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We caught up with the drummer of the American progressive metal band, Coheed and Cambria, Josh Eppard as they are about to the start of their “The Colour Behind The Sun” Australian Tour. We discuss the upcoming tour, meet and greets, drug addiction, the history of Coheed and Cambria and have a little fun along the way.
Welcome to TheDwarf.com.au Josh How are you?
I am good my friend how are you?
I am excellent Josh. Congratulations on The Color Before The Sun record. It is an incredible album.
Thank you so much Andrew. That is really nice of you to say. Thank you man.
We are just under two weeks away from the beginning of your “The Color Before The Sun” Australian tour. What can we expect from the tour?
I think what you can expect from any Coheed and Cambria show, we leave it all out there. It’s always a funny question, I always think people are going to expect some kind of answer like “Man on this tour we are going to pull out all the stops”. But you know what, honestly that is true on every tour. Every time we get on the stage we try to do the best Coheed and Cambria performance to date. That will certainly be true in Australia. I do think the set is a nice mix of new and old. Last time we came over, they were some of the best shows we have ever had not on US soil. It was just so thrilling and the crowd was so engaged and passionate that from the moment we left Australia we couldn’t wait to get back, so here we are we are coming back. I know the band is really excited and that kind of bleeds out on stage. It carries over to the on stage performance. The fact that we can’t wait to get there and play for you guys, expect a great show.
This is the most extensive Australian tour to date for the band right?
Yeah, we have come over a few times before, especially years ago, early on. We would just come over and just do Sydney and Melbourne. Then we would be taken off to go over to Japan and the band would be bitching and moaning “why can’t they just give us a few days off in Australia, at least let us hang out”. I didn’t even see Perth until my third time there. But to be in Australia for two weeks is incredibly exciting. The fact that it is not mixed in with another tour, we are not just hitting Australia and then heading over to Japan or vice versa. We are going from America to Australia for a solid two weeks and then back home. I think it gives us the opportunity to really enjoy our time in Australia. We love Australia, in my living room I have a picture of me holding a koala bear from the last time we were over.
It is just a thrill to be coming back to Australia. All my friends are jealous, my wife is jealous, it’s just going to be awesome. The fact that they are giving us some extra time is a really big deal for me. I hate when we take that long flight over and we are “Oh we are here for five days”, you gotta be kidding me, give us at least 10 days. This time we have a nice two weeks, we are going hit to some different places. It just going to be awesome, I couldn’t tell you how excited I am.
There is a VIP Meet and Greet package that has been offered with each of the shows, which has sold out on every date. What do you have in-store for these? I do know that the band is doing one acoustic song at each meet and greet, will you be changing that song up every meet and greet?
You know it is tough to say what we will play, sometimes it changes, and sometimes it doesn’t. In America when we did a six and a half week run and hit just about everywhere in the States it would be the same song for a week or two in a row, but that was because either Claudio or Travis were really feeling it. Sometimes we all do a song together, it’s always different, but I know that we are not 100% sold on what it is going to be yet. We have a bunch of different options, things that we have done before and some new things that are being talked about. So I can’t say that it is going to be the same at each show, it could be, it could not be, I just don’t know, it really comes down to how the guys are feeling on that day.
As for the meet and greet, I have friends in bands, and have heard bands bitch about meet and greets. But for me there have been times where I am tired or maybe I am feeling a little bit homesick and then we do the meet and greet, I just can’t wait to play. I think the band actually really enjoys doing it. We get to talk to the people that give a shit about your band. It does wonders for you, it inspires me, I feel inspired that people care enough to come out and actually shake our hands, and tell us that the music spoke to them. I just can’t wait to hit the stage and play for them. The whole meet and greet process has been a revelation, it’s a lot of fun and something the whole band enjoys.
I actually didn’t know that all the meet and greets had sold out in Australia. That is awesome man, I am super jazzed to hear that, I have a big smile on my face, which is awesome.
That in itself shows the love Australia has for the band.
Last time we were there I couldn’t believe how many people were there. We go to Europe, and I hope I am not going to get into trouble for this, but we go to Europe and we have our spots where we do well. But there are certain spots that we have visited a bunch, and I don’t know but, it just didn’t connect with people. I don’t think we ever play any different, we always give the best show we can, and we leave it all out on the stage every night. But to be in Australia, man, the last time we were there, to watch a thousand or twelve hundred kids, people, man, adults, the crowd was the widest range of people, fathers, daughters, sons, all different walks of life all singing the words, enjoying the music we make, which is such an incredible experience. It was humbling, the most exciting, thrilling feeling, and the passion from the crowd, man I can’t even put it into words, and it is really hard to articulate. I do know it was something very special. I remember asking Claudio and Travis as they had been over a few times without me, in the years I wasn’t in the band. Was it always like this in Australia? I can’t remember verbatim, but it lead me to believe that they were all extremely special shows.
