Miller Lite

Coheed & Cambria

Coheed & Cambria

Performances

September 9 - 10:00 PM @ Miller Lite Oasis Stage

Coheed & Cambria

“What we’re doing is weird,” Claudio Sanchez admits to Rolling Stone writer Ryan Reed. “Concept records in themselves are not weird, but for a band to continue a concept over their discography can be a little intimidating to somebody on the outside. It’s like a monthly issue comic book, like, ‘I don’t want to get invested into this 10 issues in.’"

With that in mind, Coheed and Cambria have returned to the sprawling sci-? world of The Amory Wars with their seventh concept album (eighth overall), but with a fresh start. Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures, is part of the epic universe Sanchez has created, but it’s a brand-new story. In fact, it's the ?rst of a “pentalogy,” — a new ?ve-story arc that introduces bold new characters and intense new locations — brought to life in 15 songs that match the scale of the high concept.

The new story arc follows the non-?cBonal sojourn of their previous record, 2015's The Color Before the Sun.

"I always knew I'd come back to the concept,” Sanchez remarks. "It's been a lot of fun trying to ?gure out where this story falls in the timeline, who our main characters are, and ?nding a way to make the music help inspire some of the visuals."

 

The protagonists of The Unheavenly Creatures are star-crossed lovers-turned bank robbers, Nostrand, AKA "Creature," and Nia, codename "Sister Spider, and their vindictive 'third-wheel,' "Colossus." The story starts in a planetary prison called "The Dark Sentencer" — which ?Xngly, is the opening track of the album -- Nostrand and Nia have been apart for years, thanks to the machinations of the monstrous Colossus. Except they're not as far apart as they think -- Nia is now known as "The Glass Widow," the prison's reluctant executioner, while Creature is nearing his execution. Despite the very different places they've ended up, they may be each other's only hope.

 

Creating a completely stand-alone ?ve-part story within an already elaborate science-?ction universe takes a considerable amount of focus, and it's something Sanchez achieved a]er the rarest of modern indulgences: a break from social media.

"It was taking my concentration away," says Sanchez. "When you get to a certain spot, you feel like you need to reward yourself, and that was it. All of a sudden, you're down the rabbit hole, and you don't always return to your work. So I let that go, and songs started to really percolate."

Tracks like "The Pavilion (A Long Way Back)" started early in the process, and developed independently of the album's bigger picture. But as Sanchez progressed, songs like "Old Flames" were written with very clear visuals in mind — like the one seen on the album's cover, with Nostrand and Nia embracing as The Dark Sentencer collapses.

"All of a sudden it started to come together and presented itself to me as the appropriate story to tell,” Sanchez explained.

Musically, on The Unheavenly Creatures, Sanchez and the rest of Coheed -- guitarist Travis Stever, bassist Zach Cooper, and drummer Josh Eppard, decided that in order to properly take on this fully immersive world of music and ?cBon, they couldn’t rely on outside forces to oversee the making of the record. They needed to be fully in the driver’s seat, and thus stepped into the role of producing the album themselves.

Part of that meant they all needed to understand the world of Vaxis. “Normally, the music always comes ?rst. However, this Bme, I really wanted the band to be invested in the concept," says Sanchez. "So I made an e?ort to put prose to paper so they could read it, and put imagery in front of them so they could visualize the ?cBon. We actually contacted a couple of concept artists to start putting together the imagery ahead of Bme, so the band could witness this story come alive and have some places of inspiration -- seeing the characters, seeing locations.”

It's readily apparent from "The Dark Sentencer" that this approach has paid o?, with a heavy, operatic 10-minute opening statement that con?dently introduces the new narrative territory Coheed has set out to explore. The tapestry unfolds further in the poppy Btle track, and Edgy prog-pop of “Toys,” each of which feel distinctly modern yet underscore the album’s beautifully grandiose 70’s rock in?uences ala groups like Supertramp, ELO, and Queen.

Coheed and Cambria have never been easy to pin down, genre-wise -- existing at the intersection of prog, metal, and post-hardcore -- and in new songs from "Love Protocol" to "It Walks Among Us," that's clearly still the case. For The Unheavenly Creatures, the band found creative saBsfacBon in abandoning any existing expectations.

"Sometimes you fall into these patterns," says Sanchez. "You fall into this loop where you subconsciously have this idea of what's expected of you, and that's kind of what comes out. On this one, I felt like I did away with that.” The result is Coheed and Cambria’s longest (78 minutes) and most expansive recording to date.

The widescreen feel of the album extends to the release itself: The Unheavenly Creatures arrives with a box set edition including an 88-page hardcover novel illustrated by Chase Stone and written by Sanchez and Chondra Echert, a "Creature" mask, a fold-out poster, the album itself, and a bonus demo CD.

"It is the beginning of a new chapter," acknowledged Sanchez. "I wanted this to feel like a metamorphosis -- like a new beginning for us."

"I think you can hear that on songs like 'Black Sunday' or 'True Ugly,'" says Sanchez. "It reminds me of being younger, and writing songs from some of those ?rst early records, where I didn't have expectations for what the ultimate outcome was going to be. I was writing music because it was a form of expression and allowed a release. A]er all these years, I feel like I’ve come full circle to that state of mind and it feels good.”

  Read More