Mapache, the Californian duo of Clay Finch and Sam Blasucci, creates a sound that transcends time. There is a charm to Mapache’s music—it’s simple, but in the best way. Their folk songs paint pictures, deliver listeners back to a simpler time, and create a softness that lingers, offering stripped-down and beautiful cowboy-esque tunes about love left somewhere else.
Recently, the group released their self-titled debut album on the Spiritual Pajamas label. While some of the songs on Mapache whisper the delicateness of love and pleasure, others like “Mountain Song” evoke playfulness and a sense of youth. As a whole, the album offers a feeling of effortless “chill” that could have only been born in California. These vibes paired with their nostalgic crooning is a surprising and authentic combination.
Listen to Mapache’s self-titled debut album, and read our interview with Clay and Sam below.
Live For Live Music: Tell me a little bit about Mapache and the band’s history?
Sam Blasucci: We met in high school. We had a couple different projects we worked on together, but we eventually parted ways. Clay went to school in Northern California and then I spent two years in Mexico. Clay and I regrouped two years ago when we started Mapache.
L4LM: What are some of your musical influences?
SB: We listen to a lot of old country and old bluegrass stuff, plus the kind of psychedelic country stuff. Eventually, other influences started to come in, like the California stuff, like The Grateful Dead and The Byrds, Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jefferson Airplane. We also listen to a lot of Latin music too.
Clay Finch: There’s a lot of stuff too that doesn’t come through in the music as much. Some of my favorites are Stevie Wonder, Leon Russell, and people like that who are a different genre than our stuff but still big influences.
L4LM: Your new album just came out, and your music is refreshingly simple. What gave you the confidence to keep it simple?
SB: To me, it just feels really good to play that way. It’s easy and doesn’t take much production. We have our guitars, and we sing. It’s a really rewarding way to make music, and it feels really good. People dug it so we kept doing it.
CF: When we play, it’s just to two of us, so we wanted to make a record that was somewhat similar to our live performances. We didn’t want to trick it out with too many bells and whistles. We didn’t need too.
L4LM: Where did you record your new album? How long did it take and what was that process like?
SB: It took a lot of time for it to come full circle, and it actually took a lot longer than I thought it would. We did half of the album in three days at Valentine Recording Studio here in Los Angeles. We spent a long time mixing and overdubbing and doing other things at Lone Palm studio in L.A. with Dan Horne, who is the producer. He is a very sweet man. That whole experience was one for the books.
L4LM: Is there a song on the album that is very representative of you guys as a band?
SB: That’s a hard question. They all kind of represent us in their own way. The song “Chico River” is about the time Clay spent in Chico, the time we both spent there. The song “Saltillo” is very representative of when I lived in Saltillo, Mexico. Yeah, so they all kind of express different parts of our lives in different ways. It’s hard to pick one.
L4LM: How do you know Chris Robinson?
SB: We played a couple shows with Chris through (((folkYEAH!))) Events. He booked us on a couple things, and we got along with him really well, so he’s been helping out a lot too.
L4LM: Why is music important to you guys?
CF: Well, I think if I weren’t playing music I would probably be doing something that makes me sadder than I am right now, so it’s important for my own wellbeing. But also, any sort of groundbreaking or spiritual experience, any sort of light that has come into my brain, has been through music or inspired by it, and that’s something I’ve tried to pay attention to.
SB: I think it is important too because it’s a sophisticated art form. People use music to express more sophisticated ideas. People can try to do that other art forms, but music is extra accessible. Elements of the fine art world can keep people out, and these other types of art can be exclusive. Music has always been something that is super human and doesn’t leave people out.
L4LM: Sam you spent time in Mexico did you learn anything musically there?
SB: For the most part, what is well-known down there is totally different than what I grew up listening to here, so there was a wide range of things to learn. Even the things they sing about are so different than what we would hear in a pop song here. A lot of old Boleto music and Mariachi music, the lyrics are so intense and so romantic in a way. For example “I have been crying my entire life, and now that you left me, I will be crying for eternity.”
L4LM: That sounds like a Pablo Neruda poem.
SB: Totally! It’s totally that vibe, and I really like him. I mean, if you listen to our modern pop music here, the topics are very different.
L4LM: Have there been any moments where you’re like, “Wow, this is happening”?
CF: I mean being so young and inexperienced, kind of everything that’s happening has been like that. On this last tour with the Allah Las, they played bigger theaters and stuff. When you walk out and people clap and it’s full, it’s pretty mind-blowing.
L4LM: What’s next for you guys?
SB: We are going to Colorado next week and play a couple cities there. We’re going to Utah and Idaho and Seattle. It is a week-long run with Mandolin Orange.