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Published: 2012/06/05
by Grace Beehler

Galactic’s Robert Mercurio Talks Carnivale

Formed in 1994, New Orleans-based Galactic has garnered loyal followings through extensive tours and successful studio albums. With the recent release of Carnivale Electricos, shows at Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras, as well as shows at festivals across the country, Galactic has perfected their sound with an album centered upon Mardi Gras and Brazilian Carnival. The album, which dropped on Fat Tuesday, features guest stars from Brazil and New Orleans and bridges the gap between the two pre-Lent festivities.

Robert Mercurio, the band’s bassist who grew up outside Washington, D.C., took the time to talk with another suburban Marylander about the band’s new album, summer plans, and more.

Who were you listening to when you were young, and how have they affected your music today?

We have a track with Mystikal [“Move Fast”], one of the New Orleans rappers [who appears on Carnivale Electricos. I remember the first time that I got his first album. I was a little older – I was about 22 then. I was listening to that in my bedroom and it was such a different sound. I remember the day. And it was such a different attitude toward hip-hop.

What prompted the focus on Brazilian music as well as New Orleans music on this album? What’s the connection between New Orleans and Brazil?

We did play Brazil one time last year, and I don’t know…we’ve listened to a lot of the music of Brazil over the years. We’ve studied a lot of Brazilian music; we’ve had people sit in with us. We thought it would be a way to broaden our concept and include a lot of our ideas and music.

When you’re playing these new songs live, how do you translate the massive sound to the stage? Like on “Karate,” which features a high school marching band. What do you do?

That’s a good question. It’s really hard to do that. On the last tour, we had the Soul Rebels Brass Band from New Orleans, they were opening up the show. So we had an eight-piece horn section that we used as our band for the set. So that really came across well. The one night they weren’t opening for us, it still manages to come across. Last night in Las Vegas, they weren’t there but it still comes across pretty powerful, even though it’s only four people playing the melody.

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