The Mars Volta

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The Mars Volta is an American progressive rock group founded by its only members, guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala.

The group is known for their energetic live shows and incorporation of various musical influences, such as progressive rock, krautrock, jazz fusion, Latin American music, ...


Cedric Bixler-Zavala: "There's a big influence from someone like, let's say, Frank Zappa from making the really technically hard music to learn and then he really has a phenomenal sense of humor, you know. So, he's a big influence that way."

Interviewer: "I was thinking of Zappa a lot while I was listening to the record."

Cedric Bixler-Zavala: "Thank you, that's a compliment." (...) And he's not just some joke musician. It's not just "Weird Al" you're watching up there, you know. The motherfucker could play. He could play his guitar and musicians and what it took to play in that band. It would take a lot to be in that band."

Interviewer: "Is he your biggest influence?"

Cedric Bixler-Zavala: "Well, I guess in a weird way he set this standard for what music should be today. Especially in pop music. Especially pop music could benefit from Frank Zappa. If you would watch a lot of his stuff you would see how much of a joke a lot of the bands that exist today are. Even though he was like a jokester himself, you know. It takes a lot to pull of a very technical joke."

Interviewer: "His lyrics were fun, but the music was something else."

(Quoted from a video interview

Interviewer: "You already said that The Mars Volta has clearly been influenced musically and conceptually by Frank Zappa. I suppose that that too is the reason why Omar still leads and conducts the group on stage?"

Cedrix Bixler-Zavala: "Yeah, he's our mini Zappa (laughs)"

Interviewer: "Apart from that Omar has an enormous recording library, he lets you play different versions of numbers, he almost does everything himself- from composing and producing to recording and editing. That's again that direct influence from Zappa, isn't it?"

Cedric Bixler-Zavala: "Absolutely. By the way Zappa also used auditions and repetitions of musicians a lot as finished takes and that's a method that Omar also uses to drill us. That's how he records our songs as well: he learns everybody how to play it himself, before someone enters the studio and then he records it on the spot, to generate as much spontaneity and energy on record as possible. Sometimes I'm indeed unable to do a certain take better: it hit a certain nerve, you know? That's why we all trust in him to figure out what the best takes of each party are."

Interviewer: "For the promotion of "Bedlam" you made five so-called "webisodes", in which you remarkably enough show your comedic side. Could I state that Zappa's influence is becoming more prominent in that aspect of your work?"

Cedric Bixler-Zavala: "Probably yes. You should also know that we are much closer friends in the group, compared to the passed years. We can let it all hang out: there's more spontaneity than ever before and the atmosphere is really like it ought to be. Apart from that most music videos already tend to be so stupid and narrow-minded that we just decided to have fun with those self-made webisodes."

(Quoted from a 2008 Dutch interview with front singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala

See also