Cobra Spell – Rebellious EmpowermentTuesday, 5th December 2023
Photo: Raquel Garcia
Now elevating the 80’s hard rock/metal sound, style, and imagery to a modern audience, Cobra Spell feel invigorated in this all-female lineup for their debut full-length 666. The record contains killer hooks, melodies, anthems, and catchy arrangements that portray the good time vibe of that period, also expanding to aspects of AOR or classic metal terrain. We reached out to founding guitarist Sonia Anubis to give insight into the latest lineup, special video making memories during a tour, the shock rock aspects of the cover art and band imagery, why authenticity matters, treasuring the small moments for success, discussion on forgotten bands like Black ‘N Blue and Vinnie Vincent Invasion, as well as what the next year or so hold for the group.
Dead Rhetoric: 666 is the latest release for Cobra Spell – containing a brand-new lineup as well as signing with Napalm Records. How do you see this release sitting in the catalog of Cobra Spell – are you happy with the direction of the songwriting, performances, and final output compared to your previous two independent EP’s?
Sonia Anubis: I think this album solidifies the identity of Cobra Spell. It’s the first album, our very first big work with this new release. The EP’s were done independently as small releases, as a passion project. It was a side project, and with this album 666 this work was done with my full time and dedication into the band. We have a lineup now that is steady and ready to take over the world. We are all like-minded people, and this album should push us to make our dreams come true. We are glad to be together with Napalm Records, so far, we are getting amazing reviews from the people who have heard this so far. I couldn’t be happier.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you assemble the new lineup – was it a hard process to decide who you wanted on a permanent basis?
Anubis: It wasn’t easy, definitely. You are looking for people that are like-minded, hardworking, and that share the same dream. For me, it’s the important to share the stage with people who share the same passion and have that same passion for the music and enjoy what we are doing. Secondly, it’s important if you can play an instrument and everyone can practice to get up to speed. Everyone in the lineup is totally motivated, they work hard, not only making music but when we sell merchandise at the shows. All of those little things make being part of the band. It’s very solid the lineup right now.
Dead Rhetoric: The band has an obvious love and affinity for numerous aspects musically and image/visual-oriented towards the 1980’s scene. How do you draw the line between paying homage and tribute to that movement and those bands while also developing your own take and gaining traction for a new following in the current marketplace?
Anubis: The inspiration for the band and the imagery is very obvious – the 1980’s. It’s the golden era to me for music. I have been listening to this type of music for years, it’s in my every day playlist. I absorb all of those influences in my songwriting, and that’s why we sound the way we sound. Think of Cobra Spell as not just hard rock, we have a lot of influences from the 80’s, AOR with “Love Is Love”, we have some more 80’s songs that are in the vein of Judas Priest heavy metal. There are a lot of textures and different speeds on the album, that’s what makes us special.
What also makes it special is we give things a modern touch with a very authentic aesthetic. I’m very into doing things authentically. We keep things very Cobra Spell. It’s kind of abstract, but I have some certain imagery in my mind which make sense. It’s a modernized version of the 80’s. The songwriting might be 80’s, but the production part of it is more modern. With that I’m hoping to create some kind of time machine that takes us right now back to the 80’s, even though I wasn’t alive in that decade, it gives me a way to travel back (in time).
Dead Rhetoric: The videos that you’ve done for the record also help convey a good time atmosphere. What were the video shoots like, any fun/memorable stories to share and do you believe these videos are as important as the records and live shows in building the brand of the band?
Anubis: The videos are very important. The video director understands where we want to go artistically. To me that’s really important, that the vision I have in my head comes out better than I expected. That’s why you have to work with very professional people, because they will translate this even better. We recorded these videos in Berlin, Germany. We recorded a total of three music videos in two days, it was a lot of hard work and a lack of sleep. It was also done in the middle of a tour – can you imagine? We were pushing through and enjoying every single moment.
I would say the highlight of the video recording was when I saw a Ferrari Testarossa in the factory where we recorded one of the videos. You see a super clean car, and it was an 80’s car. Where does this come from? It’s surreal, you see this car in the magazines or online, you never see it up close with your own eyes. It has such a beautiful vibe, and this car is going to be in a video with Cobra Spell. Alright! And I can play in front of that, it was cool. Totally crazy. It was fun to shoot “S.E.X.” – we had a lot of friends come be in the video. It was nice to see all of these women being a part of this. All of the women had our own little moment – mine was with the car, Noelle was with the candles, Kris was surrounded by other women. It was a fun, hard working but great moment.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the sax solo for “Love = Love” come about? As it makes sense to offer that extra special flavor to an already strong track…
Anubis: Yes. It was a very spontaneous decision made at the recording studio. We didn’t have this in the demos, the sax solo was meant to be a guitar solo. I wanted to improvise something in there. Once I heard the song taking shape in the studio, it started sounding more like a movie soundtrack type song. Those epic movie soundtracks from the 80’s – why not add a saxophone solo there? My intuition told me that. None of us in the band can play the saxophone, the producer Alejandro (Gabasa Barcoj) knew the right person to pull from that contact list. We had a student from a conservatorium in Madrid, he doesn’t play in hard rock but he’s more of a jazz musician. It definitely was the right choice. Who would have known that a rock/metal band would have benefitted from a sax solo?
Foreigner is a band of course that did this already, but I didn’t have that in mind at all. I’m very happy with how it turned out.
Dead Rhetoric: Please tell me how the cover art with Isabella Stabile developed for 666 – were you aiming for a thought-provoking, shock and awe style concept to gain attention before people press play on the record? Were there any records from the past that fueled the concept or served as inspiration?
