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Jon Philip Theodore (born December 1, 1973) is a drummer, formerly a member of The Mars Volta. He has become best known for his bombastic, multi-textural and dynamic playing style.


Theodore first started playing drums at the age of 15. He was soon involved with his high school concert band at Gilman Schoolmarker in Baltimoremarker, Marylandmarker, and took lessons on a full kit shortly after. It was at this point that he studied percussion and learned how to map arrangements; dedicated practice had already become a habit. He also listened to a great variety of music, growing to love the likes of Billy Cobham, Elvin Jones and John Bonham. He studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.

Around the end of his time in high school, he joined the band Golden and recorded and toured with them for ten years. He also played with Royal Trux for a year-and-a-half. It was during this time that he met Cedric Bixler Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, who were performing their first gig with their experimental dub band DeFacto in El Paso, TX. They became friends and the former At the Drive-In duo would later invite Theodore to join their Latin-tinged prog-rock band, The Mars Volta. Theodore was The Mars Volta's drummer from 2001 to 2006. On July 30, 2006, it was announced that Jon Theodore would be permanently replaced. He was quoted in Modern Drummer: "It was long overdue and unquestionably the best thing for everyone involved. We had a great run of things, made some decent records, blew it up for a minute, and had some really great times. But the life ran out of it. I’m currently working on some pretty sweet tunes for a new project. The details will follow once it takes shape."Theodore has also completed a collaboration with Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine entitled One Day as a Lion.Their first EP was released on July 22nd of 2008


Theodore draws inspiration from many different forms of music but those most prevalent in his playing are jazz, fusion, and rock. He has also touched upon another factor which adds to his individual style - "Then there's a whole bunch of stuff from Haïti because my dad's Haïtian. My favorite Haïtian drummer is this guy called Azor... ...The Haïtian music that moves me has the drumming from the voodoo rituals. It moves me because the patterns are connected to different spirits; it's a spiritual thing that is interconnected with dancing, sacrifice and devotion. It's fully passionate. There is nothing contrived about it."

In interviews he regularly cites Billy Cobham of The Mahavishnu Orchestra as his main drumming influence: "My all-time favorite drummer is Billy Cobham. I love the way he plays... ...[his] playing is so natural, powerful and dynamic at the same time. I pattern a lot of stuff after him.". He has also been heavily inspired by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin: "He had one of the best feels in the history of rock... ...because [of him] I try and play with as much bombast as I possibly can."

He has also mentioned the following:

Elvin Jones (Solo, John Coltrane Quartet)

Keith Moon (The Who)

Phil Rudd (Solo, AC/DC)

Tony Williams (Solo, Tony Williams And Lifetime)

Sebastian Thomson (Trans Am)

Tim Soete (The Fucking Champs)

Herbie Hancock (Solo, Herbie And The Headhunters)

Doug Scharin (June of '44)

Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste (The Meters)

Mitchell Feldstein (Lungfish)

Damon Che (Don Caballero)

Dale Crover (The Melvins)

John McEntire (Tortoise)

Ryan Rapsys (Euphone)

Brann Dailor (Mastodon)



Ludwig Stainless Steel Kit

14x10 tom

16x16 floor tom

18x16 floor tom

24x14 bass drum

Jon has stated in interviews that he is still hoping to find a 26x14 stainless steel kick but also enjoys the punchier sound of his current bass.

Prior to the Stainless Steel kit he used:

Fibes Crystallite Acrylic Kit

14x10 tom

16x16 floor tom

18x16 floor tom

26x14 kick

He uses a Ludwig LM402T chrome over aluminium snare drum with aftermarket die cast hoops.


Of recent times Jon has an endorsement contract with Zildjianmarker cymbals. Like most artists his setup varies somewhat over time.

13" combo hats (eg K top over A New Beat bottom or A Quick Beat top over A New Beat top)

2x 19" medium thin crashes from any of the A Custom, Avedis or K lines:

For example, he has on occasion used two 19" A Custom Projections, on others a 19" K Med Thin Dark and a 19" Avedis Med Thin and on still others a 19" A Custom Projection and a 19" Avedis Med Thin. His Zildjian profile states he uses 2x 19" Avedis med Thin crashes.

21" Avedis Sweet Ride with four sizzlers (this cymbal is often used as a crash)

A "stack of totally busted stuff on a cymbal stand." On the stand are two hi-hats cymbals with holes drilled through them, a splash cymbal with a cracked bell, a Zildjian ZXT Trashformer and various, smaller shredded cymbals with metal washers.

Jon's Zildjian Artist Profile:


Pearl Eliminator single kick pedal (with surf wax; he plays with bare feet), a DW 7000 Hi-hat stand, and DW cymbal stands.


Remo coated Ambassador on snare batter, CS black dots on tom and bass drum batters, clear Ambassadors on bottoms of toms and on front of bass drum.

He has also used Powerstroke 3 bass batters (and, on occasion, as resonant heads, too) with a falam pad.

Sticks: Jon is a Vic Firth endorser, he uses their American Classic Extreme 5B wood tip model.

Jon's Vic Firth Artist page:


With Golden

  • Golden
  • Super Golden Original Movement
  • Golden Summer
  • Apollo Stars

With HiM

  • New Features
  • Five & Six In Dub
  • Our Point Of Departure

With Royal Trux

With Will Oldham

With Trans Am

  • Illegal Ass EP
  • The Red Line LP (2000)

With Utada

With The Fucking Am

  • Gold (2004)

With The Mars Volta

With SaberTooth Tiger

  • Death Valley b/w Love Money (GSL 12th Anniversary Single)
  • Extinction Is Inevitable LP (2006)

With Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

With One Day as a Lion


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