“What we’re doing is weird,” Claudio Sanchez admits with a belly laugh. He’s referring to “The Amory Wars,” the gargantuan sci-fi saga that his band, prog-rock quartet Coheed and Cambria, have unfurled over the last 16 years. “Concept records in themselves are not weird, but for a band to continue a concept over their discography can be a little intimidating to somebody on the outside. It’s like a monthly issue comic book, like, ‘I don’t want to get invested into this 10 issues in. I need to know where to start. If I can’t get issue one, I’m just not going to read it.'”
The band paused that knotty narrative with 2015’s The Color Before the Sun, a more compact song cycle born from Sanchez’s excitement and fears of fatherhood. (His son, Atlas, is now four.) “That was the first and only record I could write from an autobiographical standpoint,” he says. “No science fiction.” But they’ve resumed genre storytelling with their latest project (and to the uninitiated, please bear with us): a five-part album series, Vaxis, that continues the plot from 2007’s No World for Tomorrow.
The irony is that, despite Coheed and Cambria’s reputation as a nerdy comic-book band, their songs are deeply personal, as Sanchez embellishes his own relationships and anxieties into grandiose fantasy tales. In 2012, he told Rolling Stone that the band’s two-part Afterman project was inspired largely by the idea of losing his wife, author Chondra Echert (who has helped develop “The Amory Wars” comic-book series) and his feelings of “being lost, should that ultimately ever happen.”