From Release: The Unheavenly Creatures is Coheed and Cambria’s eighth studio album. Their furious return to concept albums (15 songs over 78 minutes) is the ‘First Act’ in a brand-new story arc within the backdrop of The Amory Wars universe. The clip takes us inside the story’s opening chapters, where we begin by seeing two captured criminals (Creature and Colossus) being walked through a ship on their way towards judgment for their crimes. It’s clear any friendship that once existed has not survived, as we see colorful ?ashbacks of their crimes committed against society, and perhaps, one another.
Claudio gave us a call to talk about the new Coheed and Cambria album ‘The Unheavenly Creatures’, the concept, its creation, what’s next for The Amory Wars, touring, and much more.
Great to speak to you again, crazy to think it’s been two and a half years since we last chatted…
Oh holy moly I guess that’s how long it’s been, yeah!
So let’s catch up, how have the last two and a half years been?
Oh they’ve been good, actually I’ve spent the last two years working on this record, that’s pretty much what I did, working on the record, working on the story, working on some of the beats for the stories that will sort of follow. You know, playing Dad, that’s actually the bigger part of it. It’s been good.
Of course we’re here because ‘The Unheavenly Creatures’ is about to be released and The Amory Wars resume with a new chapter, in doing ‘The Color Before The Sun’ did this give you the break from the Amory Wars you needed to get back to it?
I think so, absolutely, you know before we did ‘The Color Before The Sun’ I had an idea of what story I wanted to tell within The Amory Wars but you know I think allowing myself that departure with ‘The Color Before The Sun’ really kind of gave me the chance to really think about it and find a much interesting, cooler, unique story to tell than the one I had sort of been planning before that record. So yeah in a way that was kind of a happy accident.
What was the decision to go back to this story and start a new arc?
Well I always knew I was going to come back to The Amory Wars after ‘The Colour Before The Sun’, you know ‘The Color Before The Sun’ gave me the opportunity to really sort of tribute the feelings of becoming a dad, I really wanted to tell an honest autobiographical story if you will about the frustrations of living in New York City, and the excitement and uncertainty of becoming a dad, that’s really what ‘The Color Before The Sun’ is. For me it’s like coming back into this it was hard to figure out what that story was going to be and so with that two years of time just allowing the songs to help and form what it was going to be was something that really kinda helped if that makes any sense.
Obviously well versed in concept albums and telling this story, how does the writing process take place for these songs, do you start with track one and write until you have an album or do you have ideas and write them in and piece it together that way?
Here’s the thing, I started writing and I didn’t really have a concept, so I knew that I was getting back into the story, I had this approach that I was going to tell the continuation of The Afterman, that was the original idea but I just found that so easy you know what I mean, that’s the easy thing to do like ok I’m gonna tell part two of The Afterman, I didn’t find that as rewarding and as exciting. So I just started to just exercise in terms of song writing, I just did a couple of things here and there, some things stuck some things didn’t but it wasn’t until I wrote a few songs that the concept started to reveal itself, like a song like ‘Queen of The Dark’, ‘Queen of The Dark’ immediately put me in the scene of the creature being brought to the glass widow and being judged before the sub servers of the lower levels of The Dark Sentencer, like I can see this stuff as I was writing these songs. They were so informative, so profound; they kind of put my imagination to work. Then a song like ‘Old Flames’, I mean ‘Old Flames’ that song informed what is the album cover, you know that final scene where the two characters, Creature and Sister Spider are embracing and all hell has broken loose within The Dark Sentencer, like that is the finale of the story and it’s like after a few songs my imagination just started to set on fire. That’s when I think I started to get the skeleton of what this story was going to be and sort of an understanding of we’re only really telling the introduction here, we’re really telling the story of basically our new Coheed and Cambria, we’re gonna hint at the importance of their son and then the rest of the records that will follow they’ll have their big reveals as to where we were really are in the concept and where we’re going.
This being Vaxis act 1. and when you release a 79 minute album and not to get ahead of things but did you write more and have you already planned out what follows?
You know I have, there’s a couple of songs I have when I was writing this record they didn’t really fit, not that they didn’t fit this album but I think that story wise they were meant to come later, so there are a few things here and there musically, but for the most part it’s really the structure of the story that I have in terms of what those big reveals are in subsequent chapters from two to five. So in all of that I have an understanding, like I get what’s the big moment that’s supposed to happen in two, or three, like how are we ending this thing and what is that big reveal. So all of that stuff is sort of laid out, it’s really about not finding the music and I’m sure as starts to come to me that will help form and change any pre-existing ideas that I have, I mean that happens.
