As the frontman of Coheed & Cambria
, Claudio Sanchez
has proven himself to be as much of a science fiction guru as your run-of-the-mill musician. It's true that he may have originally caught fans attention for seeming a bit of a dichotomy (that impressive mane of hair, imposing stature, and hauntingly high vocals are quite the combo), but it's his unceasing creativity that has earned him consistent critical and fan praise. For the past 10 years he's been the crafting The Armory Wars
, a series that is the driving force and storyline behind Coheed & Cambria
's last 4 albums.
There's a long-awaited prequel to the series that will be recorded in 2009, but Sanchez
and the band decided to take a few more opportunities to celebrate the work they've created so far. Back in October fans from New York and Chicago were lucky enough to see Coheed & Cambria
play a 4-night concert series called Neverender
, in which the band would play one album for each night. Upset you missed it? Take heart. The band has a few more dates lined up, with shows in London (12/1-12-4) on the calendar. When Sanchez
recently spoke with Ultimate-Guitar
, he gave us more insight into the planning behind the Neverender Tour
and what we can expect from the prequel album.
UG: Neverender seems like it would be quite the live spectacle. How did the idea of doing a 4-night concert series originally develop?
With having to plan all the albums in chronological order, it kind of came with the territory. It was always somewhere in the back of my mind, how to approach it. Then we were thinking of doing a festival that would take place in New York for the 5th anniversary of the first album. Anyway, the idea was to celebrate that album. There were some rough areas last year, and it wasn't the right time. When this year came about, we came to the end of the cycle and we were trying to figure out what to do next. Obviously, the prequel album is the next thing, but we thought, Why not try to do revisit all of our work before we dive into telling the story that came before all of this. The last record was kind of the closure album, so why not kind of celebrate that end?
I know that you've added a keyboard player and background vocals to the live show. Can we expect any other new aspects to the show?
|"These shows are geared more towards the diehard Coheed fans."|
No. These shows are geared more towards the diehard Coheed fans. It's just bringing out the dimensions of what we do. There are visuals that will complement the story line. They may not necessarily be literal interpretations of the comic book, but there will be visuals for the story line for those fans who really get the idea and the concept. So yeah, we're incorporating the keyboard into all 4 nights. The backing vocals will be in the last 2. We had a percussionist who worked on the 3rd album, so he'll be performing on the 3rd night. It certainly gave that album a different texture. It's a weird thing. There is certainly a lot of planning on it.
Did you alter the guitar arrangements in any particular way in order to bring the keyboards or percussion to the forefront?
Nothing has been altered. We wanted the songs to be as true to the original as possible for the fans. I mean, they're coming to see the album as they've heard it. Sure, we've incorporated new things and that was just for us, to keep it fresh. But for the most part, all the arrangements are pretty much the same.
Can you give us an idea of what you use for your standard setup during the live show?
For me, I switch back and forth between a Bogner and a Vox AC30. I've also decided to incorporate a Fender Twin for a more crystal clear kind of sound. There are a lot of songs that call for a less dirty sound. Most of the time, I don't really rely on effects so much. I have a pedalboard, but I don't really use it all that much. Every once in a while I'll throw on a reverb and I have this little Ibanez analog delay. Sometimes I'll use the Line 6 modulation pedal, but that's not really to add to a song. They're just sound effects, really. They can create a mood or just act as a segueway between songs.
Do you have one or two primary guitars that will be used for the Neverender shows?
Yeah, definitely the Explorer. I've also brought out my old brown E2 that I used as my main guitar for a long time. I kind of put it aside and I had used it less over the past few years. So I kind of put in retirement. Now it's out of retirement.
Did you just miss the overall tone?
Yeah, and I feel it's important for her to be part of this event. For so long I played that guitar, and I wanted to bring that out.
