Several years ago I was at the Troubadour in Hollywood mixing a John Fruciante solo show. Opening for a band called "At the Drive In." All I remember beyond John's performance was these two skinny little guys with crazy huge hair.
A chunk of time passes....
And answering a ringing phone brings a query as to whether I would be willing to mix a band next week, a showcase. I don't do it often and when I do, it is only for certain people or favors or friends. It is not a money thing, it is an enjoyment and happiness thing. Mixing a new band I have never seen in a small club is a treacherous endeavor with much opportunity to have less people like me after the show than before. Lots of things can go wrong and without high end audio gear to depend on, it really can easily go pear shaped if I am not extremely careful. Two days later The Tremulant EP arrives Fedex to the Rat Shop.
The Tremulant EP then entered my car cd player where it resided on continuous repeat as clutched the steering wheel driving too fast and full blast for the next three days. I agree to mix the band The Mars Volta. Whomever they are, they rock.
"Hello hello, my name is Dave Rat and I am looking for some Mars Volta's" In a happy and somewhat sarcastic announcement as I enter the Troubadour, day of show. Holly shit, it's those crazy looking guys with big hair! "Hey, I know you, I saw you here last time I was hereÂ for John's solo gig" and I feel a better that I actually have a thread of familiarity with the band I am about to mix. Omar then asked me if I know anything about guitar cabinets as his was sounding funny. With a big smile I like him already, and let us take a look and see what the issue is. A screw gun from my car and a bit of wiring later we are all good and ready to rock.
"My name is Jeremy, do you want me on stage or up here in the sound booth?" That's right, I remember now, at some point I was told the band has a dedicated human that does nothing but vocal effects. "Jeremy, where would you rather be?" I ask as I ponder the advantages of both scenarios. "Up here with you" he says and so it's decided, Jeremy and I will hang together and we unravel the best way to make that happen.
Mixing The Mars Volta in that little club was euphoric, Jeremy next to me buried in headphones with a mind boggling array of effects dedicated and locked into creating insane vocal effects that showed up as another instrument for me to blend into the sound. Absolutely magic!
I have mixed them a few times since, including a Coachella show and a short trip to South America a few years back. Part of my heart still hurts that I could not continue on as their sound engineer as they grew and toured but that does not change the fact that the bond and friendship built, carries on as strong as ever.
Jeremy died. Mind crushing sad. A magical part of their musical equation passed with him. Not to be replaced as reliving the past is a waste of time. A memory both sweet and tragic from which to launch forward. The Mars Volta is magic music of sensation and emotion.
Today I sat in the front row and bring you glimpses of TMV:
Do you recognize this now white mic?
Shaun, Mars' monitor engineer, has taken the microphone mod to a whole new level, now white with custom white mic cord and some internal retrofits to improve upon the initial creation, it is now one of four that have become the standard for Cedric.
**** End Mars Special ****
And for a final smile, here are JF and AK pics. Sorry about Flea and Chad, will grab them soon enough.