The last time we were in Australia the moment we got off that stage, we knew we had to come back. We have been talking about this tour for three months, it’s been like Oh my god Australia is coming up, I can’t wait. This is going to be the shit, I promise you. I can’t wait.
Being out here for two weeks, allows you quite a bit of freedom, is there anything you want to do or see while you are out here?
Yeah, you know this might sound kind of silly to you, but when we all go out to dinner together, we pick a local spot we all go to dinner together, we hang out, and those can be the most fun nights. I think I have done most of the touristy things that there is to do. I want to really go and soak up what it is like to be there, and for me it’s tooling about, walking around, checking it out, being around the people, having some dinner with your best friends in Australia. To me there is nothing in the world that sounds better. We just don’t get a chance to do that a lot of the time, a lot of the time are in one city and out that same night, if we stay the night in the city we are out by 6am. I mean we don’t get done with our jobs until one or two in the morning and everyone is tired. This time the way they have set it up for us is, we are basically getting apartments, setting up our home there and driving out three or four hours to the show and then drive back to the apartment. When we have to fly, they have left us enough time to soak up some of the culture and actually feel like we are there. I mean I have been to France seven times and I never even seen the Eiffel tower, it just doesn’t feel like I was ever there. This time being allowed the time to feel it, experience it, let it seep into us, it will feel like when I have come home that I was actually in Australia. It is something that I am extremely excited about!!
Let’s go back to the beginning of your career with Coheed and Cambria. You joined in 2000, were you aware of Shabuitie? How did you come to join?
Of course I was aware of Shabuitie. Shabuitie was a band that would play with my band, and that is how I met Claudio and Travis. We were all in bands, but separate bands that would play on the same bill together when we were kids. I remember that my band was signed to Universal at the time, we were quite popular in our area and Shabuitie would open for us. It was cool we would go down to where Travis and Claudio would play and we would play with them. It was at a small youth center down by where they were from, it was about 45 minutes away, and when you are 14 or 15 it might as well have been another world away when you don’t drive. 45 minutes away was like oh wow, it’s a whole new city and I had never been there. We became friends, and when you are young life can feel pretty solidified, I was in my band, and they were in their band. Claudio just used to sit there and watch me play. I do remember Claudio telling me when I was 15, we are going to play together one day. I thought to myself this motherfucker is crazy, what is he on about, I’m in my band, and he is in his (laughs). I was just a huge fan of Claudio and of Travis. I had watched Shabuitie for two years before Travis even joined the band. I remember when he did join the band I was like, man that was awesome. I was just a fan, a major fan, I listened to their records all the time. When their drummer quit, they called me and asked me to do it, I was like shit; I have to do this. I was really excited to do it.
I would have never dreamed that I would be sitting here at 36 years old, us talking about a band I have been in for this long. I was always a fan, I believed in Claudio’s writing, I wanted to be in a heavier band so I did it and the rest is history as they say. Oddly enough Shabuitie would play to like eight people, nobody liked Shabuitie. I have to laugh when people come up to me and say “I loved Shabuitie”, I mean where were you guys? We played to nobody (laughs). Actually I did play in Shabuitie, when we change the name to Coheed and Cambria I had been in the band for around eight months. The first name change was to “Leader One”, I actually played my first show with them as “Leader One”. We then went back to Shabuitie, we signed with Eagle Vision and then changed to Coheed and Cambria.
It’s funny on the first record there is a little bit that says “heheheh shabuitie” that was originally to be done by a little girl, but Claudio ended up doing it. That was my idea; that was me trying to throw a shout out to the 20 original fans that Shabuitie had. I just thought that would be cool. Since then it has taken on a life of its own, it’s in the comic books. I was just a stupid idea I had to shout out to the eight people from my town that liked Shabuitie. So that’s pretty much how I came to play with those guys. We knew each other from playing shows. Their drummer quit, neither of the bands really had anything going on. The band I was in got dropped by Universal. I left the band, not because we had been dropped, but because I wanted to do something different. They asked me to join them and I said of course I’m going to do it. There I was working a day job, so were those guys, Claudio worked at like a pet store. We would just jam on the weekends, we would rehearse on the weekends, and we would do shows in bars on the weekends. Not saying that I didn’t believe in it, I did believe in it, but to acknowledge the current success we have is just mind blowing.
You have played on six of the eight Coheed and Cambria albums, and during the period of 2006 to 2011 you were not a member of the band. There were rumors saying that you left because of “musical differences”, but this was squashed when you revealed to an interviewer that you were likely to be fired, so you decided to leave. What was the real that reason you left?
Well I was a heroin addict. I was really, really heavily addicted to heroin junkie. And that is why I say I was probably going to get fired. We had an eight week European tour booked, the day it came to leave for the airport the van was outside and I just called and said ”I’m not coming”. That cost the band literally hundreds of thousands of dollars and that was just a shitty awful thing to do. I was just so sick.
