Coheed And Cambria
Coheed And Cambria had an amazing 2005 that saw the band grow and grow, thrusting the four unassuming men from Nyack into the centre of the media's glaring spotlight. rock sound caught up with affable and introspective frontman Claudio Sanchez at the tailend of the year to discuss how the growing attention is both positively and negatively affecting the band.
RS: Does the media elevate you and the concept behind Coheed to a point where it is becoming uncomfortable for you?
CS: I have noticed that it gets a little too much attention but I think it is just because it is something really different, this cohesive story that spans all the records. It’s cool but the foundation of this whole thing is a rock band and people can like this band solely because of that fact and ignore this concept. In moments it has made me feel uncomfortable but the whole thing does to be honest at times.
RS: That makes sense as you do seem like someone that loves being part of a group, not being the one that everyone looks at first. But that is your role in the band, is it difficult?
CS: When I started playing music I was a guy in a band, I was not a frontman. It never really crossed my mind to begin with, I had no intention of becoming a frontman. So I understood the camaraderie of being in the backside of a band, the bit that doesn’t get the same attention, where you are just a dude and you enjoy that. It happened accidentally that I became the frontman. Again, I struggle as I don’t like a lot of attention and I guess it is my own fault for creating this mythology behind these records and because it is a little intriguing I am bringing more attention on myself and that does get problematic. But I have made this situation for myself so I roll with the punches and I do fairly well. Again, going back to the first question, we are a rock band, a very good rock band. Not to float the ego at all, there are a lot of bands out there that are not good rock bands.
RS: You guys as a band do unassumingly what many overstated bands say they are but are not talented enough to achieve, why do you think that is?
CS: Thank you. I think our progression has a lot to do with that we as a unit and individuals are uncomfortable with ourselves. We are a bunch of weirdos. We are not an arrogant band at all, I am still becoming comfortable with myself as a human being, I guess it was the way I was bought up. It is hard when a camera takes pictures of you, what am I supposed to do? I grew up with bands like Poison on TV and I always wondered is that what it is like, do I have to go through all that if I want to be a musician. Here I am now in it and I find I cannot, I want to be true to myself, true to where we come from and that is what the press get. Playing live is different as it is such a release that we get to transform into those wild and crazy guys. Not because that is what we think the fans want to see, but because we love what we do and it turns on.
RS: People have a perception of you based on your stage show yet you individually are far more nuanced and an eclectic mix to say the least.
CS: I agree, I think of this band similarly as a diverse group. We all have learnt about each other as this thing has progressed, Travis and I are from the same area but Mike and Josh are from somewhere different, they are about an hour and a half north of us. The meeting just happened as a band in the scene formed where half the band where from one place and half of the scene where from another, the two scenes merged because of them and we all met. We are all from similar class backgrounds, I guess we are all from middle class backgrounds, some lower, some higher. I don’t really know what to consider mine. I lived in a heavily populated Spanish neighbourhood but we moved when I was in 4th grade as my grandfather’s wife passed away and he wanted to fill the house. I never understood where I stood but I took it to be middle class. Our musical backgrounds where all different though, Josh was hip hop, Travis with folk, me with metal and Mike with jam bands we all bought something very unique to the table. What underpins all that is the similar interest in 70’s classic rock. I think the mix of personalities makes it interesting for us and for other people.
RS: Do you ever battle with guilt that you are the magnet figure in the band for journalists and fans?
CS: I think so, because I know what it is like to be in that position, I know what it is like to be a 13 year old kid round the local mall and the singer gets all the attention but no-one knows who me and the drummer are. I do feel bad as I know what that feels like. The guys in this band are all wonderful musicians and they bring to this band so much that is very unfortunate that they do not get the credit they deserve. We are a band, it is not about one guy it is about the four of us. We know that, not everyone else does.
RS: Do you ever feel burdened by the weight of expectation placed on your shoulders?
CS: Maybe in some ways, I don’t know what people want from me though. I just do these things because I love to do them, aside from the band, aside from the comics or whatever else there is. It is in my nature to create and to keep doing it, if that is what people are looking for then one day it will all be on the table for them to see. It is not a burden as I find that I am a workaholic and I like to do these things.
RS: How focused and dedicated are you?
CS: I think a lot of it comes from personal interests. I have always wanted to make a story, I have always wanted to make a movie. The other day on my two days off my girlfriend and I decided to make a video for ‘The Final Cut’, with MTV and music video you cannot really do the piece you want, I have always wanted to do a horror video and so we did it on my days off. Got the make up together, created the scars and blood and got into it. These are my only two days off and this is what I wanted to do! It is because I am into it and interested, I want to explore those avenues at every opportunity that I get.
RS: Do you do that to escape the monotony of tour?
CS: It gets tiresome on the road, I try to make the best out of every moment I try to do something. If there is nothing to do, I will go and make something to do. I find most of the time I like to sit in my hotel room and just do that stuff
RS: Is that where The Prize Fighter Inferno gets made, in hotel rooms on tour?
CS: Yeah, I mean that stuff is not directly linked to Coheed but as far as the concept, kind of, but I’ll leave that for the day the story is made in its complete entirety. A lot of that music comes from sitting in the studio when making Good Apollo, I had my recording stuff in my cabin and I recorded a bunch of Prize Fighter songs when we were doing Apollo. They do connect, but not in the most obvious way.
RS: It is those connections that many miss…
CS: Yeah but I think the fans of this band are very smart and understand what we do as a whole, press or whatever do what they want to do, but our fans want to know stuff about all four individuals and everything that we are involved with. I do find that a lot of the time with the press our coverage does come down to whether I am going to be that guy, the one that hogs the limelight and the one that wants to be seen as being the figurehead of the group. But I do not want to be a garish pastiche and the people that understand this band understand that, those that don’t find it difficult.