Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Interview: The Mars Volta & Bosnian Rainbows

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“It’s loud in there,” says Omar Rodriguez-Lopez in a dark alley behind the Troubadour. It’s a cool autumn evening in West Hollywood and inside the venue they’re sound-checking for the first Bosnian Rainbows L.A. show, a new project spearheaded by the renowned Mars Volta/At The Drive-In guitarist. While his new band is set to make their L.A. debut tonight, and with dozens of fans lined up at the front of the venue hours before the sold-out performance, Rodriguez-Lopez is calm and focused. His immediate task: to find a quiet place to do this interview. “Do you guys know the area?” he asks, peaking around the dimly-lit street corner.

As we set up on Santa Monica Blvd outside a boutique with topiary animals, Rodriguez-Lopez says he’s been busy sculpting odd shapes for landscapes of his own. This year the guitarist released three solo albums, put out The Mars Volta’s latest record Noctourniquet, and toured the globe endlessly with the Volta and his eponymously dubbed outfit the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group. Not to mention At the Drive-In’s reunion stint earlier this year – the first run of shows after an 11-year hiatus that made international headlines and launched the band into a trending frenzy on Twitter. But even with a seemingly hectic schedule, somewhere along the road his impulses led him to start Bosnian Rainbows with Le Butcherettes frontwoman Teri Gender Bender, fellow The Mars Volta bandmate Deantoni Parks, and Nicci Kasper — a project that reflects At The Drive-In’s democratic structure.

“I wanted to put together a band where everyone was a band leader,” he says, adding that his goal was for the members to have “no reason to take orders from anyone else.”

As star-struck passerbys take snapshots in awe of Rodriguez-Lopez during our conversation, he shows little regard for the limelight and puts more emphasis on being an older brother.

“It’s his first time over there,” he says in a concerned tone of his 21-year-old sibling Riko Rodriguez-Lopez, who’s currently on tour in Europe with his band Zechs Marquise.

“I need to call them soon.”

Front page & article photo by Dorothy Gilbert