This past week, Cedric Bixler-Zavala announced on Twitter that his band, The Mars Volta, was dissolving. After being on hiatus for five months, Bixler-Zavala had disagreements with bandmate Omar Rodriguez-Lopez over the possibility of returning with a new tour to support their latest album Nocturniquet. Omar was reluctant to do so, and that was that – the beginning of the end for the progressive rock group.
The quote listed above is from Rodriguez-Lopez, the primary guitarist and composer for Mars Volta (henceforth referred to as TMV). And sometimes it’s hard to imagine how they ever made it.
TMV was formed all the way back in 2001 following the demise of At the Drive-In, which was a successful band in its own right. Omar and Cedric, sick of playing the same style of rock, branched out into territory not charted since the mid-70s – and TMV was born.
TMV made jazz-rock popular for the first time since the days of Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. They blended numerous styles into a progressive sound that will undoubtedly influence for years to come. Despite their indulgent live shows and lengthy improv, TMV found a place.
TMV’s song titles are strange-sounding, their lyrics are frequently dark and cryptic, and their flurrying mix of styles – from jazz fusion to math rock to synth-heavy space rock – can be jarring to the ear. You’ve gotta appreciate their willingness to experiment before you dismiss them. They were one of the most ambitious bands of the last decade, and they carved out their own artistic niche in the landscape of prog-rock. Ultimately, Omar and Cedric’s genre-defying style allowed them to come into their own after their final days in At the Drive-In.
I don’t know what’s next for these guys, but I guarantee they aren’t interested in re-inventing the wheel. That just isn’t them, and what makes them great musicians is their versatility. Keep an eye out, because they sure aren’t gonna go away anytime soon.