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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Interview: Kobra and the Lotus


In May, Canadian metallers Kobra and the Lotus released the first part of their Prevail double album, Prevail I. DutchMetalManiac's Glenn van der Heijden already reviewed it here, now he and Tim van Velthuysen spoke with frontwoman Kobra Paige before their show in Merleyn, Nijmegen.

Hey Kobra, are you looking forward to tonight's show?

I am very much looking forward to the show. I think this is actually our favorite show of the whole tour.

Why is that?

Because we have some very dedicated supporters in The Netherlands. No matter what the size of the show is, it's going to be a very passionate group of people. I really value everyone that supported us and they show their appreciation for live music as well. They've done some exceptional things. One woman is running Kobra and the Lotus Netherlands and she's just putting in extra effort for no reason other than passion and love for our music to help us along. I am very excited to see many people tonight. There is also a radio-station that's been with us since 2012, K-Rock and they've been exceptional to us. Paul Torch and Ani are wonderful people. I am excited and every time we played in The Netherlands was amazing.

That's great to hear. Prevail I is the first album on Napalm Records. Why did you choose Napalm Records?

Actually it was really the best option for us and they couldn't have been better people for what we needed in this moment with Prevail I and Prevail II, which is coming next year. Napalm Records is still growing quite a bit. They are full of younger people that still have the fire to push and work for their bands and want the best for people. Which is not among all the labels, especially at bigger labels you get really lost in the shuffle.

You experienced that yourself?

Yeah, our first signing was with Universal Music in Canada which was a pretty big deal. As soon as they really figured out that it was not a race so much, it's more of a marathon with a metal band, it became really hard to get any help or any of the basics that you really need from a label. Napalm Records is providing everything we really need as a growing band, they're providing their network and their community.

Do you think it's hard because you're making metal to present the band? Is it harder than when making pop music?

Yeah, it's a completely different thing. With metal you never know if you break even. Success is measured with something else, you've got to really love what you're doing. We still consider ourselves to have a really long way to go. With pop it can change really quickly, but the fans are also different. Things can fade in pop, but people who stand by your side in metal are always there. They're very dedicated, which is amazing.

Next year Prevail II is coming out, what can we expect? Is there a difference between Prevail I and Prevail II?

Prevail I and II have a really even balance of all the music we've created before mixed with this kind of new sound we're bringing in. We're updating our sound a little bit. I really want to keep our authentic roots to metal, but I also don't want to be traditional metal as before. We've fallen into that sometimes. We really worked hard to make it more our sound and reflecting our generation as well. I think we accomplished it.

I listened to Prevail I and the first thing coming to my mind was "they're unique". I liked it very much.

Thank you, that's wonderful. It's the best thing we could hear.
Prevail II is also going to be hardrock and heavy metal, even balanced.

In your music there seems to be a message about suicide prevention, how does Kobra and the Lotus' music relate to that?

Well, for me a big deal in the lyrical content is the intention behind the messages. On these albums they're very clear. They're more vulnerable, clear messages that people can take for their selves in situations. It's also from my heart, my everything is on my sleeve. I just think that our world is lacking a lot of compassion, especially when it comes to mental illness, depression and anxiety. People that I spoke to experienced these things or are still experiencing them. Suicide is actually scary, because it's happening so much now and there are also people who think about it and we'll never know that they are not okay. They'll never tell anyone that they are not okay, no one will know, they go on thinking that nothing's worth it anymore or that the world is better without them. It's very sad, I wanted some light to really be shed at this area. We can also feel some support with our music for people who don't have that support in their life, it's something so they know that there are people who really care about it. It can also help for people who have people close in their life dealing with these things. There are also some people in my life dealing with this, I just feel really awful for them. These are things beyond our control, as you know. You didn't choose to have these things in your life. More people need to be aware about this.

I come from a loving family, that's the basis that many people don't have.

That's wonderful and so true.

In what way do you think music can help these people?

Because music is the only language in the world that everybody understands. It's universal, a gift.

You worked with Jacob Hansen for Prevail I. How was working with him?

It was awesome. Jacob was another new experience, he works completely different than the other producers we've worked with. He was a really a key player in helping open our minds around how we wanted to introduce new elements into our sound and also build a platform for what that was. He really helped us moving forward. He isn't a songwriter which is interesting, our other producers have been songwriters as well. Jacob was really like a visionary from the outside. For instance, he said let's introduce this key change to freshen up the sound and I was horrified because it was not ready for my vocals. Probably in the future we won't write some songs in those keys, but we learned to write in a different way. I had to use my voice in areas I didn't think I could. It was amazing, it made us all grow, so challenging.

So he enabled you to grow?

Yes, he did, he pushed us.

What would a world without music be for you?

We might not exist. I think a world without music would be completely chaotic and in destruction. It couldn't be, it's hard to imagine.

I understand, when you are feeling down or something, music is always there.

Yeah, it's always there.

What do you have with Batman? The first track is called Gotham, so I had to ask.

Batman is part of most kids' childhood in some way and I think that Arkham City, all the bad things and people who try to be good but have to fight this line of demons in Gotham is pretty much a parallel to reality. I thought this is perfect, this is what happening to me and this way we bring nostalgia into it.

The series is also nice.

Yeah, they're pretty good. They got better I think. I love Bruce, he always has to make choices and he is trying to be a good guy, but sometimes he is in this grey area where he is trying so hard to be good, but life circumstances are putting him in those tough places, that's interesting.

