It’s The Mars Volta, everybody — they’re back and they’re shining. When the bongos let rip at the start of their first new single in a decade, you know you’re in for a blast. The song is called “Blacklight Shine.”
It emerged early Tuesday (June 21) after The Mars Volta, the post-hardcore prog-rock band led by former At the Drive-In members Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, spent the preceding two days teasing music via a pop -up art installation in Los Angeles.
Hear “Blacklight Shine” near the bottom of this post.
The new tune is The Mars Volta’s first material since 2012’s Nocourniquet and the group’s subsequent breakup. The track is a Latin-influenced, percussion-heavy, almost Chicago-like jam that finds singer Bixler-Zavala dipping into Spanish. It has an accompanying short film as a music video. (See below.)
After At the Drive-In broke up in 2001, Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Rodriguez-Lopez formed The Mars Volta. At the Drive-In bandmate Jim Ward formed Sparta. The Mars Volta then released six studio albums, beginning with 2003’s De-Loused in the Comatorium, which features Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea on bass guitar. (The Mars Volta are pictured above in the De-Loused era.) At the Drive-In briefly reunited in 2011 and 2016. Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez moonlighted as a garage rock group called Antemasque in 2014.
In 2019, Bixler-Zavala tweeted about a Mars Volta reunion, “What it’s not going to be your ‘fav member lineup’ playing their ‘classic records’ in full etc. Maybe we’ll play old shit, who knows how we feel .” (However, the tweets have been removed from Twitter.)
He continued, “Our past campaigns never relied on playing requests or going fully backwards. … It’s new shit, new people, left turns, tangent inconsistencies, mazapan dreams and churro wishes.”
The singer added, “I will say this though, when [Rodriguez-Lopez] played me a grip of new shit I fucking cried. Like Claire Daines [sic] in Romeo + Juliet hurt. Yeah, it was fucking weird. It’s in its infancy right now. No deadlines, no ball tripping, no drama, just two grown-ass men using essential oils and bold new perfumes, shooting ideas and scooting their ass across the fucking lawn trying to get rid of these worms.”
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The Mars Volta, “Blacklight Shine” Artwork
The Mars Volta, “Blacklight Shine” Video
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But they’ve all made it work.