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Interviewed my sister Cambria on being erased by a big rock band

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Tuesday, July 4, 2017 at 10:53 PM (PST)

The people around our group at that time acknowledged the weirdness of it. I know I exist. – Cambria Evans
For years I have had an on again off again argument with Coheed and Cambria. We grew up together in various bands. Their first drummer Nate was my best friend and in bands with me as well. We have had many amazing times and many horrible times and in the early days we all used to play shows together all the time.

 

I remember a particular day in 1997 vividly where a side project band of mine called The Electric Ten Inch was jamming at Shabutie’s regular practice space at Nate Kelley’s family home in Bearsville, NY. The band was myself, Mic Todd on bass, Zac Shaw (now of Dead Unicorn), Nate on guitar and Damien Shannon on lead (he went on to work on Ween’s White Pepper album, incidentally).  Claudio Sanchez was there listening to us jam out on the song “Ghost”, which was about addiction. He was sitting on the floor bopping his head to Mic’s bassline. The sense of brotherhood amongst us all was very strong and the musical energy was so rad.

 

I never thought in a million years I would one day spend almost two decades simply asking for Claudio to admit my sister Cambria exists. She was a part of our scene, collected door money at shows that I booked for us all and is a real and good person. She is also my hero for coming out of our drug crazed Woodstock 90s scene mostly unscathed.

 

My sister is more reconciled to a lot that has happened including the gaslighting and does not let it affect her anymore, despite her initial discomfort. I however have a lot of ptsd from rape trauma, trans issues, being a former junkie and much more that is already hard enough to navigate without gaslighting . I get very bad anxiety attacks. I trigger very, very hard from unresolved conflicts that I bury.  Especially since our dad died and only a short while afterwards people hit me up saying Coheed had a new song mocking me. I want peace but can not always control my mood swings, despite taking medication. I can only try my best. I used to even share stages with them since the band name change but when lots of time passed and they never admitted the truth, it really ate at me and offended me. Being threatened with violence by people also didn’t help.

 

I also have shielded my sister the best I could for years from online trolls calling me a liar or her a whore, people telling me to kill myself (which I have attempted before including as recently as 2015) or shitty things going on behind the scenes to discredit me and get me blacklisted. It has honestly really been hellish and made it hard not to feel a constant low level paranoia. It is also very hurtful because I have tried to save their lives before from drugs. I also put out the first cd compilation Shabutie was ever on w one of my friends Tom (called Error 404 Not Found) in 1999. I booked most of their early shows for them. I even dated the ex bassists ex wife and we have a very tangled history. Coheed even stole the guitarist of my old band of seven years Divest (who had the same producers) to be their touring keyboardist after members promised to help us get a record deal but instead we were broken up by him jumping ranks. And I know they have told people to steer clear of me.

 

Ten fucking years later it really broke my heart when “You’ve Got Spirit Kid” came out with alleged fresh attacks about me. They had used lyrics of mine before in “Hearshot Kid Disaster” and all kinds of weirdness over the years. But this new song came right as I was finally speaking to Mic Todd again after 9 years trying to heal our friendship and was giving him cancer remedies meant for my dad. I blew up online at Claudio and Mic and I have not talked again since. It sucks. He used to be one of my very best friends. Someone even vandalized my non writing related workplace at that time and I thought it was an associate of the band who I was arguing with, though now am not sure and have forgiven him.

 

That said, my sister and I really do want peace with the past and present members. People think I am a hypocrite at times because I will say that and then lose my temper and attack them again in very angry language. I get how that can make me seem like a bully to people who don’t know the massive personal histories or the wall of silence from Claudio. I find that to be like tone policing an abuse victim who is trying to raise awareness. I mean there is a reason my band now is called Walking Bombs. I can only do my best and try not to explode but I really struggle. Doc from Bad Brains asked me at my dad;s funeral to try and lift the burden from my heart and let it go. AND I really want that but with mental health problems it comes back up. It feels like everyone is fine if I shut up about it but after near two decades of telling people I have serious manic depression issues and would simply like the respect of the warts and all truth to help heal and not re-trigger me, you’d think the band could take five minutes to make a public statement. It would seriously help me stay level and not freak out on them anymore randomly.

 

After many years my sister finally feels comfortable with me asking her some questions. I am very glad it doesn’t upset her or reach her any more, though she also has had far less drama with them than I have.

 

 Read more BELOW.

I ask Cambria, who is now an awesome mom and a cook, what she remembers of getting into music. I remember she liked Toad The Wet Sprocket and some punk when we were kids.

 

My favorite music growing up was actually big band swing, “oldies”, and musicals soundtracks. I had, still have, very diverse musical tastes. I liked the local shows because I enjoyed supporting friends and local musicians, it was such a great community with so many people involved. I love(d) Sleater Kinney for their all female kick ass sound and lyrics.

 

I ask her if she remembers a specific Woodstock Community Center show in the 90s where I introduced her to Claudio and he said he liked her name.