We all feel like that sometimes. Can you tell me a bit about the plans after Prevail II?

Our plan after Prevail II is basically to tour. We have a lot of music to get around. Even Prevail I has so much more touring to do, once Prevail II is out I feel like we have probably a couple of years of touring. In those couple of years we will do something fun.

You like touring very much?

We are still not touring all the time in busses and this is the first year in almost ten years of me being on the road that I've someone helping with merchandising stuff. It's a really hard lifestyle, it was really fun for the first 8 years. The last two years are harder, as I've gotten older. I am almost 30, but I started doing band tours since I was 18. Driving shitty-ass vans across the country, sleeping on floors in sleep bags, I've been slugging it out for a while. Now, the shows are what makes it worth for me, but I don't enjoy the movement and the exhaustion anymore as much. When we're on a bus I enjoy touring, but that's not all the time. Like now, we're sleep deprived for three weeks, it's brutal.

I can imagine that it is pretty brutal sometimes.

It can change with the band's ability to finance things. If you're on a bus tour and you've some crew helping you, it makes a world of difference. I think I would feel a little happier. When we are doing this now, while we are driving we are sitting out for like twelve hours, sleeping four hours, setting up everything. It's hard to enjoy that for me anymore.

When you're telling me this, than why are you doing it? In The Netherlands we have a pop-singer, called Anouk, who says she's only going to tour when she need money.

This band has never made money, I am still waiting for the day we break even. The reason I am still doing this is that my intention never changed. I love the shows and I love how music connects people, I am just addicted to that. Seeing how it brings all these people together is a wonderful thing, which I think is necessary in this world. I feel privileged to be a small piece of that.

We feel privileged that you bring that to us, because I think people with such a dedication as yours is a rarity. We have a very angry world right now and there need to be people who make it a little bit lighter.

We do have a angry world and I think so too. Everyone together makes this all happen, it's kind of a necessary working machine. I am really grateful to everyone in art in the art of music general.

Is there something you would like to tell our readers?

I just want to say thank you all for your support and your love along the way. I feel so grateful for everything that's happening in my life and with this music. Check out our new album, Prevail II, when it comes out, which is on May 11, 2018. It's going to be very exciting to release another round of new music. We are going to tour in 2018 through Europe, if anyone is around there, come on out. I want to do a shout out to our manager, because she doesn't get thanked that often. She is an exceptional person, who does everything for free and works her ass off. I want to give her a little love.

She sounds like a wonderful person, what's her name?

She's very generous, her name is Susan Bullen.

What do you expect from tonight's show?

Usually it's best to have no expectations, but I think it's going to be awesome. I see the excitement about it, which makes me excited. I can't wait to see everyone.

Are you a different person on stage than you're right now?

I think I am the same person, I really care, but a lot more. Passion is coming out, someone told me they loved the aggressive energy and I thought it was funny because I don't feel like a very aggressive person. I am a Libra on the scale side, that's pretty much what I am. I have a very passionate heart, it all gets unleashed on stage. It's going to be a very high energy impact.

Are you nervous right before you go on stage?

Sometimes I still am very nervous, then I have butterflies and when we already can hear people I get even more nervous.

What's the reward after the show?

For me, the reward is seeing people smiling. If people are smiling we did something right. I always like to talk to people and just see what they're feeling. That's a massive reward.

You always try to be at your best?

Yes, I think that everything I have inside me always comes out at the show. It doesn't matter how many people are going to be there, it will be the same every time. People deserve that.

You also deserve the recognition. How do you see yourself in the future?

I don't know, I hope the band keeps growing, so we can keep doing this, because I am not ready to stop. I know I'll definitely be a mom, I am that kind of woman. There will be kids at some point, not now obviously. There is no room for that in our schedule, it has to fit somehow without compromising our lives.

So even with kids you won't give up making music?

No way, I'll find a way for that. Maybe we will start a family band. My boyfriend also sings, so we actually might end up doing that.

Your boyfriend shares the same passion?

He does. It's really nice and the biggest part of it is that you can trust each other. It's hard to understand if you aren't doing the same thing. You are not with each other that much. I would love to be with him more, but we are both doing our own things and I am used to this at this point.

Does he also makes metal music?

He does, he makes progressive metal. He was in The Netherlands recently, singing in Ayreon's Universe show, Tommy Karevik.

He's amazing, I was there.

I was there every night, so I probably passed you. Those were great shows, the visuals were amazing.

Arjen Lucassen is really a mastermind.

Yeah, he is. Joost van den Broek as well. Actually Arjen's girlfriend is very creative, she came with most of the visuals apparently. There are a lot of creative people in this country.

*Kobra points at Tim's Judas Priest t-shirt and says "cool shirt!"*

Yeah, you saw a Judas Priest concert and you thought "this is what I want to do", right?

Yeah, that's exactly what happened. My dad took me and it changed my world. It was everything, the music, the way my boys would fit into it. That moment really sets me on this course.

In 2015, we went to a Judas Priest concert (check our live review here) and Rob Halford can still sing great!

Hell yeah, he is definitely one of those guys who is taking care of his voice. He has a really good vocal technique. Besides that he sounds good, he is also really taking care of it.

He always want to be the best he can be.

And he is, he is the queen of metal!

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