Kobra and the Lotus – Continual TransformationSunday, 22nd April 2018
The second chapter of the ambitious Prevail series II for Canada’s Kobra and the Lotus continues to push the band into expansive directions of where they want to go, in turn transforming who they are as people, as songwriters, and as musicians. They want to create a body of work that can be admired and appreciated long after they’ve stopped – regardless of what’s fashionable or trendy in the scene. Seizing the moment and turning heads through records and delivering the goods live, it’s little wonder why they are climbing the ranks not just within the metal community, but starting to make headway on larger media platforms due to the quality of their output.
It’s always a pleasure to grab an opportunity to talk to vocalist Kobra Paige – as her openness to express herself about any topic on the table can be quite revealing and refreshing. Beyond the normal new album and touring discussion, we also dig deep into her thoughts regarding proper social media use, the special video for the Japanese version of “Let Me Love You”, thoughts on the support of metal bands across Europe and the USA versus her native Canada, and a little insight into Byron Katie and The Work.
Dead Rhetoric: Prevail II will hit the streets eleven months after Part I. You originally intended for this to come out during the fall of last year – what types of discussions take place between band, management, and label that made more sense for a spring 2018 release?
Kobra Paige: So when we first brought the double album to Napalm Records, they wanted to take on the project- which was impressive, because it is such a large body of work. They suggested to us that we might want to put this into two separate releases so that it doesn’t go over some people’s heads and that some songs don’t get lost in the shuffle. They really thought this was a lot of music for the average listener to take in all at once. I have to agree- and we are all very happy, everyone in the band is very happy, management, everyone- this is one of the best suggestions that anybody could have come up with for this amount of material. It’s been from what I can see the right amount of breathing space for people. They just started Prevail 1 to sink in and now they are going to get everything bombarding them again – but I don’t think this could have been any sooner, that’s for sure.
Dead Rhetoric: What songs on Prevail II do you believe came out the easiest in terms of songwriting or recording – and were there any specific tracks that maybe took on the most transformation from initial conception to final outcome?
Paige: Definitely. One of the quickest and easiest songs was “My Immortal”. That was just a flow that Jasio and myself had- we created this last song that we wanted to add on to the Prevail series, and we didn’t know if it was going to be “My Immortal” as we had three songs that we were working on. This was the one that really flowed and happened – I feel that people will hear a little bit of the High Priestess-ish throwback in there. In terms of other songs that were very easy for us, it’s “You’re Insane” – it’s very metal. We did do some stuff that’s a little more progressive for us as a band- not progressive metal by any means, but more progressive in the fact that it has many more parts, changes. “Losing My Humanity” for instance has a time change, that would be one of the ones that came together in the studio as a massive evolution and marriage of all the sounds that we were trying to put together and go forward with on these next couple of albums.
That’s also why it was released as one of the first taste of Prevail II. It has that blend of heavy metal and hard rock within it that we are really trying to carry forward, as well as some of the sonic noises that are taking place- really underneath the music in some places. A clean guitar in the bridge with a little solo section- these are all new elements that we are getting hardcore into, and I think with Prevail II really has a lot of things – even on I with “Manifest Destiny” there was this really heavy guitar and a clean guitar section.
We are integrating a lot of things we want to integrate because we have those needs to put more diversity into the music. Those songs took a bit longer and were the most reworked in the studio before we came to a final conclusion.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe as musicians you really pushed yourselves beyond what you thought you were capable of?
Paige: Oh man- we basically pushed ourselves to the biggest limit we could at that point in time. It was a very arduous feeling. A very wonderful experience, but while we were in it, very chaotic and very stressful. We were constantly being challenged by Martin Wolf, the songwriter from Denmark that we were working with, and Jacob Hansen was pushing us too. He was pushing my range- he knows that I can do more with my voice, handling the tunings. It also opened up places where we knew we could go. Sometimes it feels like when there is more that you can reach for, it’s strange to know that because you can push to do better and do more.
That’s how this whole thing felt, like we were being pushed and stretched. By the second month, we really started to notice that our songwriting was already shifting in the studio. We were honing new ways of learning, and for me – I believe that that’s something that’s really important in the studio. I don’t want to go into a studio and not learn a ton of shit that I didn’t know before. I want to pull my hair out a bit. It was challenging and great all in the same package.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you discuss the personal emphasis you place in much of the lyrics this time around – as tracks like “Losing My Humanity” and “Modern Day Hero” specifically connect well to the challenges of today that all generations face?
Paige: Yes. Prevail I and II are heavily focused on vulnerable and open words about how I’m feeling about certain things. They are left open for people to color in their own stories, but you can feel the underlying emotion really heavily from the lyrics and the music. It makes for a totally different story. It’s supposed to relate people to each other- even if not realizing it as first. There can be several people connecting to the songs in several different places, for instance when you hear “Light Me Up” and you really needed that helping hand to see that light at the end of the tunnel that’s perceived to have no end, or you are alone- this is really supposed to shed light on the fact that you are not alone and bring that feeling back to you.
