There seems to be a certain formula to make a band truly influential. A few unwritten laws that bands live by, not on purpose, just because that's the way their music takes them. First, you've got to work hard at it, no matter how thankless and unnoticed you are at the time, just keep working. Some of the most influential bands of our time have all been known for playing gigs that don't even sell out a 300 capacity gig in their early days. Second, you've got to have a strong passion for music, and whatever else gives you your drive. A lot of the time it's politics, sometimes about straightedge, sometimes both. Whatever it is, just write about what makes you passionate. Third, write a record that changes everything. Bring all your musical influences, destroy them and rebuild to make something truly, fresh, innovative and exciting. For At the Drive-in, this was that record.
Released in 2000, this album made At the Drive-in officially, the most exciting band of the 21st century, and so far, they have not been knocked off that spot, despite being defunct. This, their major label debut, was something of a mix of everything that got them there in the first place, after two, virtually untouched upon hardcore records, and then an EP of their Hispanic roots, they, with producing prince of metal, Ross Robinson, wrote something, that would blow all else apart.
Now comes the personal touch. If I'm honest, back in 2000 when I first heard their, 'hit-single" 'One Armed Scissor', it made me shut up and listen. But, I didn't like it. Cedric Bixler's vocals annoyed me, and really at the time, for such an explosion of intriguing music, one couldn't really comprehend. So, now, after a couple of years, hearing more people loving them, and then hearing them again myself, it became apparent that ATD-I had followed rule number 4 of the truly influential bands - the band will always be ten times more appreciated after they have split up.
And the fact that ATD-I, or possibly just the record label, I'm not sure what the story is, has re-released their entirely back catalogue just before Christmas 2004, it's apparent that they know that themselves. And too right, because this is an amazing album, from the simply mind-blowing aggressive punk of 'One Armed Scissor' alone has enough energy to power a council-estate in Romford for a week, to the desperately heart breaking 'Invalid Litter Dept.' featuring the harrowing real-life story of the women of Juarez, Mexico, who are being raped and killed in an organised ring owning a series of factories the women work in called 'Maquildoras". What is possibly most heart-felt about this is that Cedric and Paul both grew up in El-Paso, Mexico, a town that neighbours Juarez.
But, all good-things have to come to an end, the band finally got to the top of that mountain, but they couldn't co-exist together anymore. Conforming to rule number 5, split up at the peak of your fame and talent. Now, not all influential bands have done this, in fact some didn't have a choice (suicide/murder) but it would be a fair comment that the majority of these great bands never ***ed up by going too far with it. They knew when to end it. But, as rule 4 suggests, who cares if they are split up? If they had kept going there's a major possibility they could of gone stale in comparison. What we have got is a record, storming with loud and proud songs, with song structures, timings and general style of playing seen in a way no-one has done before, and we have our memories of their absolutely stunning live shows (rule 6). From the tribal beats of 'Arcarsenal" to the emotional 'Non-Zero Possibility" this is a band who defined a genre they weren't even strictly apart of: emo, and influenced many bands who took elements of their sound and turned it into something new, like ATD-I would have done when they first started, including Funeral For A Friend, Million Dead, Biffy Clyro, yourcodenameis:milo and others. This is At the Drive-in; I hope you enjoy the show