Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria Talks UPROAR Festival
By Rick Florino
“Hold on brother,” says Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria. “I’m trying to get my bearings and where the hell I am in this venue. One minute I think I’m in the dressing room, the next I find out I’m in the closet like, ‘Where the hell am I?’ [Laughs]”.
Well, Claudio and his band have certainly found their place in modern rock. Coheed and Cambria remain leaders in the genre, bending the boundaries of alternative, prog, and hard rock to their whim and yielding some of the most rewarding and refreshing records of the past decade. Their latest two-part opus The Afterman: Ascension and The Afterman: Descensionmake for a sprawling journey replete with bombastic rhythms and some truly fret-blazing guitar work. It’s perfect for the main stage of this year’s Rockstar Energy UPROAR Festival too…
In this exclusive interview with UPROAR’s Rick Florino, Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria talks the new albums, how he spends his days at UPROAR, and so much more.
Did you approach The Afterman: Ascension and The Afterman: Descension knowing there would be two records?
For me, when I started working on the material about two years ago, I was writing songs that were basically talking about those two years before I had a concept. It was what I was going through at those moments in time. When it came time to actually record the albums, I found there was enough material for two albums really. When my wife and I took a trip to Paris to start working on the concept behind it, it just made sense as a double record. All of the songs had a place in terms of what the concept would become. It wasn’t like we simply had so much material that we needed to do something with it. That was pretty much it.
What does “Gravity’s Union” mean to you?
Originally, I wrote that song about my fear of driving. It’s crazy. I like to drive alone when I do ever drive because I’m the only one at risk. When my wife is in the car, I have this horrible idea that I’m going to a fatal accident and she’ll go and I won’t. I would be at fault. That’s basically what the root of “Gravity’s Union” is. In terms of lyrical material, as the song progresses, it gets more conceptual as it goes in terms of the scene when the doctor conveys the one life he can save whereas the other he can’t. That idea started it though.
How is it coming to life live on UPROAR?
It’s a huge undertaking. We’re doing pretty good at it. It’s there, and it’s happening. One thing that’s a bit of a hurdle is I play it on an 8-string guitar, which I’m not entirely familiar with. That’s what I wrote the song on. I realized, “Oh shit, I’m going to have to perform it on this thing!” It’s a little jarring at times. For the most part, I think we’re doing the song justice. There are few tracks we have here and there in terms of backing vocals just because it’s a little taxing on some of the guys to play and sing at the same time. I enjoy having that dimension and fullness of the backups. Some of them are tucked in there as a shadow. There’s also a lot of experimentation in that song in terms of noise. That’s what the song is. It’s this journey through the demise of the characters Cyrus and his wife Mary. The noise serves as a big of role as the guitar and drums do. It really helps paint the atmosphere of how perplexing this moment in these characters lives is. Some of that is regenerated. I think it all helps the experience.
What attracted you to UPROAR?
I think it was Jane’s Addiction and Alice In Chains. We grew up fans of those bands. The fact that we’re touring with Circa Survive, who are friends of ours and tourmates in the past, was great too. It felt like an easy choice. When I was growing up, in some of the bands I was performing with pre-Coheed and Cambria, Jane’s Addiction were that art rock thing that those bands I was in were trying to emulate. I remember seeing Alice In Chains in 1993 at Lollapalooza and just starting my one-man moshpit [Laughs]. Going through Facelift and Dirt at the time, they were always on. Playing with those bands is in an honor. I was really excited. I first saw Jane’s Addiction at a Halloween show at the Hammerstein Ballroom. I never saw them in their first incarnation though.
How do you spend your days at UPROAR?
I’ve gotten to check out all of the bands on the main stage. For the most part, the band has been spending its days in physical fitness routines. We’re being a little more health-conscious than we have in the past. Also, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on comic books. I’ve got a couple of titles we’re hoping to release next year. A lot of my days have been consumed with that writing the script. We’ve got one—The Amory: Good Apollo that’s definitely directly related to the Coheed and Cambria story’s fourth part. Then, there’s a superhero story my wife and I are working on together which is our first superhero adventure. That’s been taking a lot of my attention. It’s a ton of work related things, because they’re just there.
What’s it like curating the setlist for UPROAR?
The new record’s out so we tend to way a little more heavily on the newer material because that’s what we’re out here promoting, and we’re really proud of it. That’s what our lives are right now. We also like to throw in the obvious songs. Some attendees may not know the band, but the song may have crossed their radars. For something like this, it’s really simple. Depending on whether we’ve got a new record or we’re making a “greatest hits” or what we would like to think is a “greatest hits” for the moment, that’s it.
When did you first get into Alice In Chains?
Hearing Alice in Chains, it was that talk box on “Man In The Box.” That’s their sound entirely. It made them stand out in that era of music that I really liked. They had that cinematic quality. It feels cinematic. It feels like an emotion.