Photo by Kirsten Balani
Band: Mando Saenz, Brother and the Hayes
Date: Saturday, April 3 at 8 p.m.
Venue: The Peoples Room of Mobile, 78 St. Francis St., thepeoplesroommobile.com
Tickets: $25 available through Eventbrite
Singer-songwriter Mando Saenz will be giving The Peoples Room’s patrons a raw translation of his latest release, “All My Shame.” Eight years have passed since Saenz released his last full-length, “Studebaker.”
Since then, Saenz busied himself co-writing with Stoney LaRue, Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack and many others. As he collaborated with performers and fellow songwriters, Saenz collected the 10 original tracks for “All My Shame” as well as a smooth, mellow cover of Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark.”
Longtime fans of Saenz’s material will be pleasantly surprised by the contrast between this album and his previous releases. Known for a warm, acoustic troubadour sound riddled with Lone Star influences, “All My Shame” showcases a classic alt. country feel, courtesy of producer Ken Coomer, who was a founding member of Wilco.
During a recent interview, Music Editor Steve Centanni and Mando Saenz discussed the artist’s musical evolution as well as his take on one of Dio’s classic metal anthems.
Steve Centanni: In this digital age, people are releasing material all the time. Your last release was in 2013. What made you decide that it was time for a new full-length album?
Mando Saenz: You know, my management at the time wanted to get some content out there. So, we originally started working on an EP just to get some stuff out. It just progressed into a full-length from there. I just wanted to get some music out there. Time had slipped by without me realizing, because I had been writing songs every day there in Nashville like you do. I had hundreds of songs, and we just knew that it was time to get some music out there.
Centanni: What made you want to co-write on this album more than on your previous releases? What are the benefits?
Saenz: Well, there’s a few things. I was co-writing so much from my publisher. That’s why this album has more co-writes than others. I was doing it a lot more than my previous albums. What co-writing does for me is that a lot of my songs tend to be a bit vague and abstract at times. When you’re writing with someone else, it has to make sense to everybody in the room. It’s usually me and one other person. I rarely write with more than one person. Some of the lyrics, y’all can both relate to and definitely have my self-identity in it. It opens doors and takes you out of your head for a little bit. It takes some getting used to. I was doing it long enough that I was comfortable co-writing with people that I have never met before.
Centanni: This album definitely sounded like a departure from your previous material. Then I saw Ken Coomer had produced it, which answered a lot of questions. How did he get involved?
Saenz: I had known Ken for years prior. We had worked on stuff 13 years before we started to work on this project. I was living in Houston at the time, but I would fly up to Nashville and do some recording. So, we knew each other and had worked together. I knew to trust his instincts, and I love how his creative mind works. It was a comfortable setting for me. We’re old friends. We know each other personally and creatively. That definitely helps.
Centanni: What did he bring to the table?
Saenz: He sees songs like movies. He sees the whole thing in his mind. A lot of the time, he takes it out of where I had it, even if it’s as simple as moving a post-chorus around or not singing a certain part and letting the instrumentation take over. There’s different incidents like that. He has such a creative headspace. I really appreciate that.
Centanni: How do you think the title track represents the album as a whole?
Saenz: Someone said that in the title track, “All My Shame,” that “shame” is such a loaded word. I guess in a lot of ways that it is. To me, it’s an empowering thing putting your naked self out there and going for it and not leaving anything hidden and being proud, even with your faults. This record reflects that in many ways. It’s trying new things, being true to yourself and taking chances.
Centanni: My favorite song on the album is “Cautionary Tale.” It’s got such a beautiful melody and represents your past and present sound. What’s the story behind that one?
Saenz: Well, with that one, you’re talking about writing a song with someone that you’ve never met. I wrote that one with Zach DuBois, who I really didn’t know at all. We didn’t start with any particular idea in mind and started playing that chord progression. The title just kinda fell out, and we wrote to the title. A lot of people think that it’s about hardship in the music business. I like to think it’s about life in general and life lessons and little incidents of that. When I was writing it, it had a little Radiohead sound to it, even from the guitar and vocals.
Centanni: You know that I have to ask the obligatory “Rainbow in the Dark” question.
Saenz: [Laughing] Yes!
Centanni: Metalheads are some of the most critical music lovers out there. What kind of feedback have you received from metal fans on this one?
Saenz: That’s the thing. I was a bit concerned about it. That’s the first thing that popped into my mind when Ken proposed that we do that song. I grew up around metal in the ’80s. I know how personal that music is. It’s not just a bunch of noise. It’s almost a spiritual thing. Even in Nashville, I have friends that treat it like a religion. I wasn’t scared to do that song. I wasn’t going to record it in the same but in an honest way. I couldn’t have been happier, but I kept pretty quiet about it. My brother was the first one that I told. When he heard it, he gave me the look of approval. As far as my metalhead friends, they found out when I released it as a single. So, it was out there on social media. Right away, I had a positive reaction. I’ve rested a lot easier.
Centanni: You’ll be in a listening room environment in Mobile. What’s it been like taking these tracks into the live setting?
Saenz: It’s been great. I’m glad it’s a listening room. Most of the venues on this run are. I’ve tried these songs out before live. I’ve had a pretty good feeling as far as people’s reaction to it. I think the record’s arrangement lends itself very well to stripped-down acoustic or duo situations. So, I think it works just fine.
This page is available to our local subscribers. Click here to join us today and get the latest local news from local reporters written for local readers. The best deal is found by clicking here. Check it out now.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here