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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Omar Rodríguez-López Debuts New Video, Talks New At The Drive-In, Jim Ward & Hopes For Return Of The Mars Volta


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Omar Rodríguez-López took part in a extensive chat with Rollingstone.com regarding his work with his numerous outfits and endeavors, from his upcoming series of twelve solo albums to scoring films, plus new material from At The Drive-In, Antemasque and more. There’s also some hopeful words for an eventual The Mars Volta return as well. Read on for some excerpts from the chat:

On the health of At The Drive-In frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala following a series of canceled dates:

“They found nodules in his vocal cords. Untreated, that could get bad. We took the time off, and after working with a specialist, Cedric‘s nodules are being treated, so we’re continuing the world tour right now. Fans who bought tickets are getting refunds of the canceled shows, and we’re making them up in the future. That’s about as definitive an answer as I can give about that situation.

He kept trying to sing night after night because he didn’t want to let down fans, but his voice got worse and worse. The doctor came in and found the nodules. We canceled those five shows, went home. He worked with a specialist, and they’re being treated. Then we picked up and did those shows in Europe, and now we’re headed to Australia.”

On At The Drive-In parting ways with guitarist Jim Ward:

“It isn’t strange at all. Jim‘s been out of the band on three other occasions, and some of our longest, hardest tours he wasn’t there for. We did a tour that was six months straight throughout American where he just wasn’t in the band. So it’s been quite the opposite: Having Keeley Davis, who’s part of the family and who obviously played in Sparta and is a great musician, it’s been amazing. He definitely brings a fresh energy. I think anyone in a brand-new situation is grateful to be in that situation, as opposed to being in a grind. One person can see it as a grind, and the other can see it as, “Oh, this is great. I get to travel the world.” Keeley‘s energy and spirit and writing ability – everything about him is a breath of fresh air. It’s been a dream for us.”

“I’ll keep it really simple about Jim. If you think the timing was a shock to you, as a fan, it was tough on us to be such an irresponsible timing, to be let known about it so close to tour. Luckily Keeley has been great, and he saved us, and we were able to continue with our touring plans for ourselves and for our fans, more than anything. If it came as a shock to you, imagine for us inside of the band – we all knew about this tour for the past eight months. We all knew and worked towards it and put our family lives aside and planned accordingly. But we got through it, and that’s the important thing.

We made the announcement just after it happened. So however fans experienced it is how we experienced it. The only difference is that we were used to this sort of wishy-washiness. For the few people who were upset about him not being there, it’s like, “What would you rather watch: one person who doesn’t even want to be there or the band existing without that one person? We [were thinking about] the greater good, so it’s nice to hear you say that people were concerned it would derail the whole thing. Anyone who knows the history of the band knows that Jim has been kicked out of the band on three different occasions, and we’ve done a good amount of touring without him. So for us it was like, “Ahh, this again?” The sum of the parts is what the band is: it’s the whole. It’s what we come together to do.”

On new At The Drive-In material:

“We’ve been writing since we let that information out. We wouldn’t let that information out without having – we’re not that type of band. When we announced new music, it was because we were already in that process, and we’ve definitely continued it. I’ve been able to bring my portable rig, and these days it’s easier because everything’s much smaller. If you’ll notice, the tour has a lot of double nights, so those are days we don’t have to set up the next day, so we can just spent time writing and recording and jamming. It’s been great.”

“I can’t really comment on it just because I’m on the inside. To me, of course, it’s that. It’s picking up where we left off, and of course we have fresh eyes. I can answer it this way: This tour we’re doing right now, it’s us picking up where we left off. We’re finishing the tour we never got to finish from where I left the band and we broke up. Now we’re back together, and we actually get to finish that tour. We get to revisit it and reignite it and do it with fresh eyes.”

On a future for The Mars Volta:

“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. Obviously now we’re focused on At The Drive-In and making this record great and touring. Jon Theodore is doing Queens Of The Stone Age right now. There are only four surviving members of the real Mars Volta, which is Eva Gardner, the original bass player who gave us all our soul but unfortunately had to leave the band because her father died on the second tour; Ikey Owens, who, of course, isn’t with us anymore; Jeremy Ward, who isn’t with us anymore; and Jon Theodore. Jon and Eva are still alive, and we’re so grateful for that.

And any true fan of the band knows that’s the real chemistry right there. Whenever we get to that time, we hope that it all lines up with whatever Jon‘s doing and whatever Eva‘s doing, because she’s been touring with Gwen Stefani. I just have a feeling it will. Life has a funny way of working out that way.”

For more on that, Omar‘s upcoming solo albums and word of Antemasque‘s new full-length album, head to Rollingstone.com. In the meantime, you can also watch the video for “To Kill A Chi Chi” from the first of Omar‘s twelve planned solo albums for this year, “Sworn Virgins“. That effort will be released through Ipecac this Friday, July 15th.

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