You have some amazing acoustic work within both Coheed's material, as well as the Prize Fighter Inferno. Do you find yourself writing most of the songs on an acoustic?
|"This time around we went through things that we hadn't experienced on our previous records."|
Yeah, for the most part in the past. A lot of the parts were definitely written on the acoustic. We will be doing an acoustic set on the last night for the VIP guests. I know the videographer has something special in mind for those guests. It will be something that's just not you're coming to see a band play and you're just sitting there. It will be more like an interactive kind of thing. We were kind of thinking about how to do things because we'll also film there.
You'll be covering an album per night during the Neverender dates, but have you decided what you'll be playing during the acoustic set?
I think it will be kind of a mish mesh of everything.
A new producer (Nick Raskulinecz) was brought in for the album No World For Tomorrow. How much did that change the recording process?
It definitely changed it a lot because we had only worked with one producer before. So it was a new experience for us. And it was certainly a big change because during the writing of the record, we had basically lost half of the band. So we basically broke out of that turmoil and moved forward with a new producer. Nick was a lot of fun because he had a very positive outlook on things. We had been through the ringer.
Has it been a smooth transition with Chris Pennie (drums) joining the band?
Chris is a true professional and he learned all of the parts. When he joined the band, he learned all the material. His style adds a little flavor to it, but it doesn't really alter it to where it's awkward. It feels very natural.
From the blog posted on the Prize Fighter Inferno's MySpace page, I learned that the side project is indeed on hold for now. It was interesting to read that you not only wrote the newly posted song From China With Love in Paris, but you also developed the initial idea for Coheed & Cambria in France as well.
Yeah. The song's sections were first developed in Paris when I was over there with my girlfriend at the time. She was studying there, so I was just kind of recording things and I eventually came up with this type of science fiction story. But that moment in time when I was recording it, that was when I kind of created the ideas behind the Coheed & Cambria saga. I actually wrote Time Consumer there as well. So yeah, that was like 10 years ago. I had all this time, so I went out and bought a guitar and starting working on songs.
Your Paris days must have been a very creative time in your life.
Yeah. I loved living in Paris.
Has anything changed since the blog? Is the Prize Fighter Inferno still on hold indefinitely?
|"For the most part, I was just a guy with a guitar."|
Yeah, I mean right now I'm writing a lot for Coheed, and I've started to work out the prequel album. There have been songs that I come across that don't necessarily fit as a Coheed song. I just started compiling them and putting them aside for possible Prize Fighter songs.
Can you give us an idea of what we'll hear on the Coheed & Cambria prequel album? Will it have a pretty similar style to the material on your latest album?
I don't know. This time around we went through things that we hadn't experienced on our previous records. The first two albums, when I wrote those albums, I was living at my parents' house and I was kind of just working from 9 to 5. Well, by the time they were released, we had steady touring. For the most part, I was just a guy with a guitar. Really there was no drama in my life and it wasn't that complex. The next 2 records, there was a breakup and it kind of just destroyed my existence. That's how I went into making the album No World For Tomorrow. This time around, it's pretty settled personally. I have a feeling that it will definitely change the album and make it different. And knock on wood, my life can remain grounded.
Do you have an estimated time that you'll be entering the studio again?
I think possibly by spring or summer of next year. We're not too sure right now. We have a pretty big work load. As we've been preparing for Neverender, we're demoing material. We probably have about half an album's worth of material. We're just kind of taking our time with this one.
On the side, you also came out with a toy to go along with your Kill Audio comic series. Is it pretty surreal to develop your own toy?
Yeah. I'm a big fan of collector vinyl toys, and I wanted to make one. Originally we were going to go for something that didn't relate to me. But then I started thinking about the story, and it just worked. So it's all kind of fallen into place. We have the toy and the online comics. It's all kind of coming together.
You mentioned earlier that there would be a videographer at the Neverender acoustic VIP sets. Will there be a DVD released soon after?
Yeah, that's what we're planning on. We're documenting the rehearsals and the other parts of the show. That's the hope. I guess it all depends on how well we play!
Interview by Amy Kelly