The year was 2003. I was a 22-year old musician living in Silverlake, playing in a band and chasing the dream. I was taking in heavy doses of Stevie Wonder and anything I could find from Salsa greats Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe. At that time, my whole musical world was Soul, Salsa and Hip Hop. The Roots' Things Fall Apart and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides were still in heavy rotation from my college Freshman days of 1999.
I vividly remember my friend Jesus Beas telling me about this new band I should check out. He said they were called The Mars Volta and some of the guys were in a band called At The Drive-In. I had never heard of either band, but I knew it was worth my time to take a listen. Jesus and I had been friends since 9th grade and he had always turned me on to bands I ended up loving (mostly underground politically charged rock groups like Aztlan Underground and Downset).