Claudio Sanchez Says You Don’t Have to Be Into the Concepts to Like Coheed and Cambria Albums
Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program and discussed the group's latest album, Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind.
Although he takes life experience and lessons from the real world, this time tackling new challenges of parenthood amid the lockdown period of the pandemic, it's not something he gets heavily bogged down by — not even politics. Sanchez agrees there are certain character traits in the villains in his stories that may also happen to be reflected in real world villains or villainous acts, but there's no hidden agenda or anything like that. Instead, the musician prefers to live in the realm of his imagination, which, with 10 Coheed albums as evidence, is quite plentiful and boundless.
What's perhaps more surprising is that the frontman doesn't view these original concepts as something essential in regards to being a Coheed and Cambria fan, as there's leaps and bounds made musically that should be enough to thrill those not looking to lose themselves in heady themes and characters and the like.
Read the full interview below.
Coheed and Cambria albums are an ongoing interconnected story, almost like a, a movie franchise. What aspects of the complete story are already predetermined?
The ends sort of are. I kind of understand where the parts are supposed to go in the overall arc of,the Amory Wars. A lot of the detail primarily gets fed by my experience, so when it comes time to write a record, I really just write [about] what personally is driving me at that time in my life. I utilize that to feed some of the motive of the characters and curate some of the events in the story. What goal is it that I'm trying to attain with this story in the overall narrative?
Good science fiction is a metaphor for the human condition. How does Vaxis - Act Il: A Window of the Waking Mind and the whole Vaxis arc allow you to contemplate humanity without resorting to politics?
That's never a big sort part of it. Our villains very much live in that kind of mainframe, but I write these records and these stories as like way for me to exorcise my own personal demons.
What inspired Vaxis II was just being in lockdown and learning how to be a parent with these new hurdles in place and that's really it. I try not to get too bogged down by by everything that's happening in the political arena. I've always lived in my imagination and I really allow the imagination to dictate what I'm going to do in terms of concept for these records.
Like I said earlier, the villains might sort of live in that like kind of realm, but they're not being influenced by anything particular that's happening right now in our world.
So much attention is focused on Coheed and Cambria's concepts and lyrics. What aspects of the new album are musically representative of who you are and where you're going?
We sort of broke the mold with "A Disappearing Act" or "Shoulders" or "Love Murder One" or even "Window of the Waking Mind." These were ideas that, in the past, I may have been fooling around with, but felt apprehensive about showcasing with Coheed. With a 20-year-old band there are these unseen limitations that you kind of put up. Being in isolation, I recognized them and thought, "Well, Coheed have never been about limitation. We've always just kind of explored."
So, there were these pockets of creation that I started to realize that we hadn't explored. In those sort of songs, we're seeing that reach and because there are more of them on this record, I feel like it's starting to become known that these are avenues we're going to explore more.
Coheed and Cambria, "A Disappearing Act" Music Video
Calling Coheed elaborate is a bit of an understatement. Why is it important to sometimes step out of that box with something like a KISS cover?
At the base level of what we do, we're all music fans. Music has always been the nucleus of it all and doing a KISS cover shows that that's the thing. If you look at Coheed's history of covers, it really reaches all across the map from the outfield to KISS to Adele. We are just fans.
It's important for people to understand that, especially because Coheed's themes are very universal — you don't have to get into the concept if you choose not to because there's going to be something in the music or in the lyrics that's personally going to touch you.
When you look at Coheed on paper, it's like, "Oh, there's just so much to sort of digest." And, again, that's really up to you whether or not you want to be a part of that. But musically, that's that's always been our thing.
Coheed and Cambria, "Love Gun" (KISS Cover)
Over the last several years, there's been growing consciousness about predatory behavior in society. What responsibility do bands have to educate and protect their musical community?
The idea of taking advantage of station is something very foreign to me. I don't know if I really have any great insight on that because I've always really kind of kept to myself and lived in my own head. I spend more time in my imagination than I do in reality. Being introverted, it's really hard for me to understand that kind of mindset, if that makes sense.
Thanks to Claudio Sanchez for the interview. Get your copy of Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind here and follow the band on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.