Ikey Owens played keyboards in The Mars Volta from its inception in 2001 to his departure in 2009. For years, he and I were crammed right next to each other, sharing a small space on stage with our pedalboards and gear. Whenever we were on tour, I knew I could count on Ikey to explore cities with me, check out great restaurants, and enjoy the scenery of places we’d never been before. I have so much respect for Ikey, and it was a great pleasure to have had him take part in an interview with PedalsAndEffects.
Since I can remember, Ikey was always able get really interesting sounds by running his Wurlitzer 200A through various effects. He constantly tried different pedal combinations on stage in hopes of discovering new, distinctive tones. We were all obsessed with charting new territory; it was a quality that propelled the band. This approach was not limited to The Mars Volta. Ikey channels the same kind of drive in his own band, Free Moral Agents, a project he worked on simultaneously while in The Mars Volta and one he continues to this day. My band, Big Sir, has played plenty of shows with Free Moral Agents, and I’ve even had the privilege to play bass for them in the past.
Free Moral Agents have a new record out called Chaine Infinie. I was lucky to get a sneak peak of the EP at the time of this video interview, and was blown away by evolution of the band over the years. They really are a unique group, creating interesting soundscapes often driven by the use of pedals to manipulate entire mixes!
When I arrived at The Compound Recording Studios in Long Beach, Dennis Owens, the bassist for Free Moral Agents, had some really cool pedals on a table. He showed me how he would run an entire song mix through a Mark Bass’ synthesizer pedal or a Source Audio’s Envelope Filter. It was a clean, musical approach that gave the tracks a beautiful uplift.
I want to thank Ikey, Dennis, and The Compound Recording Studio for letting me do this interview with them. Don’t forget to check out Free Moral Agents when they play near your town and grab a copy of their latest record, Chaine Infinie.
Thank you Aeron for shooting and editing this video for PedalsAndEffects! -Juan