Quality female-fronted metal bands are somewhat hard to come by. For many years, the genre has primarily dominated by males, but Simmons Records/UME band Kobra And The Lotus, featuring vocalist Kobra Paige, are here to challenge that domination.
Classical composers Vivaldi and Beethoven may not seem like the most obvious metal influences. However, this is where Paige has her musical roots- she studied classical piano, voice, and music theory for eight years. She began listening to classic rock, such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, before the metal bug bit her hard at a Judas Priest concert at the age of fifteen.
Paige formed the band in Canada in 2009. Griffin Kissack, drummer, is the only other member who has been a part of the band from the beginning. Originally the band was simply called Lotus. Paige liked the concept of the flower paired with something more fierce. “You have the cobra, in all different cultures, it’s always there to protect things. So you have the cobra and the lotus, and you also have the element of masculine and feminine.” Also, you may have been able to guess that Paige’s parents didn’t actually give her the name Kobra at birth. Her given name is Brittany, but Brittany isn’t a very metal name, now is it?
Their first album was an independent release in 2010 entitled Out of the Pit. They played anywhere and everywhere that they could throughout their native Canada, and Paige was also a part of the 2010 Metal Hammer Maidens of Metal Calendar. It didn’t take long for the band to be discovered by a major name in the music industry. Mark Spicoluk at Universal Music Group got a hold of some preliminary tracks that the band had recently recorded. According to Paige, “He thought that Gene [Simmons] would really dig it. Simmons Records had just started a partnership label with Universal at that time. So he handed it to Gene and I guess it was right up his alley. He called us! He called our manager and that’s how it all started.”
Kobra And The Lotus had already recorded an entire second album from start to finish, but once they were signed to Simmons/UME, some changes were made. “Once we were with the label, they said, ‘Ok, now we would like you guys’ (they can’t MAKE us do anything), but they said, ‘We’d like you to go back into the studio and take these four songs off and write something stronger and more hard-hitting’,” says Paige. “We went back in the studio and wrote four different songs to put on the album and took some of the older songs off.”
Producer Kevin Churko who has worked with such powerhouses as Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch and Ozzy Osbourne was brought in to help the band refine the sound of their second record and major label debut. The ten-track album features hard-driving metal riffs, lightning fast percussion, and of course Paige’s vocal stylings on such tracks as the crowd chant-along anthem Forever One, as well as 50 Shades of Evil and Welcome to My Funeral. Sanctuary begins with a gentle piano intro before the guitars launch into a full-on metal assault.
There is a distinct difference in sound between Out of the Pit and the newest self-titled release, Kobra And The Lotus, released on April 16, most notably in Paige’s voice. “Out of the Pit was a lot more rock and roll and a lot more of the cock rock vibe and sleaze metal mixed in with that. Also my vocal was very different. I tried to make my voice raspier… That’s not natural. That’s not in my voice.” By the end of the 2010 tour, Paige found that she was damaging her voice by trying to force that sound. The band took some time to reevaluate their sound and the result is captured on this year’s release.
Paige says that she does the majority of the writing in the band: “I’m definitely the main songwriter. I’m involved with everything. Me with many different guitar players. I just really like to keep an open mind and get other people’s takes as well.” While her songwriting process includes working with people outside of the band, she has glowing things to say about her fellow bandmates as well. “Jasio [Kulakowski] writes really cool stuff and he can also record and produce… I really like the flavor that he brings to the band. He has kind of more of a European sound.”
The most recent addition to the band is Charlie Parra del Riego,one of Latin America’s most famous metal guitar players. “Charlie is like a little shred monkey. He brings fun to the band, such energy,” Paige says with a laugh. And, “Griffin [Kissack]- he’s the drummer and he brings his own thing too. He’s the strong silent type. Strong personality. Very big presence. He’s fun too.” At the time of this interview, the band was looking for a new bass player, but have since added Brad Kennedy of Unleash the Archers to the line-up.
The band is getting tons of hits on their YouTube page, with videos for Welcome to My Funeral, 50 Shades of Evil, and Forever One. The video for Forever One was shot at the Hermitage Ruins in Ontario, Canada and is full of head-banging in unison, fast-paced guitars and drums. Search for one of the bands older videos, such as Cynical Wasteland, and the growth in sound of Paige’s voice is apparent and almost sounds like two completely different performers. She is clearly now channeling her inner voice along with the voices of some of her metal predecessors and idols.
Gene Simmons most definitely knows the power and popularity of reality television and being the marketing genius that he is, he connected with Spike TV for a new show called Rock City, featuring Kobra And The Lotus. The show will give the public a little insight into the life of a touring band. “Things happen all the time,” says Paige. “Stories that at the time it’s like, ‘Holy shit!’ Like we lost our trailer on both American tours in the last three months and that’s just really bizarre and freaky. Just wild stuff like that, where you’re driving and the trailer flips right across the highway and is right in the median and you don’t even know how it didn’t hit anyone behind you.” At this time, an official date for the TV series is unknown, but keep your eyes peeled for this rockumentary series.
Though some would say there is, Paige does not believe that there is a stigma against women in rock. She says, “I think really it’s a sound preference and an energy thing. It is tough though. It’s tougher and there’s more pressure that you feel like you have to perform twice as good, you know? How you can show people that you can be just as strong and just as good. There’s definitely a challenge to that but I’m not necessarily sure if it’s a stigma. I think it’s actually getting better.”
After a North American tour earlier this year in support of Fear Factory, what is the band up to the for the rest of 2013? “Currently we’re in Chicago working on an album and we’re going to be here for the rest of September. Then we head home with one week left before we take off in October to the rest of the European dates and then we tour through the UK and then we come back after that. I don’t know if we’re doing anything after that. We’re still talking about touring a little bit in North America but there’s no plans. We really need a break. We’ve still got a lot to do before then.” One of European dates is a slot on the bill at the Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium on October 19, a three-day event also featuring Lacuna Coil.
The band has played alongside many huge names in the metal world such as Judas Priest and Black Label Society but Paige says there is one band that the love to perform with. “I think actually it would be really cool to play with Megadeth. I’d really love to play with Megadeth!” Paige said she has worked with people who work with the band, and hopes that the “its a small world” mentality will get her closer to that goal.
With all the different sub-genres of metal, it’s difficult to classify a band into a specific niche. The band’s facebook speaks to this and sums it up perfectly: “Kobra And The Lotus are the act in question, and the music they play is metal. Not ‘this’ metal, or ‘that’ metal…just metal. Pure an’ simple.”
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