For fans of At The Drive-In, it has been a long and quiet four years since the El Paso, TX quintet reunited for a string of shows and a performance at Coachella 2012. In an under-the-radar fashion, the band has announced they will take the stage together at the 2016 Rock the Range Festival. While Omar Rodriguez-Lopez hinted in a 2013 interview that the At The Drive-In reunion was not completely over, there has been nothing but radio silence from the group since.
At The Drive-In famously chose to burn out over fading away, abruptly taking a hiatus just months after their breakthrough LP, Relationship of Command hit the shelves and “One Arm Scissor” became one of MTV’s last real alternative music video hits. The band splintered into logical factions, with Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala forming the highly experimental and progressive The Mars Volta, while Jim Ward and Tony Hajjar joined Keeley Davis of Engine Down to form the more straightforward rock group Sparta.
The band played several shows across the world following their reunion announcement in January 0f 2012, including a stop at Red 7 in Austin, TX as well as the aforementioned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA.
In the meantime the various members of the band have been hard at work on other projects. Rodriguez-Lopez’s Kimono Kult project saw the singer team up with Teri Gender Bender and John Frusciante to release 2014’s studio album Hiding in the Light. Bixler-Zavala has worked with Rodriguez-Lopez and Flea in Antemasque, releasing 2014’s self-titled effort, as well as his own Zavalaz project. Meanwhile, original At the Drive-In successor project The Mars Volta released Noctourniquet in 2012 before calling it quits in 2013.
On the other side of the divide, Ward and Hajjar have not released new material as Sparta since Threes in 2007, though they have continued to tour. In 2012 the band released their first new song in six years, “Chemical Feel” as a free download, while announcing the recording of their fourth full length in early 2013.
Ward’s side-project Sleepercar released a 5-song digital EP today, titled Breathe & Count:
Hi everyone- I made a new Sleepercar EP called Breathe & Count – it has 5 songs. I am very proud of it and if you… https://t.co/SnNSW7oVUo
— Sparta (@spartatheband) December 1, 2015
UPDATE 1 (4:00 PM PST):
According to Dave Acosta of the El Paso Times, founding guitarist Jim Ward was unaware of any possible reunion plans just a few weeks ago when he was interviewed for the publication.
When we spoke, I asked him about the possibility of his former band, the highly influential post-hardcore group At the Drive-In reuniting again and he seemed to be pretty sure that no other reunion was forthcoming, at least to his knowledge.
In fact, his exact quote was, “Let me know what you hear.”
I called Ward, and he seemed rather surprised, too. Ward said he knew that the band had been listed among performers at the festival, but added that he could neither confirm nor deny whether ATDI would actually be performing at this time.