Coheed And Cambria are a little over a week from making their Soundwave Festival debut. One of the biggest band’s in modern prog-rock, they have continued to innovate and set the standard for the genre since their 1995 formation. With all their albums following concepts based on a storyline written by Vocalist Claudio Sanchez, the band released Year of The Black Rainbow – a prequel to their other four albums in April last year. After tonnes of media attention, critical acclaim and solid touring, Australia is about to get their dose of Coheed’s latest. Just ahead of their Soundwave appearances, we catch up with Lead guitarist Travis Stever for a chat.
Hey Trav, this is Jake from Killyourstereo. How are you?
Hey, I’m good. How you doing buddy?
Not bad at all. Well only a bit over a week until you head over to kick off your Soundwave Festival dates, looking forward to it?
Absolutely, can’t wait. It’s 5 degrees here right now, so the weather alone has me excited.
Your last time through Australia was back in 2008, any happy memories from that tour?
I remember some amazing headline shows, where are you calling from man?
Bendigo, about 2 hours out of Melbourne.
Nice, I had a blast in Melbourne. We got to explore the whole city and it was a lot of fun. We’ve been to Australia twice and it’s been great, but to come through on a touring festival like this with so many great bands is just awesome.
Nice, what bands are you looking forward to checking out?
Well the headliners in particular I’m really excited for. Iron Maiden and Queens of the Stone Age, two totally different bands but two of my favourite. I grew up listening to Maiden, Somewhere In Time was the first album I ever bought when I was seven years old. I got in to Queens of the Stone Age right from the start too, I was a big fan of Kyuss so I made that progression. There’s so many other bands, as well, we’ve done Warped Tour with Pennywise a few times and they’re always great, sharing a stage with them at Soundwave will be awesome.
It’s been about 10 months now since Year Of The Black Rainbow was released, as a general concept albums take quite a few listen-throughs to really understand and familiarise yourself with. Did you find the crowd reactions grew as time went on or were they just awesome from the start?
The reactions were better than we could have expected from the start, but there are always the fans that are going to be like ‘oh, this is so different’, that being said I feel that they all seem to catch up eventually. As you say, with our albums it usually takes a while for fans to realise that they are something that they really love. For us the album was really important because of everything we had to work through, we were doing so much touring at the time. I think it’s awesome, I’m so happy to be coming to Australia on this album.
Obviously it’s also interesting in terms of concept as well, it’s a prequel to the other four albums, do you think that’s something affected the musical content in a big way?
Absolutely! Also we did it after we played Neverender – an event where we played all four prior albums from start to finish in succession over four days. We revisited a lot of the older music and I think that definitely came into play with writing Year Of The Black Rainbow.
I have to ask about the Neverender series of concerts you played, I’ve never heard of another bands who’s played all their albums in succession. What were the rehearsals like in the lead-up to that?
It was a bit scary going into it thinking that we were taking on so much, but also a lot of memory definitely came into play. Because we wrote the songs and had performed them so much before it was a lot easier than we expected. Even the songs that we had never even performed live, it really worked out quite well. It was great for the band because we know we can take on anything we need to.
Could you see yourself doing it again?
Oh Yeah. We’re already doing an American run of our first album in its entirety in Spring and we will be doing an acoustic set to open, the whole album then an encore using other songs.
One of the things I love about Coheed is the amount of variation in the music within each album, do you think that with each album telling story it’s something that comes naturally by following character moods and emotions?
I think that for Claudio lyrically he has always found it easier writing behind a concept rather than wearing his heart on his sleeve and then on top of that, he loves being a storyteller. We’re all huge movie fans and we all love reading, so when it comes down to it, a good story is something that interests all of us. To be part of a band that is telling a consistent story through it’s albums is realy incredible for us. I think as well for Claudio, he uses the albums as a tactical way to express his own feelings and experiences through the concept.
What’s the plan for album 6, a pre-prequel or Good Apollo volume 3?
I can’t really say. There are definitely ideas, but that’s all they are at this stage. There’s definitely room to grow, let’s put it that way.
Coheed are a band that are obviously schooled on the all classics from Led Zeppelin to Pink Floyd, but take a range of influences from modern styles as well, do you think it’s something that’s come from your separate tastes or are you all on the same page musically?
There is definitely a common love of a certain type of music common to all of us, but each individual’s tastes definitely contribute to our sound. Chris has a lot of Jazz influence drumwise, and we all love Jazz. Mic is into a lot of folk music, which you would never pick by the way he plays. He’s gotten me into a lot of folk music as well. Claude’s the same, he has introduced me to a stack of bands and I think I’ve done the same for all of them as well. Below all that there is that similar interest for all of us, of the classics and new metal bands. Well not Nu metal, but you know what I mean.
Cool. According to last.fm, Welcome Home is still your most listened to song by quite a sizeable margin. What do you think it is about that song that people love so much?
I’m not really sure; I think it’s a combination of lots of different elements. Lyrically it’s got a very strong victorious standpoint. Guitar-wise it’s got a really powerful chord progression with thumping bass underneath. It has tonnes of little lead points only to end with a back and forth solo duel kind of thing. And it was on Rock Band too, I think that definitely makes a difference. I think every band has a song or a handful of songs that somehow reach out to more people than the others; Welcome Home has definitely done that.
For sure. What’s your personal favourite Coheed tune?
It’s something that constantly changes, but one of them would definitely be The End Complete.
I’d have a very tough time with that Jake. I would make a supergroup that would be endless. You know how you have jam bands with like 50,000 people on stage? My supergroup would have many dead musicians, but also many alive ones.
It’d be a show that I’m sure I’d love to see. Anything else you want to say mate before we run out of time?
Nope, that’s pretty much it. I just really can’t wait to get over to Australia and play these shows, are you coming along?
Yeah mate, although unfortunately I’m going to have to miss the first half of your set. You’re clashing with Slayer man.
Oh. That sucks. I hope we don’t clash with them at every show…
Yeah, one of the main reasons I considered two soundwaves. That, and the Primus and Dimmu Borgir clash, although that one’s just because my taste is wack.
Wait…Primus are playing?
That’s awesome! I’m going to have to take another look at the lineup, I think I was drunk last time. Wow I’m so excited.
Oh me too man. Thanks a lot for the chat Trav, hope you have a great time over here.
Oh I will man, thanks. Take care.