Most artists would rather not align themselves with Vanilla Ice and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Gabe Saporta is not one of those artists.
“I am officially joining the ranks of Vanilla Ice, when his song played at the end of ’Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II,’ ” he told MTV News. “And that’s pretty cool, in my opinion.”
Saporta is talking about his song “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)” — recorded under his nom de disc, Cobra Starship — which, not surprisingly, is prominently featured in next month’s Samuel L. Jackson flick, “Snakes on a Plane” (see “Cobra Starship And ’Snakes On A Plane': A Match Made In Reptilian Heaven” ).
The video for the song — which Saporta shot earlier this month in Los Angeles (see “Cobra Starship Video Reveals How Those Snakes Got On Samuel Jackson’s Plane” ) — will play over the closing credits of “Snakes on a Plane,” just as Mr. Ice’s “Ninja Rap” closed 1991’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze,” a move Saporta sees as both awesome and serendipitous.
“To be honest, this whole ’Snakes on a Plane’ thing seems to be fated. I’d been writing songs for about a year, and all of a sudden I heard of the movie, and everything sort of clicked,” Saporta said. “I mean, ’Snakes on a Plane,’ Cobra Starship — they just sort of go together. To me, the whole thing seems like destiny.”
Which is funny, because destiny, and snakebites, have played an active role in Cobra Starship since the band’s inception. In late 2004, Saporta found himself at odds with the music industry when his previous band, Midtown, got lost in the major-label shuffle. Disillusioned and depressed, he embarked on what he terms “a spiritual quest,” which led him, in a rather Byzantine way, to create Cobra Starship.
“After the last Midtown record, I felt like I had no control over anything, so I went out into the desert on this sort of spiritual quest to find myself, and when I was out there I got bit by a snake,” he explained. “I passed out for about a week and was having all these feverish dreams and hallucinating. And I saw this snake, and he started talking to me, telling me that he was a snake from the future and that he was sent back to find me because he had to tell me to stop taking myself so seriously. So I came back from the desert and started Cobra Starship.”
Given all that, the natural thing for Saporta to do was record a Gwen Stefani parody. Upon returning to New York, he made “Hollaback Boy,” a jokey answer track to Gwen’s “Hollaback Girl.” He posted the tune on his MySpace page to serve notice that he was back in business, and within a few months, he was inking a deal with his pal Pete Wentz’s Decaydance Records, making him the first (unofficial) solo artist on the label.
“At first a lot of people were like, ’So why are all the Cobra pictures just of you? Are you some sort of egomaniac?’ ” Saporta laughed. “And I’d be like, ’No man, it’s just me. I am Cobra Starship.’ ”
Since then, he’s been writing songs at a blistering pace, and on August 16 the Starship will make their live debut at the Key Club in Los Angeles as a living, breathing five-piece band. In mid-September they’ll hit the road with fellow Decaydancers Gym Class Heroes (see “EMTs Ask Warped Tour’s Gym Class Heroes: How Are You Guys Alive?” ), and on October 10 they’ll release their debut disc, the epically titled While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets.
Whether or not Cobra Starship owe their success to Samuel L. Jackson and a bunch of snakes on an airplane is still up for debate. But Saporta tends to think that it had more to do with fate.
“All of this was supposed to happen — I was supposed to write these fun, catchy pop songs,” he said. “That’s why that snake came back in time, to tell me not to take myself so seriously. And I’m glad I listened.”