It's a major feat to create art that facilitates an entire spectrum of fandom. Take, for example, the newest Disney acquisition and the very first hugely popular sci-fi event: the Star Wars franchise. Some elect to dress as Stormtroopers in their wedding photos, but most fans simply have a pedestrian appreciation for stuff like scrappy heroism and intergalactic arms races.
Since 1998, huge-haired high-concept singer Claudio Sanchez has devoted every aspect of his prog-tinged emo outfit Coheed and Cambria to building an immersive science fiction storyline known as The Amory Wars. Thus far, the interplanetary narrative has spanned seven albums, a parallel series of comic books published by Sanchez's Evil Ink press, and it looks like it's heading to the multiplex, too: Mark Wahlberg and the Leverage production company inked a development deal to bring the saga to the silver screen with Sanchez last year.
, Sanchez's work has huge potential for sci-fi obsession and minutiae dorkery, but it also functions just fine as stand-alone entertainment -- in this case, heart-on-sleeve balladry for post-hardcore fans. The band's newest album,The Afterman: Descension
, is the second half of what could be considered the baseline prequel to Sanchez's fantasy realm. It follows hero Sirius Amory as he discovers the energy source behind the Keywork planetary network, the 78-planet setting ofThe Amory Wars
"Sirius has returned to his home world and he finds in his absence, his life has fallen apart," Sanchez says. "In trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild, it just doesn't work out for him."
Though the storyline grows more elaborate with each release, Coheed's songs (and Sanchez's master arc) are ultimately informed by his humble day-to-day existence. The careening, stutter-step chugging of descent burner "Gravity's Union" plays a big role in articulating Sirius' downward spiral, but the song was inspired by Sanchez's fear of driving.
"I tend to daydream a lot," he says. "For me, being in the car and having a passenger puts you in charge of their life. I don't think I'm responsible enough. It would be my luck that I would be driving one day with my wife and I would get into an accident that would kill her."
Sanchez's wife of three years is indeed a big inspiration for his multi-faceted epic.
"She's helped me focus on all of the projects I work on, and she's sort of become a partner in these things," he says. Album closer "2's my Favorite 1" is a hard-earned love song that draws a big parallel between Sirius' hunt for his seemingly deceased wife and Sanchez's dedication to his partner. "I'm always out [on tour] thinking of my wife, but when she's here, I don't feel like I'm longing for home anymore," he says. "She's like that center for me."
Though the new film surely will bring his story to new heights, Sanchez's hopes for the project are highly personal. He explains that Coheed and Cambria themselves, who were the main characters in previous installments of the saga, are inspired by his blue-collar parents. "For me, I'd love to see [the movie] actually play out in its entirety just so my dad can watch it," he says.
Just like his albums can be approached either from the sci-fi superfan side entrance or through the casual fan front door, Sanchez hopes the movie will be just as accessible for someone seeking an exciting escape. "For my dad to work his ass off, come home at 5 p.m. and want to chill out and watch a movie," he says, "it would be amazing if one of those movies could be my own."
Coheed and Cambria is scheduled to perform Tuesday, February 26, at Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
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