New York natives Coheed And Cambria have made quite the name for themselves since their inception in 1995. The progressive rock band plays music with a science fiction storyline known as The Amory Wars, which is also the name of a series of comic books written by vocalist Claudio Sanchez. Released last year, their latest album, Year Of The Black Rainbow, was a prequel to their first four CDs. Having sold millions of albums worldwide, they’ve produced numerous hits such as “Devil In Jersey City,” “A Favor House Atlantic” and “Welcome Home.”
Coheed And Cambria will be playing on Friday, July 8 at the Prudential Center in Newark. They will open up for Soundgarden in what should be a spectacular night of music. Frontman Claudio Sanchez checked in with me from the road to talk about the band’s past, present and future.
Did you ever envision that you would be performing in front of thousands of fans in sold out arenas?
Well, no, not really (laughs). I know that I’ve always wanted to play music. That was always the thing I wanted to do. And I don’t really know about sold out arenas, I guess that’s a dream, but for the most part no. Growing up in the local scene that we came up in, we were a bit of an outcast in those scenes. We were doing it strictly and still do it for the love of the music and creating it. It’s certainly an outlet for me and a relief, as well as a necessity in a way to kind of live. But yeah, it was never really something that we thought would just kind of fall into our lap. I guess we’re just kind of fortunate. A lot of work went into what we did to get to where we are, and again we’re just super grateful and excited to be where we’re at.
Are you planning or working on any new releases?
Yeah, I mean, we’ve been working a bit on a new one, been writing a bunch before we went out on this last stretch and while we were on the tour. Just kind of playing around with new ideas, I mean, nothing in terms of a record or big idea is completely set in stone, it’s just a lot of ideas. There’s one in particular that I kind of am starting to gravitate towards more than others, but yeah, we’ve certainly been creating.
Have you ever worked or toured with Soundgarden before?
No, but I was a fan growing up for sure. I’m actually really excited about it. I was just thinking about their catalog and my wife asked me, “What songs do they sing?” I was like, “I’m sure you know a bunch of them.” Then I started to run off a few of them and I forgot just how much I really like what they do, like in terms of their tonality and their whole presentation. It brought me back to high school and just kind of thinking about what I was doing at the time.
How was your most recent U.S. tour that you just got off of?
Oh, it was great. We were doing our 10-year anniversary of the band. It was actually An Evening With Coheed And Cambria, where we came out and did a 45-minute acoustic set. We came back out, did the first record in its entirety, and then returned with a collection of tunes in the encore. It was actually great. It was a lot of fun because it was just us and we’ve done that before in the past, and I kind of enjoy that because you have the space to create on the off time when you’re kind of waiting in terms of the backstage areas and things like that, you can utilize all the space and just work and create. I like that.
I’m a little bit of a recluse when it comes to touring so I really enjoyed that aspect of it (laughs). But in terms of the reception, it was awesome. I don’t think we could have asked for anything more—a lot of sellouts across the states. There was a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of fans traveling from city to city showing their support. It was nice to see those familiar faces and every once in a while an audience would play a prank on us so it was fun, it just felt like a traveling family in a weird, weird way.
What has been your most memorable moment on stage?
I think one of them has to be when we did Coachella and we brought out the USC marching band. I was thinking about it the other day because we drove by. My wife and I decided to stay in Los Angeles for a week, take meetings after the tour and stuff. We drove by the college yesterday and I was thinking about that moment and going on the bus afterwards and confessing to the band that it was certainly one of the highlights of my being in Coheed, having them come up and accompany us, so it was certainly amazing and memorable for me.
What do you like more: singing, playing guitar or playing keyboards?
I think guitar just because it’s my first, but I do like messing around with noise and sound and modular synthesizers and kind of hoping that something melodic and interesting will come out of something really destructive and chaotic. I do like that a lot. Every once in a while when I feel like I hit a brick wall with my main instrument I’ll certainly do that.
Singing is a lot of fun, I guess. There are moments when I wish I wasn’t the singer (laughs). But for me, it’s like I can only go so far with my main instrument and the singing counterpart really helps kind of make those guitars or synthesizers come to life; they give them another dimension. But I guess if I had to pick one over all of them, it would probably have to be guitar, because it was my first.
Do you feel like you’ve accomplished so much with Coheed thus far?
Yeah, for sure. I mean, in terms of just the records, and I’m not ashamed of it, I listen to Coheed records. I do, because it’s what I do and I always want to grow and so I think the only way to really grow is to go back and see what you’ve already accomplished and what you can make better in terms of if you want to think of it in sort of a strategic kind of way. It’s like, “What haven’t I done? What do I really want to explore? What haven’t I explored”—those kinds of questions. And I listen to them and I do I really think there’s a strong progression, and I don’t mean it in a genre sense, but I mean in terms of the band’s growth.
Where is your favorite place to play at?
I got to tell you man, it’s New York. I know I’m from New York but—I don’t know—it is home. For me, I grew up outside Manhattan about 30-40 minutes up the Hudson River but you can see the city from a high point. And it is home certainly outside of Manhattan but growing up it always felt like the magic kingdom was like, 45 minutes away or something. You can see it, it’s an amazing place and I was right in its backyard, and when I go there, it’s kind of the best of both worlds. Like I said, 45 minutes outside it, it’s quiet. It’s like a completely different world, but if you want everything else, it’s right there. I don’t know, it sounds like I’m trying to sell a property. There’s a magic about New York.
Are there any plans for after the tour?
Well, actually, just relaxing. Before Soundgarden came up, we were actually going to take this time off until about fall because we haven’t really taken a huge chunk of time off in a while, and we were going to utilize that time to write and do our thing, just kind of be normal, go shop at the supermarket, that sort of thing (laughs). But I want that, I want to just kind of go and do our thing and be inspired by that again because that was the life we had when we did the first records. I want to go to work somewhere else and just kind of remember that part of my life in an odd way, so we’ll see. Right now it’s just a little bit of time off.
Coheed And Cambria will be opening up for Soundgarden at the Prudential Center in Newark on Friday, July 8. They will also be playing a free show on Saturday, June 11 with Tigers Jaw and Adrian Belew with his Adrian Belew Power Trio. For more information, go to coheedandcambria.com.