The Mars Volta
|Origin||El Paso, Texas, U.S.|
The Mars Volta was an American progressive rock band from El Paso, Texas, formed in 2001. The band's final live lineup consisted of Omar Rodríguez-López (guitar, producer, direction), Cedric Bixler-Zavala (vocals, lyrics), Juan Alderete (bass), Marcel Rodríguez-López (keyboards, percussion), and Deantoni Parks (drums). The band formed following the break-up of Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala's previous band, At the Drive-In. They are known for their energetic live shows and their concept albums.
In 2009, the band won a Grammy Award in the Best Hard Rock Performance category for the song "Wax Simulacra".In 2008, they were named Best Prog-Rock Band by Rolling Stone magazine.
Following a run of reunion shows with At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta entered a hiatus in September 2012. Omar Rodríguez-López and Parks then formed a new project, Bosnian Rainbows.Four months later, the band formally broke up. Bixler-Zavala and Alderete subsequently formed a new band, Zavalaz. Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala eventually reunited in 2014 for a new project, Antemasque. At the Drive-In reunited again in 2015 before splitting in 2018.
Comments from the pair have indicated that they plan to reunite The Mars Volta in the future, but as of 2021 there is no specific information on the timing of a reunion.
Cedric Bixler-Zavala stated in an interview:
The Volta is taken from a Federico Fellini book about his films, what he characterizes as a changing of scene, or a turnaround; a new scene to him is called Volta. Y'know, changing of time and the changeover. And Mars, we're just fascinated by science fiction so and it's something that ultimately looked as in anything I write, its meaning is always up to the listener. As the way we write songs and words, if it looks great on paper then to us it's like painting, so if it looks good meaning the second then people usually have a better interpretation than we ever would.
The roots of The Mars Volta are found in the band At the Drive-In.ATDI imploded on the verge of a commercial breakthrough, partly due to boredom, partly to musical differences. Members Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López began to further explore their experimental, dub-influenced side project called De Facto, which featured Bixler-Zavala on drums, Rodríguez-López on bass, Isaiah "Ikey" Owens on keyboards, and Jeremy Michael Ward on vocals, loops and sound effects.
Due to creative differences and discomfort with mainstream success and drug abuse,Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala quit At the Drive-In in 2001. The remaining members of the band formed Sparta. During 2001 Eva Gardner joined the members of De Facto on bass, and they recorded two songs with drummer Blake Fleming and producer Alex Newport, which became the first demo by The Mars Volta. The lineup for their first public show at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California was Rodríguez-López, Bixler-Zavala, Owens, Gardner, Ward, and drummer Jon Theodore. This lineup recorded three more tracks with Alex Newport, which became the EP Tremulant , released in early 2002 by Gold Standard Laboratories.
After the demise of At the Drive-In, Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala found themselves once again starting from the ground up, touring and performing in smaller venues. In their early years The Mars Volta were characterized by chaotic live shows and heavy drug use.
Following Tremulant , The Mars Volta continued touring with a fluid line-up while preparing to record their debut full-length album De-Loused in the Comatorium , produced with Rick Rubin and released on June 24, 2003. Whereas Tremulant had no general theme (except the prophetic mentioning) De-Loused was a unified work of speculative fiction telling the first-person story of someone in a drug-induced coma, battling the evil side of his mind. Though lyrically obscure, The Mars Volta stated in interviews that the album's protagonist is based on their late friend Julio Venegas, or "Cerpin Taxt", an El Paso poet and artist who went into a coma for several years after a deliberate drug overdose, recovered and later committed suicide. [ citation needed ] (Venegas' death was also referenced in the At the Drive-In song "Embroglio" from their album Acrobatic Tenement .)He died jumping from the Mesa Street overpass onto Interstate-10 in El Paso during afternoon rush-hour traffic.
In an interview with The Aquarian Weekly in 2008, Cedric Bixler-Zavala said about working with Rubin, "Rick really over-simplified some of the parts that we thought were unique, and just made them very digestible. He's got this thing about representing the common man's ears—I'd rather jab the common man's ears. If we don't, we'll never get to a place where future music exists."
