Three years ago,
Two years ago, they weren't one either, but at least things were beginning to happen. Gabe Saporta — tired of watching his band Midtown being mired in the major-label quagmire — began writing songs on his own, under the name of Cobra Starship (apparently borrowed from a brand of vintage jackets). Somewhere along the way, he got tapped to write the theme song for the
Since then, they've released two full-lengths, kicked out a keytar player and toured the world, despite the fact that many still don't consider them to be a real band (wearing neon hoodies and Rollerblading your way through videos tends to have that effect, it would seem). And somehow — through hard work, catchy songs and a "party-till-you-puke" ethos — they've corralled legions of fans and have become one of the the second-hugest bands in Pete Wentz's Decaydance Records universe.
All of which makes 2009 a fairly intriguing year for Saporta and company. They've begun work on a brand-new album, are lined-up to support
Late last week, MTV News caught up with Saporta, and in the first of our two-part interview with him (part two publishes on Wednesday), he talks about his aching cords, the state of the Decaydance galaxy and getting, as he puts it, "totally f---ed up" for lyrical inspiration. Read on, and fangs up.
On His Busted Cords, and What They Mean for the Future of Cobra Starship: "It's weird, man, because obviously I can talk, and I can sing a bit, but there are just parts of my singing voice that are gone. There are notes that I just can't hit. I remember when I first hurt myself, it was on the Warped Tour this summer — that tour is hell, because you never know when you're going to play. So, like, one morning we had to take the stage at, like, 11:30 in the morning, and I never wake up before 2:30 in the afternoon, but I had to roll out of bed and get dressed and take the stage, and as soon as I was singing, I thought, 'F---, I totally strained my vocal cords.' I could just feel it. And it never healed after that. We went to Australia and Japan, and it never healed. So I'm trying to take some time off, and I get a call that [pop producer] Max Martin wanted to work on some songs with me for the new Cobra record, so of course I head out there right away. And it was kind of embarrassing, because as soon as I got out there, I just couldn't sing. At all. So I had the surgery at this place in, like, Beverly Hills, and since then I've been trying real hard to take it easy, but they're not healing all that well. And, to be honest, I'm a little concerned that it might affect the band and the tour. I mean, I'll drive the train right into the f---ing ground if I have to, but on the other hand, it'd be a shame if my voice blew out and the whole thing went to hell. Now I have to think about stuff like that, you know, my boys and my band and stuff. And it's a little worrying; I'm not going to lie."
On Cobra Starship's Ever-Growing Spot in the Decaydance Universe, and About Avoiding the Perils of Pulling a
"At the same time, you know, I think everyone realizes where [the label] is at. But there's only so much you can do about all that. There was all this talk about 'the little economy that Fall Out Boy built.' They got big and helped other bands get their start. But once you get your start, it's up to you. You can get your foot in the door, but if you don't have the goods to back it up, you're kind of f---ed. Bands like Panic, they made their first record, and it got huge, and then they made a record they wanted to make, and the second time around, people didn't want to hear it anymore. And the same can be said about Gym Class, too. But, you know, there's no way to predict that. Whether or not something catches on and goes to the next level isn't a science at all, it's completely random. So, really, with our record, we have no idea. We just want our fans to like it, and we're going to let all that other sh-- just play itself out."
On Getting Dangerously Drunk in New York City: "Writing this record has been really weird because, like, on the last one, I was talking all this sh-- about celebrity and, like, it sort of became a self-fulfilling prophecy, you know? Talking sh-- about the cult of celebrity, and now we're in the middle of it. So I can't critique it anymore, because I'm not the underdog anymore. When you come up as the underdog, you have a reason to fight ... and then when you're not the underdog anymore, you have to find something new to fight about. And so, on the new record, I'm really trying out this idea of just talking as much sh-- as possible — about everything and everyone, you know? And I've discovered that the best way to get lyrical inspiration has just been to go out all the time. And not just go out, but, like, go out, get as intoxicated as possible, get in trouble, get kicked out of a place. It's not fun for me to go out unless I get kicked out and get hammered. I don't want to have a conversation about politics, I just wanna get trashed. And the only place I can do that is in New York City. Everywhere else, if you get out of hand, people get afraid. In NYC, if you get drunk and start f---ing with people, they'll f--- with you right back. And I love that confrontation. It may not be super-healthy, but I love it ... so there's a lot of that on the new album."
And what about that new album? On Wednesday, Saporta talks more about the songs and the producers, about picking the perfect title and about drawing inspiration from scene drama. If you're a Cobra fan, you won't want to miss it.