Interview: Coheed and Cambria guitarist Travis Stever!


Coheed and Cambria have been keeping their fans on the edge of their seats for the last three years to release new music. Today Vaxis- The Unheavenly Creatures part one has been released and what a whirlwind it has created. Delving back into their concept albums, this record is the first part of a new story arc within singer Claudio Sanchez’ comic series Armory Wars.

Thanks to Warner Music, we got the chance to talk to guitarist Travis Stever about the album!

SR: It’s been 3 years since your last release, but your new record Vaxis: The Unheavenly Creatures is out in just a couple of days. What’s the energy like in the band upon its release?

We just got back from Canada, so a bunch of us are in our home quarters just doing the family stuff and getting ready. Tomorrow is the first day of rehearsal and we will do that for a couple of days. It’s like a preparation for the meal to be released to the wolves, for everybody to devour this creation and hopefully it’s a tasty thing for people. We are prepared but also, there are all those emotions that go into it, when you’re going to share something with people that you worked hard to create.

SR: Let’s talk a little about the album?

So the first description is the story; Vaxis, and The Unheavenly Creatures is the first chapter. Most of our records have been concept albums, the last record which was The Color Before the Sun had nothing to do with any of that. Well basically what you’re dealing with is a Bonnie and Clyde in the science fiction story… futuristic Bonnie and Clyde and they’re involved with another criminal who has jealousy and rage and basically when they go to pull off an ultimate heist, everything goes wrong and the lovers are separated and they end up meeting up again within the depths of a dark prison.

I don’t know if I should give that much of a description because we want people to read it [laughs]. Within that description there are countless things that happen and really awesome characters that come out and such.

SR: With the fact that Claudio writes these comics and somewhat brings the concepts to the band, do you feel as connected to the story line as he would?

Yes! Through the music, that’s how it works for everybody in the band. We are tied to the story through the music, we started as a music group first and foremost, and that’s what keeps up so tightly together. There is this other layer that we can create together that drives the music, so even though none of us are writing the storyline, or the scene that we are performing to, we are connected through the music and are just invested in the store.

SR: As you just said, your previous album The Color Before the Sun wasn’t a concept album. But what has been your favourite thing creating Vaxis compared to other concept albums?

There is a difference in the sense by what you go into it thinking about. Like for this record, when I go into it, I think about performing my guitar and thinking about a certain scene or something like that. For the last record, it was me going in, performing a song. I think the most important thing is that you are performing to make a balance between creating something that is prized to create a picture of what you’re creating in a story and also wanting to create a melody or whatever it is I’m adding that will make for a really good song.

SR: Going back to the Armory Wars, you’ve just had this exposure from Marvel, it’s such a huge and quite unique achievement as a band, how do you feel about it?

I think as a comic book writer, he should be doing more work with them. It’s something that’s been tied into this band for years, it’s not where I or any of the other members do but it’s been a part of the band for all these years. To have them appreciate it and become a part of it, it’s an honour firstly but it’s so fitting and I hope the relationship continues

SR: Your music video for The Unheavenly Creatures, you worked with director P.R Brown who’s worked with acts like Slipknot, Murder dolls, Prince… what was it like working with him?

Fast [laughs] the scenes that I did, and the video hasn’t been seen yet but the work that we did was very fast. Basically we got to watch the dancing being practiced from the moment I got there and that was the most incredible thing. John Rua has been a huge fan and supporter of the band and was such a major part of what happened with this video and he had his whole dance troop in there and I got to see how he works as a director and how everything worked together. It was pretty incredible actually. I had to sit around a lot personally [laughs] but I got to see all this inspirational stuff so know it wasn’t an issue to have to sit around.

When doing a music video some scenes you’ve just got to brush past because the important things are about to happen. I think the important part of that video was capturing the essence, the main characters emotions and the dancing. I think that’s what’s going to make it really unique, we are just kind of… of course Claudio with the vocals and the lyrics play a major part of it, and he’s almost playing his own character within it, but the rest of us are just kind of sprinkles within this sundae.

This day and age with music videos, they just don’t matter that much; they are almost just like a promotional tool, which they always were but you know, you throw them out there and they last a day, I’d like to think this is unique enough that it will stick with a few people.

SR: Talking about that uniqueness, a lot of reviewers and other musicians have made the comment that Coheed and Cambria are one of the few real bands left. What’s your reaction when you read something like that?  

I think it’s an honour but I’m hopeful there will be a lot more music and bands that really do take it as seriously as we do that they come back. I do think there is a lack of it, and I’m proud that we have stuck through and continue and we want to and that we are still as hungry as we are. We still want to create things that aren’t stagnant. Do we perform and do we create to appeal to our fans? Yes, in so many ways we do. But what you start with first and foremost is trying to create what makes you happy and the fact we are still able to do that and it makes the people who appreciate us happy, there is nothing more rewarding. We get to create this music and we are on tour and living in a bus together with these other 3 guys and our crew, who are also our family and we love each other and enjoy it so much that we want to continue doing it. There a lot of people who don’t want to and just do it, but we still feel the hunger to create.

When people say “real bands” I think that’s what shines through.

SR: When are you coming back to Australia?

I hope it’s soon. We love coming there. As distant as it is, and the portion of the day and a half it takes to get out there, it’s worth it.

If we are wanted, we will be there!

SR: If there was any song in the world you’d wished you’d written what would it be?

That’s going to change every day! Do you know what it is today? There is a song that my son really loves right now, that my father and I did a cover of for his birthday. I don’t know if you know the band The Moody Blues, but the singer his name is Justin Hayward and he had a song called Raised on Love and we recorded it for my son and he makes me listen to it every day, whether it’s his version or the cover version we did. It kind of makes me think like, oh man if only I wrote that song for my son.

Vaxis- The Unheavenly Creatures Part One out now!

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