For a band, losing an original member can be extremely difficult. Losing two original members, however, can prove to be catastrophic and become every band’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately for Cobra Starship‘s lead vocalist Gabe Saporta, that nightmare became a reality when their original bassist, Alex Suarez, and their original guitarist, Ryland Blackington, declared their intent to leave the band.
This unfortunate news was announced publicly in a blog post on Cobra Starship’s official website on October 21st.
For Saporta, that news left him with a difficult choice. Should he begin anew without two of his original members who contributed to four of the band’s albums to date, or should he call it quits, ultimately defanging the Cobra and giving the band it’s final bow.
Fortunately for the band, along with their legions of devoted fans, Gabe decided to keep the starship a-flight by forging a brand new sound and by leading the band towards a new future that is as unpredictable as it is exciting. Fresh off of a recent Jimmy Kimmel performance and in the midst of preparing to resume work on a new album with his new band mates, Gabe took a moment to discuss his history, the future and why he feels Cobra’s next record may be the band’s first true ‘band record’ in a very long time. Check it out below.
AltWire [Ed Oswald]: Great work on the new single! A few of us saw you play back in the early part of the last decade and you were really great. How far along are you on the new album? Have you made a lot of progress, or is it still in the works?
Gabe Saporta [Cobra Starship]: Nah, it’s totally still in the works. I think for me, you know, I spent a lot of time [by] myself trying to figure out different sounds and to see what the new sound of the record was going to be. I also had to spend a lot of time putting some new members together in the band. We did a lot of auditions. I worked with Victoria and Nate, who were the original Cobra members, to find our new guitar player and bass player. What I really want to do is just get together, the whole band, and really write a band album. We haven’t had that, our last album [Night Shades] wasn’t like that and I really want to go back and make a band album.
AW: How easy did the search go with that? Everything seems like it tied together pretty nicely.
GS: Yeah! We found the right guys. They both were in other bands before. Our new bass player, Eric Halverson, was actually the bass player in a band we had toured with called A Rocket To The Moon, who are actually also on our record label [as well]. Then the other guy, Andy Barr, was a friend of ours from another band that we were friends with. It all kind of just happened through word of mouth, but just trying out different people takes a lot of time. It was a trying time for Cobra because I think for a minute, there, we didn’t know whether or not we were going to continue.
AW: Wow! Well it’s a good thing you kept it going, because I think this new release is really hot. How did the guest spot with Icona Pop come around? What made you decide to partner up with the duo on your new single?
GS: We actually did a remix for them a couple of years back when their single ‘I Love It’ first came out. We did a remix for them and that’s how we met them. They’re on our same label, and we’ve always been a big fan of theirs. When the song came around it was a perfect fit for them.
AW: Do you think once the new record gets up and going again that you’ll stick with this new sound? Because I really love it, and I like that you’re stepping out of the realm and doing your own thing for you.
GS: I think that was a very important part for me to find a sound that would be uniquely ours and that nobody else was doing. I think that we really tapped into that with this new sound and I would definitely like to keep going further on and write more in this style as well.
AW: After Night Shades and before this album, you went through some very rough times. Would you say writing the new music has been therapeutic? Is this great new sound with Cobra Starship a reflection on your outlook pertaining to life and music?
GS: I think for things to go well in your career, things also need to be good in your life. I think I spent a lot of time getting my life right and I think that’s what has really allowed me to clear my head and really come up with some new stuff that I think is bold, inspired, creative and fresh; and that’s really exciting for me.
“I’d be a great actor if the only role I had to play was me because I don’t really enjoy having to play other people.”
AW: During the hiatus, you reunited with your previous band, Midtown, to play the Skate and Surf Festival. While much has changed since the release of Forget What You Know, would you say the music scene has changed for better or for worse during the past decade?
GS: I’d say both [laughs]! For better and for worse. I think the beautiful thing is that there’s this kind of level playing field where if you’re a young artist, it’s now pretty inexpensive to record and pretty easy to distribute your music and get it heard. You can find a fan halfway around the world in China, where before it was impossible and that’s a huge thing. The other that kind of makes it a little worse, though, is that you lose an incubation period. There was a time when, because it was hard to get your music out there, bands may have had a lot of time to perfect their sound and really work on their craft to figure out who they were. I think that opportunity has disappeared for a lot of bands and so I really feel like some of the soul is missing that we used to have in music.
AW: When you got back together with Midtown were there any thoughts given to perhaps having additional reunions? Or do you think that will be a once and done thing?
GS: I would love to do it more regularly, but I think it’s really tough for the other guys because they have jobs and they have kids. For me, I do music for a living and I love to do that. I love Midtown and I loved playing [the festivals], but I think it’s much harder for the other guys to be able to make the time.
AW: You look pretty comfortable in front of the camera. Have you ever had any aspirations to get into acting, and when you do your videos do you take a hands on approach to the producing and the directing?
GS: I definitely have in the past, especially when it comes to the videos that have been more involved with the storyline and ideas. I did some acting in high school. I was in my high school production of ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’ and there’s a certain element, when you’re going on stage as a musician, where there’s acting with that as well. To me, I always think that acting is really just being able to be comfortable under a spotlight, and under a microscope, to be who you are and allow that to flourish. That definitely happens when you go out on stage, but for me, I just really love writing music. I’d be a great actor if the only role I had to play was me because I don’t really enjoy having to play other people.
AW: Well! That’s all we have. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
GS: Not all all! We’re going to go write the record now and we really appreciate being able to talk to someone who came out and saw us play so early on!