The Mars Volta had no official bassist during the recording session, but Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) played bass on nine of the album's ten songs, with Justin Meldal-Johnsen playing double bass on "Televators". Flea's bandmate John Frusciante also contributed additional guitar, synthesizer and backing vocals to "Cicatriz ESP". After several temporary replacements, a permanent bassist for the band was found in Juan Alderete (formerly of Racer X).
Despite limited promotion, De-Loused earned strong reviews, and appeared on several 'year-end best-of' lists. The album remains The Mars Volta's best-seller, with over 500,000 copies sold. Rolling Stone ranked a track from De-Loused, "Drunkship of Lanterns", the 91st Best Guitar Song Ever. The band later released a limited-edition storybook version of the album, available by download from the Gold Standard Laboratories website. The book speaks of Cerpin Taxt (Julio Venegas) and his suicide.
While on tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in support of the album, founding member Jeremy Michael Ward died of a heroin overdose.The band had canceled the tour's second leg, and the first single from De-Loused was later dedicated to Ward. It was this event which finally convinced band leaders Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala to purportedly quit using opioids. Bixler-Zavala recalled: "One day, we were all getting high, and Jeremy asked me if I could see he had worms in his head. I never touched the stuff again. His passing was the final nail in the coffin. We never went back."
As the band resumed touring to support De-Loused, they added Marcel Rodríguez-López (Omar's brother) on percussion. Work on their second album began in 2004. That year the band received the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Vanguard Award.
In 2005, the band released Frances the Mute . The story given by the band on the album's concept concerns a diary that had been found in a repossessed car by late sound technician Jeremy Ward, while working as a repo-man. The author of the diary is unknown but appeared to be someone who was adopted and was searching for their birth parents, and who may have suffered from mental illness caused by the death of a loved one. The lyrics for each track on the album are loosely based on characters and life events described in this person's diary.
Frances the Mute started as a bigger commercial hit than De-Loused, moving 123,000 copies in its first week, and debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard album charts. Reviews of Frances were generally positive (with a 75 on Metacritic) if somewhat polarized; Rolling Stone called it "a feverish and baroque search for self that conjures up the same majesty and gravity as Led Zeppelin three decades before", and even the detractors of Frances the Mute generally praised the band's musical abilities. "L'Via L'Viaquez" was later released as the 12 minute B-side to "The Bible And The Breathalyzer" single, a song which did not appear on the album. Frances the Mute has sold nearly 465,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan ratings.
Rodríguez-López wrote all of the instrumental parts as well as arranging and producing the recording sessions himself. He used a method that Miles Davis used to evoke great performances from bandmates: refusing to let the other members hear each other's parts, or the context of their own part, thereby forcing them to play each part as if it were a self-sufficient song. In order to accomplish this, the musicians recorded to the pulse of a metronome.[ citation needed ] While in the studio, Rodríguez-López recruited Adrián Terrazas-González to play saxophone, flute, and additional wind instruments for the album. Terrazas-González was added as a permanent member to The Mars Volta while touring in support of Frances the Mute.
Several songs written during the original recording sessions for the album never made the final cut. Notably, the self-titled 14-minute epic "Frances the Mute", which was originally to open the album and was ultimately supposed to decode the album's concept, was not included due to time constraints. Instead the track was featured as a b-side to the single release for "The Widow".
On May 20, 2005, instead of playing a traditional set at KROQ's Weenie Roast Festival, the band played a 50-minute improvisation jam that was jokingly named on-the-spot as "Abortion, The Other White Meat" by Rodríguez-López. In keeping with The Mars Volta's tradition of testing and developing new work live, parts of "Abortion" later appeared on "Population Council's Wet Dream" from Rodríguez-López's 2009 album Old Money .
Midway through their headlining U.S. tour, former At the Drive-In member Paul Hinojos left the band Sparta to join The Mars Volta, claiming, "My time with Sparta has run its course, and simply wasn't fun anymore." Hinojos joined as rhythm guitarist and became the band's sound manipulator, the position previously held by the late Ward. Hinojos had previously toured with The Mars Volta in 2003 and 2004.
During mid-2005, the band toured in support of the album with System of a Down and curated the All Tomorrow's Parties festival at Camber Sands in England.In addition, a full-length live album named Scabdates was released on November 8, 2005.
