Bixler-Zavala has a Tenor voice type, with a range spanning from D2 to C7. His vocal work spans many different styles, ranging from consistent rhythmic shouts (common in his singing with At The Drive-In) to controlled falsetto and head voice singing (a familiar trademark of his singing with The Mars Volta). In 2016, it was also revealed that Bixler-Zavala developed vocal nodules, causing shows to be cancelled while on tour.
Bixler-Zavala is fond of Frank Zappaesque humour and writes in English, Spanish, and Latin. His lyrics have a wide vocabulary and often feature complicated wordplay. Bixler-Zavala also uses portmanteaus: combining existing words, or parts of words, to create a new word). The song "Noctourniquet," for example, combines "nocturnal" (active at night) and "tourniquet" (a medical device to stop bleeding).
He has stated: "I love to take common sayings, pervert them, mutate them a little. So you think I am singing one thing, but when you read it, it is different."
When performing with At the Drive-in and The Mars Volta, Bixler-Zavala is known for his eccentric on-stage behavior. He frequently does somersaults on stage, swings his microphone (once unintentionally hitting bandmate Ikey Owens in the head), throws objects such as cymbals, microphone stands, and trash cans into the audience, salsa dances, adjusts Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's effects pedals and occasionally plays the maracas.
Under the pseudonym "Alavaz Relxib Cirdec" ("Cedric Bixler-Zavala" backwards), Bixler-Zavala contributed a two-song single to the GSL Special 12-inch Singles Series, released in December 2005. Closer to the dub of De Facto and the ambient experimentation shown in Omar Rodríguez-López's records than the prog-rock of The Mars Volta, the two songs Bixler-Zavala has produced under this alias are entirely instrumental.
In 2010, he commented on Facebook about the recording process:
This is my failed attempt at ghost noted shuffeling Tony Allen beats! Ha! There is a digital tabla machine running through some DD-5 delay pedal that is being played by a mini hand held tape recorder playing throughout! I wrote the bass line...hummed it to Juan...Omar came up with the guitar and chorus section and Adrian played flute on it. It was squeezed in during tracking drums for Amputechture, and rushed...very very rushed. I had other parts and chorus bits but I didn't want to get in the way of the record (studio time is expensive!). The samples are from 2 places [...] On "Private Booths" the samples at the start are from a interview with a psychic who participated in the Montauk Project...I sampled it from a UK TV show called Disinformation (RIP!) [...] The other sample is from a movie called Shock Corridor by the late Sam Fuller. Side 2 "Sapta Loka" is a bit of an homage to ambient German music from the [1970s] ... it's one long drone spliced in four places and stacked on each other playing at the same time. A shitty Casio and a banged up Chaos pad (very 2005!) are being run and it's all recorded through a hand held mini recorder dumped onto a ProTools file. [...] Omar co-wrote the piece.
Late 2011 saw the release of the first 7-inch record from Bixler's new project Anywhere, a collaboration with Christian Eric Beaulieu of Triclops! and Mike Watt of The Stooges/Firehose/Minutemen. Their self-titled debut album was released by ATP Records in June 2012.
Bixler has stated that he has been working on an album with the last Mars Volta drummer Deantoni Parks, although it remains unreleased to date.
Since 2011 Bixler was working on another album, which he described as "mostly ballady type stuff... a very sunday morning record. Very soft". Eventually the solo project turned into a full-fledged band named Zavalaz, which features Bixler on lead vocals and guitar, Dan Elkan on guitar, Juan Alderete on bass and Gregory Rogove on drums. The band is set to play a number of West Coast tour dates throughout June, supported by Dot Hacker and EV Kain. On June 3, 2013, a snippet from song "Blue Rose of Grand Street" off their upcoming album All the Nights We Never Met was released on YouTube.
Cedric has been back into the studio after reuniting with Omar Rodríguez-López due to Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea, wanting them to reunite. They have now formed a supergroup together called Antemasque with ex-Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch. Recording new material and new a new album to be released in 2014. Fans have cited that as Flea and Dave have played with the Mars Volta prior, a Mars Volta reunion could be in the works. (Flea played bass on 2002's De-loused in the Comatorium and trumpet on 2004's Frances the Mute, Dave played with The Mars Volta from 2009 to 2010)
Bixler-Zavala was born in the US of Mexican parents. His paternal grandfather was German-Mexican, to which Bixler-Zavala credits his fair skin and blue eyes. Most of his Spanish ancestry can be traced to Galicia and Navarre in Spain. His parents were bilingual, but Bixler-Zavala says his command of proper Spanish is limited to "Spanglish." His Spanish maternal surname Zavala, is a Spanish version of Zabala, a surname of ancient Basque origin. His earliest paternal ancestors on his mother's side were fishermen and traders from the Basque region of Gipuzkoa and were employed by the Spanish government as colonists to the New World. Their names were Antonio-Joaquin de Zabala and Francesca Maria de Navarro.
