Who: Featuring Omar Rodriguez (left) and Cedric Bixler (right) of much-missed emo shredders At the Drive-In, the Mars Volta expand ATDI's manic thrust with free jazz, sampled soundscapes, and balls-out classic rock.
What: Last year's Tremulant EP was progressive rock for a regressive world. Their Rick Rubin-produced debut album, recorded in a Hollywood Hills house Rubin owns, will be out this spring.
Nobody's Perfect: "We worked with [producer] Ross Robinson in At the Drive-In, and his philosophy was to play things over and over again, which was good at the time because I was still trying to figure out who I was," says Rodriguez. "But now I realize that a lot of the mistakes and inconsistencies are part of who I am. For this record, we're trying to remember that it doesn't have to be perfect."
Dream of Californication: Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea plays on the album. The Mars Volta will tour Europe and possibly the U.S. with the Chili Peppers this year.
Who: Punkers with an '80s power-pop soul. In 1997, singer/songwriter Kris Roe (center, sitting) gave a demo tape to the Vandals' Joe Escalante, who suggested Roe put together a band; Roe moved to Santa Barbara, California, and did just that.
Sound Like: After opening for Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, et al. and releasing four indie albums, the Ataris' major-label debut, So Long, Astoria, is emo with the fat cut out, a razor-sharp, hyper-speed communiqué of hope and faith to the youth of Middle America.
On a Mission: "I got a letter from a fan in Australia, a girl who was in the hospital with a terminal illness, and she wanted us to know how much our music meant to her," says Roe. "I wrote 'My Reply' for her, which has the line 'I won't stand aside and listen to you give up.'If I'm going to reach kids, it's important that I give them something positive."
Living in Oblivion: "I was homeless, busking for change, and my van got impounded," says Roe. "I was about to move back in with my parents. I borrowed $20 from a guy I knew and decided to give the band one more try. The first thing I did when I got my first royalty check was pay him back."