In a new profile of At the Drive In in the New York Times, singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Omar Rodríguez-López opened up about the process behind and inspiration for the band’s impending comeback album in•ter a•li•a. It’s the celebrated and influential post-hardcore band’s first release since 2000’s Relationship of Command, and follows the band’s reunion (without founding member Jim Ward) for a tour last year. And apparently, getting in the mindset to make in another At the Drive In record took some special creative preparation.
As NYT writer Jon Pareles put it, the band decided to “take the audience into account while writing music” for the record. (The “audience” in this case likely means “the band’s fans.”) How did this play out? Rodríguez-López decided to revisit the stuff he used to like was influenced by almost 20 years ago, during ATDI’s height of popularity, presumably to inspire a similar feeling for the new album. Here’s how he explained his methodology to the NYT:
When you’re honoring the creative element, you’re very susceptible to going in any direction that might come in as an influence…But now we have to think about, Let’s see the personality of At the Drive-In, let’s see what the context is, and let’s see how we find a good middle ground between where we are now and what the band is. Like, Metallica can’t put out a reggae record, you know what I’m saying?
He continued, discussing his nostalgic research process:
How was I thinking at the time?…When we were first talking about doing a new record, the first thing I did was to make a list: What were the movies I was watching? What were the books I was reading, and what was the music? So I dug up old mixtapes that we had in the van…It was a process of going and watching those films and rereading those books and listening to that music and then, oh, O.K. — then you’re in the world of it. Then everything else comes naturally.
It seems that the two songwriters were trying to make sure the new ATDI album didn’t turn into their second major band–The Mars Volta–all over again. Rodríguez-López said, in the process of revisiting old reference points, he began to remember the old ATDI appeal. “…it was much more spitfire, all these words close together,” he told the NYT. “I forgot how excited that makes me feel.”
As far as what to expect from in•ter a•li•a, prepare for lyrics inspired by sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s oeuvre. “His vision is the most paranoid, the most close to reality right now,” explains Bixler-Zavala.
in•ter a•li•a is out this Friday on Ride.