Canadian hard rockers Kobra and The Lotus are getting ready to release the first part of their forthcoming double studio album.
The band recently penned a deal with Napalm Records which will see their debut record on the label released as two separate volumes of the double album. The record will be titled Prevail I and II with the first part being released 12th May and the second part will follow later in the year. Kobra And The Lotus are currently on tour with Xandria and Once Human across North America.
National Rock Review recently caught up with the band’s lead vocalist Kobra Paige during a moment of downtime at home in Calgary to talk about their new record, their plans for the year and the financial challenges that come with touring and recording a new album.
NRR: I just wanted to catch up with you as we chatted at the end of last year in Glasgow when you were on tour with Delain. Obviously, it’s getting a bit closer to the album release so I just wanted to catch up with you about that. So thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us again, I really appreciate it.
Kobra: Cool, I appreciate it too, thanks for having me back, it’s nice to talk about what’s coming.
NRR: The last time we saw you was in Glasgow with Delain last year and that tour took you across most of Europe. I was just wondering how was that tour for you guys?
Kobra: That was tour was fantastic, it actually hit really well with the audience as we blended together the different sounds from our band, Evergrey and Delain. I think that it was cool because we noticed people weren’t only enjoying Delain as the headliner but they were enjoying the touring package that was coming through. So that’s always a plus when you can get something together for people that’s a full package deal for them to enjoy the full night.
NRR: You are getting ready to release your first studio album in almost 3 years Prevail, well the first part of Prevail anyway. I was just wondering how are you feeling about the record coming out so shortly?
Kobra: I am feeling great about the record actually. This has been one of the most special couple of years now since we started to write the album was almost like a year ago in Denmark, last spring, kind of around this time.
We just have such a fantastic team on board with Napalm Records as well, that I feel more confident about this launch and even the material more than ever before. It just seems like we’ve learnt a lot over the years and we’ve gotten a lot more locked in this time.
Yeah, the material as far as the album goes I’m just excited to be releasing the album soon and also releasing the tracks that have come out in the last six months or so. People can see a little bit of what we’ve been up to and there are so many more things coming down the pipeline, which is kind of crazy. You know it’s not going to stop for people for a couple of years because there’s also another album after this and we are not even done doing what we’ve done for this first one.
NRR: Speaking of those tracks which you are previewing at the moment; “You Don’t Know” was previewed quite recently. I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that song and the inspiration behind it?
Kobra: Absolutely, “You Don’t Know” is specifically about feeling misunderstood in general. When I was in the studio I was just going through a lot of things in my personal life with my family, my band, the people even in the industry.
There were some situations where I was also thrown under a bus a few times and I’ve never done that to anyone and I don’t value it. So I was having just a lot of personal challenges and so I just put that emotion into the song and those words were literally a direct expression of what was happening in the moment. I think you can hear it in the vocal performance as well.
Then I thought this has got to be actually how everyone feels sometimes, just not feeling like people know what they are going through and it’s not singular to anyone or myself, but it’s definitely a universal feeling.
NRR: I know the album was produced by Jacob Hansen and it was mastered by Ted Jensen. Obviously those guys, one of them is a Grammy Award winning producer. I was just wondering what was it like working with them and what did they bring to the table?
Kobra: It was amazing, we’ve worked with Ted in the past so I knew his mastering was fantastic, that’s why I chose him, I could just depend on that reliable mastering.
As far as Jacob went as a producer, I really, really had been paying attention to his last works that he has been a part of, especially his mixes the last five years or so. The Volbeat records I thought sounded monstrous to me and I thought this is like another level of evolution that we could maybe go to. Also, maybe because he’s not from North America he has a different perspective on how to push us outside of our box. So that was really my thinking behind it, and it did exactly that.
When we went there we were so challenged and pushed like never before. He really is not a super involved producer in terms of writing songs, but more so a guy that will tell you when it’s not good enough. Where you have to keep going back and keep fixing it and fixing it and rewriting it. It’s very nerve-wracking because you have to push the best out of yourself, but it really took us to a different place.
He also suggested some things such as dropping the tunings, looking at chord progressions differently so we weren’t as predictable and writing songs that were all the time in this pattern that would be in all of our music that we never noticed before. It was just really wild to look at stuff like that, and it was hard at the same time.
I mean dropping the songs was interesting because it forced me to sing using my whole vocal range basically, which I haven’t actually shown people on the albums before, but it was great in the end because it just made a bigger colouring palette to play with.
NRR: I just wanted to talk to you about your fans briefly because I saw a post that you put up the other day about the rock station radio contest and how they all rallied you and helped you guys to get that playlisting by that radio station. It must almost feel like having the best PR in the world fighting your corner, do you feel like they’ve got your back so to speak?
