The Mars Volta

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The Mars Volta
General information
Genre (s) Progressive rock
founding 2001
resolution 2013
Last occupation
Cedric Bixler-Zavala
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
Juan Alderete de la Peña
Effects , sound manipulation
Lars Stalfors
Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez
Deantoni parks
former members
Jeremy Michael Ward (2001–2003) (†)
Eva Gardner (2001-2002)
Ralph Jasso (2002)
Jason Lader (2003)
Bass, trumpet
Flea (studio recordings for De-Loused In The Comatorium and trumpet on Frances the Mute ) (2003 and 2005)
Jon Philip Theodore (2001-2006)
Blake Fleming (2006)
Dave Elitch (2009-2010)
Saxophone, clarinet, flute
Adrian Terrazas (2005-2009)
Noise, 2nd guitar
Pablo Hinojos (2005-2009)
Thomas Pridgen (2006-2009)
Guitar (studio recordings, occasionally at live concerts)
John Frusciante (2002-2008)
Linda Good (2002)
Isaiah "Ikey" Owens (2001-2010)
Guitar (acoustic guitar on some live songs offstage), (Omar's guitar technician)
Henry Trejo (2009-2010)

The Mars Volta was an experimental rock band of Mexican and Puerto Rican origin founded by Cedric Bixler-Zavala ( vocals ) and Omar Alfredo Rodriguez-Lopez ( guitar ) . It was formed after At the Drive-In broke up in 2001, while the other part of the previously disbanded formation started the band Sparta , which is more song-oriented overall.

According to the band, “Volta” stands for a radical change in art and society in the sense of the Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini (Italian: volta = German: phrase ), while “Mars” is intended to emphasize the band members' preference for science fiction . The preceding “The” serves to distinguish from European techno artists of the same name.

Music genre

The Mars Volta music has many influences, including salsa , progressive rock , art-punk , jazz and classical music , but also krautrock . The spectrum of the pieces ranges from typical ballads ( Televators ) to lively excursions into rock-salsa realms ( Drunkship of Lanterns ), sometimes there are confused breaks . In an interview, the music group described themselves as a "rock band that wants to be a salsa band". In addition, Rodriguez-Lopez also means "our sound is that we have no sound".

The Mars Volta are known for their intense and extravagant concerts, which arouse very different reactions from enthusiastic to violent criticism, both among fans and music critics. The band does not play their repertoire live in the form of individual pieces, but lets the tracks merge into one another in a kind of jam session , varies songs and improvises extensively on their basis.

Band history


The band originated in El Paso , Texas and was formed under Rodriguez-Lopez's label "Gold Standard Laboratories". Other permanent members are currently next to Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala of drummer Jon Theodore , Juan Alderete ( bass ), who after the recordings of the debut album joined the band, and Isaiah "Ikey" Owens ( Keyboard , formerly of the Sublime - Successors Long Beach Dub Allstars ). They are supported by Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez ( percussion ) and Adrian Terraza ( flute and saxophone, among others ). At the end of May 2005 the news came as a surprise that Sparta's guitarist Paul Hinojos (formerly also At the Drive-In ) had joined The Mars Volta. He initially took over the vacant post of the late Jeremy Michael Ward ( effects / noises ), but now he also plays the second guitar.

The Mars Volta gave their first musical sign of life in 2002 with their EP "Tremulant". This was followed by, among others, a variety performances with the Red Hot Chili Peppers before "on May 25, 2003, shortly before the release of the debut album De-Loused in the Comatorium " her friend and onetime band member Jeremy Michael Ward dead at his home in Los Angeles was found . Rumors still speak of a heroin overdose , but the official cause of death remains unexplained.

The Mars Volta live

2003 - De-loused in the Comatorium

The album, released just a month later and recorded under the direction of star producer Rick Rubin , follows a concept and addresses the death of a friend in the form of a story written by singer Bixler-Zavala .

"De-loused in the Comatorium" was a great success and brought the band in more than 500,000 units sold. At the end of 2003, the album found itself on various lists as “Best Album of the Year”.

The Mars Volta went on an extensive concert tour after the release of their debut and wanted to process the tragic events of the recent past on stage. Furthermore, the directly following recording sessions for the second album " Frances the Mute " helped with the processing of Ward's sudden death .

2005 - Frances the Mute

In December 2004 an extremely poor quality pre-copy of the vinyl version of the still unreleased album appeared on the Internet and prompted the production team and parts of the band to make a clear statement:

"The collective GSL staff and certain members of the band think what you are doing is fucked. You should honor the band's wishes and take the songs down. Leaks suck, and are an unfortunate evil of the Internet. It sucks even more when it's such a bad copy as what is being passed around right now. As much as the hype that's swept over the internet for this release is amazing, no one wished anyone to hear such an amazing album in such piss-poor quality this side of the 70s. "

"Frances the Mute" was released on March 1, 2005. While the first album "De-loused in the Comatorium" almost exclusively generated positive reactions, the second work was viewed much more critically overall. spoke, among other things, of “cheek with artistic aspirations”, but this publication also found its staunch supporters. In the US alone, over 100,000 units sold within the first week, although the album was generally not considered commercially available. It reached number 23 in the UK charts, number 8 in Germany and number 4 in The Mars Volta homeland.

Members of the befriended band Red Hot Chili Peppers played on both albums. Flea played the bass on the entire debut album and the trumpet parts on "Frances the Mute" for The Widow and Miranda, That Ghost just isn't holy anymore , while John Frusciante played guitar on Cicatriz ESP and the first two solos for L. 'Via L'Viaquez contributed.

The single The Widow , released only in Great Britain, contains the approx. 15 minute long title Frances the Mute , which the band wanted to serve as an introduction to the album of the same name and which should be included on a separate CD in the album. However, these plans were rejected by the record company and a subsequent release as a double album will no longer take place.

