For most bands, concept albums don’t come too often. Besides Pink Floyd, New York-based prog-rock quartet Coheed and Cambria have made a career out of the concept album – all seven of them throughout their 18-year career.
Frontman Claudio Sanchez’s vision for the epic sci-fi saga of his character, Sirius Amory, has spawned comic books ('The Amory Wars') with a rabid following and it seems that the opus has reached a peak with the release of the band’s latest album ‘The Afterman: Descension’; the second-part of a massive double album, far and away the band’s best record, that sums up the band’s career.
Not only is fan enthusiasm is at its peak, but a full-length 'Amory Wars' film is also in the works, produced by actor Mark Wahlberg and producer Stephen Levinson ('Entourage', 'Boardwalk Empire').
Arriving on our shores soon, Coheed and Cambria plays Singapore on 23 April 2013 at The Hard Rock Hotel’s The Coliseum. Speaking over the phone from New York, lead guitarist Travis Stever tells us about the albums and why the band is at its best now.
Can you tell us more about your new album?
It’s the continuation of ‘The Afterman: Ascension’ which ended in a sonic cliffhanger. It also continues the story of the “Sirius Amory” character. I think ‘Ascension’ and ‘Descension’ is the sum of all the parts that make Coheed and Cambria – all the music that we have ever made these 10 years is wrapped up in the ‘Afterman’ albums.
There appears to be a strong theme of life and death on ‘The Afterman’ albums.
I think it’s something that we all question continuously in our lives. In the context of our music, we have this main character who is always questioning the unknown – what is really out there. Which also begs the question of when we find out what’s there, can we really handle it? Will the answer distort your life? These are questions that we continuously deal with every day and I’m sure that everyone can relate to that. If you listen closely to the lyrics, ‘Ascension’ asked all those questions while ‘Descension’ answers them.
What I love about ‘The Afterman’ is that the albums seem to possess varying personalities throughout.
Everyone in the band brings something unique musically. In a way, each instrument is its own entity; it takes on its own life, has a soul and becomes a character in bringing the Afterman story forward.
Does the whole Amory Wars concept, because it has so many different elements, allow you to explore more types of music than you could from releasing typical albums?
Whether it has a concept or not, I think our music will still be very diverse. For me personally, I want to stretch out and see where the music will take me organically. Every musician in the band is like that. For example, our new bassist Zach Cooper plays the upright bass in songs like ‘Iron Fist’ and he brought a whole new sound altogether. We have a horn section in ‘Number City’ from ‘Descension’ and that was the first time we experimented with wind instruments. ‘Away We Go’ shows the poppier side of Coheed. To the band, a heavy and intense song is just as important as a poppier sounding one.
‘Domino The Destitute
You’ve been with the band from the beginning. How has the band evolved musically?
To be able to play alongside the amazing musicians in Coheed and Cambria is just inspiring and working with them just made me more comfortable with my instrument. Being able to create parts and melodies with my guitar has turned me into the person I am more than any lesson. The one reason that the band is as tight as we are, is that we are able to create. Although I still love our first album, ‘The Second Stage Turbine Blade’, I think we are just finding out who we are now with ‘The Afterman’ albums. They are the best examples of what we’ve become as musicians. And as a band, we are the best unit we’ve ever been. It shows in our record as well as our live shows and that is why it’s so exciting to take our music to places we haven’t been in a long time like Singapore.
So what can we expect from your set here?
We are going to play an eclectic mix of old and new stuff but what I’m excited about is that the audience will get to see the best version of Coheed and Cambria. We’re definitely tighter and stronger as a band and it feels good to be able to show that off.