Upon finishing the majority of touring for Frances the Mute in fall 2005, Rodríguez-López traveled to Amsterdam and wrote what became Amputechture , which was released on September 8, 2006 in Europe, on September 9, 2006 in Australia and on September 12, 2006 in the U.S. Rodríguez-López spent much of his time in Amsterdam working on and performing various solo projects most notably under the name "Omar Rodriguez Quintet". During this time Rodríguez-López also composed the score to the film El Búfalo de la Noche , which was written and directed by Guillermo Arriaga and Jorge Hernandez Aldana respectively. The Mars Volta as a whole performed the score.
Amputechture was produced by Rodríguez-López and mixed by Rich Costey. Jeff Jordan provided the artwork, making it their first album not to feature the work of Storm Thorgerson. It was once again a concept album, but rather than telling a story, the album was a series of vignettes, with each song telling a different story. It became the last album with drummer Jon Theodore, whom Rodríguez-López fired before touring in support of the album. Rodríguez-López said in an interview with an Italian fan site that Theodore was the only member in the band who was not happy playing live and brought down the moods of the rest.[ citation needed ]
John Frusciante was featured on every track on Amputechture, except for "Asilos Magdalena". Rodríguez-López contributed the solos and riffs where the guitar work needed to be doubled. Bixler-Zavala said in an interview, "...he taught Frusciante all the new songs and Frusciante tracked guitars for us so Omar could sit back and listen to the songs objectively. It's great that he wants to help us and do that."[ citation needed ]
On July 28, 2006, the drummer's spot was filled by Blake Fleming, formerly of Laddio Bolocko, Dazzling Killmen, and the very first Mars Volta demos. A new song titled "Rapid Fire Tollbooth" was debuted live on September 22, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois, as reported by fans and attendees of the show who had received set lists from the stage. The song originally appears on Rodríguez-López's solo album Se Dice Bisonte, No Búfalo . The song eventually evolved into the track "Goliath" from the band's fourth studio album.
On September 25, 2006, The Mars Volta played a unique set on the opening night of a double-header in Toronto, Ontario. Cedric Bixler-Zavala fell ill and could not perform, so The Mars Volta played with John Frusciante on third guitar. The set consisted of over 47 minutes of instrumental material, including a lengthy cover of the Pink Floyd composition "Interstellar Overdrive". On October 17, 2006, while opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the band played with drummer Deantoni Parks as Rodríguez-López had fired Fleming because of complications within the band. Parks remained with the band only until the conclusion of the Japanese tour because of his prior commitments with other bands. On October 31, 2006 in Cleveland, Ohio, as Parks could not perform, The Mars Volta played an approximately 40-minute improvisation set as a rehearsal for another drummer, Thomas Pridgen.
On a 2006 episode of The Henry Rollins Show, The Mars Volta performed "Tetragrammaton" and "Day of the Baphomets" in a rare television performance. Afterwards, they did an interview with Rollins about the creation of Amputechture.
In 2007, Thomas Pridgen became the new permanent drummer for the band. Pridgen's first full-time appearance was at the March 12 show in New Zealand, where the band debuted the song "Idle Tooth" which was later renamed "Wax Simulacra" for the forthcoming album. After shows in New Zealand and Australia, The Mars Volta toured a few West Coast venues as the headliner, then entered the studio to record their fourth LP, The Bedlam in Goliath .One of these performances was captured in a live concert DVD (which remains unreleased) shot by director Jorge Hernandez Aldana.
Despite finding a permanent drummer and getting the band back on track, the recording and production of the album was reportedly plagued by difficulties related to a bad experience with a Ouija board purchased in a curio shop in Jerusalem.According to Rodríguez-López, their original engineer experienced a nervous breakdown, his studio flooded twice, and both he and mixer Rich Costey claimed that various tracks would disappear at random.
On November 5, 2007, The Mars Volta released a document by Jeremy Robert Johnson titled, "The Mars Volta's Descent into Bedlam: A Rhapsody in Three Parts".The document includes a history of the band and describes the obstacles and inspirations they encountered in the creation of The Bedlam in Goliath. On November 20, 2007 "Wax Simulacra", the first single from the forthcoming album, was released with a cover of "Pulled to Bits" by Siouxsie and the Banshees as the b-side.
