Pushing Past Concept: A Conversation With Coheed And Cambria

  • Posted by: Vince Brigante

It feels subject to scrutiny to begin a piece with a personal story. In this case, it feels obligatory. This past July, five friends and I packed out a tiny Dodge Calibur and drove to Vermont to see alt./experimental rockers Coheed and Cambria. Day of the show, we're sipping rum in the parking lot, and when we go in, two of the tickets (purchased from StubHub) had apparently already been scanned. Not taking no for an answer, there was a pursuit consisting of weaseling through bouncers (almost all of which couldn't bench more than me, just saying) until I found someone in charge. They had some extra tickets in the box office and our full party gained entry. The bouncer/manager goes "Not gonna lie, wearing that Mets hat helped you out. I'm from Queens."

Fast forward to November, I'm in a room at Baeble headquarters waiting to speak with Josh Eppard, the sensational drummer for Coheed and Cambria. Like my bouncer pal and I, Eppard's also a die-hard Mets fan. Eppard and I exchanged Mets notes, and he gave me the inside scoop on Coheed and Cambria's latest release, a paragon of an album, The Color Before The Sun. Finally, years of wearing my blue and orange cap paid off.

"First of all, people always ask us about 'Oh, since there was no concept it must have been really different writing this record.'" The Color Before The Sun is the first record Coheed's done that hasn't followed a concept. Typically, singer Claudio Sanchez writes of a bike that's possessed, the Kilgannon's, and Monstar, a world-ending virus. "I think that really only applies to Claudio," said Eppard, "For us as a band, every record we've ever made, we've set out to make the best record we've ever made." The first single off TCBTS was "You Got Spirit Kid," which, if you're a Coheed fan, isn't exactly what you're used to. Yet, the change of pace is invigorating. This is also the first record that Coheed and Cambria have recorded live. "It was awfully different," said Eppard. Guitars weren't tracked, and there wasn't that option to leave particular parts as is. "We were keeping everything; the bass, the guitars. You know, if one guy messed up, down goes the take. And you better be [playing] tight; you HAD to be tight."

It would tarnish the band to harp on the conceptual aspect of Coheed and Cambria. The collective are brilliant musicians, and equally creative, putting all concepts aside. The dynamic of the current line-up is electric; they're intoxicating. But it took a little while to fully restore this effervescence amongst the group. From 2006 to 2011, Josh Eppard wasn't part of the band. "If we're gonna talk about how that energy kinda makes its way onto the new record, then I have to talk about the years I wasn't in Coheed. And I wondered if maybe it was just me that felt like when we played together, it was something special." Coheed continued to tour and put out music without Eppard. For fans, their shows were still the highlight of their year, but that surge from the Eppard years, was absent. "It's like this intangible thing," Eppard tried to explain, "It's one part history. When we play together, I can still remember playing together before we ever had a record deal. [] A by-product of that history, and that love, and that brotherhood that we share, is something that you can't recreate. You can't fake it."

You certainly can't fake passion. Their connection is absolutely unmatched. There's animation and enthusiasm when the group performs that travels on an invisible wavelength and goes right past your pores into your bloodstream. The (John) Bonham inspired drummer smacks the skins, mouth wide open in pure ecstasy as if it could be his last time ever tapping the bell (on his ride cymbal.) Just check out the video for their latest single, "Island." Even behind a camera lens you can tell these guys are in love with what they do. The Color Before The Sun is a strong feat for the cavalcade of musical mavericks that is Coheed and Cambria. "I don't think the band has ever been better, and I think we just keep getting better. I think that's what's gonna keep Coheed and Cambria alive," said Eppard. Following a concept or not, they seem to have come up with a strong product formula: play and share some damn good music.

Now, as promised, discussion at the New York Mets roundtable: Cespedes, Wright, Murphystart one, fire one, bench one. "This might be some cold shit," said Eppard, his tone dropping, his game face metaphorically on. "If I have to fire one, I'm gonna fire Wright," Eppard crediting (David) Wright with the respect he deserves before dismissing him. "If somebodies on my bench, I'd pursue 'em, I could use 'em in a later date, so I'm gonna have Murphy on my bench," Eppard continued with strategy, "And I'd have to hire Cespedes, even though, he was poor showing in the post-season."

"I'm loyal to these guys you know? [] I want these guys to succeed." said Eppard. We do too. Though the Mets didn't crush the pennant this season, The Color Before The Sun certainly has. Buy the record, support it; and keep your fingers crossed for our Mets next season.

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