When the Mars Volta's latest, The Bedlam in Goliath, debuted at #3 on Billboard's albums chart, no one was more perplexed than the band's guitarist, Omar Rodríguez-López.
"We're surprised by any kind of commercial success or acceptance on a mainstream level," he said during the Coca-Cola Zero Fest in Mexico City on April 12. "We really don't understand it at all."
And who could blame the man? The Mars Volta's four studio releases have focused on a variety of topics, including morphine abuse, failed abortion attempts, possessed nuns and, in the case of Bedlam, a Ouija-like board game, discovered in Jerusalem, that irrevocably altered their lives. But Bedlam's impressive debut doesn't mean much these days, considering sales industrywide have been drooping for years and years. Rodríguez-López said he's confident those 54,000 records were sold to the Volta faithful, not new fans.
"Our crowd has always been diverse," the guitarist said. The band has been touring for more than three months now, mostly playing songs from their last two LPs. "Over the years, it's grown organically, but really, the crowd is the same — people who want to come out and see live music, honest music, and hear mistakes and watch people be human."
Even though The Bedlam in Goliath has been out for just two months, Rodríguez-López — who, after a two-week trip to Mexico, was asked to score Guillermo Arriaga's and Jorge Hernandez Aldana's film "El Búfalo de la Noche" — said the band is already collecting material for the next two albums. Seriously.
"The Bedlam in Goliath is a year old for me at this point, and it was written a year before that, so, essentially, it's two years old for me," he said. "Whatever people know of us [from] the new album, it's actually two years behind where I am now. So you have to put your current world in park and go in reverse just to talk about whatever's 'new.' "
Rodríguez-López didn't provide any additional details on the songs he's been writing but did mention that they'd be more acoustic.