 

 Not really, I’m terrible at remembering meeting people. I remember faces but not names or how we met often. Mostly I remember his hair and that when I first heard him sing I was surprised to find out it wasn’t a female.

 

What bands from our very fertile scene in the 90s and 00s did my sister like best? 

 

I loved mearth. And perfect thyroid. pitchfork, melancholy, shabutie, corned beef brisket… i cant remember them all…but there were a lot of great ones.

 

 

I was closeted as bi for over thirty years until coming out in an interview a few years ago with my friend OTEP, who made me feel comfortable doing so. I have never really talked about that with Cambria and so asked her if she new I was bi and non binary.

 

Dumbest question ever…without a doubt, yes, I knew. Since, like, forever…I was just waiting for you to figure it out/admit it.

 

I am now laughing and crying at that answer. I asked her to try and be positive with me for a minute and reflect on any fun Shabutie shows or more happy memories of the music scene she can remember from any shows I played sharing a stage with them or other friends bands. 

 

 My favorite memory of any local show ever was when everyone sang Shimmy Shimmy Ya flawlessly together. Uh, but Shabutie related I think you both played at the OCS Battle of the Bands? But I really don’t remember for sure.
 To be fair, at the time years ago I probably helped instigate some of the arguments with their fans by being a rude kid, But people said I’d probably slept with them all or that I was jealous liar, or that I had changed my name because of them!  I don’t care about the band or that the band. It’s not trademarked. I’m not the only Cambria in the world. The only thing I find slightly annoying is when people say “oh, like the band!” upon meeting people that have heard of coheed. Then I just tell them how they used to be in same music scene as my brother and friends’ bands, and that I went to school with ex bassist that was arrested for robbing pharmacy and taking taxi back to venue before their show. (Sorry Mic). But it’s really no different than if they were Coheed and Sarah or some other name. It was just really weird since I was the only Cambria in the area, and collectively lots of people knew me and the band members.

 

Yeah, I think that is weird also. It has also been very weird having emo people write me personal letters on Facebook who I don’t know and who don’t know my sister or on Twitter yelling at me that it was the Latin name of Wales and say that I don’t I know that. Yes, our whole fucking family on my mom’s side was Welsh which is why Cambria was named that. Idiots. Moving on, I ask my sister if I was a bad brother because I was such a bad junkie before a lot of other people in the scene. I had a lot of grief and trauma even as a teenager and really bad coping mechanisms. But always loved people and helping other bands or feminist causes.

 

Being around the drug use sucked…a lot. Mostly in a)having people assuming I used (guilty by association), and b)watching friends and family change, wilt away, do really stupid shit, die. Now don’t get me wrong, I did my share of drugs, not heroin or coke, pretty much all pills because my logic was “they were legal for someone” so it wasn’t as bad. But overall yeah, being around the drugs was hard. Watching people change so much because of it was hard sometimes. My mother’s refusal to acknowledge it was happening was almost harder to watch though. But now as a mom I think I can understand that she fought to accept it for so long. And to the second part, no…you weren’t a terrible brother. But it sucked watching you spiral. When I moved away, I basically just kept waiting for the phone call that you were dead. That day several years later where I went on stage at one of your Pontius Pilate Sales Pitch shows and told you how proud I was of you and how thankful I was that you were still here was the result of living each day anticipating a call that you were dead. So I meant that.

 

I ask my sister how she rose above it all and didn’t let being erased get to her? I am in the same industry as Coheed so run into their name or associates of theirs all the time and it is hard as it is the same field as my dreams and still often feels like a slap in the face.

 

The people around our group at that time acknowledged the weirdness of it. I know I exist, I know you used to play shows with them, I know I went to those shows. There’s pictures of us all together. I just don’t give a fuck about it anymore. I don’t care what their story is, it doesn’t matter. I don’t live my life around it. It’s such an old long ago thing for me. I’m flattered they thought I was so super awesome that they had to name their band after me. (That’s a joke by the way) I don’t need anyone’s acknowledgement to know who I am or that I simply exist.

 

I’m very happy she feels at peace now with things. I wish I could always say the same. Sometimes I can let go of it and other times not and it surges back up and the best I can do is apologize for outbursts. But it would really help me heal and find peace as well if Claudio could do the right thing and just own up.

 

In closing I ask Cambria what music she thinks is still good today.
Yes, i think there is still lots of good music today. There’s lots of shit, but that’s been true for both forever. Lately I’ve been listening too stuff like The Revivalists, Lukas Graham, Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, X Ambassadors….less screaming type stuff. My advice for young girls into punk and music is to keep liking what they like, don’t discredit something simply because someone else doesn’t like it the way you do. It’s ok to have classical, punk, jazz, pop favorites…listen to what makes you happy. Stick up for yourself, stick up for your choices. Be respectful, be inclusive. Wear steel toe boots, dance your heart out, leave the fucking heroin/fentanyl shit alone.
XXX

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