The band kicked off their supporting tour with a December 29, 2007 "secret show" at the Echoplex in Los Angeles, California, followed by a special New Year's Eve performance at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.That night they played their first ever acoustic set, which included six songs and a live performance of "Miranda, That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore". The band then departed on a club tour of the U.S. east coast throughout January, with an album release show at San Diego's Soma, followed by another month's worth of European dates from mid-February to mid-March.
On January 2, 2008, The Mars Volta released an online game called "Goliath: The Soothsayer", based on a true story that inspired their forthcoming album The Bedlam In Goliath. The album chronicles the band's purported experience with the "Soothsayer", a Ouija board owned by vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and its transition from a source of fun on tour to a psycho-spiritual force that almost tore the band apart. The game was available for a limited time exclusively via Amazon.com.
On January 17, 2008, the band made their U.S. network television debut, performing "Wax Simulacra" on the Late Show with David Letterman (Rodríguez-López, Bixler-Zavala and Hinojos had appeared on the show with At the Drive-In in 2000). On January 22, they made a surprise appearance at Toronto, Ontario, Canada's MTV Live studios, where they performed "Wax Simulacra" and an extended version of "Goliath". In late January, the new album debuted at a career-best No. 3 on the Billboard 200.
The song "Wax Simulacra" won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. It was the band's first nomination and win.The band members thanked their families and Bixler urged people not to forget the memories of the recently departed Lux Interior and Ron Asheton.
Omar Rodríguez-López had discussed the band's next album as early as January 2008, the month that The Bedlam in Goliath was released,claiming "I consider it to be our acoustic album." Cedric Bixler-Zavala had expressed an urge for the album to not be released on a major label. In February 2009, Rodríguez-López claimed "the next two Mars Volta records are already recorded and waiting for a release date."
On April 14, 2009, The Mars Volta announced their fifth studio album, entitled Octahedron . It was released June 23 in the United States and June 22 in the rest of the world. A vinyl version was released on July 21 in a limited edition of 500 LPs.In the spirit of distillation of the band's sound, Rodríguez-López asked saxophonist Adrián Terrazas-González and guitarist/sound manipulator Paul Hinojos to leave. Regarding their departure, percussionist Marcel Rodríguez-López noted that: "it's like we got a whole new band. It's two less members – we got to play differently."
The first single released in North America was "Since We've Been Wrong". The first European single was "Cotopaxi".
An excerpt from The Mars Volta's performance at the All Tomorrow's Parties, UK 2005 A Nightmare Before Christmas festival was featured in the All Tomorrow's Parties film, which was released in cinemas during October 2009.
During the Octahedron tour, the show on October 23 in Raleigh, NC was unexpectedly cancelled. It was supposed to be the final show of the North American leg of the tour, but was cancelled due to an argument between Bixler-Zavala and Thomas Pridgen, the drummer at the time, which ended with Pridgen abruptly leaving the venue. A month later, Pridgen confirmed his departure from The Mars Volta via Facebook stating he was "not in TMV anymore".In a February 2011 interview, Pridgen said he left the group "because the singer had a jealous ego trip. There's nothing more to elaborate on"; however, Juan Alderete stated in 2013 that "Thomas got really drunk, did some bad things and did some real damage to the trust we all had with him." The band later completed the tour with drummer Dave Elitch. They played throughout Europe and Australia until the end of January 2010.
In October 2010, The Mars Volta played two shows in Brazil and Chile.Long-time keyboardist, Ikey Owens, was absent during these dates due to touring commitments with his own project, Free Moral Agents.
Shortly after Octahedron's release, Rodríguez-López claimed to have put the supposed follow-up "on hold" and was starting work on a completely new album. In an April 2010 interview with Rolling Stone, Rodríguez-López talked about trying to loosen his grip in the studio. He claimed to have finished writing the album, and was awaiting lyrics and vocals from Bixler-Zavala.Rodríguez-López spent most of 2010 focusing on his solo career, and little information regarding the sixth Mars Volta album was released. During this year drummer Deantoni Parks began touring with Rodríguez-López as well as appearing on several solo records, and Cathy Pellow of Sargent House Records confirmed that Parks was in talks to become the next drummer for The Mars Volta.
