While inspecting most veteran rock band’s careers, you can usually pinpoint the album that took them to the next level. And in the case of prog metal band Coheed and Cambria, it was the third release, 2005’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. It peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard charts, sold over a million copies worldwide and spawned one of their most renowned tunes, “Welcome Home.”
Guitarist Travis Stever spoke with Pulse about the decision to perform the album in its entirety on the band’s current tour (hitting Manhattan’s Terminal 5 on May 5 and May 22) and how past turmoil helped make some great music.
How did the idea come up to perform the third album in its entirety this year?
Years ago (in 2008), we did a series of nights that we called Neverender. We had only four albums so far, and we did all four of those albums on four nights—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London. People loved that. But a lot of people didn’t get to experience it, so we decided as the albums had their anniversaries, we would start to go out and do the Neverender series as a tour. We started with our first record, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, on the 10-year mark. It was almost hitting 11 years when we did In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3.
Now, Good Apollo has been planned for some time. It doesn’t fall on 10 years; it’s actually about to be 12 years since its release. We were planning it for so long, but we were touring on our last record, The Color Before the Sun. The album was so well-received that we kept touring on it, and we had to put Good Apollo in the backseat for a minute…We were excited about it the whole time, but when you’ve got a new record, you can’t really say, “We’re going to stop touring on this record and just do this old record.”
It’s cool to listen to it so far away from when it happened. Not like I can be an outside perspective. But to have the distance from it, you have a new perspective. And the album to me is just as exciting as when we did it. I think it’s my favorite Coheed album. Every album has something that I love about it, and it’s more important to me for certain reasons. But when people ask me what record to start with Coheed, I would say Good Apollo, then Afterman.
Did you have any idea back around the album’s release that it was special?
Absolutely. A lot of the energy on that record came lyrically and musically for Claudio [Sanchez, vocals/guitar] from a really bad experience that he was going through with his now wife. And a lot of that darkness is on the record. But the light side of it was the band really started to explore every angle—the more progressive side, the more poppy side. We just went for it. It was the first time that we had a major label fully backing us…This was our first Sony record…and they were like, “Just do your thing.” We went in, and we had something to prove, and were really able to take our time and hone in on everything for the first time.
I think Good Apollo became bigger than we expected, musically. In the actual concept of the record, the writer got sucked into the story; it’s almost like we got sucked into the record. The record basically started to dictate us and our lives. That’s kind of why the band went through some turmoil. The other guys got kind of too sucked in. They weren’t even there for a lot of the end of the recording, because they just started to get stir crazy and go off and do their things. I can’t speak for Mike [Todd, bass], but Josh [Eppard, drums] would be the first to admit that drugs played a huge part in that. But it gave the music some kind of edginess. Everything has an edginess that wouldn’t have been there if not for that turmoil. So, it wasn’t just Claudio’s relationship that was going wrong. It was all these things happening in the band. And that fed the music.