I know movie directors see their vision years in advance but you’re already talking up to chapter five?
Oh absolutely and I think it’s a really big and cool reveal, I think a lot of Coheed fans that are in for the long haul and what is all the facets of The Amory Wars are gonna be really excited about what this is.
So when you finish an album like ‘The Unheavenly Creatures’ what’s your feeling like when you listen to it start to finish for the first time?
You know it’s tough. I’ve had this record for a long time now in different stages, there’s definitely demos before I showed them to the band, or once the band started to record them in the rough mixes, I’ve had a lot of track listings of this album, because there’s always that question, do you want to tell the story linearly, there’s obviously flashbacks, and where do those flashbacks sit within the chronology of the record I mean it gets really hard for me to listen to it objectively when I finally finalise what that track listing is, because my brain is so scrambled from so many incarnations of it. I think right around this time when it releases, I haven’t listened to the record that much, I’ve listened to the songs as they’ve come out but I haven’t listened to it in its entirety because I just want to have a break, but I’m sure that once it comes out and a couple of weeks pass I’m sure I’ll have a chance to listen to it and try my hardest to be that objective listener where I can enjoy it, because as an artist you’re always going to have things that you wish that you’d have done, or didn’t and that sort of thing so it’s hard to get out of that skin, so it takes some time.
If you think that way I suppose you can always just put things in Act four, or three, or whatever you like later on…
*laughs* Yeah I can do that.
Most bands find it hard enough making an album but you guys do things above and beyond with graphic novels, sketch books and more, how important is it for you as a band to have the extra mediums to tell this continuing story?
You know I think Coheed is much more than just music, it’s a culture, certainly the fans that have embraced all of the counterparts of what we do, again, like I’ve said in the past you don’t necessarily need the concept to really enjoy the music because it is very universal, but for the most part if you do decide to participate in this stuff I mean it’s there for you. It’s just something I enjoy doing and when I created this idea however many years ago it was really just a way for me to disguise my feelings as a singer, but in sort of creating all of this content through all of these years I find it to be very rewarding and fulfilling for myself. Like it’s not just about me singing songs that help sort of break me out of stuff, it’s also a big escape, I like to get trapped in The Amory Wars
When we last spoke there was talk in pursuing trying to make a movie (animated possibly) of the Amory Wars story. Is this something that is still happening?
At the moment not in the way we had discussed earlier, I mean the whole sort if Mark Wahlberg leverage thing that arrangement has expired, so we’ve been talking about some other approaches but nothing is in the works at the moment, nothing has been approved just yet but there are talks about things. So we’ll see, hopefully soon we can announce something, but it’s very, very loose.
Your live shows are truly something to witness so is there any talk of when we’ll get to see you back in Australia?
I mean I think probably soon I mean we haven’t confirmed any dates at the moment but in terms of the way things cycle because everything’s just cyclical in the industry I feel like that’s something that’s around the corner, so… probably very soon.
Hint hint or you don’t know?
Yeah pretty much hint hint I don’t know of anything yet, just we have the record coming out and there’s a secondary stretch we’re doing in The US and then sort of the holidays coming normally it’s just the off season, but I feel like once that turn of the new year happens I feel like we’re just at the point where those conversations are going to start coming up now but they just haven’t yet I think that has a lot to do we this week being so hectic with the release, with New York Comic Con and all the signings and things, I feel like our plate is very jam packed at the moment, but I feel like once we’re out of this week conversations are gonna start happening.
Lastly as always let’s look ahead to the future, finish this sentence for me. In 2019 Coheed and Cambria want to…
I want to go back in the studio. I mean part of me wants to go in the studio and see what happens, I never do that, I always have sort of these preconceived things and these things are already planned out, everything is sort of demoed and I show it to everybody and we sort of communicate as to what the ultimate goal is but I’d love to see going into a situation with nothing, you know? Just try it out, we don’t necessarily have to be like ok this has gotta be the next thing but I’d like to see what that’s like.
From: Nyack, NY, USA
Band Members: Claudio Sanchez – lead vocals, guitar, Travis Stever – guitar, Josh Eppard – drums, Zach Cooper – bass
Latest Release: Vaxis Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures (Out now – Roadrunner Records / Warner Music Australia)