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Dark Side of Me

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria. The following is my whole Q&A transcript that I used to write a story on. Since I left a couple of things out of the story, I figured it would be fun to share everything.

Since The Afterman is a double album, were there any double albums that you really clung to when you were younger, whether it was The Wall or Use Your Illusion?

For me, it would definitely be The Wall for sure. My second concert happened to be Pink Floyd on the Division Bell tour in ’94. That sort of opened my mind up in terms of music and how it can accompany a visual. It was an amazing live show. It was probably one of those moments that defined what I wanted to do. In exploring Pink Floyd’s catalog, I stumbled across The Wall and with its cinematic counterpart [for] the tour. I never saw any of the tour, obviously, but I acquired bootlegs and saw how that played out. Actually I was fortunate to see Roger [Waters] at Madison Square Garden not too long ago. Overall, the way the cinematic counterpart works with the music, it had a lasting effect on me.

Were there any other records? I definitely heard about The Wall when I was in high school, but the first double album that I connected to was Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Well, hell yeah! For sure! That’s our era of rock and roll, you know? I remember when I got that record. I was painting and it was Halloween. I think that record had just come out. I was doing these murals across Nyack with the high school. I tried to make it a point to get that record so I could listen to it all day. For me, that never had a concept that worked. I felt like that was a collection of songs. I don’t know if there was a thread that went through it nearly as it did with The Wall.

The Smashing Pumpkins recorded somewhere between 50 and 60 songs for that collection.

For Mellon Collie?


See, that’s the difference between whatever The Wall had become and what Mellon Collie is. The way The Wall seems to be arranged, some of those songs are a minute and a half. It feels like it works as a whole. You know, like you’re missing out if you don’t listen to the entire thing. Whereas Mellon Collie feels like they had 60 songs and they broke it down like that. I think that’s what makes The Wall so important and will probably stand the test of time.

With The Afterman, was there a set number of songs that you wanted on the record? Or were there a few songs that didn’t make the record?

There was definitely a set number. I kept writing. See, the thing with The Afterman – and this sort of goes against my whole Wall thing – there was no concept when I wrote this material. I started writing this material about two years ago. It was really just a reflection of what I was experiencing in that time. And it wasn’t until after I finished it and saw the material as a whole that I was able to construct the concept around those emotions. In a way, it’s sort of like a journey in that time for me, but it’s also what gave birth to the journey in The Afterman. So, I mean it’s definitely not The Wall, obviously. But it’s Coheed’s, if that makes any sense.  

Absolutely! When I saw you at C2E2 last year, you were listening to some music that I assumed you had recorded yourself earlier that day. You let Chondra listen to it. I think you let Blaze listen to it. You were very excited about it. Is that some kind of daily process with writing material?

Yeah! Pretty much. I’ll just catalog things that really work and just kind of have them. Before the band got into the studio, I had a version of the double record already arranged and outlined, but in a demo version. And we sort of made that available with the deluxe edition. Usually, whenever inspiration strikes, not to sound completely like a cliché. Really, it does mean a lot. Whenever something presents itself is when I’ll work on it. But I don’t want to hammer something to death just for the sake of not wasting the time. If it’s not working, I just discard it.

I saw you guys open for Iron Maiden last year.

Oh, cool!

Yes, it was awesome. That whole Iron Maiden show was incredible as well. You’ve toured with Soundgarden as well. Where I’m going with this is, are there any bands out there that you love to tour with?

Yeah, definitely. Who? At the moment, I think if Jane’s Addiction is still touring, I would love to tour with Jane’s Addiction.

That’d be an interesting bill!

That was one of those bands for me growing up. Before Coheed, the band that I was in, that was one of our big inspirations. That would be cool.

On a related note with that Iron Maiden tour, was the “Heaven & Hell” cover ever properly recorded? If it was, could it ever see the light of day?

No, we never recorded it. Maybe, at some point.

I couldn’t help notice how the crowd responded to it when you started singing. There was definitely a large percentage that knew “Welcome Home” and “Here We Are Juggernaut.” But then when you played “Heaven & Hell,” people started to really perk up. Was that a common thing?

I think so, yeah! It’s certainly something that people knew. A lot of the audience didn’t know who Coheed was. I think we wanted to have some kind of familiarity. So “Heaven & Hell” made sense. It’s funny, when we did the Heaven & Hell tour, with [Ronnie James] Dio fronting [Black] Sabbath, we did “The Trooper” as a cover. We thought it’d be cool to flip-flop it.

Any chance that The Afterman could be done live, like how the first four records were done with that “Never Ender” batch of shows?

I think so, yeah. I mean, at the moment, the “Never Ender” concert series is broken down into two parts. Well, now because of The Afterman, there is the Coheed and Cambria story which is Year of the Black Rainbow to Good Apollo to No World for Tomorrow, and now there’s the Afterman story. It’s definitely something I could see happening in the future. Breaking it into the two and then doing The Afterman.

I could definitely see people flying from around the world to go see that.

Ah, hell yes! That’s nice of you to say.


Ted said…
Good interview! I like how it's more of a conversation between two music fans -- one of which happens to be in Coheed and Cambria.
Eric Grubbs said…
Thanks, Ted. I spent some time with Claudio last year in Chicago and he remembered me when I interviewed him. That certainly was a good icebreaker when we did the interview.

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