Coheed and Cambria toss ongoing concept for new album
October 16, 2015
Since 2002, the New York-based, progressive-metal band Coheed and Cambria, which will play at Park City Live on Tuesday, have released albums that serve as chapters for the ongoing science fiction story, "The Armory Wars," which was conceived by singer, guitarist and main songwriter Claudio Sanchez.
The story, which has been adapted into a comic-book series, follows the characters Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon in their fight against arch mage Wilhelm Ryan in the Heaven’s Fence system.
That changed yesterday when the band – Sanchez, guitarist and vocalist Travis Stever, drummer Josh Eppard and bassist Zach Cooper – released its eighth studio album, "The Color Before the Sun."
This album is not part of "The Armory Wars" canon, Stever told The Park Record.
"This was a Claudio decision, due to the songs he was creating," Stever said during a phone call from St. Louis, Missouri. "Many of those songs were very personal and, basically, he didn’t know it would fit in the Coheed world."
Sanchez even thought of doing a solo album, before the band decided to record the songs as a stand-alone album, which Stever said wasn’t any different in attitude than the rest of the discography.
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"If you’re familiar with the band, all of the albums in the past, even though they align with the concept, are dictated by real life for Claudio and the rest of the band, wherever we were at in our lives," Stever said. "So, this album is no different in that sense, but Claudio felt there was already so much to the songs that he didn’t need to involve the ‘Armory Wars’ concept and story line.
"I think he felt like he could be the most honest and this record was a way for him to bear all," Stever said. "It just made more sense to strip away the outer layer. I’m sure that was a major growth for him, but also a scary thing as well. I respect that."
The new album also reinforced the band’s no-boundaries philosophy.
"Why should we confine ourselves with the concept?" Stever asked. "We should be allowed to venture outside the concept if we wanted to.
"[That means] we could release the next record that fits into the concept or not, and I think with this record, if we felt we needed to step out of that, people wouldn’t be surprised," he said.
The group recruited Jay Joyce, who has worked with Cage the Elephant and Eric Church, to produce "The Color Before the Sun."
"We’ve always had ambition, and, especially on this album, we discussed that we would try to approach things from a live perspective and that’s how Jay works," Stever said. "Coming to him helped push us off the ledge. It gave us confidence to fly and once we started recording, we felt like we were soaring."
Recording live was a new experience but Stever isn’t averse to recording additional albums that way.
"We all kind of fell in love with the energy that we felt when we did it," he said. "I think that’s why everyone is super proud of what we did."
That doesn’t mean Stever isn’t happy with the other releases.
"I think with everything we’ve done with Coheed and the albums have helped me grow up in my trade," he said. "Some of the ways we’ve worked together on songs or writing music has been great for me.
"If Claudio has an idea of something he wants on the guitar that is a way that I’m not used to playing, I have to recreate and embellish it," Stever said. "If it’s something that he wants to create together, I’m able to exercise that side of me and come up with things that excite him and the rest of the band."
A barrage of guitar heroes drew Stever to the guitar.
"I chose my icons and when I was young, the icons were Slash and Zakk Wylde, who brought me back to Jimmy Page," he said. "I even looked up to lesser-known guitarists who experimented with their guitars like Ian MacKaye or J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. and D. Boon from the Minutemen, because they used their instruments to express themselves in a newer way, just as David Gilmour and Jeff Beck did."
Continuing that tradition is something Coheed and Cambria tries to do, Stever said.
"With this record in particular, you can see Claudio’s perspective and vibe, but also you can see that he wanted to hone in to make the songs the best he can," he explained. "Playing the instruments, we, the band wanted to elevate that. And while with every album, the vibe may change, it’s all about taking it to the next level."
Coheed and Cambria will perform at Park City Live, 427 Main St., on Tuesday, Oct. 20. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $35 to $75 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcitylive.net.
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