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Coheed and Cambria offers prequel to four-album series



Back in 2002, Coheed and Cambria released its first album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade. The album launched the start of the band's comic book concept and introduced Coheed and Cambria, the central characters in The Amory Wars comic book series written by the band's front man Claudio Sanchez.

From 2003 until 2007, the band dished out three more sequential concept albums, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (2003), Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (2005) and Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow (2007). In 2008, a year after the release of all four concept albums, Coheed and Cambria performed a sequential four-night four-concert series, Neverender. The series showcased the bands four concept albums to better expose the four-part science fiction story line.

Now, having tied together the four albums, the band is getting set to tell the prequel to the science fiction saga through their latest concept album, Year of the Black Rainbow, released on April 13.

Along with the standard-format album, the deluxe-edition box set will include a 352-page novel written by Sanchez and New York Times Bestselling Author Peter David. The hardcover "Black Card" (VIP) edition of the novel sold out within hours of being released.

"[The story] has been confusing for a lot of people," lead/rhythm guitarist Travis Stever says by phone from his home in New York. "The best way for the band to go with trying to answer questions [about the story/CD concept] is to just do a full novel that answers everything and starts at the beginning and gives a good description on what's to come."

The prequel, Year of the Black Rainbow, laces together many different aspects of the previous albums. "It's just going back and giving the origins when it comes to the story and the concept," Stever says. "If somebody thinks they've missed anything, they haven't because it's the beginning. So this really starts and tells what the hell the story's about and describes a lot."

Stever thinks the entire concept from the five albums would fit perfectly for a movie or television series, especially the prequel. "It's really understandable," he says. "The rest of the story is, too, but, as you know, it has all been in comic books so it's in sections. Having this novel and being able to read through it and follow everything the way you can, I think that any director, writer or filmmaker would probably be a lot more interested in that. It would be cool. I mean I guess you never know."

Stever says everyone in the band is into movies and loves a good story, but none of them are into comic books like Sanchez. The science fiction/comic book concept was all Sanchez's idea, so lyrically and conceptually he choreographed the album. Besides the concept, "when it came down to it, everybody was just concerned about being able to make the songs the best that they are," Stever says.

Year of the Black Rainbow stands apart from the rest of the series for many reasons. "I mean first off, it's the first album [other than the Neverender concert series] that Chris Pennie, the drummer, was able to play on," Stever says. "The reason that a lot of things changed in the album is because we did that Neverender. We were able to really go back and examine all the different styles -- writing styles, playing styles, etc. ... and that influenced what happened on the record. Overall, we move on and change as a band. And I think this album's no different. The changes that came were all good ones as far as I'm concerned and the band has just gone further and progressed, if you will."

Stever says a lot of the inspiration he received for the new album generated from the Neverender concert series. "I can say that going back and playing all the old material that we did for that Neverender made a huge difference on how I approach playing. My inspiration goes back to realizing what was done in the past, guitar-wise -- musically in general -- what I've done within this band throughout all these years," he says.

Now, with album production behind them, the band is set to kick off its 2010 promotional Year of the Black Rainbow Tour as the headliner, making a stop at The Fillmore in Charlotte on April 22.

"It's been a while since we've been out on the road and awhile since we've gone out on tour, so we're hungry and we're ready to go and give it all we've got," Stever says. "I think that people are going to be really excited to see how fresh the band is. Visually, there'll be some really cool stuff going on. But as for the setlist and the band itself, I think the people are going to be really excited to see what we pull out for this run."

Stever sends a shout-out to Charlotte fans who will be attending the concert. "Get your ass out there," he says under his breath. "It's a good show; because you see us opening for somebody or you see us after two years of touring on the same album, it's different. This is our tour and this is going to be a big set and this is a big deal. I think this is something for anybody who's a fan of the band or even if the band is new to them, this is the best way to see us now."

Coheed and Cambria will perform at The Fillmore Charlotte on April 22 with Circa Survive and Torche. Tickets are $25.

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