Kobra: It was extremely humbling. I honestly didn’t expect so many people to even find the page themselves or go on there after we had shared it. Because also I don’t know if you have noticed this, but Facebook is not a very good marketing platform, it’s a pyramid and you can’t even get your post to show to even your own fans. So that just really blew my mind because it meant that they were really paying attention and then they were sharing it amongst each other and we were all just blown away it was really humbling. But it also felt really good because there was more support there than I thought was actually going to be there, and it really charged up our faith in a big way. Again because it was like yeah, there’s people that actually believe in us and we really need that actually to keep going and pursuing this you know.
NRR: Another of your posts I saw recently was really poignant. You mentioned about how having a band is such a huge financial burden and following your passion is beautiful and risky. Obviously, you’ve sunk your heart and soul into this record. With all of these pressures in the music business, what is it that keeps you going through those difficult times when you kind of question yourself – are we doing the right thing and all these financial pressures around you; what keeps you going?
Kobra: You know, honestly a lot of what keeps me personally going is the support from people that are enjoying our music. It’s seeing how much they are enjoying it, or how much they feel like they’ve needed us in their lives as much as we’ve needed them. It makes me remember the feeling of also being on stage and sharing the show experience with people because that’s really what my favourite part is. I’m not like actually even as fond of songwriting or recording as those moments because I love to feel like we are sharing an experience together, I really value it.
In that situation like two weeks ago … I feel like the band is at another pinnacle point where things are shifting it’s growing a little bigger, but some things haven’t changed. So you know like to financially support all of the tours now needed to be going around the world and stuff it’s just like how the hell are we supposed to do this when we are still not actually making any money off our shows.
I mean today we still have supported every band for free pretty much, and you are thinking about us like Canadians travelling around everywhere and finding ways to do that is challenging, but you don’t want to give it up either when you see or are reminded how much you really love it and what you are doing it for, which is lifting each other essentially. That’s what I think music does, it unifies people in that moment.
So it can be quite hard, but the people as I said came and lifted me right up and they were the ones that pushed me through out of that circumstance which was quite beautiful.
NRR: One thing obviously I know that in terms of the financial aspects of being a professional musician, things like Pledge Music has been very helpful for bands to get their music out there and such. I know the last time I spoke to you last year, you were telling me about one of the things you were doing with the pledgers when you were getting back home to Calgary was to do an acoustic show with them and you were going to serve them dinner and they were going to listen to the record and such. I was just wondering has that happened yet and what was that experience like?
Kobra: It has happened, it happened about two weeks after we came home from the tour last year and it was really, really cool. I think that an acoustic set is something that we are going to do here and there because there is something very intimate and completely different and special about it that is not like when we are going full force on a stage with the heavy metal instruments, I loved it. I mean we also got to play it, I got to sing it differently, so it was fun for every single one of us to express the music in a different way for people to enjoy.
I do want to say something about the Pledge thing because that’s another thing that’s kind of interesting is the reason I got really overwhelmed a couple of weeks ago was because I was trying to figure out how are we going to do this next year with all the stuff we need to do. A lot of great things are happening, but we need to figure out how to support this.
Then we got the invoices for how much it is going to cost to fulfil all the Pledge items and basically, we are doing a double album, it equalled the amount of how much the album cost to make. So it cancelled itself out and I was like holy shit you know basically like, it’s not the pledger’s fault, it’s not the industry’s fault, it’s just how it goes, but I wasn’t expecting that.
So I don’t think we will ever do a Pledge again because of that reason, it was just not actually something we could sustain. Right now it’s like very stressful, but the Pledge itself was amazing for getting people involved and showing their support that was incredible.
NRR: You are not the first person to tell me that actually. I did an interview with another artist quite recently, who mentioned something very similar to me, I was quite interested in that. One of the questions I was going to ask you was have you learnt lessons from the Pledge experience, that would maybe serve you in good stead for future releases but obviously, you’ve just answered that question.
Kobra: (laughing) Yeah, that’s interesting. Not a twist that you would have ever expected, not something that I ever expected either, it was kind of like a shock you know at first. It was like wait a second, oh my god, ok (laughing).
NRR: In support of the album, you are going to be hitting the road with Xandria this May across North America. You must be looking forward to that?
Kobra: I’m so excited, I haven’t met the people in Xandria yet, but I did do a Napalm panel with Diane while we were on the Delain tour and she seemed lovely. I just think it’s going to be a great tour. I also think Once Human is going to kick ass, and it’s going to be a really strong and fun tour package for people.
NRR: You just mentioned there about the cost of touring and stuff. However, I just wondered if you have any plans to return to the UK anytime soon?
