Taken from The San Diego Union-Tribune (May 03, 2017)
At The Drive-In roars back to life, with tour and first new album in 17 years
by George Varga, Contact Reporter
At the Drive In combines punk ferocity and prog-rock ambition.
(Photo courtesy of Nasty Little Man)
How many songs will At The Drive-In perform here Tuesday night at SOMA from its combustible āinā¢ter aā¢liā¢a,ā the Texas bandās first album of new music in 17 years?
āIt really depends on how tried we get at the end of the show,ā said ATDI singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala, 42.
āThere will be point in our set where we play a new song. And playing a new song means retraining your muscles,ā he replied.
āWhereas, playing older songs uses natural muscle memory. For example, the song āIncurably Innocentā on our new album is a really hard song to do, and I have to get my body acclimated to that kind of breathing. When youāre as physical on stage as we are, sometimes we get tired.ā
Bixler-Zavala co-founded ATDI in 1993 in El Paso and earned attention for its distinctive blend of hardcore punk fury and prog-rock ambition. The band broke up in 2001, then reunited in 2012. In the interim, Bixler-Zavala and ATDI guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez co-led The Mars Volta, an even more daring and eclectic group that still exists today.
Bixler-Zavala discussed ATDI recently by phone from Austin.
Q: Itās been 17 years since the last ATDI album. What does music mean to you now that it didnāt then?
A: I guess what it means to me now is a complete celebration ā a celebration of having free time on my hands! And the fact that people actually listened to us.
Q: Whereas, 17 years ago?
A: It was more of a confrontational device to sort of physically act out the frustration that plagues you as a 20-something-year-old person. And that frustration is a combination of hormones still having that trickle-down effect on your body and of not really knowing what youāre mad about.
Q: Do you channel that frustration when you perform songs from back then now?
A: I can just utilize the place I am now, which is just a complete celebration. So now, itās sort of ā in a strange way ā an appreciative gesture. Itās just complete happiness.
Q: Your vocal phrasing on āDelivered by Contagionsā on the new ATDI album sounds like a big tip of your hat to John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols). Are you?
A: Heās always been one of my strongest influences. You can hear it in The Mars Volta, too, even though people accuse me of having a Robert Plant thing with Mars. ā¦ I always liked what Lydon had to say as an artist and loved his vocal delivery, which set the Sex Pistols apart from a regular bar band.
Q: ATDI is playing in San Diego at SOMA, a near-legendary, all-ages music venue. A lot of kids today have no idea what a drive-in is. I donāt know about Austin, but there are only two drive-in movie theaters left in San Diego County.
A: (laughs) Who knows? People might want to utilize the super-information highway to see what a drive-in is! Our new album is designed to to be taken in its entirety, as an anomaly that still exists right now in our fast-food culture. But fast-food culture has always been around and there will also always be mom-and-pop businesses that are celebrated by a few. I think, even in this Spotify age, ATDI fans tend to be vinyl-based. Weāre just a part of that (vinyl) lifestyle.
Q: You and Omar have been playing together for nearly 25 years, how easy or difficult is it to surprise each other, musically speaking, and how important is it?
A: Iām not sure if itās important, because we donāt ever see it in that context. Itās just that he starts a sentence and Iāll end it, and vice versa ā itās just this common language we have. It was important that we had a public disagreement for about eight months, in order to take a break from each other and also to appreciate each other more. Especially from my end ā every day I am honored that Iām around him.