Cobra Starship, the brainchild of former Midtown member Gabe Saporta, burst onto the scene with their crazy fun pop-punk anthem “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)” which was a party til you drop tune that accompanied the movie starring Samuel L. Jackson. The video, not to be outdone, had more guest stars than a lost episode of Love Boat. While that song may have been their initial introduction to much of their current fanbase, it really was just the appetizer. Cobra Starship (Gabe Saporta on vocals, Ryland Blackinton on guitar, Alex Suarez on bass, Nate Novarro on drums and Victoria Asher on keytar) vow to bring fun back to music. Hey remember that kids – fun? Their live set is unmatched in infectious energy that makes even the whitest of white folks want to get up and dance. I mean, they have a hot chick rocking the keytar. How many bands can really say that on any given day. Exactly, not many.
While most of the material on their album While The City Sleeps, We Rule The Streets was written as a solo effort by Saporta, the band reports that they are already working on writing a lot of new material as a band that they can’t wait to feed to the rabid masses. Until then, they’ll just rock your socks off every night on the Honda Civic Tour. Recently, while playing here with with Fall Out Boy, +44, The Academy Is.. and Paul Wall the band sat down with TWRY staffer Ellen for some tongue-in-cheekiness. Items up for discussion – life on tour with all of their friends, their new video, their future broadway musical hit – Snakes On A Plane, and oh yeah and their desire to have a fan shave a cobra into their head. Come on, how can you let them down! There are still many shows left on this tour to show your Cobra heads. Just sayin.
So a lot of us know Gabe from Midtown, how did the rest of the band find each other?
Alex: Ryland and I played in a band called Ivy League, and we both met Gabe through Rob, the drummer of Midtown. We became really good buddies, so he saw us performing with our other band and wanted to get us to play with him. He met Nate, our drummer, while he was drum checking for Armor For Sleep. Then I met Victoria a while back through her ex-boyfriend and then Gabe found her on the internet, and wanted her to play keytar for our band.
Gabe: Are you trying to say I was lurking?!
Alex: You were lurking.
The running joke is that the name of the band comes from your encounter with a Cobra. Do you really just love Cobra’s or what’s the real story?
Alex: That’s a real story. It’s all explained in our new video.
Gabe: Joke?! That ain’t no joke! That’s a real, true story!
Watch their new video for yourself and check it out!
I love the fact that you guys have a keytar, instead of just plain keys. You don’t see that much anymore. What made the keytar stick out to you more then just having a piano on stage?
Alex: Does anybody else have a keytar?
“Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)”, seemed to be the song that put the band out there to the masses. How did that whole project come about?
Alex: Basically, Gabe already had the song written, and New Line Records was getting ready to release the soundtrack for the Snakes on a Plane movie that New Line Cinemas did.
Gabe: The Academy Is… wanted to put “Black Mamba” on the soundtrack, and where we have the same manager, he called the companies up and was like “we have a song, that would be great for the movie”, and they were like “we love the song, we want it to be released.” So he was like “well shit, this would be perfect for Gabe, with Cobra Starship, Snakes On A Plane. We’ll take one of the songs he’s been working on. And that’s where it went from there.
There were quite a few musicians who collaborated on that song, was that how the song was originally planned or did that happen later on in the process?
Gabe: It happened later on in the song, because The Academy Is… wanted to be on the soundtrack, they’re the ones who actually found out about the movie before it even came out or anything like that. It was like okay lets do one of Gabe’s songs, and William can sing on it. Then from there, we’re like we gotta get Travis also, since we’re all under the same management at Decaydence. New Line loved it so much, that they wanted to get one of their artists on there, so they added The Sounds. It worked out great for everybody.
What was the video shoot like, was it as crazy as it seemed?
Gabe: New Line put the whole video together, and they said they were going to get Samuel L. Jackson, and we didn’t even know if he was coming or not. Later in the day, the director made an announcement that Samuel L. Jackson was on his way there, and for everybody to quiet down on the set. He pulled up in a limo and did the shot. It was awesome. The whole video was shot in a big studio in Burbank, but it had a plane inside the studio. It was like a huge warehouse, built like everything you had in an airport inside this studio. It wasn’t even a real airport. It was crazy. So would just play around. Like we would have a bottle of vodka running around the “airport”, going inside the plane, drinking in the cockpit. It was awesome!
Your new video for ‘Send My Love To The Dancefloor, I’ll See You In Hell (Hey Mister DJ) was recently released. Was the whole concept for the video the band’s idea?
Gabe: We wanted to do a video that really brought to life the Cobra Legend. We worked with Tue Storm, who was the assistant direcike, was it as crazy as it seemed?
Gabe: New Line put the whole video together, and they said they were going to get Samtor of the “Church..” video. He basically was like lets do this video where we focus on this and kind of dramatization of the Cobra story.
Given your choice, whom would you like to star in your next video and should we expect to see a member of Fall Out Boy in every future video?
Gabe: Basically we’re trying to ride Fall Out Boy’s ticket as much as possible. [laughs]. No, I mean, I’ve known Fall Out Boy for a long time, and we’re obviously on their label, the same company manages all our bands. It’s definitely a big family affair. The way that it kind of works is kind of like the hip-hop mentality. If someone does well, you go back and you get all of your boys from the hood to do well, also. But obviously we’re not from the hood, we’re from the suburbs, we’re all white middle class Americans, but you know.
Okay, so who would you like to star in your next video?
Gabe: Johnny Depp or Andy Dick would be great.
