Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Mar 7th 2010 11:45AM by David A. Cobb
Listening to your music gives off a real sense of how country-influenced music should sound. How would you describe your sound in your own words?
Obviously, I'm a complete outsider when it comes to country music because I'm from South Wales. I feel that the best country music is kind of an open, inclusive sort of thing. My band comes at it as pointed outsiders -- right through the commercial grind, you know. What comes out of Nashville now that calls itself "country music" isn't really country music.
There are a lot of great people in America, and all over the world, that have taken the roots of great classic country music and are doing other things with it. That sausage factory of Nashville is a bit of a joke.
What do you consider to be your musical influences, and how do these play into the music you make? Obviously, there's a difference between the music you make with the Mekons and with the Waco Brothers, although a country-rock influence runs through them both.
The Mekons have really been an art project, really, as much as anything. You know, a bunch of art students who've always taken each album as a project. The sound could change, and it was more like the things we thought about and the way we worked, the kind of coherent things that went down during the years
The Waco Brothers, I think, is a great live band. And while there's definitely a country influence in there, to me, it's kind of like there a big chunk of the stuff I like -- there's punk rock in there, and we do T. Rex covers, [and] I still listen to Slade occasionally. There's just that excitement of a great live band.
How did your band form? Was it really just to get free beer at bars, or were you joking?
No, that's not a joke. That's absolutely true. I actually went for a drink at a bar called the Rainbo [Club] in Chicago, and I hadn't been in there in a long time. And there's this little stage behind the bar, and we were in there drinking one afternoon, and we had our guitars with us, and the woman behind the bar just said to us, "Do you wanna play some night? We'll give you $150." We were like, "Wow!" [She added,] "And free beer."
For me, I'd been touring with the Mekons and have been on major labels with the Mekons, and this was just something that was real grassroots -- to play in venues that normally didn't have music.
Your shows always seem to attract a lot of attention during SXSW. What are you looking forward to most at this year's event?
I'm looking forward to the fact that we're not playing at 1am. Bloodshot Records have been trying to convince us that it's the headlining spot at their showcase, and we feel it's the room-clearing spot. So we're playing at 11pm this time at the Red-Eyed Fly. There will be a marked difference in our performance.
Are there any other bands are you are looking forward to seeing during SXSW?
There's a guy called Jimi Alexander and the Satellites, coming over from South Wales. I've never actually seen them perform, and they're playing at the Yard Dog party on Saturday. So that's something I'm really looking forward to.
What's your favorite thing about playing during SXSW?
It's less of an industry thing now. It used to that be we went down there to find a booking agent or get a record deal. Obviously, that's not why we go down there. For us, I think it creates the impression that we work a lot harder than we really do. We go down there and do a couple of good gigs and there's usually somebody who then offers us something fantastic later in the year. It's kind of an investment -- it's nice to be out of Chicago in March.
What has been your proudest or favorite accomplishment as a band?
We've done some charitable things over the years, you know, like the anti-death penalty campaign with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, which raised a lot of money and was pretty useful. For me, I think it's been with the Mekons and the Wacos, it's about challenging the idea of what a band does and how a band has to behave. I think the industry has a real fixed idea of how bands should behave, and we've misbehaved, and done quite well out of it.
How did you come up with your band name? Did the David Koresh/Branch Davidian fiasco in the early '90s have anything to do with it?
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
My son's really into King Crimson at the moment.
Beatles or Stones?
That's a very difficult one. I'd say the Beatles up to about 'Revolver.' And then the Stones up to Mick Taylor leaving.
Other than SXSW, what does the band have planned for 2010?
The Waco Brothers are going to make another album. We made a live album a couple of years ago and we haven't made an album of new songs, so that's our new task.
David A. Cobb is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.