Maine’s very own Americana/rock/country collective, The Mallett Brothers Band, will make an appearance at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5. The band has been around since 2010 and has released four albums, the self-titled debut in 2010, “Low Down” in 2011, “Land” in 2013 and “Lights Along The River” in 2015. Fronted by David Mallett’s two sons, Luke and Will Mallett, the group has been winning over audiences all around the country, not just here in Maine. Back in 2013, I chatted with Luke right after “Land” had been released, and when I discovered that he and his band would be down at Unity, I had to find out what had been happening with them since last we talked. He agreed. On Jan. 12 I called him at the band’s rehearsal location after checking their website and cruising through YouTube’s many videos of the band.

Q: It sounds like things are going rather well for you guys.

Mallett: Busy enough, and we do like busy, and by the looks of things this is going to be a busy year, and that’s exactly what we’ve been hoping for.

Q: Well, I’ve been checking out some of your stuff on YouTube, like you suggested, because I haven’t heard your new album yet. I noticed that there were five of you at times in the newer videos where all of your albums feature six members: you and Will, Brian Higgins, Nick Leen, Nate Soule and Wally Wenzel.

Mallett: Well, we’ve had line-up changes. We’ve had a few. Since “Land” — that’s the last album you have. We lost a lead player almost two years ago. He left to go do other things. So for the record, we actually recorded with a friend of ours from Nashville, Matt Mills. Matt came up from Nashville, and he was me and my brother’s neighbor growing up down there. He’s playing pedal steel and banjo and guitar on the new record. And since then, he never joined full-time. He recorded the record with us. We’ve been playing with Andrew Martelle through the summer pretty much, and he jumped onboard playing fiddle and mando for the last six months or so. That’s probably going to be a permanent thing. I think he’s looking to get on the road with us. He’s from North of Nashville and the other half of North of Nashville, Jay Basiner, went down to Nashville a few months ago. And then, just on the first of this month, we played our last show on New Year’s Eve with our drummer, Brian Higgins, who was an original member, and now Adam Cogswell has taken over as Brian’s moved to Florida with his girlfriend to be with her family. Adam’s been in a number of Portland bands, and he’s a good buddy. We’ve known him a long time, and he’s a hell of a player. So we’re going into 2016 with a few line-up changes and ready to tackle a new record. That’s next on the agenda, to make some new recordings.

Q: Have you guys played at UCCPA previously?

Mallett: We haven’t. We’ve played up at Unity a whole bunch of times, but always at the Student Center. They do like a series in there, but we haven’t done the Performing Arts Center. We’ve been kind of gunning for that one for a few years now, so we were pumped to make that one happen. Oh, and we’ve done a few different Common Ground parties and played one across the way from Common Ground one year.

Q: One thing that I have always enjoyed about your band is that there’s a total disregard for pigeon-holing your sound. Genres be damned. You play what you like so no one knows what’s coming next.

Mallett: Yeah, it gets stagnant otherwise. It gets boring. And we’ve always said that we’re here for the longevity, we’re going for a sustainable career, we want to make a thousand records before we’re done, and it’s just no fun if you’re doing the same things over and over. And we’ve been lucky in that all the members — and even the people who have come and gone over the years — have all kind of brought something different to the table. We’ve all brought from different genres and backgrounds, but we’re all bringing Maine, I feel like, which I think is kind of the root of it. There are a lot of different angles, and it keeps it fun and keeps it fresh.

Q: When new folks come on board, do the older songs and earlier material take on new dimensions?

Mallett: Well, that’s kind of always happened anyway, even from one week to the next. You know, the recorded tracks have always continued to evolve. We’ve always kind of said that the live show influenced a lot how we ended up recording the last three records. The first one was the only record where we recorded before we were really playing shows and before we were really getting comfortable on stage, and it made a big difference from the first record to the second record. You could tell that there was a stage show influence going on. Even now we like to go back and revisit stuff from the first record just because it’s fun to bring it back and try something new. But yes, we’re playing lots of shows. At our peak, we hit like 165 shows. That’s a lot of shows, and I think this past year it was more like 120 or 130, and hopefully this year we’ll do more than either, but when you’re playing that much, we can’t let ourselves get bored. It’s got to stay fun.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article concerning your band’s upcoming show at the UCCPA?

Mallett: It’ll be a cool one. It feels like a hometown gig for us any time we get above Augusta, especially for me and my brother because we grew up in Piscataquis County. We’re lucky that we get a lot of gigs in Maine and that people all up and down from Fort Kent all the way to Portland are still booking us and are still helping us pay the gas bills and get out there. So for us to get up in that area, it feels really close to home and it’s cool. I used to hang out at Unity when I was a kid. I had friends who went to school there. Me and my brother lived in Dixmont when we were little kids. It’s just nice to have something like that up there, and we’re pumped to be a part of it.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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