Fans of prog-rock/metal band Coheed and Cambria have been on one heck of a journey, thanks to the outfit's vision for an epic sound that matches a sprawling, original sci-fi narrative — all played out over five concept albums. But the band itself has had its share of hard times.
"We have rolled with punches quite often, and we've dealt with a lot of turmoil in the best way possible," says guitarist Travis Stever.
The group didn't initially get off to a rough start. Its melding of prog-rock, punk, metal and pop, and its emphasis on scorching guitar solos and axman/frontman Claudio Sanchez's stratospheric vocal range got the band some positive early buzz. Its 2002 debut, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, would kick off what is known as The Amory Wars, Sanchez's sci-fi odyssey that has since left the realm of music to become its own comic book series and spawned a novel Sanchez wrote with best-selling author Peter David.
Over the course of four more albums, which included the band's most recent effort, Year of the Black Rainbow in 2010, the band created a grand mythology while picking up plenty of fans who were down for the ride. As Stever points out, even though you can hear relatable stories of heartbreak and perseverance in Sanchez's storyline, Coheed and Cambria's vision hasn't been everyone's cup of tea.
"You can see the real side of what's going on with this person throughout this multidimensional, multigalaxy story," Stever explained. "It's been really hard for some people to swallow throughout the years, but it's been really easy for others."
For the band, what hasn't been easy is dealing with circumstances that frequently put it in a state of flux. Original members including drummer Josh Eppard left in 2006. Replacement drummer Chris Pennie (from The Dillinger Escape Plan) filled in but couldn't record drums for Coheed and Cambria's fourth album, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow, due to conflicting contractural obligations. (Foo Fighters' drummer Taylor Hawkins was enlisted to record the drum tracks.)
Arguably the band's biggest blow came last July, when bassist Mike Todd was arrested for armed robbery and narcotics possession. This eventually led to Todd leaving Coheed and Cambria and the band taking a hard look at its future.
"It's more or less, what hand are we given? How do we want to play it and do we want to play it?" Stever said. "And I'm, like, (expletive) yeah, we want to play it. We're going to keep going."
Since Todd's departure, a new lineup has been established. Eppard returned to be the band's permanent drummer. The band later added bassist Zach Cooper, formerly of the band AM to AM, who, Stever said, brings a dimension that harks back to the band's earlier work.
"He's, you know, somebody who was a fan before," Stever said. "Some of the old bass playing that's been missing for a while is now there, and he brings his own thing to the table."
Before Coheed and Cambria decide to record another album, it is on the road with its current tour. When the band comes to Lexington on Thursday, Stever said, it will bring the perfect mix of hits and rarities from the band's catalog, not to mention a fun take on the Goyte hit Somebody That I Used to Know for good measure.
For Coheed and Cambria's first show in Kentucky in several years, audiences will get to see a group whose attitude indicates a better road ahead.
"We're just really well-rested and adjusted to playing live again, and we're having fun with it," Stever said. "We have to go out there and show everyone that the band is stronger than ever, and I think we're doing that."