Anyone who was inside the J.W. Marriott in downtown Los Angeles during rehearsals for the 2011 Video Music Awards pre-show can surely attest to two things: the catchiness of Cobra Starship's "You Make Me Feel ..." (especially since they sound-checked it roughly 52 dozen times) and the fact that, during a quick break from all that sound-checking,
Bieber, of course, was there to support his girlfriend, Selena Gomez, who was serving as MTV News' special pre-show correspondent, and he's definitely no stranger to the occasional drum solo, so the whole thing sort of made sense (though, to be fair, pretty much everyone who saw it go down couldn't believe their eyes).
But, when we caught up with Cobra Starship backstage at the Fueled by Ramen 15th anniversary show in New York on Wednesday, we had to ask them: Were they aware of Bieber's impromptu drum performance? And, more importantly, did they take umbrage to it?
"I heard about that, that Justin Bieber was playing our kit," Cobra bassist Alex Suarez laughed.
"It's a rental," drummer Nate Novarro added.
Of course, you'll notice that Novarro didn't say whether Bieber's actions angered him. Is the drum kit, much like the pitcher's mound, a sacred space in which only a select few dare tread?
"Kind of, but [Bieber] could beat me up, so I can't approach him and say anything," Novarro said.
It should be noted, however, that this is not the first time Bieber has hijacked Cobra Starship's kit. At the 2009 Jingle Ball in Sacramento, California, he took the stage during the band's set after frontman Gabe Saporta challenged him to a dance-off, but, since JB was still recovering from a broken foot, all he could do was sit down behind the drums and bang out a searing solo. And that, Novarro believes, set the precedent for the VMA pre-show incident.
"He showed me what he could do, and it was good, so I was like, 'You can come back and do it whenever you want,' " he said. "I think he just took full advantage of that."
And it was at that exact minute that Cobra guitarist Ryland Blackinton — perhaps wanting to quash any beef with the Biebs (especially since the two are set to tour Mexico and South America next month) — stepped in to diffuse the situation and let it be known that they were cool with any and all Bieber-related drum performances.
"He didn't overstep any boundaries," Blackinton said.