Some people mess around with drugs for a little bit and have the audacity to call themselves a junkie. I was shooting a thousand dollars a day of heroin into my arms for years. This went on for years, almost a decade. It spiraled so far out of control, I just didn’t want to be in the band anymore. I had some kind of self-made up hatred for those guys. Shit got bad dude, it just got so bad. None of us were communicating with each other, there was a lot of jealousy on my part, that I wasn’t the star of the band. There was a lot of young misguided anger, you know I was just a little punk kid. I made some really bad decisions. So I quit forcing them to cancel the European tour, I am sure if I hadn’t quit I would have been fired. I think those guys had just about had enough, in fact even after that they said if you go to rehab we will work this thing out. Ok fine, I will go to rehab, I want to be in the band, I’m sorry. I did actually ended up going over to Europe about three days later. So I show up in Europe and I am like, sorry I still want to be in the band. A piece of me knew what the right thing to do was, but I just couldn’t do it. There I am sitting in Europe, I am starting to get sick and I need dope, so I say I am going home. I flew all the way over there for just three hours and then flew back home. Even after that they said if you go to rehab we want you to get help. Rehab lasted about a day and a half and I think that was the final straw.
The whole thing just fell apart. I could go on for hours, a lot of bad things happened over the years. When I finally cleaned myself up and got off the drugs, I had this lasting memory of how those guys, how no one is perfect all the time. I had no legitimate beef with the guys. All I did was a really shitty thing to them and disrespect all the hard work that not only myself but they put in. I disrespected the entity that is Coheed and Cambria which was part mine, we all did this together; we all lived in a van together; we all struggled and left home and dealt with that together at a young age. I disrespected that whole thing. I could have never dreamed of being asked to come back, but strange things happen in life and I can speak for those guys as well. At first I had to earn back the trust, but now that it has been years, those guys are better friends to me than ever before and I really consider Claudio and Travis, Blaze and Zac brothers of mine, for real brothers. Every relationship is rocky, ours maybe just a little extra rocky, but you know I love those guys dearly.
The simple answer to it all would be drugs got in the way a great deal and we put it back together a few years later.
Are Coheed and Cambria prog rock or prog metal? The roots of the band certainly don’t lend themselves to it. Was it the fact that the earlier albums were concept based and they just went we will call them prog?
I think that songs like “Welcome Home” and “In keeping Secrets” threw us into the metal category, melodic metal. Coheed is made up of so many different influences, I think it is hard to pigeon hole the band into any group because we are not just a progressive metal band, we are also not just a pop/rock band. We have songs that are like electro pop, songs that sound like Neil Young. I think there is just such a wide array of influences. On any given record I hear the Neil Young influence, I can hear the Led Zeppelin influence, I can hear The Deftones influence, I can hear whatever influence, and there is such a wide net. I don’t think we belong to anything, and I think that’s a part of what makes Coheed and Cambria great. That’s if we are great, it’s hard for me to call us great. I do think we are great, but I also don’t want to come off as being cocky. As I get older, when I am alone with my thoughts at night, I am pretty secure in knowing and thinking that we are a great band.
It is such an eclectic mix of music that influences us and comes out on these records. I don’t know what the hell we are. You know what I say? If there are guitars, there’s bass and there are drums – we are a rock band. Whether it is progressive rock, heavy rock, pop rock, I don’t fucking know man. We are a rock band and that is all that there needs to be. But they just have to call you something. Why not celebrate the fact that you don’t know what to call this thing. When we first came out they labeled us as a punk band and that is just hilarious. Then we were an EMO band, now we are prog metal band, it just makes you wonder what we will be in 10 years. (laughs)
For fans of the band, no doubt the title hinted that this album was going to be something different?
Not as much as there was adhering to the direction we were going to be taking. Claudio does these demos and sends them around, and sometimes it’s just him and an acoustic guitar, I mean it really depends on the song. If the song is more keyboard based it will be him and some keys. They are a rough around the edge versions of a song. From there lots of things or very little can change. I clearly could hear that this record was going to be leaning less on the heavy stuff. Whereas the Afterman records, the double album that we did when I came back in 2011 was very heavy. But I feel like The Afterman: Ascension was a real statement record. Songs like 'Domino Of The Destitute', 'Vic The Butcher' and 'Evagria The Faithful' made it such an eclectic record. A lot of fans in America called that album a return to form.