In 2011 Rodríguez-López spoke about the band's new album in several interviews, saying that it would feature thirteen songs which, "[are] a simplified version of what we've done before",and would be released "Whenever the record label decides to put it out". Bixler-Zavala took the opportunity to make a few remarks on the sound of the album, indicating a drastic change in sound for the band, referring to the new sound as "future punk".
On March 19, 2011 the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group performed at SXSW. Bixler-Zavala joined the group as a vocalist, performing entirely new material with the band, which led to speculations of the show being a secret Mars Volta show under the Omar Rodríguez-López Group moniker. The Group continued to tour throughout April with the same lineup of Bixler-Zavala, Omar and Marcel Rodríguez-López, Juan Alderete, Deantoni Parks and (previously offstage) keyboardist/sound manipulator Lars Stalfors.An official Mars Volta tour began in summer of 2011, consisting of them opening for Soundgarden on select dates. This was in addition to their opening slot for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in their one-off gig in Hong Kong on August 9, 2011. During these shows the band (featuring the same six members) continued to play the new material premiered during the Omar Rodríguez-López Group tour earlier in the year, with Bixler-Zavala telling the crowd at one show that he was "inviting them to a private rehearsal for their new album," confirming the material was off the band's upcoming album.
Keyboardist Ikey Owens, who had played with the band since its inception, was noticeably absent from all 2011 dates. When asked in an interview, Owens stated that he knew "Absolutely nothing [of the upcoming album]. I haven't heard one note of it; I haven't played on it. I don't know if I am going to play on it; I have no idea".Bassist Juan Alderete later revealed via his Twitter page that Owens was no longer playing with The Mars Volta as he was busy "producing bands". Marcel Rodríguez-López and Lars Stalfors took over keyboard and synth duties with the band in lieu of Owens.
On January 5, 2012, a new song titled "Zed and Two Naughts", a song revealed to be from the band's upcoming album, was confirmed to be included on the MLB 12: The Show Soundtrack.
On January 12, it was revealed that the upcoming album would be called Noctourniquet .Later that week, an official page went up confirming Noctourniquet as the album title along with unveiling the album art and a full track listing and announcing March 27, 2012 as the release date. The album's first single, "The Malkin Jewel," was first broadcast on February 13 and subsequently released on February 14.
After the conclusion of the Noctourniquet tour, Omar Rodríguez-López decided to put The Mars Volta on hold to fully concentrate on his new project, Bosnian Rainbows, which also features Deantoni Parks. When asked in an interview if the band will reunite, he stated:
I don't know, and I'm not insecure enough to have to ask myself that. It's like, we've done that for ten years, eleven years. Now we're all doing different things, and everything that we're doing informs how we express ourselves, and so if that happens then it happens and if it doesn't it doesn't. It's not something to be worried about. It shouldn't occupy a space in the mind. There's way too many things that are much too important to occupy space in the mind.
On January 23, 2013, Cedric Bixler-Zavala revealed that he was no longer a part of The Mars Volta on Twitter and that the band had broken up.
Bixler-Zavala subsequently focused on his solo music and eventually formed a new band, Zavalaz, which also includes Juan Alderete. He stated shortly after that he was "currently not on speaking terms" with Rodríguez-López and that "the falling out had been four years in the making, so the final announcement on my part was really just to let the children know that Mom and Dad were splitting up".
Rodríguez-López, meanwhile, did not rule out the possibility of The Mars Volta reuniting in the future: "Because of all my anger and how I dealt with people, I spent so much of my life just closing doors left and right. At this point, I refuse to close any, only to open new ones. Whatever comes my way - as long as it's filled with joy and positivity - I want to give my talents to it. [...] I'm not interested in throwing tantrums any more."He elaborated further on an article with Billboard, acknowledging Bixler-Zavala's decision to depart TMV, effectively ending the over 20 year musical partnership between Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala for the foreseeable future. Rodríguez-López stated, "I was making a film and heard about it hours later; people were like, 'Are you OK?' I understand where he's coming from; I've known the guy for 22 years. I'll always respect and support any decision he makes. If that's how he wants it, I totally get it and I support it."
