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Rainbow Connection

11 December 2012 | 1:29 pm | Greg Phillips

"For someone who is very result orientated, if they don’t see it come out or see it in a store, it’s like it didn’t happen. As a creative person going through the process, it is quite the opposite. It’s like, ‘We did it! It was amazing! Now what can we do?’”

A year is a long time in music, especially if you are Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Since I last spoke to Omar, almost a year ago to the day, he has reformed and toured with At The Drive-In, released a new Mars Volta album, toured with that band, finished and premiered another movie Los Chidos, and was back in Australia with a completely new group called Bosnian Rainbows. Then there are the others projects he has also completed which have just been shelved, such as the film documentation of last year's ORL band Australian tour.

“We are doing things all of the time, for the sake of doing them,” explained Omar. “The Australian film is a great example.  We made the film. It was a great thing. We showed it to our friends. We cut it together, we all love it  and then I put it in the closet with three or four other films. For someone who is very result orientated, if they don't see it come out or see it in a store, it's like it didn't happen. As a creative person going through the process, it is quite the opposite. It's like, 'We did it! It was amazing! Now what can we do?'”

So much happens in Omar's creative life that he just loses track of things. Another 2012 project he mentioned simply because I reminded him, was an album he recorded with the grandfather of exo-politics, Jordan Maxwell, a guy who bills himself as a lecturer in the fields of 'secret societies, occult philosophies and UFO-ology.' “It has all sorts of interesting information on how the world works and how the American legal system works,” said Omar of the recording. “That was really cool. I hope to put that out one day when I have the time.”

The musical project which Omar and Teri are now focusing on, however, is Bosnian Rainbows. The band also features Mars Volta drummer Deantoni Parks and keyboard player Nicci Kasper, who plays with Parks in Dark Angels. The music, unlike anything else Omar has been involved in, is a real collaborative process encouraged by the need to shed his former dictatorial ways. “It is a result of my life choices and a new way of living,” said Omar. “This is a new group which is completely a collaborative effort in every sense of the word. It is impossible to even pinpoint a process with this group because literally, everybody does everything. That was the thing when we started this group; everybody had to be a composer, everybody had to be a band leader in their own right. Everybody had to be a producer and engineer and know how to record themselves.”

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For Teri Gender Bender, being out front of Bosnian Rainbows is also a liberating experience. “It is physically amazing because I use my body as an instrument,” she said. “I am moving everything and letting my body feel the music. With Le Butcherettes, I'd always be focusing on the guitar or not messing up the songs. Here, it is just… free.” Like Omar, Teri has also been in collaboration mode and recently recorded a couple of tracks with Latino superstar Carla Morrison. “We had met before in Mexico. Everyone knows each other there. She's a songwriter, I am a songwriter, so being able to record her song with her was very natural because of the friendship.”

The dilemma of being involved in so many contrasting musical projects is that it would be difficult to continually find a new sound, as opposed to just playing a variation on a sonic theme. It's suggested to Omar that using different gear, such as a newly purchased guitar, would go some of the way to altering his sound. Of course Omar sees it differently. “ It is more of a thing of getting excited because it is a new project,” he said. “The excitement of when you are entering a new era of your life. Teri had certain things that she didn't want to do in this group that she did do in Le Butcherettes. I had certain things that I didn't want to do in this group that I did in my old group, so that is also a defining factor.

“The quickest way to define it is knowing what you don't want to do. For example, I didn't want cymbals or hi-hats. There's no bass guitar. Deantoni said he didn't want certain things and same with Nicki, so you throw it all out and you start the fun part of it.”  “Yes it (the new guitar) is wonderful and a good example because that happened quite by chance. We were in Chicago flying out to Europe to start a tour. I happened to go with a friend to a guitar store. Guitar stores never have anything left handed. Here was this 1967 left handed Supro miniature guitar and I knew from the moment I grabbed it that it is all I want to play from now on, and the same with flat wound strings. I knew it was the guitar for this group. It is a shorter scale so the higher part of the guitar is missing so all the really annoying notes are gone.”


At The Drive In?

“For me it was rekindling this love affair with these guys that I grew up with, righting some wrongs and getting to now each other and the different families after ten years of not speaking to each other. I spent eleven years saying I would never play with them again and then I played with them. I know now not to say never. Cedric has a wonderful record coming out that he is focussing on. It is a really exciting time for all of us because we are all doing something different.”

The Mars Volta?

“Put that to rest for now but who knows what will happen in the future, but it is a whole new era for everybody.”

Le Butcherettes?

“We'll hopefully put the Le Butcherettes record out at the end of this year so next year we can be focussed on Bosnian Rainbows.”

Bosnian Rainbows album?

“Early next year as well.”