Blast from the Past: Coheed and Cambria Revisits its Breakthrough Album, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3

Concert Preview

Coheed and Cambria guitarist Travis Stever is feeling rather nostalgic. Stever, who phoned us from an Austin tour stop, likened the experience of passing all the small halls where the band had previously played to "walking down memory lane."

"We're playing at Stubb's tonight but you pass Emo's and I passed all the clubs I played throughout the years," he says. "It's kind of cool because it all goes in a circle. We go back to that era. It was the small room in Emo's where we played originally."

That "circle" is a significant one. Led by singer Claudio Sanchez, a guy who leads a double life as a graphic novelist, Coheed formed in Nyack, N.Y., in 1995. At that time, the band's style of progressive metal was an underground novelty. But by the time of 2003's In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, the band's heady concept album about a battle that takes place in outer space, progressive metal had become more popular and Coheed's album was a hit.

Over the years, the album has even become a collector's item: It's now nearly impossible to find it on vinyl. For the current tour, designed to mark the album's 10-year anniversary, the band will issue a re-mastered version of the disc on vinyl in three distinctive configurations: an 180-gram 2 LP audiophile pressing; a limited "Neverender IKSSE: 3" Tour Edition tan splatter 2 LP (available exclusively at tour stops); and a special Direct 2 Fan grey swirl splatter 2 LP (already sold out). The band is also performing In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 in its entirety on its current tour.

"There was a high demand for it to be reissued on vinyl because there is a resurgence," says Stever when asked about what prompted the reissue. "People are collecting vinyl again. The album wasn't available anymore. You'd find one of the old ones online for an astronomical price. We decided if we were going to wax it again, we wanted to make it worth it. The touring was the same thing. We love revisiting the record. We wanted to celebrate the record we made now that it's been 10 years."

Recorded at Applehead Recording in Woodstock, N.Y., the album showcases the band's musical prowess as it alternates between moody songs such as the title track and jittery, dynamic tunes like "Cuts Marked in the March of Men," a song that sounds like a cross between Rush and the Mars Volta. Applehead studio owners/operators Michael Birnbaum and Chris Bittner share production credits; they helped the band hone its distinctive sound.

"Those guys were like family to us," says Stever. "We had this relationship with everybody in the studio. The majority of the magic happened in that studio. Some of the songs were created right there in the live room. That studio will always have that vibe for us. We did (2005's) Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness after that there."

Despite its experimental nature, the album is still accessible, which is surprising since many of the screamo and progressive metal bands from that era were about making as much noise as they could.

"That's when we came into our own," Stever says of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. "If [2002's] The Second Stage Turbine Blend was a cocoon forming, In Keeping was us popping out like a butterfly," says Stever.

Stever says the songs started out as acoustic numbers that were then developed into hard-rocking tunes in the studio.

"A lot of those tunes came from Claudio on an acoustic guitar," he says. "Back then we would sit together and I would try to write guitar parts that were favorable to all the melodies. If it was only a guitar part he had, then I would try to write something that propelled it. That's been my take. For the rest of the band, it's almost the same, just with different instruments. There were definitely songs like '21:13' where there's studio magic; a lot of things happened in the live room. But for that album specifically, those songs were built first and foremost through Claudio on an acoustic guitar."

Because Sanchez was so familiar with his bandmates, he was able to write songs with them in mind.

"It's an evolution of his songwriting style through hearing everyone else's playing style and how they'll favor the songs," says Stever. "That's always been the Coheed way. In Keeping was us coming into it. Later on, there were different ways to experiment and it didn't have to start with an acoustic guitar.

Stever says that if you purchase the deluxe edition of the reissue, you can hear the album's original demos.

"We released a cassette tape if you buy the deluxe package and it has seven or eight of the songs demoed," he says. "The meat of a song might be there but it changes when everyone is on it. Certain songs are called 'Stroke Me' or 'Stairway to Heaven 2' or other hilarious names."

When asked if the band had started to write the songs for a new studio album, Stever was non-committal.

"We're always creating," he says. "There have been things going on, for sure."

Coheed and Cambria with Thank You Scientist

7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583. Tickets: $29.50-$39.50,

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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