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The Mars Volta Biography


Home > Music > M > Mars Volta, The > Biography


Birth Place: El Paso, Texas, United States
Years Active: 2001-present
Genres: Progressive Rock, Experimental Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Jazz Fusion


The Mars Volta is a Grammy award winning American progressive rock band from El Paso, Texas. Founded in 2001 by guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the band incorporates various influences including progressive rock, krautrock, jazz fusion, Latin American music, and the rhythmic complexity of math rock into their sound. They are known for their energetic live shows, as well as their concept-based studio albums.

Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala were both members of the band At the Drive-In before they quit the group in 2001. They then started flirting with an experimental, dub reggae-influenced side project called De Facto, which featured Bixler-Zavala on drums, Rodriguez-Lopez on bass, Isaiah "Ikey" Owens on keyboards and Jeremy Michael Ward on vocals, loops and sound effects.

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 Rodriguez-Lopez, 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 2001 by Gold Standard Laboratories.

The band's first studio album “De-Loused in the Comatorium” was released in 2003 after a European tour supporting the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This concept album was produced by Rick Rubin and is based on the death of El Paso, Texas artist Julio Venegas, who committed suicide in 1996.

In early 2005, the band released their second full-length album, “Frances the Mute,” a concept album based on the story of band associate Jeremy Michael Ward, who died of an apparent heroin overdose in 2003. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The first single released from the album was “The Widow,” which peaked at #20 on the U.K. Singles chart and became the band's only entry on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, peaking at #95. The live album “Scabdates,” was released later the same year.

Their third studio album “Amputechture” was released in 2006 and debuted at #9 on the Billboard 200. “The Bedlam in Goliath,” The Mars Volta's fourth studio album, was released 2008 and debuted at a career-best #3 on the Billboard 200.

In 2009 The Mars Volta released “Octahedron,” which was the band's first album through Warner Bros. Records. The album reached #12 on the Billboard 200 and spawned two singles, “Cotopaxi” and “Since We've Been Wrong.”