In August 2013, a collection of unreleased songs, demos, alternate versions, and in-studio jams roughly spanning from 2005 until the Noctourniquet sessions was leaked online. The source of these recordings still remains unknown.
In February 2014, several posts on the Comatorium message board by sources close to the band revealed that Bixler-Zavala and Rodríguez-López have been meeting and speaking again, hinting at a possible Mars Volta reunion.[ citation needed ] The rumours were further fueled when Bixler-Zavala's wife Chrissie posted a picture on Instagram of her husband and Rodríguez-López holding Bixler's twin boys at a California beach. On April 9, a new project featuring Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala, Antemasque was announced; Antemasque also featured Flea on bass and Dave Elitch on drums.
On October 14, 2014, founding member Isaiah "Ikey" Owens was found dead in his hotel room while on tour in Mexico with Jack White. According to a representative, Owens died of a heart attack.
In an interview with Rolling Stone on July 11, 2016, when asked about a potential return of The Mars Volta, Rodriguez-Lopez stated, "At some point, we’d love to do [Mars Volta] again too, you know what I mean? There’s so much to do there as well."In February 2018, Bixler-Zavala confirmed on Twitter that The Mars Volta will "be back soon", but later clarified that At the Drive-In activity will take precedence for the immediate future. In May 2019, further tweeting from Bixler-Zavala suggested he and Rodríguez-López had been experimenting with new material.
On February 23, 2021, Hamburg based label Clouds Hill Group announcedthey had acquired rights to handle the bands discography, as well as Omar Rodriguez-Lopez' entire back catalogue, with official reissues of both discographies expected.
On March 4, 2021, Clouds Hill posted a video on Twittertitled 'COMING SOON', featuring audio from De-Loused in the Comatorium, as well as alternate artwork of the album cover. This was later confirmed as the 18-LP box set of the band's entire discography titled La Realidad de Los Sueños (The Reality of Dreams), including unreleased material from the De-Loused in the Comatorium sessions titled Landscape Tantrums. The set was released on April 23, 2021.
The band's music has been described as progressive rockand experimental rock.
The band's music includes elements from a wide variety of genres, including hardcore, psychedelic rock, and free jazz.Omar Rodríguez-López commented, "Progressive is not a dirty word for people to use about us. If you're not moving forward, you're stagnant. And that's no way to live." Almost the entire band's output was composed solely by Rodríguez-López, with lyrics and vocal melodies written by Cedric Bixler-Zavala. They cited artists/bands such as King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Can, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Larry Harlow, Miles Davis, Fela Kuti, Ennio Morricone, Throbbing Gristle, Talk Talk, Black Flag, Brainiac, Björk, Roni Size, Jaga Jazzist and Aphex Twin as their influences. According to Rodríguez-López, cinema also largely influences his songwriting: "Creating tension, creating flow, creating scenes, creating fast-paced scenes, creating minimal dialogue – it's one of our biggest influences".
Many artists and bands have cited The Mars Volta as an influence, including Mastodon,Lizzo, Protest the Hero, Nick Hipa of As I Lay Dying, The Fall of Troy, Danny Marino of The Agonist, Tor Oddmund Suhrke of Leprous, Jonathan Nido of The Ocean, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Old Dead Tree, Canvas Solaris and Syriak of Unexpect.
A number of other artists have been quoted expressing admiration for their work such as Neil Peart of Rush,Tool, Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, James Hetfield of Metallica, Holger Czukay of Can and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater.
According to the liner notes for Amputechture, The Bedlam in Goliath, Octahedron and Noctourniquet: "The partnership between Omar Rodríguez-López & Cedric Bixler-Zavala is The Mars Volta. These compositions are then performed by The Mars Volta Group."
Final lineup (July 2012)
De-Loused in the Comatorium is the debut studio album by American progressive rock band the Mars Volta, released on June 24, 2003, on Gold Standard Laboratories and Universal Records. Based on a short story written by lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and sound manipulation artist Jeremy Michael Ward, the concept album is an hour-long tale of Cerpin Taxt, a man who enters a week-long coma after overdosing on a mixture of morphine and rat poison. The story of Cerpin Taxt alludes to the death of El Paso, Texas artist—and Bixler-Zavala's friend—Julio Venegas (1972–1996).