You’ve toured with some amazing bands such as 30 Seconds To Mars and Panic! At The Disco. What kinds of things do you take away from touring with bands like that?
Gabe: I think, especially with both those bands, they put on such a great live show and they’re very theatrical. It definitely makes us think about how make our live experience the best it could be.
Speaking of touring, you’ve been on the Honda Civic Tour since the beginning of April. How has it been going so far?
Gabe: It’s been awesome! This tour, I think it’s definitely exceeded all of our expectations. We’re making a lot of new fans.
We here at TWRY are firm believers in all things keytar!
Any highlights to speak of yet?
Ryland: Paul Wall coming out during our set every night!
Gabe: Yeah! That’s huge.
Ryland: You go out and sing a song with Fall Out Boy.
Gabe: I think all the inter-band love, and all the stuff that’s going on on stage. I rode up on the Fall Out Boy stage on my BMX bike one time! Maybe I’ll do it again tonight, we’ll see how I feel. [note: Gabe must have been feeling rather BMX-y because he busted onto the stage during Fall Out Boy’s set on his bike!]
When you’re performing for such a big crowd, do you tend to focus on the audience or do you think of something else?
Gabe: I picture them all naked. That’s how I just don’t get nervous. And also, I try to focus on all the moms in the room, and try to make them really uncomfortable but turned on at the same time.
You recorded a song called “Awww Dip” for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie not too long ago. How did that come about?
Gabe: The movie company had contacted our manager about getting some bands, they got Gym Class Heroes, so they were like we should get Cobra Starship. They didn’t even know who we were. It’s weird because I talked to them about it and I was like “yeah we did the Snakes On A Plane song” and she didn’t even know that we had done that song, so it was weird that somehow they wanted us to do it. It was bizarre, but it worked out great. That was a fun song. It was the first song that we all actually worked on together, so it was a good experience.
What are the top three bands on your ipod these days?
Alex: I think we all agree, Ratatat.
Ryland: I hear Blur come on a lot.
Gabe: We’ve been listening to a lot of Weezer.
Your music has such an upbeat and fun approach to it on your latest CD, “While The City Sleeps, We Rule The Streets”. Who is the primary songwriter and can you take me through the general process for a song coming together from beginning to end?
Gabe: When we did that record, we weren’t even really a band yet. Those were all songs that I had been working on before we put the band together. So it was basically me that wrote the songs, but the songwriting process was challenging for me, because I had been used to writing songs as an introspective process. When I was down about stuff, I would write songs. For me, I wanted to make it a fun thing, so the challenge was to be able to capture that fun part of me, without feeling so contrived. Because usually when you are having fun, you want to go out and enjoy the world. You don’t want to sit down and write a song about it. So the challenge was how to capture that side of me when I was sitting down to write songs.
You currently have “Dear Diary” entries that you started recently as blogs on the bands MySpace. Is that going to be a regular thing?
Alex: Yeah! Absolutely.
Was it your [Alex] idea to start that?
Alex: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, we had talked about how we should keep up with things on a blog. It’s just fun, and it keeps kids up to date on what’s going on.
The band seems to have a loyal following, especially with the “Fangs up” saying they have. What’s the coolest thing a fan has ever done for you?
Ryland: Bought us a Nintendo 64!
Alex: Yeah! The Cobra Clan in Chicago got us a Nintendo 64 for Christmas.
Gabe: This one’s pretty huge too. [he pulled out a huge gold belt buckle that displayed his name across it].
Alex: Cool where’s mine? For all of us.
Ryland: Hoodies! Two separate series of custom hoodies made.
Alex: We’ve gotten samurai swords covered in cobras.
Ryland: Canes with cobras on them that pull out to be blades. A lot of people think we’re a violent band, trouble finds us! I swear to God. I’m sticking to my story.
Alex: Canada doesn’t like us very much because of all the weapons that we bring covered in cobra snakes. Every time you go to the airport, and you have a guitar case that says “cobras” on it, they think twice about what’s inside. Keep that case overnight; we gotta inspect that one real deep.
What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever done for you?
Gabe: No one’s shaved a cobra into the side of their head yet, I’d like to see that happen.
What’s a little known fact about Cobra Starship that not many people know?
Ryland: I’m going gray, a little bit. A very little bit in my beard. I’m a little self conscious about it.
Gabe: We’re a band that shares everything. We don’t have secrets.
If you could pave Cobra Starship’s future over the next five years, where would it take you?
Gabe: Well, first of all, I’d paint it in gold.
Ryland: Broadway. “Snakes On A Plane: The Musical”. “Kiss me goodbyeeee!” – you know, the young, sort of fresh young man. “Honey I’m gonna make it out alive!” Then someone grabs him and there’s this chorus of like four women.
Gabe: I think we should do the whole “While The City Sleeps” as a musical too.
What was the first album you ever purchased with your own money and do you have any memories associated with it?
Alex: Metallica, “And Justice For All..”. I would have gone with MC Hammer but I got that in third grade as a present with Vanilla Ice attached to it! It was a package deal.
Gabe: Another Bad Creation, “Coolin’ At the Playground Ya Know.” I used to have dreams about ABC and I’d be chillin with them at the playground, hanging out with them. One time they picked me up in a limo and we all went to a party and Aisha was there.
Any last words for the fans?
Gabe: We just want to thank all of our fans. Our fans are the best fans in the world. We’ve had a pretty good ride pretty quickly and I think that we all owe that to our fans. So thank you guys.