Coincidentally, Antonio-Joaquin shared a vessel to Cuba with Juan Bautisto de Zatarain, a companion Basque-Spanish colonist whose family relocated to Spanish Louisiana and later founded the Cajun rice brand Zatarain's Foods, Inc. in New Orleans. The Zabala's chose to marry in Mexico over Cuba or Louisiana, and the Zatarain's chose to settle in Louisiana.
In 2009, Bixler-Zavala married actress and model Chrissie Carnell. The couple reside in Los Angeles, California. They had their first children, twin boys Ulysses and Xanthus, in 2013.
In 2015, Bixler-Zavala spoke about his decision to stop smoking marijuana. "I was spending $1,000 a week on weed," he said, and rationalized his use by believing it made him more creative, when he later came to realize "I was using it to form this stoned bubble that helped me justify not wanting to interact with people."
Cedric's life has been heavily impacted by the deaths of people who have been in close association with him, several of which have become themes for his lyrics. Jimmy Hernandez, bass player for Los Dregtones, died of cancer in 1994. Bernie Rincon, an original drummer of At The Drive-In, committed suicide. In 1996, two of his bandmates of the group The Fall on Deaf Ears, Laura Beard and Sarah Reiser, died in a car accident. Also in 1996, a close friend and bandmate of Cedric's named Julio Venegas committed suicide. The story behind The Mars Volta's first album De-Loused in the Comatorium was loosely inspired by "life and death of Julio Venegas". Shortly before the release of De-Loused, in May 2003, their sound manipulator and longtime friend of Cedric and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Jeremy Michael Ward, was found dead of apparent heroin overdose. Ward coined the term Amputechture which was used as the title for The Mars Volta's third full-length album, and Frances the Mute was based on a journal Ward had discovered. In October 2014, Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, former bandmate and keyboardist for Bixler-Zavala's previous bands DeFacto and The Mars Volta (band member, 2001–2010) was found dead due to a heart attack in his hotel room in Puebla, Mexico, at age 39 while Owens was on tour with Jack White.The Special 12 Singles Series – "Live Private Booths" / "Sapta Loka" single (2005)
Antemasque – LP (2014)
Saddle on the Atom Bomb – LP (2017)
"Pyramid Mirrors" – single (2011)
"Infrared Moses" – single (2012)
Anywhere – LP (2012)
Light The Portals – LP (2016)
Hell Paso (1994) – re-release – EP
Alfaro Vive, Carajo! (1995) – EP
Acrobatic Tenement (1996, re-release 2004) – LP
El Gran Orgo (1997) – EP
In/Casino/Out (1998, re-release 2004) – LP
Vaya (1999, re-release 2004) – EP
Sunshine / At the Drive-In (2000) – EP
Relationship of Command (2000, re-release 2004) – LP
This Station Is Non-Operational (2005) – compilation
in•ter a•li•a (2017) – LP
Before Gardens After Gardens – LP (2012)
How Do You Dub? You Fight For Dub, You Plug Dub In – LP (1999/2001)
456132015 – EP (2001)
Megaton Shotblast – LP (2001)
Légende du Scorpion à Quatre Queues – LP (2001)
The Fall on Deaf Ears – EP (1996)
The El Paso Pussycats (1993) – 7-inch
Fewel St. (1994)
The Crab, The Bear, The Tiger, The Moose, The Bird (1995)
5 Song Alibi (1994)
Tremulant – EP (2002)
De-Loused in the Comatorium – LP (2003)
Live – EP (2003)
Frances the Mute – LP (2005)
Scabdates – LP (2005)
Amputechture – LP (2006)
The Bedlam in Goliath – LP (2008)
Octahedron – LP (2009)
Noctourniquet – LP (2012)
A Manual Dexterity: Soundtrack Volume 1 (2004)
Omar Rodriguez (2005)
Se Dice Bisonte, No Bùfalo (2007)
Calibration (Is Pushing Luck and Key Too Far) (2007)
Old Money (2008)
Sympathy for Delicious OST – Burnt the Diphthongs Feat. Cedric Bixler, Orlando Bloom, DJ Disk, Juliette Lewis, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Deantoni Parks (2011, selected tracks)
Some Need It Lonely (2016)
All Those Nights We Never Met - LP (TBA)
Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three – various artists backed by the Rollins Band (2002)
Decomposition – Thavius Beck
Plasticity Index – Sand Which Is
White People – Handsome Boy Modeling School (2004)
Blood Mountain – Mastodon (2006)
I'll Sleep When You're Dead – El-P (2007)
Vivid Green – Nobody (2013)
Hell Paso by At the Drive-In (1994) co-produced with other members of At the Drive-In
¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo! by At the Drive-In (1995) co-produced with other members of At the Drive-In
El Gran Orgo by At the Drive-In (1997) co-produced with Bryan Jones and other members of At the Drive-In
Sunshine / At the Drive-In by At the Drive-In (2000) co-produced with other members of At the Drive-In
Live by The Mars Volta (2003) co-produced with Omar Rodriguez Lopez