Omar Alfredo Rodríguez-López is an American guitarist, songwriter, producer and filmmaker. He is known for being the guitarist, songwriter and band-leader of the Mars Volta from 2001 until their breakup in 2012, and is the guitarist for the alternative rock groups At the Drive-In, Antemasque and Bosnian Rainbows. He was also the bassist for the dub band De Facto. He has embarked on a solo career, both in studio and in concert, frequently described as experimental, avant-garde and/or progressive. He has collaborated with numerous artists spanning from John Frusciante to El-P.
Frances the Mute is the second studio album by American progressive rock band The Mars Volta released in February 2005 on Gold Standard Laboratories and Universal. Produced by guitarist and songwriter Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, the album incorporates dub, ambient, Latin and jazz influences, and is the first to feature bassist Juan Alderete and percussionist Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez. The album also includes contributions from future saxophonist Adrián Terrazas-González, who joined the band during its subsequent tour.
Tremulant is the debut EP release by progressive rock band The Mars Volta, released on April 2, 2002 on Gold Standard Labs. Produced by Alex Newport, the EP marks the only appearance of founding bassist Eva Gardner. A remastered version was released on April 16, 2014.
Cedric Bixler-Zavala is an American singer and songwriter. He is the lead singer and lyricist of the progressive rock band The Mars Volta and the only constant member of the post-hardcore group At the Drive-In, for which he is the lead singer and occasional guitarist. He is also the lead singer of the band Antemasque, and sings and plays guitar in his band Zavalaz.
Pablo J. Hinojos-Gonzalez, also known as Paul Hinojos, is an American musician best known as the bass guitarist for At the Drive-In, and former touring member of The Mars Volta. He is also a former guitarist of Sparta.
Jeremy Michael Ward was the sound technician and vocal operator for The Mars Volta and for the dub outfit De Facto. He created many of the soundscapes heard on The Mars Volta's album De-Loused in the Comatorium. Ward, aside from his role in The Mars Volta and De Facto, played guitar, and was a visual artist working mostly in pen and ink.
Randolph Isaiah "Ikey" Owens was an American Grammy Award winning keyboardist known for his work with The Mars Volta, Jack White and an array of bands from the Long Beach music scene.
De Facto was a dub reggae band which included Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodríguez-López, Isaiah "Ikey" Owens and Jeremy Michael Ward.
Amputechture is the third studio album by American progressive rock band the Mars Volta, released on September 12, 2006, on Gold Standard Laboratories and Universal Records. Produced by guitarist and songwriter Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, the album marks the final appearance of drummer Jon Theodore, and is the first studio album to feature guitarist and sound manipulator Paul Hinojos, formerly of At the Drive-In and Sparta.
Se Dice Bisonte, No Búfalo is the third studio album by Omar Rodríguez-López and the second in the "Amsterdam series". It was written and recorded in 2005 in California and Amsterdam, and was released May 29, 2007 by Gold Standard Labs on both vinyl and CD. A limited edition, brown marble vinyl was also available. 750 were made to fulfill pre-orders through April 30.
The Bedlam in Goliath is the fourth studio album by American progressive rock band the Mars Volta, released on January 29, 2008, on Gold Standard Laboratories and Universal Motown Records. Produced by guitarist and songwriter Omar Rodríguez-López, the album's creation was subject to "bad luck controversy" after an experience with a ouija that Rodriguez-Lopez bought as a gift for vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. The album is their first to feature drummer Thomas Pridgen, and the last to include guitarist and sound manipulator Paul Hinojos, wind multi-instrumentalist Adrián Terrazas-González, and keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens.
The Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group is an American experimental rock band, and the main side project of Omar Rodríguez-López. Featuring an ever-changing lineup of musicians alongside Rodriguez-Lopez, the group is most often a live entity to perform the various outlets of his solo music aside from the Mars Volta. After the dissolution of the Mars Volta in 2012, Omar completed a few more solo records until 2013 before deciding to pursue only collaborative efforts with groups At the Drive-In, Bosnian Rainbows, Antemasque, and Crystal Fairy.
