When the El Paso-based band At the Drive-In broke up in 2001, indie-rock kids wept into their e-journals, wrenched their sweatband-clad hands, and had mini-nervous breakdowns, all because one of the most hyped bands of the past few years went on an "indefinite hiatus." From independent record store clerks to other independent record store clerks, the whole community of hipper-than-thou lapsed into a social coma. Who was going to be the next big thing? Who was going to blow their freshly cut bangs right off their forehead with a rockin', gale-force wind? The tension was causing them all to sweat so feverishly that black hair dye ran into their eyes ("I can't see my Belle and Sebastian 45s! God, no!"). Someone had to save rock, and quick! But then the clouds of Indietown parted (maybe the tears of a thousand distraught hipsters made it so?) and the remnants of ATDI splintered off. Jim Ward, Tony Hajjar, and Paul Hinojos went on to form Sparta, and the two dudes with white-guy afros, Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez, started the Mars Volta.
Sparta took the pop road, while Bixler and Rodriguez take a more experimental journey with their 2002 debut, Tremulant, an EP of three, count 'em, three songs that takes elements of free jazz and psych-rock, throws some effects pedals in there for taste, and adds a little minor-key goodness on top.
For those hungry for more, the afroed ones' full-length album comes out in June with the delicious title De-loused in the Comatorium. Now for the scary part: They're on tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop Dogg! We can forgive them for touring with Snoop, because, well, he's Snoop. But some other bands just need to take off the tube socks and call it a career (yeah, looking at you, Kiedis).