In November 2005, the band's first live album, “Scab Dates”, was released. Despite a running time of over 70 minutes and recordings from various concerts from 2004 and 2005, which are held together by sound collages and sound fragments built in afterwards , there are only three well-known songs on the release, not a single track from the last studio album "Frances the Mute" was taken into account. The experimental character of The Mars Voltas and their love for improvisation becomes clear in the Cicatriz , which is divided into five parts and extends to a total of almost 43 minutes.

At the end of July, the band announced that drummer Jon Theodore had left the band. The replacement was Blake Fleming, who already played the drums on the first demos. Jon Theodore's unreliable way of working was criticized in interviews, which ultimately led to the separation. Blake has since been released and replaced by 22-year-old Thomas Pridgen.

At the same time, the role of Pablo Hinojos-Gonzalez was expanded to include the second guitar in addition to "sound manipulation".

2006 - Amputechture

On September 8, 2006, the third studio album "Amputechture" was released. The guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers , John Frusciante , played once again, but this time for the full length of the album.

The booklet of the album was found in fan forums e.g. Partly on criticism, because Omar and Cedric declared themselves as "The Mars Volta", while the other band members were demoted to "The Mars Volta Group". Accordingly, the booklet says: “The partnership between Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (who wrote and arranged all music and directs the group) & Cedric Bixler-Zavala (who wrote all lyrics and vocal melodies) is The Mars Volta. These compositions are then performed by The Mars Volta Group "

The third work was seen more critically than her debut. Although the criticism was limited in comparison to the direct previous album "Frances the Mute", since "penetrative chattering, oscillations and ruminations of scales" were dispensed with, several reviews of a stepping on the spot were still read.

2008 - The Bedlam in Goliath

On January 25, 2008, the fourth studio album " The Bedlam in Goliath " hit stores. Inspired by spiritual experiences while playing with the "Soothsayer", a kind of Ouija , the group tried to process these experiences in the album.

The band won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 51st Grammy Awards for their song Wax Simulacra .

2009 - Octahedron

The fifth studio album entitled " Octahedron " was released on June 22, 2009 in Europe.

In the course of the tonal development and change in the band, Adrian Terrazas and Paul Hinojos left The Mars Volta in spring 2009 at the request of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. They are now devoting themselves to their solo projects.

2012 - Noctourniquet

In January 2012, The Mars Volta announced the release of their next studio album "Noctourniquet" for the same year. The album was released on March 26, 2012.

2013 - dissolution

On January 24, 2013, Cedric Bixler-Zavala announced the breakup of the band via his Twitter account. The reason given was Omar Rodríguez-López's focus on other projects. At the beginning of 2014, Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala founded the band Antemasque .

Band members timeline


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
De-Loused in the Comatorium
  DE 47 07/07/2003 (4 weeks)
  UK 43 
07/05/2003 (1 week)
  US 39 07/12/2003 (11 weeks)
Frances the Mute
  DE 23 03/07/2005 (3 weeks)
  CH 81 03/06/2005 (1 week)
  UK 23 03/05/2005 (2 weeks)
  US 4th 
03/19/2005 (20 weeks)
  US 76 11/26/2005 (1 week)
  DE 49 09/25/2006 (1 week)
  CH 88 09/24/2006 (1 week)
  UK 49 09/23/2006 (1 week)
  US 9 09/30/2006 (5 weeks)
The Bedlam in Goliath
  DE 29 02/11/2008 (1 week)
  CH 57 02/19/2008 (1 week)
  UK 42 02/09/2009 (1 week)
  US 3 02/16/2008 (7 weeks)
  DE 58 07/06/2009 (1 week)
  CH 54 07/05/2009 (1 week)
  UK 64 04/07/2009 (1 week)
  US 12 07/11/2009 (5 weeks)
  DE 58 04/06/2012 (1 week)
  AT 66 04/06/2012 (1 week)
  CH 47 04/08/2012 (1 week)
  UK 51 04/07/2012 (1 week)
  US 15th 04/14/2012 (4 weeks)
Inertiatic Esp
  UK 42 10/11/2003 (2 weeks)
  UK 41 03/13/2004 (2 weeks)
The Widow
  UK 20th 03/26/2005 (4 weeks)
  US 58 03/26/2005 (2 weeks)

Studio albums


  • 2002: Tremulant (Gold Standard Laboratories, CD and yellow 12 ″ vinyl)


  • 2003: Inertiatic ESP (released as CD single and 12 ″ picture disc)
  • 2004: Televators (Australian Tour Edition)
  • 2004: Televators (released as CD single and 12 ″ picture disc)
  • 2005: The Widow (released as CD single, DVD, green 12 ″ vinyl and 12 ″ picture disc)
  • 2005: L'Via L'Viaquez (released as CD single and 10 ″ picture disc)
  • 2007: Wax Simulacra / "Pulled to bits" ( Siouxsie and the Banshees cover)


  • 2003: The Mars Volta Live (EP, only released as limited CD in the US)
  • 2005: Scabdates (Live Album, Gold Standard Laboratories)

Web links

Commons : The Mars Volta  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Review on
  2. Disc review on
  3. The Mars Volta: Octahedron Out June 23 on Warner Bros. Records (North America) and June 22nd on Mercury Records (rest of world) ( Memento from May 5, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Review on accessed August 14, 2012
  7. The Mars Volta Albums on
  8. ^ Austrian charts on
  9. Swiss charts on
  10. The Mars Volta in the Official UK Charts (English)
  11. The Mars Volta Albums on the US Billboard 200 Album Charts
  12. Music Sales Awards: US UK
  13. The Widow on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart