Coheed and Cambria team up with Linkin Park for U.S. tour

Lucinda Albers

Lucinda Albers

When the words ‘progressive rock’ are said, one band comes immediately to my mind: Coheed and Cambria.

I’ve been listening to these New York natives since before “A Favor House Atlantic” was played every ten minutes a good six or so years ago. Now it seems as though they are bigger than Claudio Sanchez’s hair on a humid day. Their concept-driven albums get better and better each time, and the band agrees that they really focus on progressing.

“We’re described as a ‘progressive’ rock band and that’s what we push for,” said Travis Stever, one of the founding members. “We’re just growing and trying out new things.”

I chatted with Stever via phone on Feb. 1 as he was in Manchester on Coheed’s European tour. Several days earlier, word was released that the band sold out a show in the UK, a huge point of success for the guys.

“It’s honoring that these people want to come check us out, especially since it’s so far away,” said Stever. “Every place we go is a little different, but it’s great.”

The tour came after Coheed’s fourth album, No World For Tomorrow, was released in October of 2007. If you know anything about Coheed and Cambria, you would know that their music is all based around the story line of a man named Claudio Kilgannon, son of Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon (get the band’s name?). The basic storyline follows Claudio while he’s growing up and what happens to him before and after his parents’ death, when he is left to fight for the universe. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. There are many many more details that I don’t have time or room to explain here, but don’t expect their shows to be some sort of ‘play’ acting out the story.

“We play rock shows,” said Stever. “We just play music and try to come up with the best set list for the audience. We’ll have stage props that go with our concept and story line, and of course our lyrics tell a story, but we don’t put our live shows together that way. It all comes down to putting on a good show.”

Coheed’s latest album actually ends the story that they’ve carried on for so long. But the release is still an amazing advancement for the band, which was partially related to their experiences as a band. In fact, a lot of the lyrics for their songs come from real experiences. Stever says that can both help and hinder how the sci-fi story goes.

“In some ways it makes it easier, and in some ways it’s harder,” said Stever. “It’s kind of easier to make sense of things when you put it in a different setting. It’s like fitting pieces together. But it all comes down to the passion you have to do it all.”

And passion they have plenty of. The new album carries on Coheed’s tradition of dueling guitars and heavy riffs but with a … well … more ‘progressive’ sound. And although the album seems to have a hint of a classical rock feel, Stever says that they didn’t lean towards one genre in making the album.

“We took a lot of different approaches,” said Stever. “Mostly we’d just put a song together from ideas and send it back and forth. Most of them actually started on keyboard and went from there. It’s not a conscious effort to sound one way or the other, it just came out.”

After touring in Europe, the guys will head back to the U.S. for a line of dates with Linkin Park. You can see both bands at the Qwest Center in Omaha on Feb. 12 or at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul on Feb. 13.