When Coheed and Cambria came to town last month, HMXHenry and HMXPope got a chance to visit with the band’s frontman, Claudio Sanchez on the their tour bus. Check out our exclusive interview, covering myriad topics, from touring with Ronnie James Dio, to what its like to have one of the most popular songs in Rock Band, to details on Claudio’s comic book work. We were also lucky to get a chance to shoot some exclusive footage of Coheed and Cambria’s performance in Boston.
Intro video at HMX HQ
HMXPope: Are you ready to go do what we're about to do?
HMXHenry: No, I have so much work to do. There's all these emails that live in my computer.
HMXPope: So instead should we just blow off Coheed and Cambria and just stay here and do some emails?
HMXHenry: [thinking] We should probably go, shouldn't we?
HarmonixSean: Yeah. Go. Do it. Yeah. Do it.
HMXHenry: Sean's the boss.
HarmonixSean: Do it. Blow it off.
HMXHenry: So I guess we're staying here. No more interviews.
[exclusive live video footage of Coheed and Cambria's performance]
HMXHenry: We're from Harmonix. We're with Rock Band. We thought it'd be pretty cool while you were in town to stop by and talk to you a little bit about Rock Band and being in a videogame and all that crazy, futuristic music stuff.
Claudio Sanchez: Alright.
HMXH: So, when did you first hear of Rock Band?
CS: I'm not sure. I think it was a holiday gift. You came out around the holidays, no?
CS: Honestly, I don't know. I guess, just playing those kinds of games, you hear about something. Oh, this looks intriguing. Oh, it's going to incorporate other instruments. That was pretty much it. As far as the actual time, I don't know.
HMXH: That's cool. It's not a serious quiz. I'm not gonna be checking your answers later. [laughs]
CS: [laughs] Alright.
HMXH: So, you've played Rock Band?
CS: Yes, I have, actually.
HMXH: That’s awesome… yessssssss! [pumping fist]
HMXH: It's always nice. We end up meeting far too many bands that either don't know that they're in Rock Band or are still kind of not in tune with what Rock Band is, so it's a relief to find out that you're not only aware of it, but have played it. It's very cool. We moderate the Rock Band forums and talk to fans a lot, and we go out to a lot of fan events and people absolutely love the songs from you guys that we have in the game. I think "Welcome Home" - which was one of the on-disc songs for Rock Band one - is far and away one of the most-played songs at any of the events that we go to.
CS: Oh, cool.
HMXH: And we get a lot of feedback on the forums and in emails from people that have said that they've either talked to you guys after shows or met up with you guys at things like Newbury [Comics] like you did today, and talking to you about getting more songs in Rock Band. Do you get a lot of that?
CS: Yeah. We do, actually. There's certainly, even on the message boards, there's polls for what song they'd like to see.
HMXH: We saw that on the official fansite. That's awesome.
CS: Yeah. I think that's awesome. I think it's a way to get music out there, get kids more involved or fans more involved in the music. I'm a fan of it. I've certainly played it a bunch. Because the songs [are] in there, I've certainly had parties where it's like, "Oh, you have to sing it! It's your song, you have to sing it. Let's put you on the spot."
CS: And I did once, and I got an 86. [laughs]
HMXH: [laughs] We get a lot of that.
CS: I think it's cool. My brother's certainly a big fan of it. I turned him on to it actually last year because he wanted to play "Welcome Home." I think it was right before Rock Band 2 actually came out. Once I got him one, he was like, "I need 2." He was into it.
HMXH: Gettin' people hooked - we should put you on commission.
HMXH: [laughs] That's very cool. It's awesome that you guys are so in touch with your fans, with the community, and that you're able to meet up with them after shows and stuff. And it's cool that they are in turn able to come to us and say, "We want more, and they're aware of it, so you guys should get more stuff in the game." Have you guys heard of this Rock Band Network thing that we're doing?
CS: No, I haven't.
HMXH: Rock Band Network basically is a tool that will allow bands and record labels to make their own Rock Band songs.
CS: Oh, really?
HMXH: So it removes us at Harmonix from the process because we're a pretty small team, so we're only able to make so many new songs every week. There's a ton of awesome bands out there that we either don't get to work with enough or bands like Coheed and Cambria where we have four songs in the game already and people on the forums want more all the time. So Rock Band Network would allow any band or any label to create their own charts and put them up for sale in the Rock Band Music Store.
