To be frank, I’m not sure how Omar Rodriguez-Lopez made the time for our nearly hour-long phone conversation. When not functioning as the composer, guitarist, producer, and overall “dictator” behind the experimental prog-rock of The Mars Volta, Lopez has been known to release a solo album or 400. Since he started recorded solo projects in 2004, he’s put out around 30 discs (including a whopping 10 in 2010), not including the five Mars Volta albums, dating back to their 2003 debut, De-Loused in the Comatorium.
As Lopez puts it in our conversation (on several occasions), he has what is known as an “hyper-active” mind. Before he’s through overdubbing one pile monstrous electric guitar mania, he’s already thinking about his next opus—or his next feature film, or documentary, or live show. It’s a wonder he has time to think about breakfast. And it’s not just his wealth of ideas that leads to his impressive catalogue—it’s also his speed at recording. Despite the fact that with every one of his albums, he composes material for every single instrument (and records all of it himself), he lives up to his “Little Dictator” nickname by pushing his players to get through their parts as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In fact, Lopez’ dictatorial actions have caused a bit of a rift. While recording material for a still untitled new Mars Volta album, his longtime partner in crime (vocalist/lyricist Cedric Bixler-Zavala) decided that, if the band were to survive, Lopez needed to chill the fuck out instead of pushing for his breakneck album-every-year pace. When I recently chatted with Lopez, we discussed the creative struggle behind the new Mars Volta album, his relationship with Zavala, his new solo compilation, Telesterion, and what it’s like to have a brain that literally never stops…