Coheed and Cambria are currently on tour promoting the reissue of their second album, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. They play tonight, September 15, at South Side Music Hall with Thank You Scientist. The New York-based four-piece is playing the record from start to finish, but doing much more than just that. They had done their first four albums live before in one place (released as Neverender CD/DVD), but this is the first time they've taken the whole playing-the-whole-record concept on tour.
Definitely for the hardcore fans of this prog-filtered-through-'90s-post-hardcore band, guitarist Travis Stever shared with us about playing a lot of old songs again, how fatherhood has affected the entire band and what's next.
DC9 at Night: With this reissue and tour, have you reflected any - or at all - about where you were in your life when In Keeping Secrets originally came out?
Stever: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it was inevitable. Re-learning the material, going through all that; it was kinda cool. Plenty of things have changed in my life and in all of our lives. Specifically for me and Claudio [Sanchez, vocals/guitar] having kids, to reflect on this time period, where we were in our early 20s and it was all brand new, it was kind of incredible. It was interesting to put myself in those shoes
Playing this record from front to back, there are songs that you haven't played since the Neverender shows.
Exactly. Quite a few of them, but we rehearsed it and it sounded great. It blew me away that we got as far as we did as quick as we did, and we just kept rehearsing anyway to make sure it was perfect. It's funny, I'd be playing a song and I'd be like, "Why the hell would I do that?" That's what it was and that's how it will stay. That's what happens when you examine something you did like, 12 years ago. "In Keeping Secrets," the song itself, we were playing that before we were touring on [debut album] Second Stage [Turbine Blade]. Some of those songs date way back and they mean a lot to us and the fans. It's our pleasure to go out and do it.
From what you've heard from fans over the years, is In Keeping Secrets their favorite album? I can imagine it was the first time many of them heard of Coheed.
Totally. It was an entrance into a little more exposure and it was an example of the band coming into its skin. Second Stage was the roots and the groundwork for what we would become. In Keeping Secrets has songs on it like, "A Favor House Atlantic," that made it for what we are doing
I remember distinctly when that record came out and the industry was betting on screamo being the next big thing and it was easy to lump you guys in with that. But you have stuck around being who you are and withstanding trends.
It's not like it hasn't been frustrating at times in where to put us in those categories. We toured with bands and not that some of them weren't great, but they weren't like us. It was tough to put us with anyone. I think it's a redeeming quality of knowing we can do a tour like this and have people come out and be excited about it. We still have our own thing. We don't have to go on tour with other bands for people to be interested in us.
The band's story since the record is very public, filled with sadness and questioning of its future, but would you say the band has been consistently stable since Zach [Cooper, bass] joined and Josh [Eppard, drums] rejoined?
Absolutely. The reason why we've had so much time off is that I'm settling into the parenthood stuff, but it's still stable throughout all that. Everybody has other things that they work on musically, but Coheed has been the most stable it has ever been throughout its time.
Everyone in the band is now a father. Has the tour bus turned into Romper Room?
Our babies are a little too young for that. Josh's stepdaughter is eight or nine now, so she's past the Romper Room thing. When we roll into Florida, the babies might be on the bus and Zach's daughter might be on there and maybe it will be a little Romper Room-ish. I think tours in the future will be full-on Romper Room-ish. If we have the band and whole crew in one bus, with 12 guys in 12 bunks and no junk bunk -- the bunk where you put everybody's bags -- it will be pretty tight. Not complaining because we're lucky to be in the bus. We toured in a van for years.
Knowing how much Iron Maiden means to you and Claudio, have you ever played Maiden for your son?
No, he hasn't heard any Iron Maiden. I have played for him a certain Moody Blues song and I always play him a certain Neil Young song and I play him "Octopus's Garden" all the time. I play him a lot of stuff I think that would be fun for a kid. I've written my own version of lullabies and fun songs about fishies and froggies and stuff. It's a completely different world, but it's awesome.
What are the plans for the next record? To jokingly start a rumor and dispel it, the record will not be called "The Afterbirth."
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[laughs] It's not going to be called "The Afterbirth." I think a lot of people have done it for bands for years -- and I did it with some of my favorite bands -- is that you project what you want the band to do. I think people will be very happy with the material that's been floating around. It's all very early, but there has been creative energy all around. Everybody's always working on stuff. We will probably keep going into the creative world of Coheed as time passes. I can't give you a time period, but I can say it will be worth the wait.
I've known of many bands who have had a hard time following up a double album, whether it's Pink Floyd or the Smashing Pumpkins. Do you feel any pressure, even after seven albums, to do another great album?
Now that you just put it that way, the pressure's on. [laughs] I never thought of it that way. I just feel we did that and now we move forward. There was so much material for The Afterman and there was even material that got left off. It was a matter of the concept being told the way Claudio intended, but also it was a matter of the material being so good that we didn't want to let anything go. You have a double record and it was released in a cool way because it was this sonic cliffhanger, almost like the comics he releases, so we tried to do that musically. However we go to the next step, it's not going to be too stressful. The double album worked and now it's on to the next thing.