Bosnian Rainbows, Omar Rodriguez Lopez’s latest musical endeavor, bridges the gap between post-punk abrasiveness and progressive rock esotericism. It’s something of a gift for Rodriguez-Lopez fans who have been with the left-handed guitar maestro since his At the Drive-In days. Although musically the band leans towards its now-defunct prog-rock brother, The Mars Volta, theoretically the band feels like At the Drive-In. Which makes sense considering Rodriguez-Lopez considers Rainbows a “democratic” project.
Rodriguez-Lopez (guitar, vocals), Nicci Kasper (keyboards), Deantoni Parks (drums, keyboards) and Teri Gender Bender (vocals) make up Rainbows. Since the formation last year in El Paso, Texas, the band has performed throughout the world, and is preparing for the release of their as-of-yet untitled debut album, some time this year.
Bender, who fronts Rainbows with Iggy Pop-influenced eccentricity and sheer riot grrrl badassery, was doubtful about the group’s reception at first.
“When we first began performing last year we were still under the name Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group,” Bender said during our phone interview. “So we were worried that people would come to our shows, see that we were not the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group and leave angry or disappointed.”
Bender and the rest of the group’s worries soon disappeared. Fans in Japan immobile during Rainbows’ performance, only to applaud wildly once their set finished, and Russian women crying and throwing jewelry at Bender in Saint-Petersburg. The group’s overseas performances foreshadowed the warm welcome they would receive back in America.
One notable U.S. show was during Fun Fun Fun Fest, here in Austin. Although the group’s RV house broke down halfway towards Austin (“We rode in a U-Haul the entire way to Austin,” Bender said), forcing them to cancel their Saturday set, the group replaced rapper Rakim’s Sunday spot. The result: a 45-minute spectacle filled with Rodriguez-Lopez’s afro, Parks’ mechanically groovy drums and Rodriguez-Lopez’s and Bender’s haunting vocal harmonies.
The band’s latest recordings, “Torn Maps” and “Turtle Neck,” capture such qualities (minus the afro). Both singles and the album they came from were recorded in various locations. Burbank, Calif. (Eldorado Recording Studios). Hamburg, Germany (Clouds Hill Studios). Even a few demos were recorded in El Paso.
“Recording the album was a very natural process,” Bender said. “We would just work off each other’s ideas and bring our own backgrounds and influences into the music we wanted to make.” As for lyrical content Bender’s persona is much different than her Le Butcherettes one. Bender said this is mostly due to the music, as well as maturing.
“I’ve grown up a lot since [Le Butcherettes album] Sin Sin Sin. I’m not afraid to talk about love—I’m actually looking forward to having children now, which I never thought would happen.” Such openness is reflected in songs like “Turtle Neck”: “I don’t know turtleneck where you’ve been all my life / But I feel, turtleneck, that you’re leaving me aside.” It’s a telling story of Bender, lyrics that portray her at a split path, curious as to where her maturing will take her next.
Outside of her music persona, Bender is relaxed and inviting. During our conversation Bender shared how she’s never had a proper Valentine’s Day date, and the first show she ever cried at.
“I was 11 years old and my father took me to go see the Spice Girls at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheater ” Bender said. “I was weeping uncontrollably.”
Rainbows is currently on tour, having started off Feb. 15 in Atlanta, Ga. “Deantoni has family from Atlanta so they came and watched our show at [Atlanta music venue] Terminal West,” Benders said. “It was a very good moment.”
Judging by fan responses and concert reviews Rainbows is recreating good moments every time.
“We’re just very lucky to be able to play anywhere we are invited, and share our music with people around the world,” Bender said.
Listen to Bosnian Rainbows’ two singles, “Turtle Neck” and “Torn Maps,” below.