the book of genesis according to claudio sanchez

Sanchez, singer and mastermind of the great band Coheed and Cambria, is a busy man. Be it at the head of numerous projects or the author of comics, Claudio is what we would call extremely creative.

The proof lies within Year Of The Black Rainbow, Coheed and Cambria’s new album, which has managed to once again gain in maturity and know how. An album depicting the complex conceptual origins of The Armory Wars, as part of a series of comics, on which the band bases itself.

Claudio admitted that he was not comfortable answering journalist’s questions. However, he did allow us a peek into his world and his new Coheed and Cambria album.

« I like melody and I think that all of the Coheed records have a sense of melody »

Radio Metal : The Coheed And Cambria albums follow a complex story called The Armory Wars. On Year Of The Black Rainbow, the forthcoming new album, you chose to tell the origins of Coheed And Cambria, the story takes place before the events of the first four albums. Why did you choose to go back to these origins now?

Claudio Sanchez : In the first album, the second story of the second stage turbine blade the characters of Coheed and Cambria die. So a lot of that record is very tragic for them. The following albums illustrate some of the decisions that they make. I thought it would be appropriate to frame the story with the characters and show them at a better time in their life which is at the end. This was done to do them justice because I mostly put the characters through hell throughout the story.

So it is a lot like Star Wars in a way?

True. But I think that the origin makes sense and especially for the people who are invested in the story and ultimately it will make more sense for some of the remaining stories. For example, the Star Wars thing did not make much sense to me (laughs).

The Armory Wars is actually a comic book series that you created and is published by Evil Ink Comics. Where did the story and the idea to make a comic book out of it come from?

It’s something that I have always wanted to do. Comics are another passion of mine. When I originally created this concept, it was more of an outlet for me as a songwriter and lyricist, because at that time, I was finding it hard to confess myself in songs. I felt shy to do it, so it felt that if I incorporated it into comics, I would be able to relate to it a bit more. Ultimately, it is a medium that I enjoy.

The deluxe edition of Year Of The Black Rainbow will include a 352 page novel penned by yourself and New York Times bestselling author Peter David. How did this collaboration and project come to life?

It was something that our management had brought to our attention. With the band’s third record, we put out an accompanying graphic novel. This is also something we wanted to do with the follow up, No World For Tomorrow. But unfortunately, the band went through a series of changes and we couldn’t focus on that counterpart. So now that the band has a new history and that it is now stronger, we went into this new album in very positive way. It seemed like an appropriate time to explore that dimension again. Management introduced Peter to us and I am a fan of Peter’s work on The Incredible Hulk and Fallen Angel. We then started talking and we hit it off, so it just made sense to work together.

Do you have any plans to write other novels in the future?

I would like to and I would certainly love to take the original Coheed and Cambria stories to adapt them into novels.

Do you have any plans or desires to make a movie out of the Armory Wars story?

Not at the moment. It could be something I might like to explore in the future, but we are focusing on telling the stories right now. However, if the right situation presented itself, we might explore it.

« I think that Chris knows when to play for a song and when to go all out. In my opinion, this is how some of the best drummers play. »
The name Coheed And Cambria is obviously tied to the Armory Wars story since it is the name of the two main characters. At some point in the future, don’t you think you will feel constrained by it? Will the story of Coheed And Cambria always serve as a thread for the music?

I don’t know and it is tough to say. I am so excited about this record at this point in time that most of my attention has been on it that only. Coheed and Cambria are essentially the Adam and Eve’s of this mythology. All of the events that take place after their existence have been direct consequences of some of the things that they have done. So I think that if we were to continue down this road, I believe that the title would stay relevant within the story.

The previous album, No World For Tomorrow, saw the band taking a very melodic turn, with some quite catchy, almost radio friendly songs. This new album seems to go further into that direction. How important has the melody and catchiness become to you?

I like melody and I think that all of the Coheed records have a sense of melody. As an adult, having matured with time, I think that it comes from becoming a better songwriter. It is not something that we concentrate on and we do not think to ourselves that we must make hit singles in order to stay relevant in the world of music. This has never been my approach and I can say that I donít even want to be a part of some of my contemporaries in music (laughs). Basically, it is never a conscious decision to work this way. When you get older, you just tend to get better at what you do.

So is this your best album?

I think so yes. Some people might disagree because they prefer the first album for whatever reason. I think that this stems from the fact that it was their first introduction to the band, so it makes them biased. I think that the latest album is the fairest representation of this band and probably the best. If we were to end Coheed and Cambria tomorrow and I had to choose which our best album is, it would be this one without a doubt.

The evolution of Coheed And Cambria can recall some old progressive rock bands like Rush or Yes. They are famous for writing complex songs, but yet never loosing the focus on the melody and catchiness. Do you somehow feel close to these bands, or at least to their musical approach?

I feel that we are close to the genre of progressive rock because to me the name suggests change and growth. I like to think that the band progresses with every record. So in that respect, I believe that we do share a bond with that world.

« Coheed is one means of expression, but Kill Audio paired with Prize Fighter is more about my personal opinions and I would rather not force that upon others. « 
Year Of The Black Rainbow is the first Coheed And Cambria album featuring ex-Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Chris Pennie. He seems to bring a new level of creativity to the band, especially on a song like Guns Of Summer where his drumming is quite impressive. Did the band feel somehow inspired by his drumming?

Yes to a certain degree. For a song like Guns of Summer, I am not sure that we would have been able to execute it without somebody like Chris. He definitely brings something to the fold of what we do, without a doubt.

