One of the highly anticipated acts to grace the Soundwave Festival stages over the next couple of weeks will be Coheed And Cambria. Last here for some club shows, the band now gets a chance at the festival stages on the back of last years ‘Year Of The Black Rainbow‘ album. Deborah Konopnicki recently caught up with Claudio from the band for a chat. Click below to expand this post and read the interview.
Claudio! How are you going?
I’m good! Doing alright. Just hanging in there. How are you going?
I’m fantastic thanks, mate. Pretty stoked about talking to one of my favourite musicians right now.
No problem. Thanks for giving us your attention!
What’s happening down your end of the world at the moment?
Oh, nothing much. I just got back from Manhattan. I just spent the some time there in the city because my wife was covering fashion week. I went down there to do some last minute research on a title that I’m doing called Subway Series. It was just walking the streets all day pretty much; just taking some notes while walking down the blocks and things like that.
Is this for a new comic book that you have coming out?
Yeah! Essentially it’s a zombie apocalypse story where all of the stadiums within Manhattan are colonised. We’ll see. I don’t know. Like I said it was just some last minute research. We pretty much have everything already mapped out.
That sounds like something that I’d totally be into! Anyway, how are you guys feeling about coming back down to Australia?
Good! I’m just really excited to play in general. I mean, we’ve been off now for about a month and a half. It feels like something is missing in my life and I think it’s that! Going out and playing in front of people, feeling the energy of the crowd and distributing it back. I just feel like once we get out there it’s all going to make sense and we’re going to have a great time!
What are the bands that you’re most looking forward to checking out?
Right now I think Queens of the Stone Age and possible Iron Maiden. I think those are the big two.
I think that it was about three years ago now that you were originally scheduled to play Soundwave, ultimately having to pull out. Was it always an intention of yours to come back and be a part of the festival at some point?
Oh, for sure. Just coming back and doing the festival circuit in Australia is something that we’ve always wanted to do. The fact that we dropped the ball with Soundwave, it just made sense to do it again. Usually those instances are so far out of our hands. It’s not entirely our fault, but it really, really feels like it so this is our way of saying sorry… by coming back!
You made up for it in a big way by playing some killer clubs shows a few months after you were due to come down so all was forgiven! Seeing Coheed at a festival is going to be quite the experience because you guys absolutely own it in a club setting. I can see your sound getting even more epic at Soundwave but what setting do you think really showcases your sound at it’s best?
Though I like the festival environment and I get something from it that I don’t get at the club show, I really do feel like a club show is where it’s at. I personally like seeing bands indoors and getting the reflection of sound off the walls and things like that. Although there’s an energy that you can’t get from being in a club show that you can get from being at a festival setting. So, yeah!
The album that you’re going to be bringing down with you is your new one – well, to us it’s new because you haven’t debuted the material in Australia yet! – is “Year Of The Black Rainbow” which is easily one of my favourites to come out of last year. How does that album sit with you now that the material is almost a year old?
I love that record. That record means a lot for me so it’s really going to transcend for me. I mean, all of the records do. They have that science fiction counterpart and they all catalogue a point in my life with the lyrics – all of these things are very much real. “Year Of The Black Rainbow” - I wrote all of that material basically for my wife that I was getting married to that year, so a lot of songs echo those emotions at that time. It’s a big thing in my life. So all of that stuff will always matter to me. I’ll always love it. It’ll never get old.
What would be the songs that stand out for you live?
I really do like playing “Here We Are Juggernauts”, both the hard rock version off of the record and I also really like playing the acoustic version that we actually transposed the tune and re-worked it so it could work in that world. I really like playing “Pearl of the Stars”. I always really like playing “Far”, and “Year of the Black Rainbow” is a favourite as well. I just really think that in general, I think that the focus of this record reminds me of another time in the band. We were still immature but we were starting to get our consciousness and trying to work out where we were. Big changes happened to Coheed just before, so it almost felt like that kind of beginning and trying to find ourselves. Being a bit hap-hazardous but at the same time being very enclosed and focused. I thought that it was a nice balance of both mentalities.
