Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jul 21st 2008 2:00PM by David Chiu
"Having gone through that completely changed my life," Escovedo tells Spinner, "and not just myself but [my] band as well. All of us went through it together. They were supporting me the whole time, it was kind of like a family."
His 2006 record, 'The Boxing Mirror,' which Escovedo characterized as dark, was released after that near-death experience. 'Real Animal,' produced by the legendary Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex), is a contrast to its predecessor. "I just wanted to make a real rock 'n' roll record," Escovedo explains. "I was able to come up with a record that was not nearly as down as the last [one]. It's more upbeat and more rocking."
With all of the album's songs co-written by Escovedo and musician Chuck Prophet, 'Real Animal' is about the music and influences Escovedo had admired throughout his life. He pays homage to the former groups he's been in such as the Nuns in the late '70s ('Nuns Song'), and Rank and File from the early '80s ('Chip N' Tony'). "It really is a story of all those characters along the way," he says, "all the band members and the music we've made."
Escovedo also waxes nostalgic about his time in '70s punk era New York City on the track 'Chelsea Hotel '78.' (His band the Nuns had opened for the Sex Pistols at the latter's last show in San Francisco in 1978). "It was very exciting because I was going to a city that I'd always dreamt of going," he says. "I've always wanted to go to New York City because I loved all the bands [from there], especially the Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, the Young Rascals and Patti Smith."
Despite a rocking vibe all over it, 'Real Animal' doesn't shy away from Escovedo reflecting about his life or hinting about his past illness, as he does on the song 'Golden Bear' with the lyrics: "There's a creature in my blood/Don't know how long he's been there/Or why he's after us."
"The reference to the Hep C," explains Escovedo, "is about that question that we ask sometimes when faced with something like that: 'Why me?' I know that when I was [contracted] with Hep C and was diagnosed with it, I sat for a long time wondering what it was about my particular self -- why I had become a victim of that.'"
As Escovedo was on the mend from Hepatitis C, a number of artists, including Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, and Los Lonely Boys, recorded a 2004 album called 'Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo,' to help pay for his medical expenses. "You know, it was very humbling," he says of that gesture. "It was a great honor."
As for what's next, Escovedo is scheduled perform on 'The Late Show With David Letterman' on August 7; he's also the subject of a documentary in-the-works directed by Jonathan Demme. "This is the first time around for me," Escovedo says about his recent high-profile attention. "I'm really enjoying it. I'm a lucky person."