The Mavericks focus on the here and now

Steven Sonoras
Special to The Detroit News

Few bands live up to their name as well as the Mavericks. Though their handful of ’90s hits stuck to the country charts (“Dance the Night Away” and “What a Crying Shame” are two of their best known) the veteran band has long reveled in its outsider status, fearlessly marrying traditional Nashville country music with everything from salsa to surf, ska and soul.

The Mavericks have always been too eclectic to achieve massive commercial success, but the band’s husky voiced leader Raul Malo says he wouldn’t have it any other way: Either you’ve never heard of the Mavericks, or they’re your favorite band.

“There were always plenty of differences between us and everybody else, but once you break in it’s like a director that directs a big blockbuster success, and now all of a sudden he has final cut approval,” Malo says on the phone from Verona, New York, between tour dates.

“That’s really what we have now. We’re exercising the power that we have earned through the years of fighting the fight in the music business, and fighting for our little piece of real estate. We’re in kind of in this ‘no man’s land,’ but it’s ours and I like it.”

The band is currently on an international tour supporting their latest studio album “Mono,” which was released in February by the Valory Music Co. The past year has taken the band from the United Kingdon to Switzerland, France and the Netherlands, in addition to more than 30 dates across the United States and an appearance on TBS’ “Conan.”

Malo says the band has been together 25 years, not by indulging in their acclaimed MCA Records catalog, but by focusing on the here and now.

“What’s fun about this round is there’s really never an insistence on playing the old material, which really makes it fun for us because you always want to play your new material,” says Malo, who turned 50 in August. “And quite frankly I think our new material is far more interesting than our old material.”

The Grammy-winning foursome (Malo, lead vocals and guitar; Eddie Perez, lead guitar; Paul Deakin, drums; and Jerry Dale McFadden, keyboards) along with a new bassist, two horns and an accordion player, are in finer form than ever on this tour, and Malo says the crowd reactions to band’s new mode have been wildly enthusiastic.

“We honestly have some of the most rabid, fiercely loyal fans of any artist,” he says. “Our fans are really loving the new record and the new music we’re making. I think it makes for a far more joyous experience all the way around.”

Those who caught the band on their last tour will notice a big change this time around: the absence of bassist and founding member Robert Reynolds. Reynolds was fired shortly after the band’s 2012 reunion due to a debilitating opiate addiction. Malo says the decision to let his old friend go was not made lightly, but he credits the band’s newfound vitality to Reynolds’ departure.

“When you have one individual or several individuals or an entity, it could be your business partners, whether it’s a record label or a booking agent, if somebody on that team is draining the energy out of the collective for whatever reason, when you eliminate that all of the sudden there’s no longer that sort of vacuous black hole taking the energy out of the room.”

Malo says he wishes Reynolds well (“He has his demons,” he solemnly admits), but he can’t deny the band is now in better shape than ever.

“When you operate at that level where everybody’s in the same creative space, I think that’s what makes the music special,” he says. “Perhaps that’s what you’re hearing. That sort of spirit of rejuvenation is a result of that attitude that we’re going to play what we want to play. At this stage in my life all I want to do is do exactly what I want to do. Not everybody gets to say that, but I do, and we do, and I think it shows. We’re having a lot more fun than ever before.”

The Mavericks

8:30 p.m. Saturday

Royal Oak Music Theatre

318 W 4th St., Royal Oak

Tickets $35-$55

(248) 399-2980 ext. 3