Coheed and Cambria Guitarist Travis Stever Talks Side Projects

Travis Stever (left) in training with his Coheed and Cambria bandmates.
(Photo credit: Lindsey Byrnes.)

Guitarist Travis Stever keeps quite busy in Coheed and Cambria, whose latest album The Afterman: Ascension (and its 2013 sequel companion, The Afterman: Descension) serves as a introduction to the Amory Wars saga that the band has explored throughout their career and which frontman Claudio Sanchez has expanded upon in comic book format. Beyond his ambitious main gig, Stever plays with a group called Davenport Cabinet and also unleashed a tongue-in-cheek metal homage EP with Fire Deuce back in 2005. He chatted with A.D.D. about his outside musical excursions and reading habits.

Holiday greetings from Davenport Cabinet.
(Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook page.)

Beyond the guitar you play a variety of string instruments — mandolin, banjo and lap steel guitar.
I enjoy experimenting with the sounds of those instruments. On this album [cycle] I don’t think I particularly went too far out of the box. There’s a little banjo on one song, but that’s on the next album.

How long have you been playing all these different instruments?
Really it just started with me experimenting years ago, not knowing what the hell I was doing. Especially with the banjo, I’ve always been into finger picking strategies. Never really knowing exactly what I was doing. I was a big Leonard Cohen fan and grew up around his music, and he was a really awesome finger picker. My father was really great at fingerpicking — he’s a musician as well. He taught me some of his styles, and I just found that that fingerpicking thing could fit with the banjo, and to be honest with you I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing in general. Eventually you get a knack for it. If you love making music, you get a knack for creating sounds with these things. Basically throughout time I got comfortable with them. I’m no Bela Fleck on the banjo, let’s put it that way, but I can play a lick or two.

You’ve got a metal side project, don’t you?
I did that with the band that we’re on tour with right now, 3. We did a tongue-in-cheek Fire Deuce album, but that was years ago. Not that that was abandoned. It was very fun. It was basically a party where we would get together and make tongue-in-cheek tunes. The project that I take seriously outside of Coheed and Cambria that I’m most proud of is called Davenport Cabinet. I’ve been working with my cousin, who I’ve been writing with for quite some time, and we actually have an album done that’s going to get released at some point. That’s a whole other project, but really when it comes down to it, Coheed is number one. Anything outside of that would be Davenport.

Dramatic guitarist pose.
(Photo courtesy of Travis Stever’s Twitter page.)

Didn’t Davenport Cabinet put out an album [Nostalgia In Stereo] four years ago?
That was on Equal Vision, and I’m hoping that this record will be out on Equal Vision in the winter as well. It’ll be similar to that album, but I think it’s way above it. Not that I’m not proud of the last record, but we’ve taken a few years and left behind a lot of ideas and wanted to make something I was proud of. The next album will be called Our Machine.

It would be interesting for you do an album with all of these different string instruments.
There’s going to be quite a bit of that on this. There are a lot of musical escapades on that record, just like with Afterman. And everybody in this unit [Coheed] is consistently working, especially Claudio. There’s never a dull moment.

Are you a big comic book fan like Claudio?
No, I’m not. He’s got me into certain comics that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Way before the TV show, he had turned me onto The Walking Dead and a lot of the classics. I’m there for it, but at the same time I don’t think I could ever be as into it as him. I think that’s what makes Amory Wars as interesting as it is. He’s been a fan of that kind of storytelling from the get go. He’s a guy that lives by it. It’s pretty intriguing for me to see that side of it. I’ve been to a lot of Comic Cons.

Is there anything you like to follow outside of music, anything in books or movies?
I’m a rock book dork. Nowadays I’m trying to keep on the gym thing, so I listen to books. Right now I’m listening to Greg Allman’s book, and before that I listened to Kevin Smith’s book. It’s actually pretty funny. I think the last book I read was Water For Elephants. Don’t judge me on that — that was a really good book. Then they came up with the movie, which was all right. Actually I [more recently] read Ace Frehley’s book. You’ll consistently find me reading books like that.

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