THE band Coheed and Cambria is scheduled to play Shanghai for the first time tonight, but the person to watch on stage will be lead vocalist, guitarist, and song writer Claudio Sanchez. What about Coheed and Cambria? They're fictional.
The band was formed by Sanchez in 2001 in Nyack, in New York State, and since then he has been surrounded by a rotating cast of characters.
Their music is generally referred to as "progressive rock," meaning rock with a more intellectual bent, including influences like jazz and experimental music.
Lyrics in the genre usually deal with headier subjects than the angst and release of most rock music, and tend toward the tangled metaphors of fantasy and science fiction.
For Coheed and Cambria, the lyrics are a key appeal of the band.
Each of their albums is part of an interlocking science-fiction story involving the namesake couple, a warrior and a psychic. Not coincidentally, their son, a major character in the story, is named Claudio, after the band's main song writer.
The characters have struggled through seven albums with ponderous titles like "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness" and "The Afterman: Ascension." It's the type of thing that may cause confusion but allows replay value for hardcore fans.
LP records of the band's albums go for thousands of yuan online due to their scarcity. When asked about potentially re-releasing their albums on record, Sanchez kept his answers close to the vest.
"Sure, someday," he says. "We re-released 'The Second Stage Turbine Blade' (the band's first album) on vinyl for the first time a couple years ago, and given the right timing, we'll do it for others."
Even more than just replaying the music, the rabidness of the fan base has extended to a level of interaction with the band's material that is fairly unparalleled.
The band sponsored a contest earlier this year for fans to create videos based around the band's latest album, "The Afterman: Descension." Although Sanchez has hinted that he has been disappointed with the creativity of his fans' submissions, he ultimately holds himself responsible for Coheed and Cambria's content.
"There were some good ones, but it's really up to us to bring the creativity - the fans' only requirement is to experience it," says Sanchez.
More than the actual songs, this has involved Coheed and Cambria tie-ins like comic books, music videos, and even a novel.
For some Shanghai fans, tonight will be the first time to experience the ultimate Coheed and Cambria music tie-in: a live concert.