If you enjoy hating [artist id="2402281"]Cobra Starship[/artist] — a popular practice now that “Good Girls Go Bad” is a top-40 radio hit and their album Hot Mess is one of the summer’s most anticipated releases — well, Gabe Saporta has something to tell you: You would’ve hated them even more nine months ago.
That’s because, in September, after dealing with copious amounts of label pressure, they were preparing to release Mess as is. The only problem was, they hated it. Pretty much everybody did.
“Everybody hated it. This was a hard record to make. It was really bad at the beginning. We had a couple of obstacles [to overcome],” Saporta explained. “First of all, we tried to do something that we really couldn’t do, which was to write the record on tour and put it out. Which we did for our second record, Viva la Cobra — we just wrote on the road, because nobody knew who we were, we were under the radar. … Then we did two headlining tours in the same year and tried to write the record on the road, and there was a lot more demands, so we couldn’t get anything done, really.
“The songs we got done, we were rushed, you know?” he continued. “Then I got a cyst on my vocal cords . There were a bunch of stumbling blocks on this record, and I think that we only started being happy with it when we went to the mountains.”
Of course, that much-publicized trip to the mountains — Saporta and his bandmates locked themselves away in a cabin in rural Pennsylvania in an attempt to hammer out songs for Mess — only came after Cobra Starship had battled with their management and label, which desperately wanted them to release a follow-up to their breakout Viva la Cobra album.
“It’s true. We actually did a first batch [of songs], we almost had our record pretty much done, and we were like, ‘We know we can do so much better,’ ” bassist Alex Suarez laughed.
“Can you imagine if we would’ve put out that record?” Saporta laughed. “We had 10 songs finished in September ’08, and we were getting pressure to put out the record. ‘Hey, let’s do another record, real fast! Gotta get the momentum! Gotta keep the momentum!’ ”
“Everybody was like, ‘You guys gotta go, go!’ and finally we were like, ‘Why? What rush are we in?’ ” Suarez added. “And they were like, ‘I don’t know …’ So then we took some time off.”
And in that time off, locked away in that cabin, they finally worked out the problems they were having with Hot Mess. Which meant breaking songs down, throwing melodies away and really starting from scratch.
“You have to give the songs some time to get a feel. We have a song on the record called ‘The Scene Is Dead Now.’ It was called ‘Bright Lights’ when we were writing it. We did it on the road, and it was one of our favorites, but we only had, like, a verse and a chorus — just the parts,” Saporta said. “But when we put it together in September, I hated it. It made me cringe. And we were like, ‘What the f— is wrong with this song?!’ So we had to go to the mountains, sit down and methodically break it down, analyze it. Like, ‘OK, why isn’t this working? What are we going to do?’ We completely rearranged it, and now it flows awesome, and it’s my favorite song on the record.”
And that happened with pretty much every song they put the screws to. Which means that, when they finally emerged from the cabin — haggard beards and all — they carried with them an album they were actually psyched to let people hear. Which, you know, is always a good thing.
“Everybody got scared. No one wanted us to go, but I was like, ‘I don’t give a f—, I’ll pay for it myself if I have to,’ ” Saporta laughed. “But we went there just to work. … We got a bit of cabin fever, but it worked out great for us. We made the album f—ing great.”