Omar Rodriguez-Lopez on Bosnian Rainbows and His Emotional Last Year

Photo: Robin Laananen

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s former bands the Mars Volta and At the Drive-In are the sort of acts that fans get tattoos of. But unlike the permanent nature of inking yourself, he’s moved on to another project with his new four-piece  Bosnian Rainbows. On the band’s debut (out next month), we find Rodriguez-Lopez exploring a punchy goth sound with Le Butcherettes frontwoman Teri Gender-Bender, drummer Deantoni Parks and keyboardist Nicci Kasper of Dark Angels. Hive recently caught up with Rodriguez-Lopez before the release of their debut album to talk about the “virgin” experience of playing with a new band, why the At the Drive-In reunion was emotionally tough and the Mars Volta breaking up over Twitter.

The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In are bands that people are really passionate about. Is it a different experience for you touring with a band that nobody’s ever heard?

Totally. You can’t pay for the specialness of what it is when you just go play music when nobody knows anything about it. It’s that initial experience. I hate to use the word “virgin” — it’s so dumb — but it is like doing it for the first time. Just like when At the Drive-In went out for the first time, or the Mars Volta. People have no clue what to expect, and there’s that excitement about it. You’re just playing music, and there is no expectation, really.

Bosnian Rainbows is more of a collaborative band than the Mars Volta was. What made you want to work that way again?

If you do one thing long enough, you tend to want to do the other thing. After long enough of [working with hired guns], I realized that’s no fun, either. Basically, the only true way to experience things is by sharing. What does it matter if you do this or that or the other if you’re by yourself and you have no one to share it with? When you think about it in those terms, then things only become real when you’re sharing them. As you go down that thought process, if you’re sharing it with one person, like I was sharing it with Cedric, that’s amazing. And then if you add another person, that’s amazing, too. Then you add another person, and that’s even better. The communal experience really heightens your sense of joy. And it’s really easy to get sucked into the selfish trip. Most people do it. “Me, and what I want to experience, and what I like to do.” But there’s such a greater joy in the exact opposite.

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