Though we had previously noted on Rocks Off that psychedelic prog-rockers the Mars Volta had gone on the dreaded "indefinite hiatus" last year, none of us foresaw how truly acrimonious the split would become a short time later.
For those who missed it, last week TMV front man Cedric Bixler-Zavala went off on a Twitter tirade announcing the dissolution of the band due to his dissatisfaction with guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez over touring, Rodriguez-Lopez's new band Bosnian Rainbows, and the fact that Bixler-Zavala wanted to play with the original Volta lineup again.
OK, so that's the end. RIP Mars Volta, right? Well, if you've followed music for any time at all, you may have noticed that it's never quite so cut and dried when a band splits. Everybody has to get his or her own digs in, especially since the advent of social media.
Since Bixler-Zavala's announcement, Rodriguez-Lopez has remained silent for his part. But the founder of the label that releases his solo albums, Cathy Pellow of Sargent House Records, took to speaking for Rodriguez-Lopez in her own miniature rant on the Sargent House Facebook account. Therein, she takes a shot at Bixler-Zavala for using social media to announce the breakup, and claims that many of his comments in his breakup announcement were untrue.
We're unlikely to know the truth, but we know how the Bixler-Zavala camp feels about that. When asked for comment on Pellow's response, Bixler-Zavala's wife spoke up on her Twitter and responded in a more blunt manner. According to fan reports, Chrissie Bixler-Zavala also included a few much more vulgar comments as well, which she later deleted. She didn't stop there, going on to include comments about supposed "egomaniac" Rodriguez-Lopez.
What does this all amount to? A whole lot of unnecessary garbage, really. To fans, it's interesting to watch the fallout, but it shows how utterly destructive social media can be in this context. If what Pellow says is true, she and Rodriguez-Lopez found out about all this at exactly the same time we did from exactly the same source: Twitter.
Certainly bands have fallen out in the past and used the press to sling mud. But in a case like this, one has to wonder, could cooler heads have prevailed if such an instantaneous way of making such bold declarations didn't exist? If it wasn't so easy to throw back a few beers and post a rant on the Internet, could this all have been avoided?
It says something about the state of communication among people that Bixler-Zavala apparently did not inform Rodriguez-Lopez he was dissolving the band until he told the fans over social media. Is it really too hard for us to pick up a phone nowadays?
Of course, it isn't the first time a band has fallen out in this manner. Take Ween's breakup last year. They went the old-fashioned route and made their comments through the rock press, but it all broke down in a similar manner. Aaron Freeman aka Gene Ween, the band's vocalist, told Rolling Stone he was breaking up Ween apparently some time before he chose to inform Mickey Melchiondo aka Dean Ween, guitarist, of that.
Still, there's something more calculated to that. One has time to rescind comments of that nature made in the press, or to "clarify" them in some way. With social media, it's all twisting in the wind, sending messages out into a vacuum for immediate mass consumption.
It's becoming more prevalent too. Last year when Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler of the All-American Rejects got into a fight at a dinner they were having together, they each took to Twitter to rant about it, and then subsequently publicly broke up their band on Twitter.
Later, Ritter admitted to MTV News that it was the "stupidest thing [they] ever did." He didn't rule out the idea that the band was done for good either, however.
The advantages of social media are clear. Instantaneous information is a part of everyone's daily lives these days. But it also shows how easy it is for our emotions to get out of hand. All it takes is a lack of a filter, a lack of self-control, a momentary lapse of reason, to ruin friendships, relationships and even bands.
There's no clear answer or solution to stop such immaturity, because social media is here to stay. But there is a meme that I've seen going around for a long time, which shows an iPhone app that would warn you if you were about send a drunk text. Maybe we need one of those that would pop up with a warning when you try to break up your band over Twitter.