Calibration is the fifth studio album by Omar Rodríguez-López, and the fourth released in the "Amsterdam series". The album was released in Japan on December 15, 2007 with a following U.S. release later on February 5, 2008, merely a week after The Mars Volta's The Bedlam in Goliath. The album art was illustrated by graffiti artist GREY, a childhood friend of Rodriguez-Lopez's. According to the label, the original title given to them by Omar was "Calibration Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far" but the "Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far" part of the title appeared nowhere on the physical release.
The discography of The Mars Volta, an American progressive rock group formed in 2001, consists of six studio albums, one live album, two extended plays, and nine singles. The final lineup of The Mars Volta consisted of the two founding members Omar Rodríguez-López on guitar and production, Cedric Bixler-Zavala on vocals and lyrics, along with Juan Alderete on bass, Marcel Rodríguez-López on keyboards and percussion, and Deantoni Parks on drums.
Cryptomnesia is the debut studio album by El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez, released on May 5, 2009. The album is the first of three albums recorded by the band, and is Rodriguez-Lopez' eleventh record overall. According to Rodriguez-Lopez, the album was "recorded in the summer of 2006, around the same time I did Old Money. It was a very, very fun record to make. I made that record in five or six days."
Octahedron is the fifth full-length studio album by American progressive rock band the Mars Volta, released on June 23, 2009. The album was released by Warner Bros. Records in North America and Mercury Records worldwide. It is the last studio album to feature drummer Thomas Pridgen and guitarist John Frusciante, and the first not to feature contributions from keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens.
Noctourniquet is the sixth and most recent studio album by American progressive rock band the Mars Volta, released on March 26, 2012 on Warner Bros. Produced by guitarist and songwriter Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, it is the band's only studio album to feature drummer Deantoni Parks, and their only album not to include contributions from guitarist John Frusciante.
"The Malkin Jewel" is the only single from The Mars Volta's sixth studio album, Noctourniquet and was the band's last official single before their breakup. It was premiered on February 13, 2012 on Triple J radio and later on BBC Radio. The same day, an interactive page featuring the song was launched on the band's official website. Official release through all digital retailers followed the next day.
Zavalaz is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 2013. It features singer and guitarist Cedric Bixler-Zavala, guitarist Dan Elkan, bassist Juan Alderete and drummer Gregory Rogove.
Q: You probably get asked this quite a lot, but who / what are your musical influences?
Rody Walker: [...] The Mars Volta and The Dillinger Escape plan have always been big ones [...]
Q: What bands have influenced you personally?
Nick Hipa: [...] During my college years I got into the less technical but creative style of bands like The Refused, At The Drive-In, Radiohead, and The Mars Volta. [...]
Q: Which artists and bands is your songwriting influenced by?
Danny Marino: So many different ones - Opeth, Devin Townsend, The Mars Volta [...]
Our main influences are bands like PINK FLOYD, PARADISE LOST, THE MARS VOLTA [...]
[...] Matt introduced me to some great new bands, like Dredg, the Mars Volta, and Porcupine Tree, younger musicians who were still pursuing excellence and honesty in rock music.
[...] you had bands like Muse, like Sigur Ros, like The Mars Volta, all of them have sold a lot of records, but have also been great artists.
James Hetfield: What I love about them is - they push the limits on pretty much everything. Guitar playing, vocals... I remember Cedric [Bixler-Zavala] having pedals on the floor for his vocals. I had never seen that before! And he was pushing them and doing weird stuff with his voice - really treating it like an instrument, very cool! They even had a bongo player at one point! Jon - unbelievable! I remember watching him live. You [Lars] were there, we saw them in a little joint somewhere in Australia. That was one of the craziest gigs I've seen. The energy those guys had... And they were all wearing fancy boots too! That was the combination that blew my mind. 'They're going crazy and they look good too!' [Laughs]
One of my today's favorites is the singer from The Mars Volta, Cedric Bixler and guitarist Omar Rodriguez from Texas. [...]
Some modern bands and artists that I have a tremendous amount of respect for are: Muse, Opeth, Lamb Of God, Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, The Mars Volta [...]
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