Coheed & Cambria

Chris Pennie is a good guy. Not only is he the drumming powerhouse in prog rock demigods Coheed & Cambria, but he still makes time to take his good old mom to the doctor when she needs it!

Oh yeah, he still found time to do an interview with yours truly…

Interview w/ Chris Pennie (Drums)
of Coheed & Cambria (USA)

By Cameron Chambers

Hey Chris, how are you today?

Doing much better today, thank

How’s your mother feeling?

Everything’s ok now man. Mom
had some problems with her foot… she rolled her leg like two months
ago and fell down some stairs and broke her ankle… but she’s ok
now. Thanks so much for being patient with the interview and everything.

Not a problem mate.
When do you guys leave for Japan?

I think we actually roll into
New Zealand or Australia first but I could be wrong, ha ha (I didn’t
have the heart to tell him he was in fact wrong), but we’ll roll in
that direction in a day or so, so tomorrow is our last day at home.

A lot of Australian fans were
disappointed that you cancelled your slot on the Soundwave tour to hit
the road with Linkin Park. Did the Linkin Park tour end up being beneficial
for Coheed and were the kinds of fans at a LP show receptive
to your music.

Yeah, they totally were! I’m
really surprised and I think it was great! On a lot of levels it was
great for us to get in front of those kids, everybody was really attentive
and you know… we thought it would be kids just standing around and
not really watching us, we thought they’d just roll in when Linkin
Park were on, but they were in there when we played!

Linkin Park were kind enough to
let us play for fifty minutes which is cool, it gave us some time to
really work it, it was just awesome! It was a great experience man…
a great time and a great learning experience!

What were your impressions
of Australia the first time that you toured here?

Oh, it was awesome man. I love
being there… I really love being there! First time off the plane was
in Sydney and even though I was a little jet lagged it was great. The
weather, the environment, all these cool little places to eat… it
was just a quaint, nice environment.

I’d be super stoked to check
out the music there as well, but I haven’t been there in a while so
I’m excited!

Coheed’s long term drummer
Josh departed the band in 2006 which obviously made way for you. In
your opinion, what effect did that have on the band, as individuals
and as a group?

You mean from my perspective…
like coming into the situation?

Let’s go with that.

It was awesome for me. I’d run
into some problems with one of the members of Dillinger and with me
being a co-founder… I found that really disheartening. I don’t wanna
go down that road of negative light though because I still love that

That aside, just hopping into
the audition and playing with Coheed for the first time was great. Mike
(bass) wasn’t back yet so it was just Claudio and Travis, but it was
surreal to play with them. I’d seen them play a bunch of times coz
I’m a fan of the band, so it was pretty surreal to know these tunes
and then you jump into the situation where you’re playing and it’s
like “holy shit”, this is the real deal!

As we played more and more you
start to make the songs into your own. When I first came into the band
I wanted to be respectful of what Josh was playing… I wanted to stay
true to that, but then Claudio would be like “dude, do something here
or there, feel free to do what you want”. I was just thinking how
awesome that was! There’s a fine line you know? I think doing things
in certain spots is great, I was adding fills here or there but at the
same time, I wanted to maintain the complimentary style that Josh had
created for the players.

There were so many different processes
from playing with Dillinger to Coheed. There used to be so many different
notes that were getting played but with Coheed there’s so much more
space and I get to make use of it!

What do you think that you
bring to Coheed that Josh wasn’t giving them prior to his departure?

I’m just bringing a different
flavor. I don’t really know personally what all the guys were going
through at the time… I don’t pry into that because I don’t feel
that it’s my business. I definitely think one thing I feel is the
sense of family… the vibe, you know?

One thing Claudio and Travis say
is that it feels like we’re starting as a band again, and in a sense
it is. When you replace a member it’s kind of natural that you take
on a different type of vibe or sense. Josh and I come from different
backgrounds so it’s not better or anything like that, it’s just

Due to contractual reasons
you were unable to play on the band’s most recent full length,
“No World For Tomorrow”. Even though Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters)
tracked the drums in the studio, do you feel the record would have turned
out differently if you had been allowed to play?

I think it would’ve been along
the same lines. Taylor’s style is different to mine but it doesn’t
matter because he’s an amazing drummer. I think maybe there were some
things that I played differently on the demo but he took them as a template
and worked off it. I think it would’ve only been minute details that
I would’ve changed, but for the most part the arrangements were suggestions
that I’d made anyway.

