Coheed and Cambria's Claudio Sanchez: "Slipknot have a hardcore audience, but we were up for the challenge"

Coheed and Cambria
(Image credit: Alexandra Gavillet)

For 20 years, Claudio Sanchez has been the master of concept albums. What began as a way for Coheed And Cambria’s frontman to tell his life story through sci-fi has rocketed into a career-long series called The Amory Wars

In between his band’s 10 albums, he’s co-authored tie-in comic books with wife Chondra Echert and dabbled in novels, all while trying to get a film adaptation off the ground. We’re amazed he has the time for interviews, to be honest. Nonetheless, Hammer was able to sit him down long enough to brave your burning questions.

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How do you keep your hair so frizzy and lovely?
Becca Morton, Facebook 

“I have certain products that I use, and I just try to keep it tame because it gets really wild fast. I run a brush through it in the shower with some conditioner, then I throw in this Jamaican castor oil. That leaves it somewhat relaxed.” 

How far do you plan each saga/album of The Amory Wars in advance? Is there an endpoint for the series?
Matt Wood, Facebook 

“At this juncture, I think the end is Vaxis V [the band released Vaxis II earlier this year]. There’s always room to manoeuvre, grow, expand and tell parallel stories about some of the participants and collateral damage of The Amory Wars. But I think, ultimately, Vaxis V could close off the saga in a really nice package. 

I know how they’re going to end. I’ve a broad idea of how I’m going to get to that ultimate goal, but a lot of the songs haven’t been written yet. I’m really waiting for them to dictate how these stories will play out.” 

How do you feel about current comic book movie adaptations? @the_archinerdd, Twitter 

“They’re fine. It’s wild: when Coheed And Cambria first started, the idea that we were this comic book kind of thing really ostracised us from people. Not a lot of outlets took us seriously because comics weren’t nearly as popular then as they are now, thanks to their adaptations into movies. 

In a way, I champion them because they make what we do normal. I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I would have 10 years ago, though. I see them when I can and they’re fine. They serve a purpose and I hope that at some point they’ll influence someone into finding an interest in our property.” 

I’ve heard rumours about a film adaptation from the Amory Wars comic books. Would a TV series be considered?
@DBecci, Twitter 

“Yeah! Any format at this juncture is being considered. We’ve attempted a few things: at one point, Mark Wahlberg was involved. At another, we were working with a group of creators, and these things just didn’t seem right. It’s very important that it feels right.” 

Hammer: What happened with Mark Wahlberg? 

“Not much, to be honest. It was just a connection sort of thing and eventually the arrangement disintegrated. As you go through the process, you spend the money and see, ‘I could execute this as is, but will it destroy the integrity of the story?’ Everything has to be right. It’s too important to me and the other people involved to just make it for the sake of making it.” 

What Coheed And Cambria song would you play an alien civilisation?
Kathy Sekh, email 

“It’s tough, because I don’t know what aggression looks like to an alien civilisation. One could say, ‘Yeah, Welcome Home, because it’s our most popular’, but it’s very aggressive. I’d have to have some sense of our visitors before choosing the tune, so Welcome Home or A Disappearing Act, or honestly Window Of The Waking Mind.” 

Coheed and Cambria

(Image credit: Press)

How does the real world affect what you write for The Amory Wars?
Josie Brun, Facebook 

“It affects every facet of it. In a way, it’s a disguise for my autobiographical tale. It’s a way for me to express myself without wearing it on my sleeve. When I created the idea 20 years ago, it was because I was too shy to be a frontman. It was easy for me to create this facade to hide my stories behind.” 

Hammer: Didn’t the ‘Amory’ part of the name come from the street you grew up on? 

“Absolutely. That’s where I wrote a lot of [first three albums] The Second Stage Turbine Blade, In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 and Good Apollo… Volume One. And all of the characters somewhat resemble people in my life. That’s one of the reasons why I play a character in the first Amory Wars saga.” 

Do you have any more 80s song sequels planned, like Jessie’s Girl 2?
Connor Bohan, Facebook 

“At this moment, no. They’re kind of random, and I’m still blown away that Jessie’s Girl 2 even happened. Maybe I’m still riding on the excitement of that.” 

Hammer: How would you react if someone wrote a sequel to a Coheed song? Would a ‘Welcome Home 2’ piss you off? 

“Ha ha! I’d probably welcome it: it’d be funny. We would do that when we were coming up. If a song reminded us of the influence, before we had an actual name, we’d title it as a sequel. For example, the arrangement of The Light & The Glass reminded me of Stairway To Heaven, so before it came out it was called ‘Stairway To Heaven 2’.” 

Do you plan on writing another non-Amory Wars album with the band? @DrumDrumBoy, Twitter 

“In 2016, I started working with a playwright and production company here in New York on a musical rendition of The Picture Of Dorian Gray. I wrote the first act, and after we finished Vaxis II I sent it to the band, like, ‘Hey, this is here. Maybe we could give this the Coheed treatment.’ That’s floating around. We haven’t executed anything, but it’s something we can throw in the vat because nothing ever happened with the musical.” 

You’ve been touring for a fair few years now. What are your favourite venues to play and which have the best catering?
Ben Wilmott, Facebook 

“I don’t know. The catering, I try to limit myself because, as I get older, I become stricter with the things I eat to ensure that the show goes off without any issues vocally. My favourite venues, it’s tough. I like everywhere we go, because it gives us an opportunity to explore the city. 

I enjoy finding myself in a new city every day because I can look on the map and find things I want to visit, whether it’s record stores, vintage toy stores or whatever – I’ve got a collection [of vintage toys] up here on the wall. There are a bunch of 12” vintage Star Wars figures. I’ve got a Freddy Krueger behind me. I’ve also picked up loads of synthesisers.” 

What are your favourite memories of touring with Linkin Park?
Allie Sim, email 

“The catering. Ha ha ha! The fact that they chose to take us out was so amazing. Coheed don’t get that kind of opportunity very often. I wasn’t too familiar with Linkin Park but, when those opportunities happen, we take them! That’s why we did Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Heaven & Hell. It reminds me of being younger: that opportunity to win a new audience over. 

I enjoyed supporting Slipknot very much. They were all very welcoming, a nice set of people. They definitely have a hardcore audience but we were up for the challenge – so much so that [for our stage backdrop] we took an image of a naked man in the form of a crucifix and cut his throat. We just had all this macabre imagery, like, ‘We’ve gotta do something!’ Ha ha!” 

Do you think you and Gerard Way will ever collaborate on a project, musical or otherwise?
Jayne Windmill, email 

“I don’t know. Never say never. It would make sense seeing as we came up in the same scene and are comic creators.” 

Do you actively consume sci-fi novels/comics? Are there any recent ones you’d recommend? If not, what’s your favourite of all time?
Frank Matheson, email 

“Nothing at the moment, but my favourite sci-fi novel of all time is Dune. I think that it’s an amazing book and I love the way it ends. As far as movies, one of my favourites is [1983’s] Krull. It’s medieval science fiction that involves this star called the Glaive that has five blades coming out of it. That one I love so much that I have two original movie posters in one frame that I still haven’t hung up. Ha ha!”

Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind is out now.

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Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.