Coheed And Cambria

author TL date 17/04/08

Despite having tried to be in very good time, applying for an interview with Coheed And Cambria, between us, Sony BMG and the band itself, a hold-up had apparently still managed to manifest itself, and thus it was not without feeling very fortunate that I got a last minute notice that I had the opportunity to come to Pumpehuset before the band\'s show there and talk to Chris Pennie, the drummer the band recently picked up from The Dillinger Escape Plan. Stacking up a pile of questions as quickly as I could I made my way to the venue and met up with Chris on the band\'s tour bus and here\'s what became of our conversation:

RF.net: In order to accomodate some of our more casual readers could you please give a short introduction to yourself?
Chris: Yep, my name is Chris Pennie and I\'m the drummer and \'new guy\' of the band and I\'ve been so for about a year now.

RF.net: Okay, to begin with I want to ask something I think quite a few music fans want to know, and that is if you guys are ever going to bring Circa Survive over here or if you\'re just going to continue to tease us every year?
Chris: Well it\'s not really up to us alone, it depends on both parties obviously. We were meant to come here with them but then ended up going with Linkin Park for a while instead, but I guess that if our schedules are compatible then I guess it could happen next time around.

RF.net: Most readers realise that all the Coheed And Cambria records are wrapped in this all encompassing \"Amory Wars\" story, but for those who don\'t know the story or just hasn\'t figured it out, could you briefly outline what it\'s all about?
Chris: The story is basically about the two characters Coheed And Cambria, and they\'re covered on \"The Second Stage Turbine Blade\" where they\'re killed, and the rest of the records are about what happens to their son and his quest for vendetta.

RF.net: So did you know this before you entered this band or were you kind of obliged to get into it when you joined up?

Chris: Well I wasn\'t really forced to do it - I was into the band before but I never followed the story closely because I was mainly just a fan of the music. I was aware of it, but I didn\'t really know as many details as I do now when I\'m actually a part of it.

RF.net: So you came in and filled in the drummer spot about a year ago, and you came from The Dillinger Escape Plan, which is a quite different band stylistically, so we\'re wondering, how did you even come up as a subject for the position?
Chris: Well I think the main point is that it is different. I\'ve been with a band where there\'s a lot for the listener take in on the first listen, and a lot for me to do play-wise, and obviously there was a lot going on personally and.. without really dragging that through the water, I was just looking to do something different, and it\'s really amazing how it all came together, them going through a tough time at the same time as I was..

RF.net: So how did you come into contact with them?

Chris: Actually the ironic thing is, that the guitarist from Dillinger basically told us that he\'d be taking some time of to handle some lawsuits he was filing against someone and then while we were on tour we actually opened up for Coheed for five days, he freaked out and left, and we went home and weren\'t supposed to tour with Dillinger for a long while, and I got a call from Coheed if I wanted to come up and try out for them, and then little by little it just seemed to work out and here we are.

RF.net: Oh it makes a lot more sense now, I just didn\'t realize you had been touring with those guys.

Chris: Yeah, it was definetely a concious decision by me, based on a lot of reasons but mainly that I had the chance to play with these awesome guys who seemed really excited to play their music.

RF.net: So how does it feel for a drummer coming from such a technical and metallic band into a more melodic and restrained kind of band like this one?
Chris: It\'s awesome because I think at the end of the day, there was always things I wanted to conquer as a musician and while I think I\'ll always have that metal kind of feel in my blood, I\'ll also always want to be doing small things on the side and personally I always want to be in a band where we share the passion for the music we make, and at the point I didn\'t really feel that happening in Dillinger, and it was pretty apparent to me that there was a huge difference when I came into contact with these guys. There was simply more of a desire and a dedication to craft the tunes here. To me, it just feels more like being in a full band than it did in DIllinger.

RF.net: On the earlier Coheed albums it seems the music was more accessible and direct where it has not taken a more jazzy and experimental direction, so can you tell us, from the experience you\'ve had with the band, how things look your point of view?
Chris: I think being a fan and looking from the outside at where a band is coming from and where a band is going, people tend to dish out labels and to me it\'s all just rock\'n\'roll, and this is a band that\'s always driven to explore new things and has the capability to pull it off. I think what\'s amazing about the guys is that they cover such a wide variety of stuff, having both the songs that are very to the point and catchy but also ones that go the other way.

