When At The Drive In's album, Relationship Of Command came out in 2000 it changed everything for me. I went back and studied In Casino Out and Vaya like my life depended on it. I absorbed everything this band had to offer.
My band, Tape was a mixture of MBV, Primal Scream, The Stooges and some 90's rap shit, but my stage demeanor, leaping off amps and over the drummer, knocking into the guitar player and basically having a fit was heavily influenced by Cedric Bixler (Before he went by the hyphenated, Zavalas).
When they announced the first night of the tour at the Glass House in Pomona I bought tickets for my whole band. Mind you, back then money was tight and that was a big deal, but needless to say I went with most of my band and my then girlfriend in tow.
We had played previously played to about 25 people in the small room next door, and that was just about the biggest deal ever for me, so this was major. I got there early, claimed a good spot, and though I missed the Murder City Devils (bummer), I was right in the middle of the crowd, eager with anticipation when Jim gave his Ian MacKaye rap and with that, the band launched into one of the most impressive sets of music I've ever heard, even to this day.
I later went to De Facto (their side band) shows at the Knitting Factory, one of the 1st Mars Volta shows at the Troubadour, and continued being a mega fan all the way until they broke up. I never met the band, never needed to; the music was enough for me.
Fast forward to many years later and my band, She Wants Revenge managed to play at the same venue where I had first seen them rock out at, The Glass House, selling it out each time we played. I couldn't believe that. Seeing a packed house for ATDI blew my mind, and here we were doing it ourselves. Crazy. Like truly never thought that was possible.
Around this time my friend Juan, a brilliant bass player mentioned in passing that he may audition for the Mars Volta. He knew how big of an ATDI fan I was, and though he was totally into it, I like to think that me freaking out about the opportunity and talking his ear off about it saying how he HAD to do it helped push him towards it. Soon my friend who I had played with was in this massive, immensely musical, beautiful prog rock band, wowing audiences worldwide. So cool.
Tim Ward, a dear friend who was working with SWR at the time told me that I would totally get along with the singer from the other hand he worked with, The Mars Volta. He told me that like myself, he skated around on days off on tour, loved old skate videos like I did, and that if we ever met we would totally get along.
He introduced us through text message (if memory serves me), and we began a long and very cool text and social media relationship. We spoke of getting together to skate, but busy lives always got in the way. One day he met and later married a local girl I knew, and soon they were off having beautiful children and joining that club of touring dad, a gig I knew all too well. We stayed in touch, texted, made plans to make plans, invited each other to some cool life things, but then one day he moved back home to El Paso, and we never even got to skate Bronson Canyon as we said we'd like to.
Then one day ATDI announced they were playing Coachella, and I was over the moon. I tweeted a congratulations to Cedric telling him how excited I was and then texted him and told him the story of how I'd taken my band to see them at the Glass House and how moved I was by their song, "Napoleon Solo". (Look up the story if you don't know it). I told him that they'd better play it, to which he replied, "Of course, just for you".
So when I was front and center watching them tear up weekend 1 with my wife it was the coolest thing ever when they started that familiar guitar riff and played one of my favorite songs. It was really a full circle moment. Here was this dude who influenced me so much as a performer, doing this song at a festival I had the pleasure and honor off playing TWICE, something I never would have believed had you told me that back when I played with Tape.
The next weekend I was in bed with my wife when my phone blew up with texts; "did you hear that?!" "What the fuck?!" I didn't get it. What was I missing? Oh, right...Coachella weekend 2. My friend Tyler told me that Cedric had shouted me out from the main stage of Coachella. I was gobsmacked. I couldn't believe it. Here he has told me he was going to play it for me, but a shout out?
No. Not possible.
It wasn't available on YouTube for a while, and when I finally found a recording of the show and the song I watched eagerly waiting to hear what he said, and as the song's familiar stains began, he spun around, and on the mic for everyone to hear, said, "This song is dedicated to Justin Warfield".
I just got goose bumps when I typed this.
I still can't believe that moment or what it meant for the fan that bought his band tickets to see At The Drive In to inspire them and him to reach for greater heights.
That was one of the most magical rock and roll moments of my life, and believe me, I've had more than I'm worthy of.
I thanked him over text and said we must hang, and when I caught wind of his new band, Zavalas I said we should play together, as my new outfit Dream Club would be a perfect fit. We continued to talk on social media, and the more things we found in common the more we couldn't believe we'd never met.
The capper was one day when I posted pics of me with my Afro, jumping off amps with Tape. He liked the pics, and said, "how did we never hang out back then?" That was so fucking cool.
This past Coachella, Drive Like Jehu played, a band I could write a similar post about, but will spare you. What I can tell you is I dragged my girl away from Jack White late into the evening to see this band that blew me away in a bowling alley back in 1994 as a young lad.
When we finally arrived after the long walk to the Gobi, there was nobody there. Literally about a hundred or so people gathered in the tent as they tuned up and line checked. Near the stage in the guest viewing area there were about five people lurking around.
But there, standing alone and waiting patiently like the fan he was, was Cedric Bixler-Zavalas.
I walked right up to him, grabbed him, and upon seeing me we just laughed and hugged.
It was totally amazing. Years in the making, and of course, there we were, just two fans of music, waiting to see a band who changed our lives.
I said, "of course we're the only two guys here".
And it was so fucking special.
When I met Barack Obama as he was campaigning for the presidency the 1st term I didn't ask for a pic, when I hung out with Lou Reed I didn't dare ask for a pic, but after we talked about our wives, our lives, our music, our kids, and how crazy that it had taken us this long to meet, I looked to my girl and said, "you have to take a pic".
Music is magic.