Kobra: Absolutely, right now we are trying to figure out how to get over there in the fall. As you know we have tried very hard to come to the UK at least once a year, it’s the first place that we ever kind of had support from anyone and we are very faithful to that. So we are working on it right now, so hopefully, we will have something to announce for you guys (laughing).
NRR: Outside of the record, just a few questions about you personally. Who was the first band that you saw play live and how did that first live experience affect you?
Kobra: You know the first band that I ever saw live was actually The Distillers, I really loved punk rock when I was pre-teen and Brode Doll was the first person I ever thought now that is a rock star. I made my mum chaperone me with my friend to go fly somewhere else in Canada so we could see their first show in Canada. I saved all my money and bought this ticket, we went over there and my parents helped me to get the plane ticket so we could do it and I won’t forget it because of how excited I was at that show.
NRR: I remember my first show. My first show was actually Guns N’ Roses.
Kobra: That’s awesome.
NRR: And they were supported by Faith No More and Soundgarden, which was ridiculous.
NRR: It was in 1992 and still that first show has stayed with me as one of my favourite shows I’ve ever been to. Your first gig is always really memorable, that’s why I always like to ask people that question.
Kobra: Yeah, that’s an unreal gig though that you saw, as your first show. I mean Soundgarden opening up, what the heck (laughing).
NRR: They were promoting Badmotorfinger at the time, and yeah they were the opening band on the bill, it’s crazy.
NRR: Obviously, you are a classically trained singer who sings metal music. I was just wondering when you are kicking back at home, what would you usually find yourself listening to on your iPod or stereo. What type of music do you like to listen to unwind?
Kobra: Oh yeah, absolutely. I actually really enjoy listening to bands like Type O Negative, Porcupine Tree, Devin Townsend, Nine Inch Nails. It’s probably stuff that people would never guess, but that’s what I’m right now listening to …Depeche Mode (laughing).
NRR: That’s quite a mixed bag.
Kobra: Yeah, it is.
NRR: Just back to the album, I know you’ve been performing some of the new material out on the road. I was just wondering what’s the response been like from the fans?
Kobra: The response has been great, and the best part about it has been seeing the response to the new music. On the last tour we tested out “Gotham”, as you saw in Scotland because that wasn’t released yet, we just wanted to see how it made the energy change with the people.
Because a lot of the time you can play a new song and people are like what’s going on and you can really see it in their faces, but it went very well. So that makes me anticipate releasing the album even more so that we can play more of this material mixed in.
Also, what’s going to be great about it is that we’ve only shown kind of the more hard rock aspect of the album and there’s a whole other half of full on heavy metal that people don’t even know about yet. So I think that will be good, because I’ve seen some concerns about the guitar solos missing and stuff, and they are gonna get their shred that’s for sure.
NRR: Do you actually have a favourite track on the album so to speak and is it something that we’ve heard yet or is it something that you’ve got tucked away that you are going to unveil later?
Kobra: Oh god, that’s a really hard question for me to answer. I enjoy all the songs, they are all so different from each other. I for sure love the ones that we’ve released, I find the newer stuff the most fun personally for me to play live right now, just because it’s new for me. We’ve been playing a lot of our stuff forever and to have something fresh is just so nice. Have you heard the album?
NRR: I’ve just only literally been sent it, so I’ve not had a chance to listen to it yet, but I will be giving a listen.
Kobra: Oh ok, you should just download that and take it for a spin in your car (laughing). Man, there’s aspects of each song that I enjoy. “Specimen X” I think is super cool, and “Prevail” the title track is also straight up heavy metal and I think that it’s really fun and it’s perfect for Prevail.
NRR: What’s on the cards for this year, you most probably have this whole year mapped out right now?
Kobra: Yeah, we do have most of the year planned out for ourselves. So May we are touring with Xandria and Once Human. The summer …only those four festival dates because we are using a lot of the time between those festivals to get all of the material done for the Prevail II launch, so we will be filming all of the music videos in those spaces and getting all of the artwork started and stuff like that.
Then the fall, right now we are working on all those dates, we have some things that are tentatively coming together, but we are not allowed to announce yet. But, we’ll most likely be coming back to Europe as well and doing the UK. We are confirmed to be in Germany in December for a German tour, but yeah it’s gonna be a pretty busy year, we don’t get off the road until two days before Christmas this year (laughing).
NRR: That’s pretty crazy.
Kobra: Yeah, it is crazy. It’s good though.
NRR: It’s good to be busy, you’ve got to get out there and play the record so that everybody can hear how good it is. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, we really appreciate it, and good luck with everything you’ve got going on and the album release, and all the touring and hopefully we will see you back in the UK in the fall.
The first chapter of the forthcoming Kobra and the Lotus album Prevail will be released via Napalm Records on the 12th May.