You mentioned “Far” which would probably be one of my favourites as well; the lyrics really stand out in that song as being particularly personal and open. I can only imagine what must go through your mind when you’re singing that live. How does it feel so sing something so personal in front of thousands of people?
It feels good! We’ve performed that song a little bit differently for the past few headliners that we did – we actually performed them acoustically. It was different than the original version, which was kind of a full on electronic production. I don’t know; because it is very conscience and straight to the point where as some of the other Coheed tunes might be a little more cryptic. I personally know all of the stories behind them and I’m not sure if I want to completely divulge and give out their meanings. I create these cryptic tell-tales that a whole lot of people won’t understand. A song like “Far” is very open and you’re right, it does feel like you’re kind of putting your heart on your sleeve there. You’re hoping that no-one is throwing anything at you!
I’m hoping that this means that we’ll get to hear that song playing acoustically because the videos that I’ve seen of it live are pretty breathtaking. I’ve also see the ones of “Here We Are Juggernauts” which has a totally different mood, and then you have epic numbers like “Welcome Home” that also transforms into something else when playing acoustically. Have you toyed with the idea of releasing an acoustic album?
That idea has often come up and I think that we’ll do it eventuelly because I think that we do it well. I don’t want to sound egotistical, but we do! These songs kind of work in that world. A lot of these tunes actually start on acoustic guitar, so I don’t know. I think that it’ll be an injustice… no, I don’t want to use that word! Maybe it’ll be an injustice if we never did.
I have to completely agree with you on that one!
We will. I think that the time will come for sure.
Well you’ve made one Coheed fan very happy right now! I want to touch on your music videos for a second. I think it was during the making of the “Blood Red Summer” video that you mentioned that you’d rather have a video that had a completely different visual story to what the song represents. I feel like the video to “Here We Are Juggernauts” might be a tiny bit relevant to the whole Coheed and Cambira saga. Was that an intentional move?
Yeah! We wanted to inject the saga but without doing a literal interpretation of it. We wanted to put in elements of the story in there, obviously the keywork and the fact that the characters looked like the Claudio in the story and little elements like the ten-speed bicycle from “Good Apollo…”, number 33 from “Second Stage…” They’re just little things to excite the fans from that dimension of what we do. We’re not completely discarding the idea of doing an Amory Wars feature. I just think that when that time comes it needs to be the right thing, and it needs to be something else and not a music video. It needs to be an animated feature or a full-length movie.
Another thing that I spied on the net last year was a US college marching band playing a very unique rendition of “Welcome Home” before what I assume was a football game… or some collage sport. You guys incorporated that aspect into you mind-blowing Coachella performance of that song. Where did that idea stem from?
Yeah! That was the USC Marching Band. We found that footage on Youtube and we thought, “why not try and incorporate this into the show?” We wanted to do something that was going to heighten the live show that we were going to put on at that festival. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I love playing with live musicians and I love playing with a full band. Although management was pushing us to do it, I really wanted to do it! I really like big bands. I really like full-on productions with things that wouldn’t necessarily make a lot of sense playing along side hard rock music. I was very excited and it was certainly one of the highlights in being in Coheed and Cambria for me. I think that there was a lot of positive feedback. It certainly turned a lot of heads too! When you’re out there with a 23-piece band accompanying you, it’s loud! You know that we’re there! I think that maybe it turned some people onto the band that maybe didn’t like us before. I‘d like to think so anyway. We’re a pretty open-minded bunch of guys that like to try a lot of things when the times are right. I think that was one of them and I think it was something that drew attention to us where there wasn’t before.
I had a chat to Travis just before the album dropped last year and he didn’t have an answer for me so I’m hoping that you do! I’m asking this from a purely selfish perspective so that I can expand my collection, but now that the album has some life in it have you discussed the possibility of a five-part box set similar to the Neverender one that you released a couple of years ago?
We’ve talked about that in the past and maybe one day. I think that it would need to have the right counterpart. “Year of the Black Rainbow” has the 352-page novel. To do the full on Amory Wars/Coheed and Cambira story and then release it in a five-part box set, it would need to have the right partner in something else. I’d like to see it release in the movies, but I don’t know! (laughs)
It’s a little bit dated but I’m curious to hear you’re thoughts on it. How were those shows for you? Playing all of the songs that you’ve released on CD over the four albums from front to back?
