The last few weeks have been so hectic for Claudio Sanchez that he's having trouble remembering when his band, Coheed and Cambria, shot the video for "Welcome Home," the epic first single from the band's epically titled third LP, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV - Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness.
The album's set to touch down in stores September 20 ("see Coheed And Cambria Map Out Final Stages Of Their Convoluted Saga"), and Sanchez, the band's bountifully afroed frontman, is speaking from home, where he's editing scripts for a graphic novel (that's geek-ese for "thick comic book") that he'll be releasing through his company, Evil Ink, the same day.
"Was it July?" he wondered aloud. "I've been doing so much that it's hard to keep track of dates."
He's harried (and hairy), but correct: The band shot the clip in mid-July with directing team Artificial Army, and the video will begin airing Monday (August 15) on mtvU. The decision to enlist Mars Volta vets Artificial Army — with whom Coheed shot a second clip from the album last weekend — to direct was a no-brainer for Coheed.
"Of all the treatments we got, theirs seemed like the most interesting," he explained. "And it was one way we could incorporate some of the conceptual stuff from the record through their treatment. All the other ones we got were either over the top, or the director missed the mark entirely and didn't know where the band was coming from. We wanted to create something that was dark, that could really show the band as a rock band, and at the same time incorporate the elements from this particular story within the video. One thing we find most of our fans are asking for is videos that display imagery from the books or graphic novels."
In the bleak clip, Coheed are seen performing on a reflective black surface that looks like a smoothed obsidian, with ill-omened clouds and intermittent bursts of lightning draped across a foreboding sky. The camera pans around the band as Sanchez sings the song's opening bars, "You could have been all I wanted/ But you weren't honest/ Now get in the ground." At that point, a dozen frames materialize from the glasslike floor and rise into the air, where they hang, suspended, in a perfect circle surrounding the band.
"The look of the video is taken from the graphic novel," Sanchez said. "We start seeing images from the story inside the frames — it's actually just one scene from the book that's playing out in those pictures. As you pan out, you'll see an eye inside the frames. The imagery all comes together at the end of the video, and is sort of submerged in this bloodlike liquid." That liquid amalgamates (think "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," when the Robert Patrick-embodied T-1000 — a.k.a the bad-guy Terminator — is frozen and shattered into a thousand pieces, then bubbles back together) into the band's symbol, the Keywork. "Then the frames violently start spinning around the band."
He described the clip the band shot last weekend for the album's second single, "The Suffering," as "a fantasy, mythological, 'Clash of the Titans'-esque video, where we have two characters from completely opposite ends of the spectrum who have this weird love interest."
Also debuting Monday (August 15) on MTV, MTV2 and mtvU are the first five semi-animated vignettes featuring music from Good Apollo and its companion graphic novel. Each of the exclusive, 55-second shorts will air for one week; that's one per week until the album's release. This week's includes a portion of "Welcome Home," while the second features a snippet from "Ten Speed (Of God's Blood & Burial)," the third, some of "Keeping the Blade," the fourth, "Apollo I: The Writing Writer," and the last, "The Final Cut."
"The visuals, which are again taken from the graphic novel, are sort of animated," the singer said. "It's not full-on animation, but there's a lot of movement put to the imagery. It's almost like the intro to [the HBO series] 'Carnivale,' or what you saw in the Mars Volta video [for 'L'Via l'Viaquez'], where the camera's going through a two-dimensional world, but it's perceived as three-dimensional." Sanchez wrote and performed the dialogue in all five vignettes.
This might all seem like an overly elaborate way of promoting an album. But that's nothing compared to the theatrics Coheed and Cambria have got lined up for their fall headlining tour with Dredg and Mewithoutyou (see "Coheed and Cambria Plot Fall Trek"), which kicks off on September 27 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
"We're incorporating set pieces from the graphic novel — the centerpiece of the show being this guillotine with wings," Sanchez explained. "On the album cover, there's this very ominous 'IV' on the O-card [the cardboard sleeve that encapsulates some CDs], and then you open it, and you see this guillotine, and around it are these two girls and this guy walking toward it. For the show, we have this huge guillotine with these wings that are going to unfold as the show goes on, outward — kind of like a vampire would. And the blade will come down. It's going to be awesome."