Band chat: Coheed and Cambria’s Travis Stever

A&E talked double discs, new releases and genre refutations with Travis Stever, lead rhythm guitarist for Coheed and Cambria.

Shannon Ryan

What: Coheed and Cambria

 

When: 5 p.m., Sunday

 

Where: First Avenue, 701 N. First Ave., Minneapolis

 

Cost: $30

 

Age: All ages

 

Monday evening marked the beginning of a North American tour for Coheed and Cambria, which kicks off with a performance in Washington, D.C., and ends in the band’s native city of New York.

Travis Stever is the leading guitarist for the band, and aside from front man Claudio Sanchez, Stever is the only consistent member of the group since its inception in 1995.

The band’s latest effort is a double album, although the discs — “The Afterman: Ascension” and “The Afterman: Descension” — were released in two separate full-length volumes. The first volume was released physically and digitally in October, and the second volume is hot off the net, having dropped just three days ago.

“We figured we would separate the [disc releases] by months because it fit the vision,” Stever said. “It’s kind of like when you watch your favorite TV show and it splits into two pieces — you know damn well you’re going to tune in the next week. That’s what we wanted with this, too.”

The band itself is recognized as being an interesting spectacle, developing music that is highly conceptual and releasing albums when their fandom is at the peak of anticipation. “The Afterman: Descension,” as a sonic cliffhanger, fits the bill for typical Coheed and Cambria fare.

The two-disc album follows suit with the band’s use of science fiction, though it does so in a more personal, identifiable way, titillating fans with lyrics that question mortality, God and the search for the unknown.

“It’s just all there — all these different things that people can connect with,” he said. “I know that when Claudio writes the lyrics they are based on real experiences in his life, so a lot of people can identify with those emotions.”

Coheed and Cambria have delivered a range of sounds, from over-the-top rock anthems to sweetened lullabies, Sanchez’s voice streaming a coo of righteous indignation in one track and flirting with forgiveness in the next. Stever doesn’t confine the band to one specific genre, insisting that they’ve never wanted to be restricted to one sound, and the band’s influences are to blame for that.

“Whether it be from folk to punk to heavy metal, we are hugely influenced by all aspects of music, even jazz,” he said. “We’re always experimenting with all of those different sounds, and because our sound is very unique, people feel the need to pigeonhole it and try to put a label on it.”

Though not always agreeing with the categorization of sound the band is periodically synched with, Stever acknowledges that these labels are a trick of the trade and offers us his label of choice.

“That’s what you do when you go out and play for people and you release records. You’re hoping for their dissection and opinion,” he said. “I guess first and foremost we are a rock band, but we are whatever the hell you want us to be.”

Coheed and Cambria will grace the Mainroom on Sunday, revisiting the city they admire and the venue they respect.

“Minneapolis is a great place,” Stever said. “We’ve played [First Avenue] a few times, and we love coming back.”

Stever hinted at a mixed bag of tunes from both discs served between tracks off of earlier albums for the evening. Spoiler alert: The MTV addictive hit circa ’03, “A Favor House Atlantic,” will be a definite musical snack.