It's hard to believe that prog dominators Coheed and Cambria have been rocking since 1995, and that frontman Claudio Sanchez’s mythological sci-fi vision for The Amory Wars universe has reached a point of peak-thriving a full 17 years later, in 2012. Not only is fan enthusiasm at an all-time high, but a full-length Amory Wars film is also in the works, produced by Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson.
The group's latest effort is a sprawling double album, The Afterman: Ascension and The Afterman: Descension, the first half of which was just released to critical and audience acclaim. Hardcore fans will revel in the limited deluxe box set, which includes a 78-page hardcover Afterman coffee-table book and a nearly two-hour documentary DVD.
CraveOnline recently caught up with Coheed and Cambria guitarist Travis Stever backstage at the Voodoo Experience festival, and dug into all things C&C.
CraveOnline: You just released The Afterman: Ascension and are gearing up for Decision. How do the two differ?
Traveis Stever: I think we just stretch out musically in all directions the same way we did on this one, just more on the next one. It's a little different on certain levels and they fit together. It is a double album; let's say it stops perfectly where it needs to and picks right up. I think that the second part of this album is going to really make people happy.
So far Ascension has definitely thrilled fans and critics. The Afterman really seems to represent the full-flight potential for the band. Is it a relief to know that translates properly to the listener?
Definitely. I consider Coheed like a rolling ball that's gathered all our influences and everything we've been through. It's an undeniable motion: musically, song-wise, lyrically. That's undeniable for people to at least pay attention to whether they like it or not. To make somewhat of a dent in the world; the fact that people are saying it's good too, means a lot. It's been tough throughout the years. I think people have just put us aside as a band because of the concept or because of what people have labeled us. They never knew where to really put us. What I'd like to see and what I feel like is happening is that we're not being put anywhere but I'd like to think that we're finally finding our place.
How did recording this album back at Applehead Studios in New York differ from your last two albums which were recorded in LA?
I think it added to the vibe. I mean, I love everything that we've done. I think the past two albums are exactly where the band was at at that point and that was what it needed to be. If we were going to make Afterman and made it in LA, the way that we were as a band makes it still Afterman. Atmosphere definitely effects when you're producing art but I think that there was a general vibe within the band. Being comfortable at Applehead was definitely a huge part of what comes through in the music. By no means am I detracting from that. The material and where our minds are wouldn't change; Applehead just added to the effect. We're at a comfort zone in New York, in a place where it all began.
CraveOnline: Voodoo's a very big Halloween festival here. I know a lot of people dress up…
Travis Stever: I wish I had a costume!
What would you dress up as?
Last year I was Kenny Powers from Eastbound and Down but this year I'm not sure. Let me think about it.
Do you feel like the vibe is different when there are more folks dressed up in costume?
I like that. I enjoy it. A couple of weeks ago we were at Comic Con because Claudio [Sanchez] and his wife Chondra [Echert] were there the whole weekend. They have numerous other comic books besides The Amory Wars, which of course goes with the music. They're usually at most of the Comic Cons. We were there for a band signing and seeing everyone in their full décor was just craziness. I love seeing that. I've always been a huge Halloween fan and I always got really into it as a kid. I got made fun of for a lot of things that I was into because I would really go for things that I liked that were usually outside the box. Like, one year I was Crocodile Dundee and everybody was like, “that's so lame!” When I was a little kid I was Harpo and I had a white wig and a horn. I'm 33 years old now so you figure when I was 7 or 8 and I was Harpo all the kids were thinking, “who the fuck are you?” I always selected things that were kind of outside the box and they didn't work when I was a kid. I still enjoy weird things. I might bring back that costume for this year and maybe be Harpo this year. I do have a harp.
The rest of the band could be the Marx Brothers. Who would be Groucho?
I don't know how he'd do it with the hair but I suppose Claudio would be Groucho. Josh [Eppard] would be Chico. Zach [Cooper] would be the playboy, Zeppo.
Did you feel like the Comic Con world was more welcoming of thinking outside the box like that?
Oh absolutely. Across the board, with a lot of our fans we've been really lucky. They're a big cult following and they really care about everything that we do, whether it's music or comics. We couldn't be luckier to have a fan base like that.
There are a lot of polarizing themes in your music. Where does that factor in on say, good and evil?
mean, there are messages everywhere. It's not good or evil, but we're bringing it up front and questioning both of those concepts; bringing it into the light and saying here's both. It's an examination more than it's a how-to, especially on this record: there's the questions of mankind, mankind's creation, the afterlife, love and loss, selfishness. But none of it is advocated. We're telling a story. We ain't evil but we ain't exactly just good. It's the human complex.
Are there any more details you can share on Leverage Productions and Mark Wahlberg getting involved to make the Amory Wars a feature film?
So far is just that they've signed on. It's huge, exciting news. Just the same news that everyone's heard though. We're really excited about that. I hope that it moves fast but not too fast. There are movies they've announced years ago that still aren't out.
Keep up with Coheed and Cambria at their official site!