Canadian metal outfit Kobra and the Lotus, rolled into Manchester as part of their tour with Delain and Evergrey. Enigmatic front-woman Kobra took time out of her schedule to have a chat with Ave Noctum in her dressing room before the show.
However, before beginning the interview proper there was a surreal conversation with the whole band about make up, Canada and Remembrance Sunday, before all but Kobra departed.
AN: Thanks for agreeing to talk to us. This is a great tour that you’re on with Delain and Evergrey – how’s it going so far?
KP: It’s been fantastic. It’s a very versatile bill in the way that the music sounds, the heaviness, the melodies, the vocals and it’s really worked for the crowd I think – it’s been awesome.
AN: How does it compare with other tours?
KP: I’d say its one of the best actually in terms of our band fitting with the other bands – it just seems to mesh well for the audience.
AN: There are three different styles but they all overlap….
KP: Yeah there’s some kind of thing gluing them together. I mean they all are heavy and they’re all melodic in their own ways.
AN: Has the British crowd been good to you?
KP: Yeah the British crowd’s been great….They are always great.
AN: On this tour you’re playing the smaller venues. Do you prefer that or do you prefer the big arenas.
KP: It’s a different experience. Both are great. It’s just a really different scenario depending on the size of the room. I mean if you’re in an amphitheatre or an arena, usually if you’re an opening band there’s a few thousand [people] scattered over a lot of thousands of seats so that’s a really interesting challenge. This is really nice and intimate – these are very fun.
AN: Are there any particular favourite shows you’ve done over the years that you remember?
KP: There’s one actually in the states that we did with Kiss and Def Leppard in the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and that was just a very special night. It was completely full, which was a rare occurrence on that tour for us, and they were just wild. There were 20,000 people going ‘waaaah’. We [had] never experienced anything like that before in our lives. But otherwise there’s been so many really good moments, I remember actually we were in a venue that I really don’t think was a good choice for our music cause it barely fit the band – it was a micro bunker … I can’t remember where this was, Nottingham or something…
AN: In Nottingham there’s Rock City? Rescue Rooms?
KP: Not there. We have played there though, that was really kinda tight for the band but a really awesome show. Those were small shows – it was like 90 of us crammed in to this little room and everyone was singing and it was just so cool.
AN: Are there any nightmare tour stories that you have?
KP: We’ve had some bad luck with our trailers a few times. In the states we flipped a trailer across three lanes on the highway. Luckily there were no cars behind us because it would have totalled whatever was travelling behind us so that was crazy and then we got a replacement trailer and on that trailer the hinge broke and all of a sudden we were like “look the trailer is beside us”. We were wheeling down the highway and it just got swung around somehow and was wheeling beside us so we pulled over and the trailer was riding independently beside the bus.
AN: That doesn’t sound good….
KP: It was funny though. No one got hurt so now we can just laugh at it but at the time we were like ‘holy crap’.
AN: So in the set are there any particular songs that you look forward to playing…
KP: Yeah we’ve been looking forward to playing the new tracks every night, we’re opening with one that hasn’t been released yet – it’s been very fun.
AN: That’s ‘Gotham’?
KP: Yep you know about it? And ‘Trigger Pulse’ of course. ‘Battle of Wrath’ is really fun, it’s so moody. I love ending with ‘Fifty Shades of Evil’ and I think everyone is always excited that we end with that cause that’s the most familiar song to everyone, we find, anywhere.
AN: It’s a fairly short set on this tour – Has it been a bit of a challenge to narrow it down?
KP: Yeah it is. We tested out quite a few songs in the beginning, we were interchanging the second and third song a few times and we think we found the one so…
AN: That’s good. You’ve already mentioned the new songs, how are they going down with the crowds?
KP: Yeah great which has been really cool to see because no one’s heard that first one especially before and they seem to be digging it and I think the recording is pretty interesting when you know its fun to hear live. It’s been really received well so it’s given me a good feeling for next year.
AN: So that leads on to the next question – There is a double album planned for next year. Is it all done and dusted?
KP: Well we had initially thought we would be releasing it as one body of work – a double album all together – but when we signed with Napalm Records they suggested we split the album in to two separate launches because some good songs are going to go right over peoples heads and yeah now I think its a great idea and I agree with them whole heartedly. There’s gonna be a six month window and it will be just enough time for people to be ready for a second blast.
AN: How does that work compare with your previous material? Do you think you’ve progressed in terms of the sound?
KP: Yeah well I’m sure people can hear in ‘Trigger Pulse’ there were some different uses of my voice – there was just a little more modernised sound, and there was some of that on the album but there’s also heavy rock and there is the heavy metal that people know and love us for I guess. It’s a very versatile album but also more virtuous than others because it shows the guitar and the voice in more ways than we ever have.
AN: Sounds good – I’m looking forward to it. In terms of lyrical themes is there anything you can tell us about?
KP: Brad, our bass player, came up with the name for the album ‘Prevail’ and that was a huge part of the general theme and I think it could relate to every song – It’s about life and people that are getting through life and the struggles and triumphs and challenges and also our statement that we’re really giving it all we’ve got you know, and putting all our faith into this. It’s a very vulnerable album written in a very realistic way, there is not as much story telling so much as more simple but cutting lyrics.
AN: Is there anything in particular that you or the band do to keep yourselves in shape on tour, or that you do to protect your voice?
KP: I sleep you know. The best thing I can do for myself is to get a really good sleep and also not talk very much. And I guess I can’t say I eat well because I’ve been eating a lot of junk food. I try though, it is important but it’s hard to do all the time. Mostly for me it’s sleeping and not using my voice other than when we’re playing.
AN: Any pre gig rituals?
KP: I actually have some personal mantras that I just repeat to just ground myself beforehand. I usually just say same words you know a little prayer for myself and the band, for everyone to have a good show, just privately. Otherwise (Kobra demonstrates the band standing in a circle all putting their hands together in the middle) …. we still haven’t figured out the words so right now it’s to a different sound effect every time we lift our wrists, it’s so funny.
AN: What are your musical influences?
KP: It’s a really hard question to answer now because it’s really expanded drastically over the last ten years. I mean initially the reason I got in to this vein of music, the heavy metal, was because of Judas Priest and ‘Painkiller’ was the first thing ever that hit me through the heart. Now it’s just grown so much, we listen to so many things. I really appreciate Devin Townsend. I appreciate a lot of Swedish Folk actually. We listen to some pop music, we listen to so many things, there’s a lot of different places to draw inspiration from. Actually this would probably sound weird to some people but there’s a series called Nashville and it’s about country music in North America but its not the typical radio country you would think of you, its just really brilliant folky song writing most of the time that’s very original and I love hearing that kinda stuff cause its always new sounding to me. I need new things all the time.
AN: You’ve got to a stage in your career now where you’re perhaps a role model for people looking to come in to music, particularly girls and women – how does it feel becoming that inspiration?
KP: I feel very flattered. It’s still kinda strange to hear that you know? I know that when you start to do something that is for the world, like music or art, I think the artists have a responsibility once they start to get a following. And so I just think it’s wonderful and hopefully I’m providing a good example for them – you know, a positive one because there’s enough negativity around in the world and yeah, I guess you know on my instagram I try to make sure it’s very uplifting and encouraging because I think everyone should always try something with their heart completely 100% if they’re passionate about it.
And with that, there was a knock on the door as the band manager told Kobra she had another commitment bringing things to a close.
AN: Thanks very much for talking to me, and I hope you have a good show tonight.
KP: Thanks, it’s been my pleasure.
Interview by Andy Pountney
Thanks to Jane Ellison for transcribing the interview.