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Cobra Starship: Church of Hot Addiction

By Mary Borsellino

Originally published: FasterLouder in August 2007.

Cobra Starship

Cobra Starship's ultra-charismatic frontman Gabe Saporta is astonishingly approachable. When I meet him, this instant and sincere connection he makes with others has taken the form of a new mobile phone he's carrying.

"I got the phone because a fan who works at Telstra gave me a SIM card," he explains. "He gave the number out to people online, and now kids are calling me on it all day. A girl called me when I was on my way to the bathroom and I was like 'yo! I'm on my way to the bathroom, call me back in five minutes!'."

Ryland Blackington, the band's guitarist, is more laid back than his lead singer, but equally chatty and charming.

"Overlooking the power of online things - like MySpace, any internet communication network - is crazy," Ryland says. "They're so invaluable to a band that's starting out, or to a band that's been around for a long time."

"It's something really interesting, because it's like there's a generation gap," says Gabe. "Kids today, they expect to have access to their bands in a personal way. When I first started playing music and getting some kind of recognition or fame, I had a really tough time dealing with it. Making music was such a personal thing for me that it made me uncomfortable. I felt like sharing myself would undermine the integrity of what I was doing.

"But then I made a conscious decision of 'well, I'm doing this, and I wouldn't be able to do this if it wasn't for these people, so I'll give them whatever they want, basically. I'm happy to oblige anything, because you can't take for granted that the fans are the ones letting you do the most awesome job in the world. It's not even a job! It's hard work, but it's yours and the only reason is fans.

"People think they have to get their bands signed to a label, but that's bullshit. Labels like Fuelled by Ramen are all about this new mentality - it's not about sending your demo out, it's just about making fans. Everything else follows."

The central premise of Cobra Starship is that Gabe was given a vision from the future, which told him that his destiny was to spread the message of the Cobra. As cult ideologies go, it's no crazier than most others, and a lot more fun. At each show of their Aussie tour, Gabe leads the crowd in fist-pumping chants of choruses, teaches them the sign of the Cobra (one palm splayed like the snake's hood, the other with two fingers curled to make fangs) and declares them all ready for 'the church of hot addiction'.

"We're just empty souls," Ryland deadpans. "Puppets. Marionettes, strings attached to the Cobra's hands. He doesn't even have hands, which makes it crazy."

"The vibe of the Cobra is just that you've gotta not take yourself seriously, and have fun," says Gabe. "But it's not just about having dumb humour. There has to be a semblance of intellect. People have such short attention spans. I don't have an attention span! I can't go to a show and watch for forty minutes without being told a joke. I want to laugh and then I want to be 'wow, that's a cool lyric!' and I want to go back and forth. I want to make music like that. Think and laugh at the same time."

The band's just finished their second album, produced by Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump.

"We were on a huge-ass tour," Gabe explains. "And we had the whole day to do nothing, so we started writing some songs. At the end of the tour we had fourteen songs. Our manager said 'you leave for Australia in 21 days, can you record a record that quickly? And yeah, we did."

"We're very confident about it," says Ryland. "It was nice to work with Patrick."

I ask if there are any plans to tour Australia again in the near future.

"We're not invited to the Big Day Out," Gabe says. "You should get your readership to email the Big Day Out and just be 'heeeeey, what about the Cobra?'."

And, really, what's the point of having an internet-savvy following if they don't help you get where you want to go? Let's all hit up the BDO and get the Cobra back on our shores. You'll laugh, you'll think, and you'll get to witness one of the most entertaining bands in the new generation.

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