|Omar Rodríguez~López — Sworn Virgins (July 15, 2016)|
Omar Rodríguez~López — Sworn Virgins (July 15, 2016) ≡♠≡ Guitarist also offers update on Antemasque’s record with Travis Barker, discusses Mars Volta’s future.
≡♠≡ “The best part about having a record label is that you get to choose to work with people that you really admire,” said Ipecac's Greg Werckman. “We had all admired Omar’s work from afar and then recently got to know him up close. It was so great to find out that as talented as he is, he is an even better human being and we love having him as part of the Ipecac family. But, it seems that he has blatantly taken advantage of our friendship. Sure, we were excited to release his solo catalog... but this many titles? What have we gotten ourselves into?” Birth name: Omar Alfredo Rodríguez~López
Born: September 1, 1975, Bayamón, Puerto Rico
↔ Squier Super~Sonic (At The Drive~In),
↔ Ibanez AX120 Custom Model,
↔ Ibanez JTK2 Jet King Custom Model,
↔ Ibanez ORM1 Omar Rodriguez Lopez Jet King Model
↔ Fender Mustang
↔ Ernie Ball/Music Man Albert Lee HH
Location: El Paso, Texas
Album release: July 15, 2016
Record Label: Ipecac Recordings
01. Pineapple Face 2:26
02. Not Even Toad Loves You 4:35
03. To Kill A Chi Chi 3:19
04. Trick Harpoon Stare Of Baby 3:51
05. High Water Hell 4:16
06. Saturine 2:07
07. Crow’s Feet 4:34
08. Heart Mistakes 2:21
09. Logged Into Bliss 3:28
10. Fortuna 1:27
11. Twice A Plague 3:22
♦ All songs written by Orl
♦ Produced by Orl and Deantoni Parks
♦ Recorded on the E Flat Morgue portable unit by Chris Common, Jon Debaun
♦ Mixed and mastered by Chris Common
♦ Art by Elyn
♦ Layout by Mackie
♦ Omar Rodríguez~López — vocals, guitars, synthesizers
♦ Deantoni Parks — drums, sampling
≡♠≡ Omar Rodríguez~López (of At the Drive~In and the Mars Volta) has announced a new album series. Starting next week and continuing through mid~December, Rodríguez~López will put out a solo album on a bi~weekly basis via Ipecac Recordings. The previously unreleased LPs were recorded from 2008 to 2013 while Rodríguez~López lived in Zapopan, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. They’ll be available digitally (with some CDs sold at Rodríguez~López’s live shows) before eventually being collected as a limited edition CD/LP box set. The first album in the series is called Sworn Virgins. It’s out July 15.
By Ryan Reed, 11. 07. 2016
≡♠≡ Omar Rodríguez~López on Epic Solo~Album Series, New At the Drive–In LP.
≡♠≡ After his mother’s death in 2012, the hyperprolific Omar Rodríguez~López resolved to re~route his career. The big change: no more solo albums. During the previous decade, he had masterminded several bands, including acclaimed prog~rock outfit the Mars Volta — but he also amassed an intimidating, Zappa~like solo catalog: 26 records and a smattering of EPs, issued at such a blistering pace that even his most devoted fans struggled to keep up. (He released seven LPs in 2010 alone.) While working through his profound grief, the guitarist~bandleader~producer~filmmaker realized he wanted to channel his energy outward. He formed collaborative projects like Bosnian Rainbows and Antemasque — featuring his longtime musical other half, Cedric Bixler~Zavala — then reunited with post~hardcore giants At the Drive~In. The goal, he tells Rolling Stone, was “being a part of something and sharing things.”
≡♠≡ Now he’s taking another dramatic — and very Rodríguez~López~like — step in achieving this goal. With new label Ipecac Recordings, he’s clearing house of his solo work, delivering a bi~weekly, open~ended string of albums, with release dates set through December, that were once withering away on his pile of hard drives. But the material, newly mixed by engineer Chris Common, is far from leftover quality. The first two entries showcase two polar~opposite sides of Lopez’ creative mindset: the spastic, demented prog of Sworn Virgins (out July 15th) and the mournful folk~pop of Corazones (out July 29th), the latter originally written as a film score.
