Maze featuring Frankie Beverly is still relevant after four decades! Original member, Roame Lowry plays congas and sings background vocals for the band. He took time out of his very busy schedule to speak with me briefly about himself and gave a little insight to the band. I thoroughly enjoyed our interview and I’d like to share with you some of the highlights of our conversation.
LEXI: Roame, I understand that you are the one who actually came up with the name Maze as the name of the band. Why Maze, where did you get that from?
ROAME: Before Maze we were called Raw Soul. Marvin Gaye discovered us in a club and didn’t like the name. He said “you guys really need to change your name.” We all were just spitting out names and we almost ended up with the name Caravan.
I said what about Maze? They said that’s cool and we continued to throw some more names out and at the end of the day we came back to Maze. It’s funny; it wasn’t a lot of thought put into it. I said Maze because in my mind, at that time, we were playing different kinds of music. Everybody liked the name at the end and the rest is history. The name stuck and it fits the band.
LEXI: What’s your favorite song that you guys made and why?
ROAME: I guess if I had to pick one it would be We Are One.
It speaks for itself. It’s such a social statement as far as the human race we are one. We truly believe that. Frank just doesn’t write songs without any merit. It’s something we truly believe in and I think that if everyone believed that we would be a better society.
LEXI: Agreed. Who is your favorite Jazz artist?
ROAME: John Coltrane. I am an old Jazz head; I like Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, and Freddie Hubbard – all of the old guys that came out in the 50’s and 60’s.
LEXI: How do you feel about Rap or Hip-Hop these days?
ROAME: I like some of the rap that’s out now. I enjoy some of it not all of it. I’m old school I do not like profanity and hardcore but I do get into some of it. I get more hooked with the grooves than the lyrics because some of the lyrics I’m not with especially when they’re downgrading women.
What I do enjoy more than the rap is the beat or groove they come up with. It’s fascinating to me that they can remember lyrics with hundreds of words when they are rhyming and do it off the cuff. You know, I am amazed they can do that and most of these rappers that can do that and retain all these words did not finish school.
LEXI: Music and the music industry have changed so much over the years. What are your thoughts on the change in the music industry as it related to record deals and how you market yourself these days?
ROAME: I think it benefits the artists more so now. The internet is there and a lot of new artists coming up are not dealing with labels. We, fortunately, were able to stay with major labels. I think it is something that’s going to make the upcoming artists nowadays more independent. What I don’t understand is how you can be considered a musician and you don’t play an instrument. Nowadays it’s just keyboards or keypads and you’re considered a musician. I don’t get that but I understand it because it is the way of creating music nowadays you can’t get by it. It’s the computer age. It’s the quickest way to put music together. It’s like microwaved music.
LEXI: What do you think is the key to your bands longevity?
ROAME: We have a fantastic leader. We are so blessed and fortunate that he’s (Frankie Beverly) writing these beautiful songs. I think it is the camaraderie. We have been blessed to have band members come and go but they always were family oriented and had strong faith. I think that in itself just the love we have for our fans and living the music. A lot of the music is our lives you know. Frank and I were in a band for forty-two years. Back then we were in Philly but we were into the hippie movement and we were basically about love and peace. We’ve kept a lot of that understanding and feeling and that hasn’t changed.
LEXI: You mentioned you’ve been in the business some 42 years. I heard you say a few key things but I am going to ask you this question directly. What advice, then, would you give to current artists to stay relevant some 40 years into their careers?
ROAME: Stay true to yourself and what you believe in. Believe in your craft. Never be discouraged by someone telling you that you can’t do it. Pretty much believe in yourself and let no one deter your dreams. We went through some hardships. We left Philly in 1972 and moved to the Bay Area. We had gigs lined up but by the time we got there the gigs fell through and for some three or four years we were doing really badly. We stayed strong like I said through our strong faith and we were blessed that we were struggling. We had some nights where we had actually had nothing to eat but we had a place to stay; we had some rough, rough times. So just be true to yourself, have strong faith and usually things will come your way.
LEXI: I understand that you have had those rough times but now it seems like every time I turn around, I’m seeing Maze featuring Frankie Beverly playing. Goodness you guys have been so busy!
ROAME: Yeah and it’s amazing and a beautiful thing. We have not had an album out in over 23 or 24 years!
We are still selling out which tells you that people are still loving the music, they love the band and we are still in popular demand. We have a wonderful and strong fan base like no other. I’m truly amazed, pardon the pun, that we achieved such greatness out of just love from our fans and of course the material. I can’t think of too many bands or artists out that have not had music out in over 20 years that can still go out and pack out the house! We tour about eight months out of the year.
LEXI: You’ve got to feel special, you’ve got to!
ROAME: We are truly blessed. It’s such a fantastic journey and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I have to give it all to God and to our fans.
LEXI: What do you think is your greatest intangible and tangible asset?
ROAME: The rewards from being a veteran band and the BET Lifetime Achievement Award was special.
I also asked him Roame what some of his favorites were to which he replied his favorite color is black, loves seafood, football, The Philadelphia Eagles, loves the Beatles and James Brown. A few of today’s artists he likes are Jill Scott, Beyonce, Maxwell and is beginning to like Bruno Mars. His favorite move is The Godfather, likes the comedy of Richard Pryor but also likes Kevin Hart in today’s market.
LEXI: I have to ask you this final favorite. Who is your favorite new interviewer?
ROAME: The lady I’m speaking with on the other end of this line that happens to be doing a marvelous job!
LEXI: That was the right answer! Do you have any final thoughts or words that you would like to share?
ROAME: Just to all of our fans, we love you so much and appreciate your support that you have shown throughout the years. We are going to continue to come and do our very best in entertaining you and giving you the best of Maze. Hopefully in the near future, you will be hearing some new music. Frank has been working on some new stuff so there is a good chance that something may come out this year or next year.
Interviewing Roame Lowry of Maze was definitely a treat! I can’t wait to see them in concert again. They are touring constantly so be sure to check them out if they are performing near you.
If you want more information on Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, go to their official website at www.mazemuze.com.