From Belfast, Ireland here comes a band that is not influenced by Britain’s rich music heritage, but has its eyes set on Europe as well as the other side of the Atlantic. Maverick play hard rock and they actually pay a tribute to their idols who made them what they are. Their music might not be the most popular in their home country, but they are confident to follow the way of their heart that will hopefully lead them to success in their own terms. Interview with Maverick’s frontman, David Balfour, by Yiannis Dolas. What would you say that you kept from your debut album, “Quid Pro Quo”, and what did you improve on “Big Red”?Maverick05

David Balfour: I think the songs in “Quid Pro Quo” were written maybe after two years of gigging and playing and I guess we didn’t have a theme for the album. “Quid…” is an album that we listen to fondly, but I think perhaps there was a couple of tracks that you’d consider a little bit weaker. While in “Big Red” I think we tried to listen to every tracks and make sure that every little bit was perfect. I think on “Quid…” the songs were a little bit longer, while on “Big Red” we shortened them a little bit. I know that sometimes the fans like the longer versions but we thought we needed to make the songs more “compact” a kind of thing that if you were showing to a friend they wouldn’t have to push the song forward five time to check out what’s happening. We like “Quid…”, but I think on “Big Red” we maintained a higher level of consistency on the tracks. I have to say that as you said it does sound tighter, but I think that everything sounds in place, great and actually the only moment the pedal is removed from the metal is on “Fly Away”, the ballad that closes the album. How come you decided to put there, you didn’t want to spoil the flow of the album?

David Balfour: Yeah, I think we’ve all got better as musicians I think. I’d become better as a singer, I guess we analyzed what we were doing more and I think that comes to cross I think… but, with reference to the ballad, you know with “Quid…” we initially wanted to have a ballad but we didn’t one just because. We wanted to make sure that it was a ballad that it meant something to us, so we decided not to do a ballad in “Quid…” and in “Big Red” we decided to make more time and make sure that we did a ballad that it was worth doing… most people like the ballads. I think it’s strange because most rock ballads are about a girl! Or about love, it’s the truth thy really are! There was a close friend of ours his name was Michael and he actually taught my brother how to play guitar. He was a really close friend and he unfortunately passed away ten years ago. We just thought it was a nice thing to write a song about him, because there are a lot of rock and metal snobs that kind of think that ballads are cheesy… we thought we’ll do a ballad for a friend of ours that passed and hopefully avoid people thinking it was too cliché. But, as you said we thought of putting it on the end of the album… that was actually a tough one…  we thought about doing a full on ballad with keyboards, drums and maybe a proper electric guitar solo, but when we wrote “Fly Away” it suited being minimal. I guess we wanted to surpriixe people. They might have thought that we didn’t do a ballad again, but then there is one in the ned. The question we asked ourselves was do we put it in the middle? Do we put it in two thirds, or at the end. And we thought of putting it in the end, because we didn’t want to destroy the flow of the album and I also think that it’s so different than the other songs, because there is no drums, no distortion guitar at all, it’s a ballad for both sexes. We thought that we wanted to end it on a low note, so that the people would want it to begin again. Because, by the time “Fly Away” is over you already sort of miss the big riffs, so maybe it will make people to start it again. What about “Forever”? That’s my favourite song on the album. Can you tell us a bit about it?

David Balfour: It’s one of my favourites as well! It started off as a guitar riff. It’s funny, but I come up with a lot of Maverick riffs, although I don’t play guitar at all… a lot of Maverick riffs start literally with me humming… I hummed the riff to my brother and he made some changes, usually my brother is quick critical when I show him a riff, but he was impressed with “Forever”. You know “Highlander” is one of my favourite movies and I love the concept of someone who could live forever and they found the love of their life, without being aware of their immortality and they realize that the woman is getting older. It’s written from the perspective of an immortal man who watches his wife grow old and die and he doesn’t understand why this is happening. I always wanted to write a song about “Highlader” you know… so, rather than talking about songs and battles and beheading I thought it would be better  to write about losing a loved one.

Maverick02 You also have a couple of guests on the album, Kane Roberts and Jacob Samuels, on “Asylum”, how did it come up to have these guys playing on the album?