CS: Oh, wow. That's pretty cool.
HMXH: I think that's going to be a great tool for a lot of up-and-coming indie bands and a lot of bands that we've already worked with that would like to see more of their stuff in the game. Do you think that's something that you guys would be interested in looking at?
CS: I think so, yeah. Without a doubt.
HMXH: That's very cool.
CS: As far as, I guess it's not something that I could do personally, like working in a template. Is there some kind of template?
HMXH: It's kind of along the lines of ProTools - it's Reaper and Magma stuff. But people with a recording background - it's totally above my head - but if anyone in the band mucks around making their own tracks in Garage Band or stuff like that, I think that they'd be more familiar with the tools.
CS: Oh, wow. Okay.
HMXH: That's very cool. We can definitely hook you guys up with some information about that.
CS: Yeah, please. I think that's awesome. I think it's great.
HMXH: Very cool. That's good news.
HMXH: So how's the tour been going so far?
CS: So far, so good. This is the end of the cycle so after this we go into the studio. We pretty much, most of the remainder of the year will be dedicated to working on our new record. But so far, so good. It's been an honor to get to play with these legends.
CS: Yeah, yeah. Actually, the first show I ever went to was this lineup with Sabbath in '92. The Dehumanizer Tour. So I was really excited when management came to us and said there was an opportunity to play with these guys. We were like, "Yeah!"
HMXH: That's awesome, to be able to go from fan to contemporary. That's awesome.
CS: Yeah, totally.
HMXH: Is it still weird for you guys, coming from - I remember when you guys were on Equal Vision records and we talked to a lot of people in the office and [they said], "Man, I remember when they played at some church in Middleboro, Massachusetts. I used to see you guys play with other hardcore bands from EVR. Is it still weird for you to come from that place to now playing with bands you used to go to see shows for?
CS: Yeah, I think we're fortunate because it was never an overnight kind of boom. It was gradual progression, so we've been able to stay comfortable every step towards where we are now. I mean, there are moments when you still get nervous going on stage. Or feeling awkward. But for the most part it's been very comfortable.
HMXH: That's cool. You guys have had enough time. You've been a band for how many years now?
CS: Man, I don't know. [laughs]
HMXH: [laughs] It's been that long, huh?
CS: It's like professionally nine years. Yeah, it's been nine years. 2000, I think that's when we signed with Equal Vision. 2002 was the release of Second Stage, so I guess I like to think nine.
HMXH: We'll say nine years. Works for me. And you've got a bunch of other stuff keeping you busy, like writing comic books. How did that happen?
CS: It's always been a part of the band's mythology is this science fiction tale about Coheed and Cambria. When I started the idea, I always wanted to push the concept into that medium, into comic books because I grew up a fan of it. And in doing that, I've also pushed into other titles. My fiance and I, we've been collaborating on one called Kill Audio, which is more of a comedy and isn't necessarily, it's not really tied into the Coheed and Cambria mythology. We've got a couple other titles that we're tossing around. So hopefully in the near future those will see the light of day. I just love it. I spend my Wednesdays in the comic shop just catching up.
HMXH: I'm guilty of the same.
HMXH: That's supercool. I mean, to be able to work with Image Comics and Boom Studios now. That's really cool. Do you think of yourself as a storyteller first or as a musician first?
CS: I think a little bit of both. When I think of myself as a child, creating scenarios with action figures was a way of storytelling. You sit there and watch your favorite cartoon and you're like, "I can't wait 'til next week to find out what happened to these characters." So you go into your room, you grab your figures, and you create your own little tale. I always like to think I took something from that time in my life. I like to think both, I don't know.
HMXH: That's supercool. That's kind of almost along the same lines of what we try to do with Rock Band. Either using a comic book character or a character in a song as an avatar. We try to use Rock Band as something that people that don't have that kind of musical experience that they're not able to play Coheed and Cambria songs on real guitar, using Rock Band as a vehicle to get them into that world. Kind of use it as that stepping stone.
CS: Yeah, yeah.
[exclusive live video footage of Coheed and Cambria's performance]