Coheed and Cambria Talk "The Afterman: Ascension" and More
Wed, 05 Sep 2012 09:09:30
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"We do it for the love in the first place," exclaims Coheed and Cambria guitarist Travis Stever.
That's instantly apparent after one listen to the group's forthcoming new album, The Afterman: Ascension, available October 9. Coheed's passion for building impressive, invigorating, and inspiring records remains unparalleled. From the captivating story to the instrumental wizardry, there's so much going on within The Afterman: Ascension that it becomes instantly immersive. With each successive effort, the quartet pushes the boundaries of modern rock, progressively moving the genre forward.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Coheed and Cambria guitarist Travis Stever discusses "Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute", The Afterman: Ascension, touring with Iron Maiden, and so much more.
What's your take on The Afterman: Ascension as a whole?
When we recorded everything, there was definitely a conceptual theme for what was going to happen that Claudio consciously had. I think it's a lot more personal in that he let his life dictate a lot lyrically. In that sense, it's also personal for the band because we took so much time to really hone in on literally every little thing for this record. Equally on both records, it's a combination of music that came from us taking our time experimenting for this period of time. It's really the band being able to stretch out and show its chops—whether it's lyrically for Claudio or the band honing in on every detail from the guitars to the drums. When I hear the first record, I think it flows perfectly because it was so thought-out. We wanted it to flow musically and conceptually.
Your guitar playing stands out on "Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute".
Thanks man! There was nothing taken lightly. That song's a great example. Claudio had that song for quite some time. I had heard it. We'd been playing with that song for a while before Josh came back in the fold. That was one of the first songs we worked on when he came back to the band. Working on it in Claudio's basement, we were centering in on everything. I remember Josh making notes on certain sections. He called one part, "Spider fingers" because it's like you're walking up the strings. When we finally brought that song in the studio, we centered in on every section as if it was its own song asking, "What guitar parts are going to favor this?" There were already ideas. Once it came down to being in the studio, we didn't let anything rest until it was right. "Domino" is also a great example of where Claudio planned to go with the concept.
Is it important for the guitar to move in tandem with the lyrics? It's like they're speaking together…
Absolutely, it's important for it all to create a cinematic sound. The video is so close to the concept. That's crucial for a song like this. Everything was hanging on whether it furthered what was happening lyrically and vocally. That goes for a lot of songs. With any band, the vocals are the center point. The music wants to basically wrap itself around what's happening with the main vocals. So many different movements happen on a song like this. There's suspense on certain parts. You know something's happen. If you take Pink Floyd's The Wall, there's the trial. You can feel what this character is going through. You center in the guitars so they work with the scenery.
The leads are very lyrical. Did you get to try anything you hadn't done in the past?
Well, I think there are certain approaches that will definitely be fresh because that's what happens with every Coheed record. We progress in that sense to experiment with new things. It's more or less an involuntary progression that happens when you're hungry to keep growing musically. As a band, that's what we are. We're consistently craving moving forward and having something dynamic and new. At the same time, it has the original feel to it as well. It's like a rolling ball. The center is still there, but it's always gathering new things as it rolls. That's what I think of guitar-wise. We keep rolling, and things get stuck to us as we roll along. They come out in the music. This music is a great example of that. It's everything we've been all of these years combined into two records. That's what makes me really proud.
You also embrace your heaver side. That's an important element of Coheed and Cambria.
I couldn't agree more. That's what we were most excited about with releasing "Domino". A lot of times, we've come out of the gate with something like "The Suffering" or "Running Free". Here we are. We're well-known for having longer songs with all of these movements. It's an almost an homage to our hardcore fans because that's what we love. It's us saying, "We're not hiding the fact this is what we love to do". We're very much a heavy band as much as we're able to have a song like "The Afterman" which has this atmospheric thing going on. We've got acoustic songs as well. We're a band that loves so many different types of music. It'd be impossible for us to be restricted to one thing, but the heavy side you mentioned is such a big part of the band. It's special for us to showcase that.
What's your favorite song on The Afterman: Ascension?
Yeah, it's that "Goodnight, Fair Lady" song. I'm a huge Thin Lizzy fan. I love how obviously that influence is there. There's a Police feel to it. The guitars show that Thin Lizzy vibe. The rest of the song has elements of all different bands. It's got a classic rock edge, and I love that. My other favorite is "Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful" because it's a step in another direction for the band, to me. I don't know where. I think our fans are going to love it though.
How was the tour with Iron Maiden?
It was incredible! I'm not going to try to lie [Laughs]. The boys' dreams came true, especially for Claudio and I. We've seen numerous Iron Maiden concerts together. We love the band, and it's influenced Coheed. We grew up to them. In so many different ways, it was an amazing thing for us to do. It was just an honor to share the stage with a band that has established themselves the way they have and been able to sustain being as unique as they are.
What's your favorite Coheed and Cambria song?
Watch the video for "Domino the Destitute" below!
See our review of the song here!