Named after a popular Japanese anime character, Zechs Marquise are comprised of familiar names. Brothers of The Mars Volta mastermind Omar, Marfred and Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez have formed their own prog-rock groove outfit along with childhood friends Matthew Wilkson and Marcos Smith. Following a long and complicated road toward completing their debut album, Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare is finally getting a proper release via Rodriguez-Lopez Productions. The band has also scored an opening slot on a tour with RX Bandits and Dredg. Fishpork got a chance to talk with bassist Marfred about recording the album on their own equipment, the excitement of playing in New York and Philly for the first time, and planning everything around The Mars Volta.
Fishpork: Who in the band also plays with The Mars Volta? Are you finding it tough to plan around both of the bands’ schedules?
Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez: Well, Marcel [Rodriguez-Lopez] plays percussion and secondary keys in The Mars Volta. Yeah, it does become hard because we like to tour a lot more than we can. And with their touring schedule we have to plan around it, but we do what we can.
FP: How is the release of Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare on Rodriguez-Lopez Productions different from when you guys released it last year?
MR: Not much. It’s mostly just  differences and stuff. And now we’ll actually have somewhat of a backing with the record, because before last year . . . all of last year we pushed it ourselves. We sold it out of our web site and our MySpace and going out on tour with it and selling it that way. So it’s good to have that kind of backing.
FP: I heard you guys recorded the album on your own last year. How did that process work?
MR: We tried to go in and record at an old rehearsal place. We used to live next door to a gentleman that had a recording studio. Well, he works for one. We went in there to go work with it, and then he had a dispute with the actual owners of the studio. And within that time, we kinda put everything on hold. And in between then . . . I guess it was something like three or four months . . . we learned that the engineer wasn’t going to be working there anymore. And the studio went ahead, and they actually wiped out all the material we had on their drives there. When we went back to get it, it was already all gone. So with all of the gear that we had acquired over the last few years and stuff, we just kinda figured might as well do it ourselves and avoid the hassle of making a schedule or, even for that matter, paying for recording time. This way, what money we would have invested in, actually going to the studio and spending time in there, we could actually put it into our own recording equipment and record whenever we want to, not having to pay for hourly fees or for an engineer or any of that stuff.
FP: When you guys write songs, what’s that process like?
MR: Basically, we’ll just get together for a rehearsal or something, and we’ll just play whatever. And if we like it, we’ll take from there and kind of build upon it. Or sometimes each guy comes in with like a guitar riff, or I’ll come in with a bass line, or Marcel comes in with drums or whatever, and we just kind of add someone else’s idea.
FP: What kind of music are you guys listening to right now?
MR: Really anything, but particularly right now we’ve just been listening to a lot of funk and soul and hip hop, believe it or not. We’re listening to a lot of James Brown, some Delfonics stuff. And like I said just old hip hop . . . a lot of J Dilla. We do listen to a lot of different music, but lately that’s what we’ve been listening to a lot.
FP: What’s your favorite album of 2009 so far?
MR: That Crack the Skye by Mastodon.
FP: I saw that the band was making their way to New York and Philly. Will these shows be your first time playing gigs on the East Coast?
MR: Yeah, actually. We haven’t gone as far as . . . the furthest east that we’ve been, I believe is North Carolina. So it should actually be kinda fun. Everyone is looking forward to the Philly and New York shows in particular. Actually, one of the guys in the band has never even been up to the Northeast part of the country or the Midwest, so it’s going to be a good experience for him.
FP: How did you guys get hooked up with RX Bandits and Dredg?
MR: Apparently, Cathy over at Sargent House had turned RX onto Zechs. I guess played them a couple of tracks or gave them a CD or something, and they turned out to like it a lot. And they had this tour coming up for their new record and asked us to join them.
FP: What can we expect from your live shows?
MR: A lot of high energy, very aggressive music playing (laughs).
FP: What’s in store for the band for the rest of 2009?
Yeah, actually. We started working on our next record late last year and for the most part of this year. We’ve been working in between tours and Mars Volta scheduling. Hopefully, with any luck, we’ll get it out before the end of the year. If not, right at the beginning of next year. Looking forward to that one. It sounds completely different than what we did with Our Delicate (Stranded Nightmare).