David Dalfour: Well, you know Maverick had a tour in Europe with the Poodles and it was 20 dates or something like that… us and the Poodles lived in the tour bus together, so we were very close you know…Maverick01 we had to get on with each other and be nice and the Poodles are nice guys, gentlemen they treated us like friends, like family and we just got on really well with them. Watching Jacob perform every night, he is such a great singer, he is a fabulous live singer. There is a lot of rock singers out there that take it easy live, they might skip some high notes, so I really admired Jacob every single night. He did every single high note perfect and I admire him for having a great voice. We told him on tour that we’d love to have him on our album to sing in a song and he thought it was great. When we contacted him a few months after the tour and asked him “hey, Jacob, do you want to do a song on our album”, he laughed and said: “hahaha, I didn’t think we were going to do it! Most bands talk about it and say we should do this and that, but they rarely do it”, so he was very happy and glad to come over. I think he actually spent four days here. We did a lot of sight-seeing and he was so glad that he wanted to do it and I always wanted to have a duet singing with another vocalist. And I thought that my voice would work with Jacob’s, since he is a really good singer and he can make most of his range. Actually, Jacob was meant to listen on “Forever”, but then he read the lyrics and he said “David, be careful, because people might think that we are in love if we sing this one together!”

We put it on “Asylum”, because Kane was going to play on that. Having both guests on the same song seemed like a good idea. Kane Roberts have met my brother and they were friends on Facebook and they were talking guitars… we were all a big fan of Kane and my brother asked him to play a solo on our album. And Kane was like “hell yeah, I really wanted to do it!” he recorded it in his home studio… We are glad we got them playing in the album, because they are two musicians we respect a lot especially Kane, since we grew up listening to “Freedom”. It was great to have him on our album and we are glad this happened. You also have a song with a French title “Mademoiselle”, how come you decided to do this, what’s the French connection to rock music?

David Dalfour: Hehehe, you know whenever we played Paris it was funny, because we were backstage in the venue and obviously being around Europe, laughs are different, accents and languages and all and I just heard someone talking to a girl saying “mademoiselle, mademoiselle” and I thought it was a cool word and it was my brother’s idea to turn it into a song, he was “I’d love to do a song called “Mademoiselle” and we were like “OK! Let’s see what we can do”… it’s a strange choice because I don’t think there is another rock band with a song with the same title and you know like Winger have a song called “Madelaine” and there are a lot of bands that have a song named after a girl’s name, or “Carrie” from Europe. So, we decided than rather having a song named after a girl’s name to use this French word that means “little lady”, “Little girl”, and you know the bigger challenge was to find a way singing the word “Mademoiselle”… it’s not an easy word to sing, so we had to set it up, because it’s a very long word. That song was actually inspired by “Sin City”, one of my favourite films, there is an area in the city where there are the prostitutes, bad-ass girls who pretty much kill guys who don’t treat them with respect and are violent. So I thought about writing a song for a really bad ass girl, a kind of girl that if you treated her badly she’d kick you out! It’s a strange vibe that took a life of its own. After I heard the guitar riff I was like “yeah”! It’s a strange one that I am glad it turned out the way it did. For the “Quid Pro Quo” album you released several music videos. For “Big Red” you’ve released two so far for “Asylum” and “Whiskey Lover”. Do you plan on making some more, aren’t they expensive to do?

David Balfour: Yes, it is expensive to be honest. But, I think these days it’s very important to have music videos because, I guess you can put out a single on iTunes, but physical singles don’t sell anymore. I think the video is a cool visual aid for the audio for the fan to see the band. There are several Maverick live videos online but they are old, from back when we started, to be honest some of them are not very good. Every band grows and I think that during these last two years we have grown as a band and we want people to see our true personalities. “Whiskey Lover” is a fun video because it shows the kind of fun side of the band. Being from Ireland there is an expectation that we can drink pretty hard! We thought that it would be good to put that into the video. But, actually I think we are going to try to do at least four music videos for this. There is going to be “Asylum”, “Whiskey…” and we might do “Mademoiselle”, “Forever”, or “The One”… we are not sure which one of these two we should do. We are playing Heat festival next week in Germany and I think we might get a professional multi angle recording of the show, which can get us pretty good footage of performing these songs live and backstage, which may turn out into a music video. We never had a proper live video yet, although there is some live stuff on “Asylum” actually… a proper live video would be cool I guess, we also have a lot of footage from our tour with the Poodles. Walking around the cities and having fun… so, hopefully we are going to do three or four videos. We’ll see how it goes, it depends on the money!

Maverick03 I am happy that you don’t do any lyric videos because I find them really boring! 99 out of a 100!

David Balfour: I Agree! To be honest that’s the thing… if I am on YouTube and I want to watch a band I will very very rarely watch music videos! Hahaha! I just don’t enjoy them really. But, I think that there is a lot of people that like them and the thing with “Whiskey Lover” is that it’s a silly, funny video and I think that at least people might show this to their friends maybe because of the silliness and it could be a good way for people to listen to the music. But, I think that these days it’s hard for a band to go out there to a bigger audience, so we have to use anything we can and the music videos is one of the things we have. We have a couple of European tours lined up hopefully… if that comes through we can afford a good music video eventually. What I like about music videos is that I’d really like to introduce something really really cool one day, but that never happens you know… One question that comes up to someone’s mind might be that you guys play the hard rock of the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, is this music popular in Ireland nowadays? Is there a scene where Maverick fit in?

