When Coheed and Cambria's Burning Star V, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness was released last year, Columbia Records drafted a Cliffs Notes-like document for music journalists, simplifying the convoluted sci-fi saga that all of the band's LPs have been chronicling — a conceptual epic of love, death and deceit sprung from the vivid imagination of frontman Claudio Sanchez that's so involved, he's had to release two graphic novels just to help alleviate some of his fans' confusion.
Well, Equal Vision — the label releasing Sanchez's forthcoming solo effort, My Brother's Blood Machine, on Halloween — might want to consider a similar tactic. That's because, true to form, the rocker with the gravity-defying spray of hair is about to complicate matters even further.
Sanchez, who'll be putting the record out under the moniker Prize Fighter Inferno, wrote all the material himself over the course of seven years and then recorded the disc without the aid of other musicians — often following studio sessions with his band during the completion of Good Apollo and the band's tour this past spring with Avenged Sevenfold.
So what's the album about? Take it away, Claudio.
"Well, this story actually acts as a prequel to the Amory Wars," the center of the Coheed and Cambria mythology, Sanchez explains. The Inferno character, who appears in the Coheed concept as a man named Jesse, "dies in the Good Apollo, Volume One, and is resurrected on present-day Earth. So he leaves the solar system that the story takes place in, and gets resurrected in the present day. But before he can tell the story of the Amory Wars, he needs to tell the story of the Blood Machine."
Hang in there — it gets even more complex. "The Blood Machine revolves around three families, one being the Bleam family, who are our horrific sort of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' family," he continued. "There's the McCloud family — where we have our main character, Cecilia — and the Early family. And [Cecilia's] love interest is the son of that family, Johnny. And there are so many subplots. One, for example, talks about how Cecilia's father happens to molest her, and eventually she can't take it anymore and tries to convince Johnny to leave with her. She steals her two brothers, who happen to be twins, and Johnny decides not to go. So she ends up running away with the twins into the woods, where she meets the Bleam family."
Sanchez said that there are two Bleam brothers — Long-Arm and Butchie — who are horrific monsters. "Their mother happens to be crazy, and she ends up telling these two kids that 'God has come to me with a higher calling for you — you need to be the new Death,' and she tells them that they have to go out and collect souls for God," he explained. "And so, out of their mind, they're like, 'OK, so when a body dies, how do we get the soul out of it?' They construct this Blood Machine, which basically tears a body to shreds, and they think that releases the soul."
Of course, that's just the basic premise of the Prize Fighter Inferno, which Sanchez said boasts a more folk sound, with shades of electronica. The disc will feature a dozen tracks, including "The Going Price for Home," "Our Darling Daughter You Are, Little Cecilia Marie," and the album's first single, "The Margretville Dance." Sanchez said there are numerous subplots that will unfold as well, including the elaborate background of the Bleam kith: The family's patriarch, a meth addict, dismembers his wife when he catches her pinching from his stash, and her death sends the Bleam boys on a downward spiral toward complete madness.
But Sanchez never intended to record the songs as an actual album, although he is planning to record a follow-up — a continuation of the story on Blood Machine. "It was just something I was just doing," he said. "A lot of the material I would write while we were doing the other Coheed records."
The singer said that he won't tour as Prize Fighter Inferno. For one thing, it's tough to translate a one-man operation onstage. And Sanchez says he's now concentrating on the next Coheed disc: Good Apollo's second volume (see "Coheed And Cambria Map Out Final Stages Of Their Convoluted Saga"), which the band has been working on, here and there, for several months.
"I am like five songs deep," he said. "I have so many ideas for the next Coheed, it's insane. It's definitely different, as a Coheed record is. There's always a progression — you can hear it. This one definitely has one as well. It will be the conclusion to the Amory Wars, so it should be the bigger, more grandiose album of the saga."
Coheed and Cambria released a statement in August concerning their most recent tour. Drummer Joshua Eppard and bassist Michael Todd did not travel with the band, "due to personal reasons," forcing Sanchez to enlist temporary replacements. The news fueled rumors that there was trouble in paradise. Not so, Claudio said.
"I've heard the rumors, and we've had some bumpy moments this year," he said. "But I think we're all right. We overcame whatever our problems were, and there was just a breakdown. But I think it's alright now."
He would not discuss the breakup rumors further, but did admit that his work may, at times, go over fans' heads.
"They might get it, they might not," Sanchez said. "I don't know. I'm not really in the trenches, so it's hard to tell. And if they don't, I mean, I am not doing it for them. I am doing it because I love music and love storytelling. I will do it until I can't anymore."