Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind

Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind

With the second installment of their Vaxis story arc, emo-prog wizards Coheed and Cambria continue the highly ambitious Amory Wars sci-fi epic that has defined their musical career. Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind is an intricate cinematic narrative following a couple on the run from tyrannical forces while trying to find a cure for their young son’s mysterious condition. For Coheed vocalist, guitarist, and conceptual mastermind Claudio Sanchez, the story is a highly personal one cloaked in futuristic fantasy. “That’s kind of why I created the concept 20 years ago,” he tells Apple Music. “As the singer, it’s really hard for me to be the center of attention, the one where the messages are coming from. So, it was easier for me to construct this thing to hide behind. That’s why Coheed has been primarily shrouded in a story called The Amory Wars.” Below, he discusses each song on the album. “The Embers of Fire” “This is the intro to the record, and it hearkens back to a theme that came on the record before it, which was a track called ‘Old Flames.’ The thing that I really enjoy about this piece is that my son got to sing on it—he was five at the time. The idea of the character of Vaxis is that he’s this omnipresent sort of being that lives in all states of his life. So, I thought it would be interesting to have the child voice as well as the adult singing on the same track, singing the same lines, kind of stretching across time in a way. I really love that piece.” “Beautiful Losers” “A lot of these songs are directly inspired by my life, but I utilize them to inform the fiction. ‘Beautiful Losers’ came from the idea that Coheed was coming into its 20th year, and for a long time, there’s been this sense of and feeling within the band of being the underdog, and I find that there’s kind of a beauty in that. Being able to put 20 years of history behind us, I made ‘Beautiful Losers’ as sort of an anthem and tribute to that. Of course, it has its place within the fiction, but truly I think the roots of the song are that.” “Comatose” “Some of these songs were written pre-pandemic and were then sort of given their identity during the pandemic. ‘Comatose’ is one of them. The music has been around for a moment, but when I started to pen the lyrics to it, we had been trapped in isolation. My wife and I may have gotten into an argument, and I think that fueled the identity of that song. The line about being comatose comes from something my mother would jokingly say about my father when he was relaxing on the couch after work—she’d say he was comatose.” “Shoulders” “‘Shoulders’ is kind of in the same department as ‘Beautiful Losers,’ where it’s feeling the pride of history behind us, but also the sense of feeling the weight of things that I might not have accomplished during that time. But it’s also about coming out of that tunnel and feeling empowered by it. It’s also a little bit of a play on my son’s name being Atlas. So, again, there are these very personal themes that I’m utilizing to inform the story of Vaxis.” “A Disappearing Act” “When I started to actually solidify what this song was about, I started thinking about losing all that time during the pandemic. I was living inside my own head during the lockdown period, and then came out at the other end realizing that all this time had disappeared. People have disappeared. I lost my grandfather at the top of the pandemic without the chance to say goodbye. My wife had the same thing with her grandmother. It felt strange to come out of this period where it felt like nothing changed, but a shit ton really has.” “Love Murder One” “This one falls into the department of ‘Comatose.’ My wife and I have been together now almost 20 years but not married the entire time. I think we’re pretty rock-solid, but when you get imprisoned in your own confines, like during lockdown, things happen and you can struggle. ‘Love Murder One’ was an opportunity for me to exercise an emotion that I was having and just leave it in the song and not take it into reality. I got to experiment on this one, too. I explored synths on this song and also played an eight-string guitar.” “Blood” “For me, this has a lot to do with feeling misunderstood most of my life—and seeing that maybe that might be the same for my son. So, it’s a message to my son, Atlas, really. I’ve written a lot of songs for him. Going back a couple of years, I wrote the song ‘Atlas’ in anticipation of his birth. But with ‘Blood,’ I just want him to understand that if you experience the things I have, you’re not alone in those experiences.” “The Liars Club” “Right after we finished the first Vaxis album, The Unheavenly Creatures, I wrote ‘The Liars Club.’ But like a lot of songs on this record, the lyrics took form during the pandemic. Life just felt a little uncertain and a little scary. It came from the idea that maybe a false reality would be better. Who doesn’t want to live the better side of everything we experienced, even if ignoring the rest is like living a lie? That was the loose theme when I wrote this one.” “Bad Man” “This is a funny one because I was high as shit when I wrote it. I’m a very paranoid, introverted person, so aside from having a few drinks, I don’t really participate in that kind of thing a whole lot. But when we were in lockdown, I figured, ‘Why not? It’s been a long time.’ I think the last time I wrote music and got high like that was probably for [2003’s] In Keeping Secrets. My wife had some stuff, so I got into a certain headspace and attacked the vocals in a way that I haven’t in a long time. That whole verse section, I’m under the influence and doing my best to imitate Michael Jackson.” “Our Love” “At the top of lockdown, I got a Korg ARP 2600 [synth] and started fooling around with it. ‘Our Love’ came out of one of those ideas, but I didn’t really do much with it at first. When I came back to it a few months later, I thought it would be a good segue piece because it’s this moment where our characters have decided to sort of enter the lion’s den to acquire the thing that they feel could help their son. In that moment, they have this sentimental moment of, ‘Our love will persevere. We will get through this.’ I felt the same way with my wife during lockdown.” “Ladders of Supremacy” “This song was originally going to open The Unheavenly Creatures album, so it’s been around for a while. I held onto it because, lyrically, it wasn’t there yet. But at this point on the album, our characters are entering the lion’s den. It’s maximum security. It’s fear. It’s chaos. That was the visual I had in my head when I started writing the lyrics. Then all the stuff happened around George Floyd, and it started giving me this perspective that I’ve never had before, so I started to explore that in the song as well.” “Rise, Naianasha (Cut the Cord)” “That’s another one in the ‘Blood’ sort of world, geared towards my son. It’s saying that I’ll always be there for him, regardless of if I’m here or not. I’m saying, ‘You’re going to have me forever, and I’ll do whatever I can to protect you.’” “Window of the Waking Mind” “Before I started working on the concept of the Vaxis records, I read a little bit of this book called NeuroTribes, which is about neurodiversity. When you have a child and they’re developing, there are all these milestones in place for what is the typical mind. I just found it fascinating because I saw so many connections to myself and my son. This idea of strict normality really helped create the character of Vaxis. In the album’s story, these two people are trying to find something that they think could help cure their child, but in actuality, their child is a higher consciousness—a being far beyond their comprehension. In later stories, that will be important for The Amory Wars.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada