‘Star Wars’ to ‘Blade Runner’: Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez on Favorite Sci-Fi

Text: John Hill

Photo by Jimmy Fontaine

Coheed and Cambria is pretty much the perfect band for any sci-fi head. Helmed by Claudio Sanchez, the New York rock group is able to expertly weave sweeping, evocative stories of space warfare and politics not unlike Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe into huge progressive songs that sound like the love child of Black Sabbath, Queen and Rush.

Their latest album, 2018’s Vaxis: The Unheavenly Creatures marks a new chapter for the band both musically and conceptually — pulling sounds from all eras of the band’s 20-plus-year run, and themes from Sanchez’s life as a new father. We recently caught up with him to talk new and old sci-fi, how it works into their music, and why Yo Gabba Gabba! is currently his most frequently watched show.

IS THERE ANY CURRENT SCI-FI THAT’S INSPIRING YOU OR HAS CAUGHT YOUR ATTENTION?
CLAUDIO SANCHEZ Not necessarily inspiring me. But I did watch, while we were writing the record, The Expanse. It was a Syfy show based on some science fiction novels, which I haven’t read, and I want to after watching the show. But I can’t remember what they’re called. I think they’re called just The Expanse. But other than that, nothing at the moment. I’ve been watching A New Hope over and over, because my son is obsessed with that Star Wars movie. Now that’s really the only thing that I watch, and Yo Gabba Gabba! and Super Why! That’s what’s inspiring me. Those are all children’s shows. But that’s about it.

A NEW HOPE IS PRETTY PERFECT FOR A KID.
Yeah, there’s no beating it. But for example, in my room, a lot of the stuff that I color my office with can be very inspiring. I have this old movie one-sheet of this sci-fi fantasy movie called Crawl, which I actually really loved when I was kid. I think a little bit of my surroundings, things that I look at in the room, will help push me along a little bit. Like, “Oh, well what happened in this movie?” Not saying I’ll just completely steal it, but you know what I mean.

TOTALLY. SPEAKING OF SCI-FI, THE VIDEO YOU DID FOR “UNHEAVENLY CREATURES” REMINDED ME A LOT OF ROGER CORMAN’S FILMS.
Oh, hell yeah. That’s hilarious that you say that, because we were like, “We don’t want it to look like that.” [Laughs]

WHOOPS!
No, no. I love Roger Corman, to be completely honest. But we were like, “Okay, well how do we get this to look like Blade Runner with no money?” The director at the time was like, “Well, you show less,” which makes total sense. Then I remember Blaze, our manager, was like, “Listen, are we talking Ridley style, or we talking Roger Corman?” But I do like Roger Corman, so it’s not a bad thing.

I THINK THERE’S SOMETHING IMPRESSIVE ABOUT HAVING BUDGET CONSTRAINTS, AND STILL BEING ABLE TO CREATE A WORLD. IN MANY WAYS THERE’S SOMETHING A LOT MORE IMPRESSIVE ABOUT THAT THAN JUST HAVING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO SPEND.
No, totally. We made that video in less than a day with no money. I couldn’t believe it. After a while, I was noticing that we were really filming them walking back and forth, and I was like, “This is gonna get boring. We need to figure some things to cut away to,” so it was going and grabbing some random things and saying, “Maybe we should sit the guy in front of the console with the mask on pretending like he’s doing some communication thing, because if we’re just gonna have walking around the whole time, it’s gonna get a little boring after awhile.” With whatever money we had, it was like, “Let’s try to really put the concept into a video.” I think we did a pretty good job for what we had.