The Softer Side of Cedric Bixler-Zavala

How indie music’s rebel turned balladeer with the help of a good woman



Cedric Bixler Zavala will perform songs from his new album at 8 p.m. June 16 at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown.

www.verbicidemagazine.com

Cedric Bixler Zavala is a badass.

Seriously. I mean, this guy hits notes that could shatter glass six states over. The former front man of groups like At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta has taken his music – which has always been fueled by loud, guitar-driven songs about angst, death, and loss, all over the world, playing stages from Coachella to Maquinaria Festival in Santiago, Chile.

It’s OK to be impressed. He’s kind of amazing.

But what happens when the man who has rocked his fans in two of the indie music world’s most influential bands decides to try on a new hat? That’s the question that Zavala faced when he sat down and started to write his latest record.

“I started putting little parts together and signing along with it,” he says, in a recent phone interview. “My wife kept giving me this vote of confidence because she liked it. I kept taking that into account because it was nice to hear a woman’s perspective, and what she liked about my music. I had just been used to 10 years of predominantly boys or men chiming in – musically – on what I was supposed to be doing with my life.”

All the Nights We Never Met is the debut release of Zavalaz, the singer’s latest project. The band’s name is derived from Bixler’s mother’s maiden name, with a “Z” added to the end.

The singer is quick to point out that his latest record is a departure from the sound so many of his fans might be accustomed to, adding that he’s finally gone and done the unthinkable: He recorded an album full of love songs.

Bixler-Zavala performed most of the instrumental parts on the record, but upon closer examination, decided a change was in order.

“I was playing everything on it, but I didn’t like the way my drums sounded, so I got Greg [Rogove] who plays with Devendra [Banhart].”

Bixler-Zavala also teamed with a four-time Grammy Award-winning producer-mixer-engineer to help shape his sound.

“I started working with Robert Carranza, who worked with Los Lobos and Jack Johnson,” says Bixler-Zavala. “I think he was a little taken aback that I could do it. He just kept telling me how much he liked [my music], and we kept working on it whenever I had time.”

But it was the singer’s wife, Chrissie, as well as fatherhood that proved the biggest catalyst to his current musical direction.

“['Unearthly Child’] was a song that I wrote, sort of as a want ad from the universe to have children,” he explains. “I wrote it and played it for my wife. When I played her the final version of it, she got really emotional. That night, we conceived. We found out we were pregnant maybe a month later. I didn’t realize [the significance of] the lyric I was writing -- ‘Turn the light off so I can see my twin constellation.’ At her first check-up, I couldn’t make it to the appointment, so she called me from the room and said, we’re going to have twins. We just started laughing. I feel that’s a testament to the power of music.”

Love has historically played a huge part in the lore of great music. John Lennon is thought to have parted ways with the Beatles for love. Elvis Presley risked career and stardom to fall in love with a teenage Priscilla Beaulieu. Hell, even Sid Vicious lost it to love … but that’s a different story.

Zavalaz exists because Bixler-Zavala followed other great men into the arms of the woman he loves, and lived to tell – or in this case, sing – the tale.

Experience Zavalaz in concert at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace (53688 Pioneertown Road,  Pioneertown. 760-365-5956) at 8 p.m. June 16.

Cedrix chats about the transition to writing love songs.

 

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Desert Guide
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Modernism Week Fall Preview Tickets Go On Sale Aug. 1

Modernism Week will host its Fall Preview over the Columbus Day holiday weekend, Oct. 9-12, in the Greater Palm Springs area, and tickets go on sale Aug. 1.

Idyllwild Lemon Lily Festival Sells Bulbs For First Time

For the first time since the Idyllwild Lemon Lily Festival began in 2009, this weekend's edition will feature lemon lily bulbs for sale. But don't expect them to be blooming with their signature whirling yellow leaves.

The Swon Brothers Promise High-Energy Show at Morongo Casino

Since appearing on "The Voice," Zack and Colin Swon of The Swon Brothers have transferred their sibling chemistry and musical talents to the national stage.

Summer Play Heats up Palm Canyon Theatre

Tee Quillan is poised to sizzle with his Coachella Valley directorial debut of "Hot Mikado," a modern interpretation of an age-old comedic opera at the Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs.

Rich Pineda Returns to His Training Grounds a Sought After Tattoo Artist

Rich Pineda, who learned to tattoo in the Coachella Valley and now the one sought out for his artistry, will be featured at this weekend's Palm Springs Tattoo Convention.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couples getaway
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Edit ModuleShow Tags