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El Paso’s At The Drive-In Rehearsing For Festival Gigs

With just over a month until their first performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival At the Drive-In are rehearsing in earnest.

“Howdy gang- just a note to say I’m alive and healthy,” ATDI guitarist Jim Ward tweeted on Sunday. “In LA for ATDI rehearsals and it’s been a blast- giant blog update coming soon!”

The tweet marks the first public comments Ward has made on the El Paso band’s reunion since it was announced in January. The band is currently scheduled to play festivals in Spain, Japan, and England, in addition to two performances at Coachella.

Rumors have been rampant on the Internet that the band is planning more European dates, but no other shows have been officially announced.

ATDI guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez said in an interview with European music magazine NME published in February that “time and money” were how he rationalized doing the reunion after an 11-year-indefinite hiatus.

“We’re not getting any younger and there’s been an offer of money every year,” he said in the NME interview. “You can’t avoid that. You’d be a fool and a politician to pretend that wasn’t part of it.”

Rodriguez also said that the band’s reunion is a way for him to right his wrongs, according to an interview with BBC Radio 1.

“When I split up the band I was very young and self-centered,” Rodriguez said in the BBC interview.

The El Paso band, which gained international attention through its energetic live shows, split up in early 2001. Rodriguez and singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala formed The Mars Volta, while Ward, Paul Hinojos and Tony Hajjar formed Sparta.

Bixler convinced Rodriguez to do the reunion by suggesting the guitarist lighten up and that it could be fun.

“We got into a room together just to play music and see what happened,” Rodriguez said. “We knew if we got into a room together we’d know within five minutes whether it was a good idea or not. The chemistry was still there.”

ATDI’s brilliantly chaotic live performances from 1993-2000 made them one of the must-see bands around. They toured relentlessly, devastating audiences with tornado-like ferocity.

In early 2000, the band went into a California studio to record what would become their last album. Ross Robinson, known for his work with Limp Bizkit, produced ?Relationship of Command.” It was released on Sept. 12, 2000 and quickly made several international publications’ year-end best-of lists.

“Ross, at that time, had the reputation for being the wild guy who would throw things or drive you around, doing things like method acting, but for whatever reason, he didn’t really do that with me,” Rodriguez said in a 2010 interview with Alternative Press. “I know he threw a trash can a couple of times, and he took Paul and drove him in an SUV really fast through the hills in Malibu, where there was no barrier, to get his adrenaline going and recorded him that way. But with me it was a very different type of relationship.”

Another tour followed the release of the album, this time with performances at huge music festivals and on national TV in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Ongoing tensions in the band led to an early 2001 announcement of an indefinite hiatus that turned into a breakup.

“Relationship of Command” is still earning accolades years after its release. It was named to Uncut’s 150 albums of the past decade, Kerrang’s 50 Most Influential Albums of All Time, and NME’s 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade.

For years, theories have abounded on the Internet that the band’s new-found popularity after “Relationship of Command” led to the breakup, but Rodriguez has disputed that, chalking up the breakup to creative differences.

“People always say we broke up out of nowhere and we imploded because of the popularity, and that’s something that always makes us laugh,” Rodriguez said in the Alternative Press article. “We still laugh about that (rumor) because (the breakup) had nothing to do with that. It was just that I felt it was our time. I felt that the lifespan of the band was over and I broke the band up. It was all personal affairs. It was very much a life thing, it had nothing to do with external pressure and all those theories.”

The breakup wasn’t the band’s first, just the one that lasted longest.

“Going back to this point again about the way people say that we imploded out of nowhere, they don’t understand the context that we broke up at least three or four other times before we finally broke up,” Rodriguez said in the Alternative Press interview. “There were three or four times where I or Cedric or Cedric and I both talked about leaving the group because our desires were so different (from the rest of the band). Looking back on it, it’s part of the beauty of that band and what made it work. It wasn’t what we wanted versus what they wanted. It was a really special dynamic, even though it was volatile in that way. It was what made the band what it was. I don’t regret it at all.”

The band members reconciled in recent years.

“We’re all good friends now. We all talk now,” Rodriguez said in the Alternative Press interview. “I invited Tony and Jim and Paul down to my house in Mexico and had them over. I flew them down here. We’re all good friends… .”

Related Link: NME Asks If At The Drive-In Were Greatest Live Band Ever; Includes Videos

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