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Members include Josh Eppard, drums; Claudio Sanchez, vocals; Travis Stever, guitar; Michael Todd, bass. Addresses: Record company--Columbia Records, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022. Website--Coheed and Cambria Official Website: http://www.coheedandcambria.com.
Viewed as a successor to the classic heavy-metal groups such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Rush, as well as the trippy, futuristic prog bands of the 1960s and 1970s, the upstate New York-based band Coheed and Cambria has offered up a baroque blend of heavy sounds, long storylines, and science fiction-based lyrics. In Hollywood Reporter John Lappen wrote, "With one foot planted solidly in the contemporary indie rock world and the other stuck gleefully in overblown '70s prog rock, Coheed and Cambria meld the two disparate genres into a heady blend that works for devoted followers of both camps."
The band was founded by frontman Claudio Sanchez, who came up with the story-based concept for its songs. The story is about two characters, Coheed and Cambria, and their children, in a distant solar system. They believe that they must sacrifice their children to save the world from being infected by an apocalyptic virus that is embedded in their genes. Originally a side project of Sanchez's, the story became music when Sanchez presented it to his friends, drummer Josh Eppard, guitarist Travis Stever, and bassist Michael Todd; the group even took the names of the parents in the story for the name of the band.
Heir to the prog bands of the 1960s and 1970s, the band's music tells long, complicated stories and features complex guitar riffs, shifting time signatures, and energetic singing. David Browne explained in Entertainment Weekly that the original prog music, originating in the hippie culture of the 1960s and 1970s, often envisioned a brighter and better world. In contrast, Coheed and Cambria envision a dark and apocalyptic future, pairing their stories not with classical sounds as in earlier prog, but with 1980s heavy metal.
The group's debut album, Second Stage Turbine Blade, was released in 2002. It tells the story of Claudio Kilgannon, who wants to avenge the deaths of his three siblings and his parents, named Coheed and Cambria. This album and the five to follow explored the tale of their lives in a distant solar system.
In addition to albums, the band released graphic novels telling the story; the novels were published by Sanchez's graphic arts company, Evil Ink. In the novels Coheed and Cambria appear similar to Sanchez's real-life parents.
In 2003 the band moved from independent label Equal Vision to major label Columbia. It was a carefully thought-out move, according to Sanchez, who told an interviewer for the Honolulu, Hawaii, Star Bulletin that the band considered offers from several labels and chose Columbia, which they believed was the strongest label. Before making the move, they "did a lot of groundwork beforehand, building our reputation by word of mouth, before we took our chances in the major market."
In that same year the band released their second album, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth, which featured Sanchez's vocals, described by Erik Pederson in the Hollywood Reporter as "gentle, breathy and impassioned," and "intricate music."
Like the band's first two albums, Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness was a concept album, and continued the story of Coheed and Cambria. According to Rob Theakston in All Music Guide, "It's not necessary to know all of the facts and story lines to enjoy IV, which is a prog rock opera on par with anything that Rush or Queensryche ever released." However, the reviewer noted that the group's sound had evolved over the years, shedding emo chords and songwriting in favor of a more prog, heavy-metal sound. Theakston commented that the album "finally lives up to the heavy metal promise and unapologetically delivers the goods with a full head of steam." In Billboard a reviewer noted that, like its title, the album "is prog rock-leaning and pretentious. Fortunately, the band pulls it off extremely well." The reviewer also commented that the band's production values had improved, with a string section and keyboards adding richness to the sound. Browne noted that although the band displayed great musicianship, "The songs are long, unwieldy, and anything but uplifting."
Although the band has one more album due to complete the story of Coheed and Cambria, they are not sure where they will go in the future. Bassist Michael Todd told Brian Orloff of the St. Petersburg Times, "We're not really sure what's going to happen after the story. We have an ending to the story. We just need to get there." He noted that in live performances the band didn't focus on the storyline; if fans knew it, that was a bonus for them, but if not, "we just hope people enjoy the band for its music." Sanchez likewise told the Star Bulletin that he had talked with some of the band's fans and found that "about 50 percent of them have no idea what my concept is ... not that it's forced down their throat. Some take something personal to their own lives from it; others are into the idea of the concept itself."
Despite the fact that the original concept was Sanchez's, the band writes together. Michael Todd told David John Farinella in Bass Player, "We all write together, and a lot of what comes out has to do with how Josh plays. For me, there's nothing better than playing bass with a good drummer." He added, "I practice all the time when I'm home, and I practice in hotel rooms when we're on tour. I just want to be the best player that I can be. The whole band thinks like that."
Pedersen wrote that Coheed and Cambria are "big with the kids and destined to get bigger. With a unique niche sound, peppy hit video and a novel concept tied to a comic book series, the quartet has glommed onto some potentially lucrative revenue streams while maintaining their cred and rocking out pretty good. No small feat."
by Kelly Winters
Coheed and Cambria's Career
Group formed in 2001; released Second Stage Turbine Blade, 2002; In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, 2003; Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, 2005.
- Selected discography
- Second Stage Turbine Blade Equal Vision, 2002.
- In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 Columbia, 2003.
- Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness Columbia, 2005.
- Bass Player, July 1, 2004, p. 13.
- Billboard, September 24, 2005, p. 67.
- Entertainment Weekly, September 23, 2005, p. 86.
- Guitar Player, March 2004, p. 37.
- Hollywood Reporter, January 29, 2004, p. 28; November 8, 2004, p. 28.
- "Coheed and Cambria," All Music Guide, http:/www.allmusic.com (April 13, 2006).
- "Coheed and Cambria," Spun.com, http://www.spun.com/music/product-detail.jsp?id=2543313 (January 25, 2006).
- "Songs and Stories," Star Bulletin, http://starbulletin.com/2005/11/18/features/story.03.html (January 25, 2006).
- "When Coheed met Cambria," St. Petersburg Times, http://www.sptimes.com/2004/07/29/Weekend/When_Coheed_Met_Cambr.shtml (January 25, 2006).
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