Anubis: The idea, the overall concept of the album is female empowerment. It’s a rebellious album, and it’s making a rebellious statement. It’s meant to be kind of shocking. When I started getting into music, I was into the shock rock bands: Alice Cooper, Kiss, W.A.S.P. Those are musicians who have an amazing presence, they are very visual. It was a very big subject to give a good performance back in the 80’s. In Cobra Spell, the visual experience matters, and of course the cover of the album has to visualize these subjects. Women riding the devil possessed by a cobra? I wanted to do this, to have women in control and showcase women in power. The whole theme comes back, and even the devil is scared of the woman. She’s totally evil and powerful. It’s an edgy representation, and it defines the concept of the album.
Dead Rhetoric: How has the response been to the new lineup live, as I know you’ve been doing some festival and live dates over the summer/fall?
Anubis: I won’t lie – I’m always a little bit nervous as I know there have been some significant changes. For me, it’s something that you want the people to like. The lineup in my opinion has only been getting better and better. So far, the people are very enthusiastic about how we are live. We are all very connected when we are on stage. Everyone has their own little show – Noelle has her own guitar spot, Roxy takes a lot of attention with her super long hair, and Alejandra is such a performer when it comes to her drumming. She starts standing up on the drum set – I wish I could see the performance myself but obviously I am also playing guitar on stage.
Dead Rhetoric: How important is band chemistry and friendship – do you believe in achieving all of your goals that you set out to achieve through Cobra Spell?
Anubis: Very important. It’s very important to have great communication, trust in the musicians and in the band. A good friendship is based on good communication, it’s based on trust, saying things face to face when you are with each other. Not only the good stuff, but the stuff that can be painful. When you are dealing with such high-pressure work, this is a lot of work, you need to be there for each other to support each other through the bad as well as the good. You need to be fair to each other, it’s important to have a good connection between the members. It’s an ongoing process.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you handle the stress and workload? You are doing music full-time; I would imagine there is a lot of pressure coming at you from a lot of different angles…
Anubis: I try to tackle it as a group. Definitely ask for help within the band. We are doing a lot of things together – something that in the previous lineups, that wasn’t as much the case because it didn’t happen. Right now, there is a lot of teamwork, I’m so thankful. The girls are very hard working. It all takes it’s time. It’s a matter of learning each other’s tasks and trusting each other. Being in a band is not just the fun stuff, there’s a lot of pressure with social media, or stuff that is not as interesting for a musician as we all just want to pick up an instrument and play. You have the financial situation, emails from a lot of people, there are a lot of things you have to handle.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider the most important piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding your musical career?
Anubis: Be authentic. Listen to your true self. Listen to what your truth really is and what you want to be as a musician. Be honest with yourself. In this creative world, we as musicians tend to want to please others a lot. Don’t become something that just the audience wants to see – as that’s not being authentic to yourself. That would be lying to yourself. This is not living a true life – it’s living what others expect from you. Recognize your true voice, ask yourself who you want to be, what you want to make, and work towards that to create something maybe completely new.
Dead Rhetoric: As a musician, how do you define success? And has that changed from your start in the business to where you are now?
Anubis: Yes. Success to me is the happy moments. The happy moments you have with the people that you care about. Success is when you enjoy the things around you. I feel that you are not alone – that’s success to me. In the past I would consider success as reaching a certain number of followers or reaching a huge immense crowd. I’m not going to lie – it’s awesome to play in front of a large crowd. Success can’t be counted with a huge number, or a big amount of money, or how many friends you have. Success is a feeling of fulfillment and happiness. I’m learning that happiness comes from the nice moments that you share, the spontaneous occasions. It could be a small concert with band members, a funny situation- for me that Ferrari was a funny situation, something I’ve never seen before. Those are memorable moments that make you happy inside. You can enjoy the moment instead of focusing too much on the future.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve moved on from Crypta, what circumstances took place to cause you to depart from the group – and does this mean that you are looking for another outlet that channels your love of death/extreme metal?
Anubis: The reason why I left Crypta is, it’s just very hard to be a part of a band where they are on the other side of the world. At the time I was based in the Netherlands, and they are all based in Brazil. It’s a twelve-and-a-half-hour flight to get there. The culture difference is huge. We had different visions of how business should be dealt with. That’s normal, and that’s okay when you have different backgrounds. You have different ways of dealing with the business. I also felt it wasn’t my calling to be full-time in a death metal band. I really enjoyed my time in Crypta, they are very hard working and I still support the band. I recently went to a concert of theirs to see them live, they are still friends of mine. I could tell my calling is to Cobra Spell, it’s my dream to play in this band.
If I have ideas for a future extreme project. I had some demos from Crypta that I made that are not being used anymore. I’m not sure if I will do something with that, maybe in some years down the road I will release them. At the moment I am focusing on Cobra Spell.
Dead Rhetoric: Knowing your strong passion and affinity for the 1980’s melodic hard rock/metal movement, what would you say are two to three underrated or overlooked bands from that time period that you believe most listeners need to do a deeper dive into their catalog to appreciate?
Anubis: I would say, Black ‘N Blue. Another old school one, it’s quite known, would be the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. Those two albums are amazing, I get a lot of inspiration from them.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for any activities, touring, promotion for Cobra Spell or other music-related items for the next year or so?
Anubis: We will release a new single at the end of November, and the album release is the first of December. There are a lot of releases going on. The album will be available on all major streaming platforms, and physical releases too. Next year we will tour as much as we can. We have a Spain tour; we will work on a European tour. We would love to come to the United States, but we need a lot of your help to spread the word.