By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
In their pursuitof Total Rock Heaviosity (and outstanding trousers), the Mars Volta embody something beautiful and heroic, even in failure. However, listening to Frances the Mutein its entirety is rough going, especially without meds. I wondered: Was there some emotional algebra to this music that, once understood, would unlock a new landscape of meaning? For insight I called esteemed rock babe and Mars Volta devotee Jaan Uhelszki. After 30 minutes of stream-of-consciousness smack, I had my answer: Freddie Mercury rules!
J:It’s the new Tommy.
Yeah, Tommy’s mute — deaf, dumb and blind. It’s a guy who’s trying to figure out who he is — a search for self.
And I keep thinking Carson McCullers. It’s the same thing, this Southern gothic search for what is essentially human, what is a person, what is identity.
The songs are named after people in the diary. They’re really long, almost symphonic, atmospheric explorations into the subconscious of their fallen compatriot.
But even without knowing that, it’s clear that this is a search for self, and going into this heart of darkness to come out the other side. But what bothers me is, I feel like there’s no way out of it. It’s part Rush and part Freddie Mercury, but it doesn’t have that buoyancy that Freddie Mercury has.
It’s very heterosexual! And that usually doesn’t bother me, because I’m all about the MC5 and Led Zeppelin . . . But there’s no love in this, either. There’s no softness.
Very MetalMachineMusic,but not as industrial. It’s almost like there had to be a MetalMachineMusic,a Lou Reed, for them to pull something like this off.
Oh, I know, you’re dying to deconstruct it. It’s so anal. Talk about doing gink work! Little guitars and layers and bells and things that sound like cell phones on top. There’s an OCD quality, repetitive guitar solos that don’t go anywhere, kind of masturbatory shredding for the sake of shredding.
I know! It doesn’t work in a normal situation. I was driving and listening to it, and I was driving faster — I felt like I was trying to drive away from it.
Great art can do a couple things — and I do think this is great art, even if I don’t like it. There’s an anxiety inherent in the culture, and great art reflects the culture. If things were different, they might have made a different record. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
I think that’s true . . . This guy from Texas told me, the thing about Texas is, they just don’t give a fuck. They don’t care what you think.
The Mars Volta don’t care if anybody buys this record. Why else would you make 13-minute-long songs? Who’s going to play that on the radio? They don’t care.
Nobody’s done that since maybe the Moody Blues.
I bet you any money Flea is on “Miranda That Ghost.”
I bet you Eddie Money.