At that moment in time we had just finished “No World For Tomorrow” and the band had endured some changes. To go and accomplish something like “Neverender” it was great. It definitely made us realise that we were just as strong as we were the first day. We had changed Shabutie to Coheed. We had gotten into a van and driven. There is still that passion there. Going and visiting all of those songs was revisiting moments and chapters in our lives. Some of them were sad, some of them were funny but at the end of the day, there is still that passion for what we do and it’s just as strong as it was from day one.
“Year of the Black Rainbow” is the final piece to a very well constructed puzzle. Is there a sense of relief to finally have your ten-year vision released?
It’s definitely nice. I don’t think it about it so much when we’re actuality performing but I do look at it as a big accomplishment. Some things I leave incomplete. I have so many ideas that I’m easily distracted. I mean, as we’re talking at the moment about Soundwave, the Neverender tour and the ten-year anniversary I’m already thinking five steps ahead of that. You know what is the next thing? There are so many ideas right now for what is the next concept and what we’re going to do. I think that I just went off in a little tangent… (laughs). I’m not so sure that I know what I was saying…
(laughs) it’s all good! I’ll be annoying and ask anyway, but in terms of the next stage of your musical career is it something that you’d like to delve into right away or would you like to take a break and maybe take in what you guys have achieved after setting it in motion ten years ago?
You know what, had you have asked me this question a few months ago I would have said that I wanted a break… and we did get a break! We had about a month off right now. I’d like to continue on a break but these past couple of months I’ve been very inspired by life and death and I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve been very inspired to write. Yeah, we might not tour as much this year but we’ll be doing a lot a writing.
Have you considered doing a Prizefighter Inferno album with that material or is it more written specifically for Coheed?
I think right now, most of the material that I’ve put together is more Coheed based. It sounds very Coheed. Prizefighter is still there and still something that I think that when I’m truly inspired to do that then I will definitely return to that for sure.
As we just touched on very briefly, 2011 does in fact mark Coheed and Cambria’s ten-year anniversary. You’re going to be releasing for the first time on vinyl your first record, “Second Stage Turbine Blade” as well. More significantly you have some amazing shows planned in the states around April and May where you’re going to be playing the album in its entirety. What else do you guys have planned?
Well we’ve been working on all of the production right now. We’ve been working on all of the steps and what the set lists are going to be because there are going to be three sets. There’s going to be the acoustic set, “Second Stage…” front to back in Neverender fashion and then we’re going to come back a do a nice collection of the discography and celebrate the music that the four of us have made.
I’d be jealous if I wasn’t going to see you three times in the space of a week coming up! What kind of set can your Australian fans expect? Is it going to be heavy on YOTBR considering we having heard any of it yet?
I think that it’ll be a fair amount of everything. We’ve only been there so many times that I think that it would be unfair to weigh it with YOTBR. We’ll try to be diplomatic as possible and try to incorporate a fair collection of everything.
Just finally before I run out of time; what’s the one thing that you’re looking forward to the most about coming back to Australia in the coming weeks?
I think the weather!
Oh dear… it’s a bit up in the air at the moment.
Is it really?!
Yeah. It’s been a horrible summer…
Oh, that’s awesome (laughs). That’s good to hear because it’s been the most horrible winter here! I guess that it won’t be that bad!
CATCH COHEED AND CAMBRIA ON ALL SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL DATES
26th – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane [Lic/AA] SOLD OUT
27th – Sydney Showgrounds, Homebush [Lic/AA]
4th – Showgrounds, Melbourne [Lic/AA] SOLD OUT
5th – Bonython Park, Adelaide [Lic/AA]
7th – Claremont Showgrounds, Perth [Lic/AA]
AND THE FOLLOWING SIDEWAVES
Monday 28th February – The Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney w/ Stone Sour, Sevendust, 36 Crazyfists
Wednesday 2nd March – The Tivoli, Brisbane w/ Slash