Members of the prog/metal act Coheed and Cambria played in various other bands before coming together as Coheed just over 20 years ago. Guitarist Travis Stever says that it became apparent when they jammed together for the first time that Coheed would be the band that would stand the test of time.
“I think that’s where we finally found ourselves,” he says via phone from a Memphis tour stop. The band performs with Maps & Atlases at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Agora Theatre
. “All the bands prior were different people, but when the four people who came together for Coheed created the sound we did, that’s [when it all came together].”
Initially, the band drew from The Amory Wars
, a comic book series written by frontman Claudio Sanchez, for the lyrical content of its albums. It departed from that strategy for 2015's The Color Before the Sun
but has returned to The Armory Wars
once again for last year’s The Unheavenly Creatures
The album represents the first act of a brand-new story arc.
“I think it’s a very comfortable zone for Claudio’s writing,” says Stever when asked about what prompted the return to the comic book series. “He wanted a break from [The Amory Wars
], and he was happy to come back to it. The fans really enjoy diving into it. It just made sense. That’s not to say that there couldn’t be a record outside of it again. You don’t have to know the concept to get into the band, but I find the people who get really into the band enjoy it.”
This time around, the band self-produced the disc, and Stever says that gave the group the freedom to explore more styles of music, not that the disc represents a huge musical departure from past efforts.
“I don’t think we set out to do anything differently,” he says. “We just wanted to perfect the vibe. Now that it’s back to being about a concept, it’s about making it a scene. It’s like there are chapters, and each song is its own chapter. We could communicate more about how important a certain sound was for each song. We had a place in Woodstock [near the upstate New York studio that the band used], so we woke up and went to the studio and record and come home. We had a regiment going on.”
With its piano and tender vocals, the final track, “Lucky Days,” represents a change of pace from the furious tempo of the album’s other tunes, which feature falsetto-like vocals and blasts of guitar riffage that would give Rush's Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson a run for their respective money.
Stever says "Lucky Days" has existed for a number of years and just seemed to fit this particular album.
“Really with that tune, Claudio found it fitting to end the album,” he says. “We had different people come in and play different instruments on it. It was inspiring to watch. He had that song for such a long time, and it works perfectly for an ending because it’s how the characters [featured in the other songs] reconcile. It worked perfectly. I’m glad that song is on the record. It’s a good example of our multi-dimensional influences, so when you hear a song like that, it makes sense that it would be different from all the other songs.”
When asked about what's contributed to the band’s longevity, Stever maintains its ardent following has lots to do with the will to keep recording and touring during a time of diminishing returns.
“Our fans are one of the primary reasons why we can keep going,” he says. “We can’t let it go away when so many people believe in it. It seems like it would be a waste and such a heartbreaking failure to say, ‘You loved us for so long, but we have to say goodbye.’ That’s always what Claudio and I have in the back of our heads. It’s been successful, and people care and still give a shit. That motivates us to keep going. Our fans are really awesome, and that’s how this has stayed going. There wouldn’t be any Coheed if it weren’t for undeniable support from our fans.”