Monday, 14 November 2016

At The Drive-In


Yes, your eyes don't deceive you. Finally, after days/months/years of complaints about them not being on here, this request needs to be made no more. Here ya go, the greatest of the greats, At The Drive-In. Starting out as a bunch of kids from El Paso, they evolved into one of the 90's most formidable underground post-hardcore acts before nearly exploding into the modern rock mainstream at the peak of their creativity, which happened to coincide with their untimely implosion.


ATDI (as they are commonly referred to) formed in 1993 in the city of El Paso, Texas. Though they went through numerous line-up changes in their early days, two particular members have been with the band from the start. Those are vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist/vocalist Jim Ward (though he has been absent from the band on occasion, but we'll get in to that). The band's early sound often draws comparison to other great bands such as Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate, which were two of their major influences. After a few EP's, the band's debut album, Acrobatic Tenement was released in 1996. Though quite different from the material they would become known for, it still stands on its own as a fantastic record, and spawned some of the band's best songs, including "Ticklish" and "Initiation". The definitive traits of At The Drive-In are all here, including Cedric's lyrical intellect, the duel guitar sound, and the quiet-loud dynamics that are so integral to post-hardcore. However, the production quality is vastly different to what they would later release, and this era of ATDI is often why they are sometimes labelled as an "emo" band, though the term doesn't really fit. Following their debut, they released another EP, El Gran Orgo. This is notable since it's the only thing ever released without founding member Jim Ward. Even with his absence, it's a fantastic EP and a personal favourite of mine, which is why I have to point it out as being highly recommended. The songs are catchy, the energy is high, and it really stands out as being different from a lot of their other material. After El Gran Orgo, the band's "classic" line-up was solidified, with Cedric on vocals, Jim back on guitar and vocals, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez on guitar, Paul Hinojos on bass, and Tony Hajjar playing drums.


With their solidified line-up, the band's second full-length, In/Casino/Out was released in 1998. What more is there to say aside from this is a fucking incredible album? ATDI had evolved so much over the years since they began, and this is where they finally hit their stride. Lyrically it's more political, but still as opaque as ever. Musically, the songs are more technically complex, and Omar's love of effects starts to show here. Sonically, it's brimming with an energy only matched by their live shows. Seriously, check out some of their live material if you ever want to see a band on the brink of losing their shit but still holding it together somehow. It's insane stuff. The songs on here also have become more grandeur, with tracks like "Napoleon Solo" and "Lopsided" showing a melodic yet "epic" side to ATDI. They would also become live staples to this day. 1999's Vaya is what El Gran Orgo was in 1997. It's a transitional EP between LP's that just happens to contain some of the band's best material. It's also a clear indicator of where the band is about to explode to on their next and final LP.


In 2000, At The Drive-In entered the studio with a major producer (Ross Robinson), and came out with one of the greatest and most influential post-hardcore albums ever. Relationship Of Command was a major jump from their prior work. Though they still maintained the melodic/aggressive balance, the duel guitar sound, and Cedric's distinct vocal and lyrical style, as a unit they pushed the boundaries on everything they had done so far into new territory entirely. For one, it's much more progressive, as clearly indicated by tracks like "Quarantined" and "Non-Zero Possibility". Omar in particular made full use of his pedalboard, and Jim Ward also began incorporating keyboard parts into certain tracks. They also brought out some of their most intense tracks, particularly album opener "Arcarsenal" and "Mannequin Republic". And of course I can't get away without mentioning "One Armed Scissor", the band's closest thing to a "hit" song, and by far their best known. With this single and album, At The Drive-In nearly broke into the rock mainstream. They quite possibly could have, with numerous TV appearances, as well as a very well-known appearance at Big Day Out in 2001. That same year though, they finally had to call it quits. Members within the band all wanted to go in different directions, and that could not be reconciled while in At The Drive-In. On the bright side though, two incredible bands spawned after ATDI ended. Cedric and Omar formed the very well-known The Mars Volta, who fully embraced prog rock and continued to put out fantastic albums for years that featured some incredible musicianship. The other three members began Sparta, who went in a more indie/alternative direction, who also put out some fantastic music. Both of these bands eventually ended though, which brings us back to ATDI.



