Galactic’s Robert Mercurio Talks Carnivale
This is your seventh studio album, and it seems like the more recent ones are more conceptual and thematic. Do you go into the studio with a theme in mind?
We definitely do. Of the last albums, we’ve been doing that for a while and it’s helpful. It’s not that we’re always going to do that, it’s just been kind of fun to have a concept to work around. It gives us focus. We are a band without a permanent lead singer, so we really relish collaborative people. So it really makes sense for us to have a concept that unites the people we collaborate with. It gives them a reason to be on the album. It’s intentional for sure and we’re tossing around some ideas for our next album.
How did you decide on the Mardi Gras and Carnivale theme?
With Ya Ka May, it was more about us celebrating New Orleans music. There were some bounce tracks, there were some tracks with some legends … that were … but then I knew we were kicking around the Mardi Gras / Carnivale theme and it was a theme where we could take all these concepts and it seemed like it was a very obvious choice for us.
Did you have any goals going into the studio? Do you think you accomplished those goals?
There were some things that I want – that a lot of us wanted – to get across on this album. The last two albums have been lots of solos. We have to consider how it’s going to sound when we lay it down but also how it’s going to sound when we actually perform a song. There’s always thing we would change or do differently. I was happy with getting more focus back to the instruments on [this album].
So this summer you have a pretty extensive tour schedule – what are you most excited for? Any big plans?
Well, we’re going back to Japan [for Fuji Rock Festival in July], and I always love going over there. We’ve been lucky – it’s going to be our twelfth time going in like ten years. We’re playing the main stage of a festival over there; it’s kind of like their Bonnaroo.
How do you select guests to perform with you?
It’s usually a planned thing. You know, Corey Glover, Cyril Neville. So far, it’s been people we’re friends with and already have a connection with. We’ve been touring with Corey Glover for the last year as a vocalist and he’s going to be doing a lot of those summer dates with us, too. He was hanging out at a show of ours and he ended up sitting in with us for the first time about ten years ago. After he sat in with us, we were all just freaking out, like “This is so great!” He’s such a great singer, so powerful. So then, sadly, it took about ten years to get together but it was a connection that we made a long time ago. So, when there comes a time we want a guest, we just have to figure out how we can get a vocalist to get across what we want to get across.
Who are your current inspirations?
Lyrics Born – he’s a rapper from the west coast that Ben and I have been listening to and are trying to work with for our next album. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop to get familiar with it.