***Author’s note: This blog may be one of those blogs where nobody cares but me. You have been warned.***
For those of you not familiar with the band Coheed and Cambria, allow me to bring you up to speed.
Coheed is a sort of prog, sort of punk, sort of “emo” band from Nyack, New York who have released five albums that tell one long, confusing, science fiction story. The story spans planets and cultures and talks about disease and incest and murder and all kinds of other things you won’t find most bands singing about.
But Coheed and Cambria is not like most bands. Something sets them apart. Something makes them more than just a regular band. And it’s not just because they’re a “concept band” or because they write comics and novels as well as songs. It’s something else.
I’ve been a Coheed fan for about six years. Right about the end of 2005 I went to see Death Cab For Cutie in Toronto and I saw I guy walking around with a Coheed and Cambria sweatshirt on. I must have heard the band’s name a few times before that because I made a mental note to look them up when I got home and give them a listen. This was either before youtube, or before I knew you could just youtube songs and listen to them, because I remember using Limewire to track down some mp3s.
The first two songs to finish downloading were “A Favor House Atlantic” and “Welcome Home” – which as I learned later were probably the bands’ two most successful singles. The closest thing Coheed would ever get to having a “hit”. I didn’t care much for either song. “Welcome Home” sounded epic but there was something grating about the vocals and the music sounded like radio metal, or like some kind of Avenged Sevenfold follow-along band. I rejected it almost completely sight unseen and only burned them to disc so that I could show a friend of mine who was starting to get into Avenged. I knew he would love Coheed, but I never thought I’d hear much more about them.
But, long story short, this particular friend that I burned the songs for got RIGHT into the band. He quickly bought all of their stuff and before I knew what was happening I couldn’t go for a ride in the guy’s car without having Coheed blasting at max volume. He was like a Coheed and Cambria evangelist. He was always talking about them and playing new songs for me. At one point he pulled over to the side of the road and clicked on his internal car lights and handed me the lyric book. He turned up the volume and literally made me read along as the song played. It sounds extreme? It was.
But at that moment, sitting on the side of the road reading along to “Cuts Marked In The March Of Men”, I was finally converted. It was like an epiphany. Everything just clicked into place. In later months and years, when it was ME evangelizing on behalf of Coheed to anyone who would listen, I described that moment as a “bridge into the band”. Everyone has to find their own bridge, some quicker than others, but once you do the music gets its claws into you in a way that I can’t explain.
Now it’s weird. This band has so much to hate on surface value. The song titles are long and complicated. The album names are long and complicated. The lead singer has a huge amount of crazy hair and sings with a really high voice. The music can be initially abrasive. I mean for the first few years of our marriage I thought Ali was going to kill me if I subjected her to one more second of Coheed. But even she was converted in the end.
It comes back to what I was saying earlier – there’s something about them. Something that’s hard to put your finger on. But really quickly, I’m going to try – because something is happening with this band right now that may end up being really special. And I want you to know about it.
Originally Coheed and Cambria was made up of four childhood friends, Claudio Sanchez (mastermind, songwriter, guitarist and singer), Travis Stever (Lead Guitarist), Michael Todd (Bass), and Josh Eppard (Drums). Together these four friends released three albums: 2001’s Second Stage Turbine Blade, 2003’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth III, and 2005’s Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV. These albums are the gold albums. Nearly perfect all the way through, just stacked cover to cover with amazing songs. I could go on and on but I don’t think this is the right blog for it – someday maybe I’ll take each album individually and give it the time and space it really deserves. All you need to know right now is that if you go out and invest in these first three albums you may find yourself singing along at the top of your lungs to Fuel For The Feeding End before you can say Al The Killer. Like I said – there’s just SOMETHING about this band.
For me it was obviously a combination of things. Suddenly Claudio just made sense to me. The music suddenly seemed so beautiful and so catchy! But more than anything – it was watching a video of them Live at the Starland Ballroom and seeing their drummer, Josh Eppard. I’ve always loved drummers. I used to drum (poorly) for a punk band in highschool (with some checkerboard collective bloggers that shall remain nameless) and every chance I got after that I’d jump behind a kit and mess around. Josh was something special. He has a great kickdrum foot, and he has a great groove. He plays left-handed, but on a right handed set up. And he just made the whole thing for me. That live video is the best bridge into Coheed and Cambria I could ever recommend. They are young, and full of energy, and playing at the peak of their powers. But all good things must come to an end.
During the touring for Good Apollo I things started to crumble. Both Josh Eppard and Mike Todd were heroin addicts at this point and suddenly, mid tour, both guys left the band. Coheed was left in shambles and very close to disbanding. At around this time, coincidently, I discovered the band and Ali and I drove down to Chicago in 2006 for Lollapalooza where I was disappointed to discover only two fourths of Coheed on stage.
But, just in time to record their fourth album, Mike returned and for a while Coheed had new life – even recruiting Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Chris Pennie and performing the historic Neverender concerts in NYC, LA, Chicago and London (I was at the New York City shows!).
And then suddenly, earlier this year, Mike relapsed and was arrested for stealing Oxycontin from a Walgreens. He was swiftly released from the band. And then at the end of October, Chris Pennie announced that he too was leaving Coheed and Cambria. At that point I lost all hope in the band. Josh was gone. Now Mike was gone. And now even Chris Pennie was gone.
But now, against all odds, something may be kindling in the ashes of my favorite band of all time.
This month, November 2011, rumors began to swirl that a big announcement was coming from Coheed and Cambria. Little hints started trickling around the internet. The band released a series of cryptic videoclips and messages on their website. This all culminated in a video being released today of the band jamming with a new drummer: a mysterious drummer that was concealed by editing and visual obstacles throughout the entire tease-video except for a couple quick shots. But I’ve scoured these few glimpses because I think they show someone special. Someone who is drumming left handed on a right handed kit.
Could Josh be coming back to Coheed and Cambria? Could it be true? Life breathed into a dead band?
More importantly (for me), could I get a chance to finally watch this kid drum live?
Only time will tell – another countdown on the band’s official webpage (www.coheedandcambria.com) is counting down to noon tomorrow. So I guess we’ll see.
While we wait – here’s a song from The Starland Ballroom. Watch Josh Eppard.
**Authors Note: Josh Eppard IS indeed Officially back in Coheed and Cambria. “The better end of all to come.”**