RF.net: I remember having read criticism back in the early days of the band, aimed at Claudio, talking about how his voice might not be the best for the heavier music this band does - Do you have any idea why the guys decided to stick with Claudio as a vocalist instead of for example letting him focus on his guitar playing and finding a full time singer?
Chris: No I haven\'t actually, but I\'m glad they didn\'t because I think he\'s one of.. not even a handful of people in the world today who really has something to offer, both lyrically and with the special voice he has and.. He sings it like he means it and it\'s very very apparent, and I\'ve spent some time with very good singers like Mike Patton and Greg from Dillinger, and Claudio really has it, and while the music is relatively heavy he manages to weave these nice melodies on top of that, and that\'s really rare these days, where people tend to scream for this and that part and then have this clean chorus or whatever..

RF.net: Okay, I guess it\'s really a polarising thing, as there\'s also loads of people who thinks his voice is a trademark of the band, where I for instance, being vocally obsessed, can\'t help but to question if he sounds consistently well in both mellow and heavier songs alike, but I guess being as into it as he seems, it makes sense for him to want to sing it himself.

Chris: Yeah I think it\'s one of those things where you end up either hating it or loving it and that is what it is, and I for one can draw a parallel to Dillinger that, in being very aggressive, have people on one side saying that they\'re pure noise and not worth listening to, and then others think it\'s brilliant, and I guess it ends up being subjective like that you know..

RF.net: Recently there was some trouble around your tour with Madina Lake, and I think a lot of people had problems figuring out what exactly was going on, so I\'d like to ask you what the story actually was?
Chris: Well I wasn\'t there on stage when it happened, but from what I heard, our roadie just came into our dressing room looking like he\'d been in a fight and, apparently one of their roadies had been throwing confetti and they\'d do that every night, and Kerrang and Brixton specifically told them that they couldn\'t do it. They went ahead and did it anyway though and I think our tour manager and our roadie tried to make it stop and then the band, not knowing what was going on, got involved in it and it turned a bit ugly right there, but there\'s no need to make any more drama over that because everyone was at fault really. To me I think everyone should just shut up about things like that and concentrate on the music because that\'s what\'s really important, and I don\'t care who it is, just focus on the music because noone really needs press on acccount of a thing like that. I have no hard feelings towards those guys or anything, I think we should all just concentrate on playing music.

RF.net: With there being only one album left in the Coheed And Cambria saga left for the band to do before the story is complete, a lot of people are starting to ask themselves if the band is actually going to end as it has been mentioned earlier, so we\'d like to know how your plans look for the future for now?
Chris: Well we\'ve already started working on the next record, which is the prequel to the whole story, and I honestly don\'t know what Claudio has in mind with the story for that, and I think it all just depends on where we are at the time, because maybe there\'ll be other avenues we might want to pursue and it\'s just a matter of seeing what we feel comfortable doing when we get there and till then just try to enjoy what we\'re doing..

RF.net: Yeah it\'s just that for a fan who\'s been following the band for a long time, seeing it get to this point where you can play rather large venues, it\'s hard to imagine that one day there\'s going to be no more and you\'re just going to walk away from it like that..

Chris: Oh well I don\'t foresee that happening any time soon because there are a lot of ideas already at this point and we\'re writing all the time and there definetely seems to be a lot of music still flowing..

RF.net: So what\'s next is that you\'re going to record that new record and then just see what happens?

Chris: Yeah we\'ll definetely tour with it of course, but as it is we already have a packed schedule for the rest of the year, with a load of festivals and other things, so there\'s a lot going on and we\'ll just have to wait till we get a little break in the action and then see what we\'re going to do.

RF.net: Could you ever imagine Coheed And Cambria doing a non-concept album with regular songs just like most other albums?
Chris: Erhm, I don\'t know. Not at this point. Right now the story is too much a part of the experience that is Coheed And Cambria, so there\'s just too much to do as it is, but in the long run I guess we have to wait and see for that too.

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