You said that you are open still to doing more with the Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. People on the internet are very afraid that the Mars Volta is done. Are you on a hiatus, or are you on one of those ďindefinite hiatusesĒ like Fugazi where you never actually break up but you also never get back together? Or is that something that you just donít know?
I donít know, and Iím notÖinsecure enough to have to ask myself that. Itís like, weíve done that for 10 years, 11 years. Now weíre all doing different things, and everything that weíre doing informs how we express ourselves, and so if that happens then it happens and if it doesnít it doesnít. Itís not something to be worried about. It shouldnít occupy a space in the mind. Thereís way too many things that are much too important to occupy space in the mind. Thatís first and foremost on my agenda: Whoís paying rent in my mind? If youíre a bad tenant, get out.
I was at the first week of Coachella this year, so I saw At the Drive-Inís first set, and you seemed, I would say, fairly unenthused about what was going on up there. Would you say that reunion was worthwhile or was it something more of a chore?
Thatís a complicated question, for many reasons, so Iíll be brief on this one. Number one, the most important person in my life had just passed away, my mother, and soÖ
Iím very sorry, I didnít know that.
Thatís okay, Iím a very private person. I know most people didnít know that. I had absolutely no desire to be around anyone else besides my father and my four brothers and my aunts and uncles, and I was pulled away from that out of yes, a duty to a compromise I had already agreed to. So, thatís first and foremost what you have to understand.
Second to thatÖI get asked this all the time, but Iím normally not as straightforward about it as I am right now for whatever reason, but the point I try to make is that it doesnít matter what peopleís perceptions are of what happens on stage. Itís just a band and weíre just playing music. Behind that is five people who have to live very real lives. And so I had that going on, Tony has his two kids and his business going on, Cedric has his life, Paul has his life, Jim has his life.
I think the main thing that Iím trying to say is that people, for whatever reason, tend to forget that a band is not just a product, that there are people behind it. If someone could always remember that then it would be much easier to understand what it is an artist is trying to say. People, they mystify the arts way too much. Thereís nothing special about it. Thereís nothing special about it at all. Itís just expression. We all go through it. We all cry, we all laugh, we all want to have sex, we all want to be loved. We all share that, no matter what corner of the globe youíre on. Your mother passes, and then you pass, and then your children pass, and their children pass, and so do theirs, etcetera, etcetera. Thatís what I think about all of that.
Third to that, I will just add quickly because it directly relates to what Iím saying: At the Drive-In as it was is of no interest to me.
I am interested in the five people in the group, because the chemistry between the peopleÖthatís the music. What ends up on a record or on a stage is a result of that chemistry. Thatís the thing. Iím interested in being around those guys. I have absolutely no interest or emotional connection to playing songs that I wrote when I was 18 to 23 or whatever. The only emotional connection I have is that I see that it makes people happy when I look out there, people who were way too young to have seen us live when we were actually around. Thatís an amazing thing in and of itself, and I donít want to sound ungrateful for the amazing situation Iím in that people care about something we did 11 years later, but I have no emotional connection to it, because the person I was then has died about three or four times since then.
When you think about the science of it, we shed our skin, we change our skin completely from top to bottom every seven years. And then you go inwards from that to whatís happening in the mind, and so many things have happened since then. Iíve played lots of these shows with At the Drive-In and the people in the front are like, ďCome on! Throw your guitar! Do a backflip!Ē but I have no interest in entertainment, you know? "Dance, monkey, dance!" I have no interest in entertainment, I have interest in self-expression. If something is moving me then itís going to move me, if it isnít it isnít, and if Iím having a bad nightÖ I canít feel bad about those things. No one should be made to feel bad about what theyíre going through, but thatís just something that people do because of the mystification of expression.