≡♠≡ Despite this foray into the past, Lopez is moving forward with band~related projects — including an interrupted but recently resumed world tour with At the Drive~In, who are also recording their first new LP since 2000’s Relationship of Command. The endless swirl of music is daunting, even for him. “I just assume it’s the same reason why people who work at the post office go crazy,” he tells RS. “The mail never stops, and there’s never an end to it. Sometimes it feels that way.”
≡♠≡ Lopez spoke to Rolling Stone about his ambitious solo project and offered a progress report on the future of his many bands — including a potential reunion with the Mars Volta.
Q: First off, this solo album series is insane. How did you arrive at the concept?
A: I quit recording solo material in 2013, so these are all old solo records that are coming out. We got talking with Ipecac and hanging out, and we talked about doing something together. They said, “Do you have any solo records?” I said, “Well, I haven’t recorded any since 2013, but I have some stuff that’s pretty cool from back then.” So I started sending them stuff, and they were like, “Yeah, we like this one. That one’s great too.”
≡♠≡ So the narrative changed into, “Why don’t we just do a series, and we’ll put out whatever you can dig up. It’s all really quality work.” It became interesting to everybody — to be able to approach such a unique project because of the volume. “How would we tackle this?” That in itself became a creative project. Obviously it will be new to my fans, and it was new to the guys from Ipecac, but the creative process became, “How do we put them out? In what order? What’s too many? What’s not enough?” Luckily I have a great engineer, Chris Common, who works at my studio and pretty much lives there. I was able to give him all the hard drives and say, “Look, this is stuff from 2008 to 2013 — will you go through and mix these records and send them to Ipecac?” [Laughs]
Q: You were inspired to put out this material partly because of the passion of the fans you met on tour. Do you remember specifically when you came to the decision?
A: I want to say it was about 2014 — whenever it was that Faith No More starting working again. It just all started coming together at that time. Ipecac signed Le Butcherettes, which I produced, so we became friendly then. They took them out on tour, so we got to be around each other. We have a lot of people in common: Zach Hill, the band Isis, the Melvins. So we started meeting up at these shows Le Butcherettes were opening, and we started talking about doing something together. It initially started out as releasing a solo record. I told them Chris Common did a better mix of this record that Zach Hill played on, and I wanted to put it out again. That sort ignited the whole thing. Who else would like that? Who else would say, “Let’s do all of them?” Especially these days, when a label just wants you to put out one record and milk it for as long as you can. It used to be an 18~month cycle, and now they’re trying to get three years out of it.
Q: It’s funny to imagine Chris’ daunting process of sorting through the hard drives.
A: God bless him and also Jon DeBaun, who’s worked on all the Mars Volta stuff since [2005’s] Frances the Mute. I just handed them some hard drives and said, “Hey, we’re going to do this thing with Ipecac. Take a look at this.” It was them saying, “We found this record, we found this” and me saying, “This is cool” or “Let’s not do that one.” There were things I’d turn down, and they’d come back and say, “Hey, I mixed this one song. Listen to it, and if you hate it, we won’t do it.” Jon was instrumental in sifting through hundreds of hard drives. Chris mixed all of them, and his touch is all over these records. They wouldn’t be the same records had they been mixed back then as opposed to now, with his ears, brand new like this.
Q: What made you definitively decide not to make another solo album?
A: To be quite candid, when my mother passed in 2012, just right before when At the Drive~In played, I wasn’t even there. I was not in my body. She passed one week before, and of course, as you can imagine, it made me look at everything in a different way, and it was a huge shock to my system. From that moment on, when I finally started the long road to accepting it and recuperating, I decided that I wanted to dedicate my time, while I’m still here, to collaborating with people and being a part of something and sharing things, rather than working on solo work, where I’m writing everything and doing everything and locked up in my studio. And from there, the idea was born: “I only want to be in bands now. I only want to make records with people.” I started Bosnian Rainbows, and shortly after that I started Antemasque with [Cedric Bixler–Zavala]. Now, obviously, this with At the Drive~In. And eventually Mars Volta. It was really just a shock to my system, and this was just one of the ways it redirected my entire life.
Q: With Mars Volta, you always had this reputation as the “Little Dictator,” where you wrote all the music and directed the band. But you’ve talked about the last Volta album, 2012’s Noctourniquet, as being the end of an era. It’s interesting that you’ve made this shift.