In 2012, over a decade after the band's last show, At The Drive-In announced their reunion. They played a headlining set at Coachella, as well as a handful of other shows and festival appearances that year. Now in 2016, the band are back, and seemingly more full-time than their brief reunion before. They've been touring full-time, and have plans to release a new full-length under the At The Drive-In name. However, this is without founding member Jim Ward, for whatever reason. His replacement is guitarist Keeley Davis, who played in Sparta. Regardless, it's incredible to see such a legendary band back in action, and I'm sure we're all waiting with bated breath for the hallowed follow-up to Relationship Of Command. Enjoy.

1. Grand Mox Turkin
2. Red Planet
3. Emptiness Is A Mule

1. Bradley Smith
2. Instigate The Role
3. Ludvico Drive-In
4. Circuit Scene
5. Plastic Memories 

1. Starslight
2. Schaffino
3. Ebroglio
4. Initiation
5. Communication Drive-In
6. Skips On The Record
7. Paid Vacation Time
8. Ticklish
9. Blue Tag
10. Coating Of Arms
11. Porfirio Diaz

1. Give It A Name
2. Honest To A Fault
3. Winter Month Novelty
4. Fahrenheit
5. Picket Fence Cartel
6. Speechless

1. Alpha Centauri
2. Chanbara
3. Hulahoop Wounds
4. Napoleon Solo
5. Pickpocket
6. For Now... We Toast
7. A Devil Among The Tailors
8. Shaking Hand Incision
9. Lopsided
10. Hourglass
11. Transatlantic Foe

1. The Aasee Lake - The Dualistic Struggle Between Good And Evil Within Ticket Lines And Reality
2. At The Drive-In - Doorman's Placebo

1. Rascuache
2. Proxima Centauri
3. Ursa Minor
4. Heliotrope
5. Metronome Arthritis
6. 300 MHz
7. 198d

1. At The Drive-In - Catacomb
2. Burning Airlines - The Deluxe War Baby

1. At The Drive-In - Rascuache
2. The Murder City Devils - Press Gang

1. Sunshine - Streamlined
2. Sunshine - Streamlined (Dead Elektro Mix)
3. Sunshine - Streamlined (Line Mix)
4. At The Drive-In - Extracurricular
5. At The Drive-In - Autorelocator

1. One Armed Scissor
2. Pattern Against User
3. Incetardis

1. Arcarsenal
2. Pattern Against User
3. One Armed Scissor
4. Sleepwalk Capsules
5. Invalid Litter Dept.
6. Mannequin Republic
7. Enfilade
8. Rolodex Propaganda
9. Quarantined
10. Cosmonaut
11. Non-Zero Possibility
12. Catacombs (Bonus Track)

1. Rolodex Propaganda
2. One Armed Scissor
3. Extracurricular

1. Invalid Litter Dept.
2. Initiation (Lamacq Version)
3. Quarantined (Lamacq Version)
4. Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk (Pink Floyd cover)
5. Metronome Arthritis (Lamacq Version)

1. Fahrenheit
2. Picket Fence Cartel
3. Chanbara
4. Lopsided
5. Napoleon Solo
6. Pickpocket
7. Metronome Arthritis
8. 198d
9. One Armed Scissor
10. Enfilade
11. Non-Zero Possibility
12. Incetardis
13. Doorman's Placebo
14. Autorelocator
15. Rascuache
16. This Night Has Opened My Eyes (The Smiths cover)
17. Initation (BBC Lamacq Session)
18. Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk (Pink Floyd cover)

Decomposition
Terranova Compost
"...Because I'm A Vampire..." (AKA (interlude) From El Gran Orgo EP)
Salient
Catacombs (Mike Major Mix)

5 comments:

  1. A top notch post as always. Thank you.

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  2. Can you do
    Right Away, Great Captain
    Please and thank you :)

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  3. Nice. Who could forget that performance on Jools Holland..?

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  4. I'm from El paso, TX and grew up on these guys. My step father's and Uncle both went to high school with them at El Paso High School. My uncle is still real close to Omar, Cedric and Jim. These guys honestly put El Paso, TX on the map music wise. If you guys don't know about them, you should definitely check them out and there side projects. These guys are so talented.

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  5. Hell yeah! Now get Moneen on here ;)

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