Fanbolt chatted with frontman Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship about music, celebrities and trendsetting…
Tell us about the second album “!Viva La Cobra!”
G. Saporta: Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy produced it. We basically wrote it last year on the Honda Civic Tour. It was such a big tour and it was all amphitheaters, so we were always stuck in a big parking lot. We didn’t have much to do because there were no distractions and we were the first band to play. Then we were done for the whole day. There wasn’t even a subway to walk to, so we just started writing songs and had so many great ones at the end of the tour.
What’s the story behind the album lyrics?
G. Saporta: I’ve known Fall Out Boy since we used to play basement shows in Chicago, so these dudes have always been the same dudes. As a friend, you don’t see them as being famous even though they’re famous, you know? Being on the tour was when it hit us. It was this culture of “celebrity” we’re not used to. We were these punk rock kids who’d play on the floor. There were no stages even. The celebrity culture was a shock, especially experiencing it firsthand.
The lyrics are a critique about celebrity culture in a tongue and cheek way, talking a lot of shit and having fun with it.
Is this so-called “celebrity culture” weird for you?
G. Saporta: [Laughs.] I have a security guard with me. [Turns and looks at guard.] It’s a little weird. If I just want to walk around, I can’t. But in one way, I’m just so flattered, like “Oh wow, people know who I am and care enough to want a photo with me.”
I try to hang out with the kids as much as possible. I’ve been in bands that have had lots of ups and downs, so I appreciate everything so much more. I don’t want there to be distance. We take as long as we can to do autograph signings and learn fans’ names. My view is these people give me my life, so I feel happy to do as much as I possibly can.
The thing is, people don’t expect that. I am kind of an asshole in some ways–not an asshole, but I just speak my mind and not care what others think. Being from New York, you don’t say you’re sorry. It’s like when you bump into someone on the street, you tell them, “Go f*** yourself!” [Laughs.]
That’s why I do music. I want to be able to do what I want, how I want and when I want, you know? I speak my mind and it sometimes gets me into trouble, but to the people who support me, I owe them everything. I’m very nice and very approachable. I’ll never be like, “F*** you, I’m a f***in’ rockstar!”
Do you remember signing your first autograph?
G. Saporta: Yes, I do. I was in a local Jersey band called Humble Beginnings. We played shows together with a bunch of friends back in high school. We started getting bigger and kids would start coming out to our shows. It was a very punk rock scene.
The first time someone asked me for an autograph, I was like, “Yo, that’s not what this is about.” I tried to explain to them, “I’m just a kid just like you. We’re all on the same level.” I remember having that conversation and the kid just thought I was an asshole, basically.
The thing for me is, signing autographs puts you on a pedestal. I don’t even like to call them fans. I like to call them supporters. Theoretically, I don’t like the separation between fan and band, but if I can make them happy by signing something I’ll do it because I remember going to f***in’ Lollapalooza and how much it meant to me to see the bands I loved.
That’s my memory of the first autograph. Once the first guy was like, “You’re an asshole!” I was like, “Alright, I’ll just sign your stuff!” [Laughs.]
Since Cobra Starship has supported many charities, why is it important to be involved?
G. Saporta: Especially with the punk rock scene, it isn’t just about music. It’s about an ethic. Music is a vehicle for more than just songs. It’s to spread ideas. That’s what makes the scene survive, and it unites us. We all come from the same scene and music is important to us. Why? Because it shapes who we are and gave us our ideas–charities, awareness, social or political. It’s super important. It all intertwines.
Let’s talk about the remix EP you’re currently working on.
G. Saporta: We’re working on a Spanish version of “Guilty Pleasure.” We’re working on remixes and a bunch of other stuff. We do a lot of our own recordings so it will depend on how many we can get done. Hopefully we’ll get it out by the fall.
Within the last couple years, it’s quite noticeable that there seems to be a sudden influx of purple hoodies everywhere…
G. Saporta: Yeah, I created the color purple! [Laughs.]
When that purple hoodie came out, I loved it and started wearing it a lot. I wore it on the cover of the record, so it became kinda iconic. At our shows, there’s always a sea of purple. But to be a part of that? Yeah, that was something very rewarding for me, like, “Wow, I influenced pop culture?” It’s cool!
Thanks Gabe! Be sure to catch Cobra Starship on this fall’s Sassyback Tour.
Interview By: Jeanette Nguyen