Though anyone familiar with the Mars Volta should know the story of Julio Venegas, there are quite a few that are unknowing of such a disturbing, yet fascinating story that runs through the course of the Mars Volta's first full-length album, De-Loused in the Comatorium. Julio, a good friend of the band, was known to be a rather avid illegal substance user, now famously known to have experimented with the mainlining of rat poison. Common sense will tell you that poison, even if not encountered through touch or consumption, can be extremely dangerous in most cases. One day, Julio took it to a new extreme, overdosing on morphine, a drug usually used in hospitals for pain-relief. Though he was found and taken to the proper facility, he lapsed into a coma that lasted for what is estimated to be around a week. Some time after, as it has currently escaped my memory, Julio took to a bridge, an overpass, or whatever adjective you deem necessary. From that last sentence, I'm quite sure you are able to figure out what would soon come.
I would like you to understand why exactly I went at a decent length to explain that story. Though it is a rather vague interpretation of the album, that is primarily what most people will think of as the plot of De-Loused in the Comatorium. The album, though, isn't really about Julio's experiences in the modern world; the real world. No, the album is mainly focused on Omar a Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala's imaginations, of what they believe, or what they want to believe, happened with Julio while he was in the dream world so associated with the album. Like I said earlier, this may perhaps be an extremely vague statement, for I am sure that there are ounces of personality infused into the lyrics and storyline by Omar and Cedric, as they have done with their latest album, Frances the Mute.
The Mars Volta are particularly well-known for their fairly unique approach to music, though one can say that about nearly every band that the media slaps the "prog" label on. Omar himself has even stated that you could say that the Mars Volta are a "brown" band, with healthy amounts of diversity that allow the band to go in any direction, musically, that they please. Cedric Bixler-Zavala possesses a blood curdling, anxiety-ridden falsetto that rises and falls with the music, a true sign of vocal ability that not even some trained singer could accomplish. Omar's guitar playing, compliments the rest of the music, with plenty of syncopation and effects pedals to make any person willing to listen a happy camper. Flea, of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame, and the completely mind-blowing John Theodore are here as the rhythm section, each one bending with the music, never falling out of place playing music that can sometimes become baffling. This also leads me to my next point: the Mars Volta aren't accessible. Their music doesn't involve much, if any, compromise. Sometimes songs seem to become a mess of notes and ambient bleeping, just for the pure sake of it. Although each person in the band is talented, and extremely good at what they do, the Mars Volta are not without their flaws on this album. Cedric, this being 2003, had not yet developed the strong, booming voice that he now possesses a couple of years later. Sometimes, hi voice clashes with the oddities in the music, giving the music a even more peculiar feel, but not quite in a good manner. Some songs can become quite tedious, though usually saved by bursts of harmonized singing and huge melodies.
The songs on De-Loused in the Comatorium, though all slightly varied, aren't necessarily extremely unique from one another. All of them seem to follow some extremely loose pattern, making the songs seem quite a bit better than what they are. Almost every song contains their trademark prog-influenced freakouts, where the song turns into a cacophany of noise, for only Cedric to come and save the song from turning into a pile of pitter-patter and wanking. Though there are certainly good songs, especially the 12-minute, nearly epic jamming in "Cicatriz ESP," and the uber-groove of the last track, "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt," which goes on to describe the decision of Julio's suicide, concluding the story on a rather good manner. The best song of all, though, is what most woul consider one of the band's most accessible songs, "Televators". The song gleams with an epic beauty, acoustic guitars in one hand, and Cedric's wandering, uplifting voice bringing the song to the status of pure grandness unmatched by any single song on this album. For once, you get the notion that the band can actually write a song, instead of rocking out with a vengeance, and that they can craft beautiful, thoughtful music when they really want to. It's that one innocent child in a room full of drunken, sloppy men having a good day's night before they drudge along to their next hopeless and miserable day.
Scruples, or Holland, 1945, educate me on who Jon Theodore is. I have listened to De-Loused In The Comatorium many times and I am amazed and perplexed by the drumming. The drumming actually stood out for me above all other things. Will someone tell me about Jon Theodore and his background?
Jon Theodore is my fav drummer. He started playing the piano when he was really little, but he hated it. When he was fifteen, he was a waiter at a summer camp, and there was a small band of five people with a "hippy band director". He would walk by and play on the drumkit when no one was there. He got involved in the band playin bass cuz of his height. One day, the drummer didnt show up and he filled in, and he loved it. He started playing in high school and got drum lessons from a proffessor in Baltimore, cuz thats where he used to live. He then went to Overland College, apparently very reknown in music, but he said that he was never the best student cuz he was too "scatterbrained". Anyway, he then joined a band called Golden, and while he was touring, he met Omar and Cedric at a gig. From then on, its history....
Feel free to correct anything that you find is wrong
Nice bio, Maddraven1716. Jon Theodore and I actually share some history. I used to play on my mom's band's drummer's kit for about 6 months and I got quite good. I've never played in front of people on the drums, though because I'm too shy. I'm more of a guitar guy anyway.