Although they hail from relatively opposite ends of the earth, The Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Hollywood, CA) and Jaga Jazzist’s Lars Horntveth (Oslo, Norway) share quite a bit in common. Both are esteemed musicians, fronting genre-shredding outfits that offer up elaborate and cerebral musical explorations. Both released debut solo efforts last year–Omar’s A Manual Dexterity, Volume 1 and Horntveth’s Pooka–and are following suit with their respective bands in 2005. Indeed, Frances the Mute, The Mars Volta’s newest exercise in Naked Lunch-like lyrical assault and mind-warping soundtracking, could be the hyperactive cousin to Jaga Jazzist’s newest deconstruction of jazz conventions, What We Must.
Although the two hadn’t met or talked at length before this interview, they share a record label in common. Rodriguez-Lopez’s forward-looking indie imprint Gold Standard Labs–home to outstanding acts like !!!, 400 Blows, and GoGo Airheart–first picked up American distribution for Jaga’s Animal Chin EP in 2003. Add to that both artists’ dislike of purists, their dedication to ensemble work, their numerous side projects, and their jaw-dropping live shows, and you have a cross-cultural affinity not often seen.