Apart from the changes in the
rhythm section how do you think the Coheed And Cambria live show has
evolved over the last couple of years?

When I’ve seen the band previously…
and I’ve seen them more than a few times in small clubs in New Jersey
and then I saw them at the Hammerstein Ballroom with Avenged Sevenfold
and all this crazy production… now they have this massive production
element but now it’s a part of the band. It’s evolved from being
outside of the band.

The great thing is we still have
the jamming element to our show and we still run with it, even with
all the production. There’s a couple of little surprises that myself
and Mike are working on. We’ve got a couple of things as well… we’ve
been touring with a keyboard player and a back up vocalist so we’ve
been able to replicate some of the harmonies from the album, so we have
different elements thrown in there!

With so much un-certainty surrounding
the band’s future, what was the writing and recording process like
for “No World For Tomorrow”?

It was crazy man! I think the
whole band, myself included… we were just going through some weird
times. It was really weird, the album reflects what you were going through
at the time… and it was such a turbulent time! There are definitely
some things in the original demos that I feel you can get a vibe on
some of the craziness that was going on. Sometimes it’s hard to replicate
that or get back into that moment but I think the performance we delivered
was pretty close to the original demos and that vibe.

I dunno… we all made it. Even
Dillinger made it! It was a weird time for everyone but we’re all
moving on and triumphing.

Anyone with more than a passing
interest in Coheed knows that your records are thematic but do you think
the issues surrounding the band at the time you were writing introduced
a negative vibe or element to the record?

I know with Claudio, well, he’s
the writer. Are you asking were his personal experiences feeding the

Exactly right…

Obviously with the whole story
that is his personal experiences feeding what he’s writing. In a sense,
“No World For Tomorrow” is just that, it’s his vibe of what was
going on when he started writing, and that happened to be the time when
all that shit was going down. At the time he had no idea of whether
or not the band would even go on, hence the title.

So the situation definitely had
an impact on some of the negative aspects of the story.

As you mentioned earlier, your
recent US tours have included a touring keyboardist and back up vocalist,
will they be coming to Australia with you?

I’m not sure if they are. There
are a couple of things that we’re trying to figure out at the last

Coheed’s unique sound has
allowed you to tour with everyone from Clutch to Fightstar, what has
been your favourite Coheed And Cambria tour so far?

I really enjoyed the Clutch tour.
It was really awesome! I’ve been a huge Clutch fan for a long time
and I’m even a bigger fan of their drummer. The dude is phenomenal!
He’s just a great pocket player and he’s so knowledgeable about
drums and loves playing them, so to meet another person that’s as
enthused about drums is a great thing. I live for meeting those people!

All the tours have been awesome
though. Warped Tour was awesome. Just being out in the sun and sweating
your balls off, ha ha. I enjoyed playing in the heat and playing outside
of the rules. Linkin Park was cool and a different kind of experience.
We had the whole run of the arena so we were able to set up drums in
the dressing room and I was able to work on tunes with Travis, which
was awesome!

This one’s for all the lazy
journalists out there… how would you describe your music to someone
who had never heard the band before?

Ha ha. I wouldn’t describe it
as anything. A lot of days you hear about a band and they get hyped
that they sound like this or that, so I dunno, I’d just say it’s
rock n roll music and check it out and enjoy it!

I’m not gonna say it sounds
like Rush because our singer’s voice is so high, or that we have anthem
like tunes so it sounds like Led Zeppelin. I don’t want to compare
it to anything. Coheed is one of those bands that draws from so many
places so they’ve been able to make their own sound. They don’t
like anybody so it’s just rock n roll, c heck it!

Now that Coheed’s four part
concept is completed what do you have in store for your next release?

We’ve started writing tunes
when we get a free moment on tour. Claudio and Travis are working on
riffs and stuff like that, whereas I have to wait until I get home to
my studio set up so I can drop in some drums and send the guys an mp3
of what I’ve done.

As far as the story goes, Claudio
is talking about doing a prequel album for the next record and kind
of re-visit the origins of Coheed And Cambia… that’s the story for
the next record!

That’s all we’ve got time
for mate, is there anything else you’d like to say?

Nah, not much dude, I’m just
really stoked to come over there. It’s been a while so now I’ve
got a new band a whole new chapter in my life so I can’t wait!

Thanks for your time Chris.

Ah thanks man, take care Cameron.

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