David Balfour: Yeah, that’s a good question. To be honest in Ireland this kind of music is not really popular. We get quite good crowds in our shows because I think there are a lot of people that love that music here and we are the only band to play it. What’s popular in Ireland is more traditional rock, like Thin Lizzy. Don’t get me wrong, we like Lizzy too, and songs like “Whisky Lover” have a Lizzy vibe too… but, I think that in Ireland it’s all about death metal, thrash metal… heavy stuff and classic rock. There is a lot of loyal fans that love that music and we do look like the black sheep of the family a little, because we are the only guys who are really doing it and I guess it’s a good thing because we don’t have many competitors, but it’s a good scene if you play classic rock, or heavier metal, but for our kind of music it’s not so good… but, we do try our best and we have a lot of very loyal fans who support us and we are very grateful…

Maverick04 So, what would you say that are your influences in that kind of music?

David Balfour:  Well, we grew up listening to Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin… you know all the classics… we had a very good upbringing me and Ryan, we love everything from Iron Maiden to some of the heavier stuff too… we love Winger and I think that Winger’s first three albums are very underrated and “Pull” is a great album as well… I think he took a lot of shit because he was good looking…hehehe! I think he got harsh criticism because of that. Reb Beach is an amazing guitar player, we love Whitesnake, some people I know love their ’70s albums, but I love “1987”, hair metal Whitesnake is more my thing, David Coverdale is an amazing singer. Back in his prime he was unbelievable. We also like the ’80s KISS albums with the bright pink and green… hehehe! We also like Skid Row, they are a great band, the first two albums are a massive influence to us and if I had to pick one more band I’d say Aerosmith. If there’s one thing I respect about Aerosmith is that on one album, let’s say “Pump”, they have three or four different kind of songs. I love that! We would like Maverick eventually to be able to write lots of different songs… maybe one day… You mentioned four bands, where three of them are American and the other one is British, but you prefer their “American” era, so I guess your influences are based on the other side of the Atlantic…

David Balfour:  Yeah, I think so! I do like UK rock… Actually, we are big fans of the band Europe, I always respected European rock because it always had keyboards, but I do think that our influences are 90% American… I’ve always been a fan of the American style, the big choruses, really technical guitar playing… I guess I have a certain amount of nostalgia for that because I grew up watching all those hair metal videos and used to say “Oh, my God”… or the arenas filled up with people…

Maverick07 I guess this is something everyone discuss with their friends, maybe you’ve done so as well with your bandmates, what’s going to happen when all those big bands we know today, like Metallica, Maiden, or whatever are gone?

David Balfour: That’s also a very good question… I think that’s very tough. I believe that if the fans of Def Leppard, Whitesnake and all those bands give H.E.A.T., Eclipse and… Maverick a chance, I think a lot of them will love it! I think that in this day and age there are so many bands in the world that it’s hard for all of them to get publicity. I unfortunately think that when those big bands die away rock might… in a perfect world I would like to think that younger bands could perhaps not take over, but fill the space a little bit, but deep in my heart I fear that people might move away from this kind of music. I just think it’s getting harder and harder for new bands to get bigger… When these big bands die it’s going to be a sad day for everyone, but I’d love to think that younger bands could come through and fill up the stage. It’s a very good question! I think it’s a very uncertain road ahead. It will so good to see the likes of Eclipse, H.E.A.T., bands like that, play instead of clubs small arenas. When these bands die people will need something new, so I hope that then bands like ourselves could have a chance to win over new audience, but it’s going to be pretty tough. What would you say that are your dreams and ambition for Maverick? And what should make a new band happy? A no.1 single, a no.1 record, a world tour, a headline tour?

David Balfour: Our aspirations for Maverick would be… I would love to live 100% from music. I would love to have a house and a car and be able to live comfortably, look after my family. I would love to do all that from music alone. Having a no.1 single and all is really important. For me personally I would love to see Maverick even as big as Airbourne. To the extent that we could play big festivals, tour the world and fill small clubs. I don’t think that me or anyone in Maverick are greedy. I think I would only need enough money to live. As long as I could do that from music I’d be happy. None of us wants millions… Probably, nowadays it’s not going to happen, but I think if we could focus all of our energy in music giving the fans the best albums and performances we can, that would be a dream come true for me. And if we could travel around the world and be paid to do it this would be amazing! We are all dedicated and as long as we have a vision and a passion for music I think one day we will achieve living off people from music completely…