Jeremy Michael Ward, who added vocals and effects as the "sound manipulator" in the Mars Volta, died from undisclosed causes on May 25th at his home in Los Angeles; he was twenty-seven.
Ward and the Mars Volta had just returned to the U.S. following a European tour where they opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A thirteen-date headlining tour, in support of the band's upcoming full-length debut De-Loused in the Comatorium (due June 23rd), was scheduled to begin on June 2nd in West Palm Beach.
Comatorium was being positioned as a breakout for the genre-bending SoCal ensemble. The band -- which fuses hardcore, pop, soul, psychedelic rock and numerous other sounds -- was formed by singer Cedric Bixler and guitarist Omar Rodriguez in 2001 after they splintered from the politically minded, hard rock ensemble At the Drive-In (other members of ATDI formed Sparta). Bixler and Rodriguez brought keyboardist Ikey Owens and Ward onboard, having played with both in their progressive dub side project De Facto. The Mars Volta issued its first recording, The Tremulant EP, in April 2002.
"We have collaborated with Jeremy for the past ten years," the band said in a statement. "He was the driving force of Defacto, and an integral part of the Mars Volta, who often went unnoticed because he chose to perform offstage. In addition to music, Jeremy was an incredibly talented writer and painter. We are devastated by the loss, but know that Jeremy will continue to be with us in spirit at every show and during the making of every record."