We all know how technical and over the top is Dillinger Escape Plan. Did you sometimes had to constrain Chris or did he naturally adapt his style to the music of Coheed And Cambria?

It was something that he naturally did. He is a very diverse drummer and I think he understood how our band’s instrumentation works. Some songs need reinforcement rather than the example of Guns of Summer, where we all did our own thing. Or even The Broken, which is a much shorter song; if you listen to the verses, you can hear that we are all doing our thing and that it is a combination of all the parts that make it awesome. I think that Chris knows when to play for a song and when to go all out. In my opinion, this is how some of the best drummers play.

In 2009 Coheed And Cambria toured along side Slipknot and Trivium. It’s intriguing since your musical style is very different compared to these two bands. Were there some moments where you felt out of place?

At first glance we saw that it was an odd coupling. On the other hand, this is what Coheed does. We donít like to take the easy road and we want to do different things. Slipknot just made sense, in the same way that Heaven & Hell made sense. Also, we had a great time, which we might not have had on our own tours. Overall, those tours were a great success.

In 2008 you performed Neverender, a four-nights concert series, held in four cities. Each night you played one of your four albums. The New York performances ended up on Neverender : Children Of The Fence Edition, A live CD/DVD boxset. It must have been quite a challenge to learn the band’s complete repertoire. Do you recall any problems or difficulties?

No not really. It was really nice to revisit all of those tunes. Although every album is a concept album, it is also the reflection of a chapter in my life. As a result, it was really nice to go back and learn those songs again, provoking a lot of memories to return. I also think that the fans enjoyed themselves so overall it was a pleasure to do.

The boxset contains a metal Dragonfly, what does it symbolize?

The Dragon Fly is a very personal song that symbolises a few things. For me, it is about embracing your weaknesses, somewhat like The Broken or Here We Are Juggernaut. In the documentary, I mention this fact. Metaphorically, it is about identifying your flaws, embracing them and by doing that you will find empowerment. Your flaws make you who you are and I think that it is important for people to see this.

The crowd in these performances sounds very participative. In general, it looks like the band successfully manages to federate your fans. What’s your secret?

(laughs) I don’t know! The other day I was preparing for the Year of the Black Rainbow tours and I was listening to some of the Neverender audio. Some of the songs that we are playing on the tour happen to have moments where we break them down so they are not as heavy and dramatic. In these sections, you can really hear the audience singing over the band. That is such a rewarding feeling.

« I would like to and I would certainly love to take the original Coheed and Cambria stories to adapt them into novels. »
Was this the same as for your first shows?

Well we even didn’t have any records out when we did our first shows. Then more and more people started to show up and it was all because of word of mouth. Then we started to open for bands and often people would leave after we had played. But we still didnít have any albums out! (laughs) It’s still like that today. We don’t really have any radio songs, even if you mentioned that some of our tracks sound a bit like that. We have never had a great success on the radio and everything is still a result of word of mouth so that more people come.

Iive read you had a new comic book project called Kill Audio, can you tell us more about it?

It’s actually a comedy. Kill Audio is more music based as opposed to The Amery Wars, which had more of a relationship with the band and the premise was not musical. It was my way of saying that creativity should not have boundaries or limitations, art should be free formed and there should be no restrictions. What the character does in the story, what his place is in that world and when he has to do a 360 because he realises that creativity should be free. All these things will make sense if you read to book.

Kill Audio won’t become a musical project though?

No but with the fourth issue of the miniseries, I released with my wife a seven inch piece of vinyl that had two songs from another project that I do called Prize fighter. In issue 4, the character of Bone Beaver actually received that same piece of vinyl. I thought that by giving subscribers two songs on that vinyl as though they were coming right of the page of the comic, it would be a good way to say thank you.

You say that art shouldn’t have any limitations. So do you believe that writing a book is on the same level of importance as writing music?

Yes, I think so. They are both forms of communication. I am not the greatest speaker when it comes to conversations. It is just an easier way for me to express my feelings and opinions, rather than by using speech and debates etc. I would rather express myself in an artistic form. For example it is hard and uncomfortable for me to answer these questions with you right now (laughs).

So you are better at writing music or books and comics rather than answering questions?

Yeah! I am awful at it! (laughs)

You seem to be a very busy man, along side your comic series and the band Coheed And Cambria you have many musical project : Fire Deuce, The Prize Fighter Inferno, Iíve also heard about Spencer Doll and others… Can you tell us more about all these projects?

The Fire Deuce is actually a very rock’n’roll project of Travis that I sang a tune on and played some harmonica. Prize Fighter is more of a synth based project with a bit of acoustic guitar. It is the original music idea behind Coheed and Cambria. Spencer Doll is another project that I do with my wife but it is not that serious…

Where does the need to do all these projects come from?

It’s just about being allowed to express myself as much as I possibly can. Coheed is one means of expression, but Kill Audio paired with Prize Fighter is more about my personal opinions and I would rather not force that upon others.

Do you feel closer to artists like Steven Wilson or Mike Portnoy who are constantly active and creating new side projects?

I never think about it like that. It just gives me a lot of things to do and I am most comfortable when I am working. It doesn’t really feel like work because it is everything that I love to do.

Don’t you sometimes feel the need to just do nothing?

Yes! Like right now! (laughs) Yes that happens occasionally but sometimes my mind clicks back into creativity. As much as I would love it to happen, it never lasts very long.

Interview made by Spaceman & Metal’O Phil on the 5th of march 2010 by phone.

Coheed And Cambria Myspace : www.myspace.com/coheedandcambria

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