A: At the end of 2012, going into 2013, I resolved myself to only doing collaborative work, so I used that time to finish anything that was unfinished that was my own, like that last Mars Volta record and some of the solo work from that era. I just put it all to rest and from there only started working collaboratively. Which is why I love cinema so much: No matter what you do and no matter how much control you try to have, it will always be a collaborative effort. It’s too big~there’s no way around it. It’s good to get you out of those bad habits.
Q: Are you working on any film projects currently?
A: I have a few scripts I’ve written that I’m trying to get off the ground. Hopefully we can get going at the end of the year. Our last one was Los Chidos, and we toured with that for a minute on the film~festival circuit. We were over at SXSW and in competition for Best Narrative, so really exciting stuff happened around it, and we got a little bit of funding because of that to do the next one. But the next script I’ve written requires more money than was given to me.
Q: One of the first solo albums coming out, Corazones, is a collection of songs inspired by your mother, and it was written for a film that never came out. It’s life~changing for anyone to lose a parent. You’ve said before that “the process is the point” to making music, so was it still therapeutic for you?
A: Oh, completely. It was for a studio, so I was actually excited about it when I was approached by them. That’s why I didn’t want to talk much about my own films because you never know if it’s going to happen or how long it’s going to take. It just started to happen and got a little bit of funding, and then they said, “Nope.” It was exciting to me at the time because more than a score, it was actual music that was going to be used as a soundtrack, as you can tell by the songs. When working with the director and producer, all the themes that were in the film itself were exactly what I was going through: loss, loss of identity because of such an extreme loss.
It was a really interesting process to go through. And the difficult part came when everything I turned in, they wanted it to be simpler and more straight~ahead, especially with the lyrics. They wanted everyone to be able to understand it. For me, that was a huge challenge because emotionally you’re writing a certain way that’s particular to the images in your heart, but [simplifying things] really exposes you. But it was the best thing that could have happened to have to put it in black~and~white terms, and to be that exposed and that raw about it. It’s almost like these childlike nursery rhymes. I could have just rewritten the lyrics and used my melodies and had it be more me. But I liked the final product because it was so not natural to be that simple in my approach.
Q: Sworn Virgins is the complete opposite of Corozones — very electric and weird. Do you recall when it was recorded and who performs on it?
A: Sworn Virgins was one of the very last ones I did. That would have been at the very end of 2012, 2013. That’s Deantoni Parks on drums, and he played on the last Mars Volta record. Just after that I asked him to join Bosnian Rainbows, which was starting up then. That album is literally just me and him, and it’s mostly tracked live. It sounds like a band, but I was able to sample myself with my sample pedal. I pitched the guitar down to sound like a bass; he’d play to that. I’d pitch my guitar back up, play to that, sing over it, and he’d play to that. Those are live, one~take cuts. We never did anything a second time. We just talked about it, went through the changes once. The only one who got to do anything twice was me. I re~recorded some vocals here and there, but it was a pretty crazy record I could only do with him.
Q: With Deantoni’s superhuman, metronomic playing style, the vibe is similar to Mars Volta’s Noctourniquet. You’ve mentioned previously that he did all those drums in one take as well.
A: That’s exactly correct. That’s the level of artist he is. We have such a great chemistry together and understand each other. We go in there, and it gets done. The rest is hang~out time. [Laughs]
Q: Shifting gears here: Obviously it was a huge disappointment to both fans and the band when you had to cancel those At the Drive~In shows because of Cedric’s vocal issues. First off, what was Cedric diagnosed with, and is he healed up?
A: 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.
Q: You guys ended up having to cancel the New York show shortly before you were supposed to hit the stage. Obviously you guys had no choice in canceling the show — Cedric can’t sing without a voice. But it was shocking to see the hostility of some of the comments online. I wanted to give you a chance to speak directly to those people if you want.
A: I didn’t know [about the negative comments] until you just mentioned it right now, actually. [Laughs] All I know is the real moment in front of me when we announced it. And even then, you have to understand: It wasn’t awkward for me. I make films, and we go to film festivals, and that’s how Q&As feel. Everybody attacks your film, and you have to defend it. I’m sure if you’re looking at the clip [of the band announcing the cancellation on~stage at New York City’s Terminal 5], it’s also out of context. It was a really emotional thing.
|Omar Rodríguez~López — Sworn Virgins (July 15, 2016)|