I thought Year Of The Black Rainbow was a great record even though I wasn’t a part of it, but it certainly was different for Coheed, whereas Afterman had some of that more classic Coheed and Cambria DNA in it. People really loved that record, and I think it was time to take a chance. I truly think that Coheed took a chance beyond just the fact that it was not a concept record. Conceptually it wasn’t going to be “The Amory Wars”, it was presented as these are the songs, and it is what it is. These songs are deeply powerful and incredibly personal, but there is no story. In a way it felt like a really progressive, and I don’t mean prog as in prog metal, I just thought it was a really evolved thing to do and a ballsy thing to do. I mean hey Claudio you do this one thing, it is what you are known for, it is how you make a living, yet he goes Ok, now I am going to take that safety away and do something totally different, make myself totally vulnerable. I was a little nervous about it, but I am really proud of my friend for taking such a bold and ultimately brilliant artistic move. I think we have made a really unique and special Coheed record. When I listen to all the Coheed albums, this one sounds unique and feels unique, I am just super proud of it.
We recorded this album live, we did this record in a completely different way. The album was recorded in two weeks, whereas in the past we were known to take months to make a record. We were always thinking about things and always tinkering with things. This album Boom done in two weeks, we did a song a day, toyed around with percussion and other stuff for a couple of days, and that is it, we were done! We did it by design, we wanted to see if we could capture just us in a room playing live, and so we tracked it with everyone getting their takes in one. The end result is a unique and special Coheed and Cambria record, I personally think that it is very special.
The Color Before The Sun to me sounds like an album of singles, it’s great that you can put it on random and it still works as a body of songs. Each track stands on its own.
Well, you are not the first person to say that to me. I take it as a compliment, I think that, that is great. I don’t think there is a bad song on the record, I also think that is true with all the records, I’m in the band I am supposed to say that. But I really thing that some of the best songs, just strictly as a song, I’m not talking about a storyline, that we have ever done are on this record. Songs that are definitely a departure for Coheed, songs like 'Young Love' that are just so spacious. I think as you get older, you start to realise that space in a song is the most important note that you can play. Space … space is tough, space for me and all of us I think it is easy to play a lot of notes or play faster, what is hard is space and that is challenging to us. Some of the best songs, the best performances in the history of music are all about space. I really hear us evolving as a band, and definitely hear that in 'Young Love'.
Certainly with 'You Got Spirit, Kid' it has more of an 80’s rock vibe, but that too has a lot of space in the drums and bass. Using space as your ally is a really powerful thing for us. A few people have said that the record sounds like an album full of singles before, but also not in a good way. I don’t want to say it was by design, but we had a collection of songs that we thought were really great and we went and cut a record. I personally take that as a compliment. I think that is wonderful. Thank you.
To wrap things up I would like to do a series of quick question and answers. Keeping it as short as possible, are you in and good to go?
Let’s do it!!
Favorite Coheed and Cambria album?
The Afterman: Descension
Biggest Musical influence?
John Bonham of Led Zeppelin
Which song do you wish you had written and why?
Oh my goodness (laughs) I wish I wrote the song “Cancer” by My Chemical Romance, purely because I think it is one of the most profound and seriously beautiful tunes I have ever heard. It is dark, it is super dark lyrically, and it is one of the best songs I have ever heard.
Most promising new talent you have heard/seen?
Aaahhhhh ………… I have to go with my man Upgrade HipHop, who is a rapper from my town in Kingston. He is incredible, he writes profound and insanely personal music. He has a record out right now, it’s called Chemical Imbalance: Another Dose on Equal Vision Records. I helped get this kid his record deal, helped him get his first tour, which I something I have never done for anybody. I really put my neck out for this kid. So that is the newest talent that I am most excited about.
CD, Vinyl or download?
My other hero
Heaven or Hell?
Hell, most certainly hell.
My third and final hero
Prince or Bowie?
Oh man …. For me I gotta say Prince, but I fucking love Bowie. But Prince changed my life.
The death of everything good.
And that is it Josh ……
You know what it is a deep life experiment to say the first thing that comes into your mind. I know with some of them I took a second, but you know I just saw Michael Todd the other day and he was telling me about a poem he was reading called “The death of everything good”. I didn’t even realise the implication that could have. He will read that and go what the fuck dude (laughs). That was great, I really loved that Andrew, it was really interesting, I hope I did alright.
That was very cool and very interesting, right on brother.
Thank you so much Josh, it was fun and great to speak with you. We look forward to seeing you and Coheed and Cambria in Australia soon. All the best for the tour and I hope you take some amazing memories of this tour and trip down under.
Right on Andrew, you take care my friend.
Coheed and Cambria Australian Tour Dates
Thursday, 5th May 2 The Metro, Sydney 18+
Friday, 6th May Max Watt’s, Melbourne 18+ S O L D O U T
Saturday, 7th May Max Watt’s, Melbourne 18+
Tuesday, 10th May Max Watt’s, Brisbane 18+
Wednesday, 11th May The Gov, Adelaide 18+
Friday 13th May Capitol, Perth 18+
To purchase tickets please visit:
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