Formerly 'secret' music becomes the lifeblood of Mapache

Joel Oliphint
Clay Finch (left) and Sam Blasucci of Mapache

Growing up in Glendale, California, Sam Blasucci loved listening to classic folk acts and cosmic country music, but for a while he did it mostly in secret.

“In high school, a lot of times I was listening to things I didn't even like just because my friends listened to it and I felt like I should listen to it. And then anything that I listened to in secret, which is really the stuff that I like now and my biggest influences, was kind of an outcast group,” Blasucci said. “None of my friends in high school liked the Grateful Dead or older music that wasn't indie rock from the early 2000s. But Clay [Finch] and I did, and we played this music together.”

After meeting in high school, Finch and Blasucci later formed the harmony-driven acoustic duo Mapache and in 2017 released their self-titled debut, which is being reissued this week on Yep Roc Records and repackaged to include the band’s 2018 covers EP, Lonesome LA Cowboy. The EP’s title track began life as a song the two bandmates used to play for kicks in their living room, but at the urging of friend and producer Dan Horne, Mapache began performing the 1973 New Riders of the Purple Sage cover at shows, eventually recording a version with nothing more than two guitars and two voices, as is the duo’s custom.

Finch and Blasucci also put their own spin on the Louvin Brothers’ “Katie Dear,” a song the two became intimately familiar with while on tour. “We bought this giant, four-disc Louvin Brothers anthology, and that song, ‘Katie Dear,’ we would listen to in our pickup truck that only had a CD player when we were on tour,” Blasucci said. “We were on this full Louvin Brothers cleanse where we had been listening for weeks straight — maybe months straight — to only Louvin Brothers songs. [‘Katie Dear’] was in our sleep and in our dreams.”

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Even though the band’s debut is a couple of years old, Blasucci and Finch said the songs don’t feel stale, partially because they rarely play the same set list twice. Expect a mix of old songs, covers and newer, unreleased songs when Mapache (Spanish for “raccoon”) plays an opening set at the sold-out Allah-Lahs show at Ace of Cups on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

For the band’s new, completed record, which will see release in 2020, Finch and Blasucci looked to expand Mapache’s vision while staying true to the duo’s roots. While only one track on the debut album included drums, percussion features more heavily on the forthcoming release, and the band also set up microphones outdoors to capture “some sounds that I guess a lot of people wouldn't consider musical sound,” Finch said.

And while the first album was recorded using mostly live takes, the new full-length incorporates more overdubbing, partially because the pair had more time and freedom to tinker in the studio, which was located inside Dan Horne’s house, where Finch and Blasucci lived.

“We could go down after dinner and work on stuff or try different instruments and then give up after midnight and then try again the next day. So there was a little bit less pressure than you might have in a normal studio,” Blasucci said.

To hear three new Mapache songs, check out this short set the duo live-streamed for Relix last week:

Ace of Cups

7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26 (SOLD OUT)

2619 N. High St., Old North

ALSO PLAYING: Allah-Lahs, Tim Hill