My Page: Robert Mercurio (Galactic Shares Party Music from Both Sides of the Equator)
Galactic bassist Robert Mercurio produced the band’s new studio album, Carnivale Electricos, which is set for release on Fat Tuesday, February 21. Here he discusses the experience.
As a band from New Orleans, Mardi Gras—or Carnival as it is known in other parts of the world—is a very important time of year for us. So when it came time to figure out the concept for Galactic’s new album, Carnival seemed like a fitting idea.
We started to discuss the different musical paths to the celebration—among them are the Crescent City’s beloved high school marching bands that create the musical backdrop for the parades; the Mardi Gras Indians chants; the uptown funk that The Meters and The Neville Brothers have made so famous; New Orleans rap, which is blasted on many parade routes; and the classic Carnival songs.
But why limit ourselves to just New Orleans? There is another country way farther south that celebrates the holiday in their own way—Brazil. Thus the album concept solidified: We would connect the two ends to the musical arc of Carnival—New Orleans and Brazil.
In New Orleans, Mardi Gras means something different to each person, and each person celebrates it in their own way. One of the most underground and uniquely indigenous ways is that of the Mardi Gras Indians. Nobody embodies the spiritual side of Mardi Gras better than the Indians whose tambourines and chants provide the foundation of New Orleans carnival music.
These “gangs,” as they call them, organize around and protect their chief. War Chief Juan Pardo is one of the younger chiefs out there and he’s become one of the preeminent voices. “Ha Di Ka” is a great starting point for the album—as if it were sunrise on Mardi Gras morning and you are hearing their battle chants.
Throughout the Mardi Gras celebration, parade-goers line the streets to watch the high school marching bands set the pace and generate the music that drives the parades down our grand avenues.
On “Karate,” we aimed to capture the power of one of these musical experiences as we wrote a song for the 45-piece KIPP Renaissance High School Marching Band. It was one of the most daunting, yet gratifying, experiences to record with so many kids all at once!
Marching bands are not the only music driving the parades. In the last 20 years, New Orleans rap has made a large presence on the parade routes. And who other than the pioneers of this style—Mystikal and Mannie Fresh—would be more fitting for us to collaborate on “Move Fast?” We had been talking with them for years about getting together, and to have them on this album couldn’t have been more perfect.
If you have ever been to Mardi Gras, then you’ve likely heard the song “Carnival Time.” This classic has been a staple of the celebration since it hit the jukeboxes more than 50 years ago. Our remake features a new performance from the legendary original vocalist Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. We incorporated new rhythms, instruments and arrangements to make it our own.
Another voice that seems synonymous with Mardi Gras is Cryil Neville. Cyril, his brothers and The Meters have been singing about Carnival for the last 40 years. We couldn’t imagine anyone more appropriate to sing about “getting out in the street” than Cyril. As all New Orleanians know, getting out in the streets, meeting up with friends and letting loose is what Mardi Gras is all about.
As I mentioned earlier, while there is a party going on in New Orleans, there is also a mega-celebration happening a couple of thousand miles south. In Brazil, people have their unique way to celebrate and, of course, their own carnival classics.
One of these is Carlinhos Brown’s “Magalenha,” made famous by Sergio Mendez. The original version is a stripped-down song with just drums and vocals. For our remake, we joined forces with Brazilian drum troupe Casa Samba, adding new melodies, instruments and production.
Though the rhythms and sounds of Brazil are present throughout the whole album, they are most present on “O Côco da Galinha” and the instrumental “Julou.” Moysés Márquez, from the São Paulo underground samba scene, wrote and performed the lyrics for “O Côco da Galinha,” while “Julou” riffs on an old Brazilian melody. “Julou” refers to the brass-funk Krewe of Julu, the “walking krewe” that we participate in on Mardi Gras morning.
The album concludes with “Ash Wednesday Morning.” On this tune, we set out to evoke the two feelings you have after the long weeks of celebration: one of being worn out from all of the festivities and one of elation that you made it through another year.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
Crystal Bowersox stops by Relix to perform a song from her new album, All That For This.
- Spin Doctors: If the River Was Whiskey
- Ray Manzarek, Founding Member of The Doors, Passes Away at 74
- Golden Bloom "Flying Mountain"
- Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Doheny Blues Festival
- Video Premiere: Anna Bergendahl "Fun"
- Electric Forest’s King and Queen
- Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil"
- Grateful Dead’s Morning Brew and Drop Dead Dark Roast
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis Tried to Form Supergroup with Paul McCartney
- Weir’s Here: On TRI, RatDog and Solo Gigs
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Allie Kral Says Goodbye to Cornmeal
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll