids -- in general, their attention span doesn't seem to be very great anymore. Even the cultural interface between music and society -- the social significance of rock 'n' roll, as it existed for a number of years, doesn't seem to be there so much now. Having said that, if the right thing came along, anything is possible.
Why do you think 'Rumors' became the phenomenon it did?
I think there are a few reasons. One, simply, the music that Fleetwood Mac made was good. It wasn't trendy. It wasn't referenced to any one thing. It has a certain timelessness. That's why a lot of kids can go pick up 'Rumors' or 'Tusk' now, and have it mean something to them. So, start with that.
The band had a hook; There were these two couples in the band who had both broken up, and they were writing these cross-dialogs to each other in their songs. There was this sort of built-in soap opera that people latched on to. They were able to identify and personify the songs. It became a very tangible thing -- something that they could invest in on a sort of voyeuristic level. I don't think that element can be underestimated in terms of the success of 'Rumors.'
It's interesting to imagine what the phenomenon might be today, when people's voyeuristic tendencies seem so much stronger.
If that success were to happen today, there would be a lot of other garbage attached to it because the media would manipulate all sorts of things. If we were doing drugs, it would be a Paris Hilton thing. I just thank god that when 'Rumors' came out, all of that did not exist. The whole tabloid mentality would not have been very pleasant for us.
What's next for you?
A lot's happened on a personal level in the last ten years or so. I've gotten married and I've had three children. Things are the best they've ever been. I'm in a frame of mind where I'm comfortable putting this bigger window around what I would like to be doing. There have been several occasions when the intention to do solo work was there, but it was either side-tracked, shelved, or on the last occasion, during the last Fleetwood Mac tour, folded over into the Fleetwood Mac album. The idea of doing 'Under The Skin,' doing the amount of touring we've been doing and then putting out a second CD the beginning of 2008 -- which is my plan -- is significant and certainly a departure from the past. It's exciting all around. Having a great home life and being married to a wonderful lady -- all the great stuff that happened to me relatively late -- I've been doing something right.