Of course, it does touch on humanity and pushing ourselves, visuals and looking at specific patterns. Deeply rooted patterns, self-victimizations, and all these different destructive patterns that almost everyone carries in their own way. It’s just what we do, and how we see it and how we reflect it onto others and see it in ourselves that can transform our world. It’s supposed to in general have a positive impact- I hope with the music it does. That was the intention behind it, to be very honest, open, and vulnerable.
Dead Rhetoric: You talk about the destruction and vulnerability – when it comes to social media is it amazing to you that something that is supposed to bring people closer together is often used for destruction and tearing people down within humanity?
Paige: It is. It is a very interesting world right now with the way social media is such a key part to letting people know what’s around them and what’s available. And at the same time connecting them but yes being such a destructive force. I have boundaries around social media even for myself, because I can’t handle it all the time with my own thought patterns in my brain. I am not strong enough to not talk myself into believing I’m less than enough all the time. It’s something that I see commonly, especially with Instagram – this instant gratification thing that’s happened, it’s a natural thing to want and feel desired, but it’s really bred like a monster of its own through this attention thing. It’s highlighted that part in our psyche, and prevents us from going out into the world and connecting to people face to face more. People are stuck on their phones all the time, and I have been there- I have been there several times and I have boundaries now too.
I feel really sick about the fact that new generations have to come up with this crap around them. Young kids will have phones, and if one has social media the other has to have social media. Bullying is something that is hard to prevent, because it comes back to what’s really happening in the home life, and that’s a whole other thing. That’s hard enough to get through as a kid, I just can’t imagine how it is for these kids with the cyberbullying, we are seeing kids commit suicide at 13 years old- now more than ever, especially in the past several years, 13-15- these kids are killing themselves because they can’t live up to what they see and how people are treating them online, and you don’t have the capacity to deal with this when you are that young. It’s very sad for these next generations – I can’t really believe it actually.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about the Japanese version for “Let Me Love You” for which you made a video for? Have you always been fluent in Japanese to switch back and forth in that language and English for this track- and how did the idea with incorporating yourselves as anime characters come about?
Paige: This was something that I really wanted to do for a while. As you know, Japan always gets a bonus track within the music industry, it’s just politics I’m not really sure about why, but that’s how it goes and there’s no way around it. I thought this time instead of putting a different song on there, we would just do a song in Japanese format. I do not speak Japanese, but I did put a lot of effort into re-working the lyrics to make sense when they are in Japanese. Because you can’t just translate it the same word for word- I will be putting up those lyrics soon for people to see, because it’s pretty interesting to see how they have to change to make sense. It’s very beautiful, when we translated it we didn’t lose the essence of the message of the song. I worked for almost a month just on that song very hardcore with a woman that lives in Vancouver, Niriko from Japan, and all she does is translate and work side by side with people, traveling. It was important to find someone that had a good reputation and trust, she was lovely.
After the song was done, I thought it would be really fun to just make a video and everyone in the world can also hear the Japanese version and might find it interesting. Usually people don’t get that song that goes to Japan, unless they buy it off Ebay. This was our way of being able to share what we were giving the Japanese, and the anime was just a fun twist. I personally thought it would be really fun, and so I created a character and we just worked with a Canadian team here to create some light anime to tell a story with a lot of humor in it.
Dead Rhetoric: And when it comes to the Fleetwood Mac cover “The Chain” – had you always been a fan of the band?
Paige: Yes, a major fan of Fleetwood Mac- especially the Stevie Nicks era. I really wanted us to pick a song that people weren’t expecting us to do. We usually pick something along the lines of traditional heavy metal, and that would just be too parallel for us. We did something totally different, and it also had the right message to end the Prevail albums. We are all in this together, we are a chain, and it ends the album with a feeling of unity.
Dead Rhetoric: Many of the veterans in metal have released strong records this year already- including Saxon and Judas Priest among others. Does this give you hope for possibly a mini-rebirth for consumers who are seeking out quality records and stronger emphasis on hooks, melodies, and memorable songs?
Paige: You know, I feel like our world has more genres to choose from now, because of the EDM movement, and the pop world- which has always been a big part of what people listen to. I think that rock and metal have always been there to a degree, but it’s not been something that people can reach to the level of Metallica for instance or Iron Maiden. That’s a really massive community of people around the world listening to that. When you look at Saxon and Judas Priest and what they are doing, I think this is out there. It’s in a lot of sub-genres within people that do their own thing. Many things come to mind, even if I think of Volbeat, it’s really turned some people on and done well. If we go and look into the younger generations at Avenged Sevenfold, they got the kids and they are growing up with the kids as they are playing. I was one of them when I was 14, I got into them and I saw them go through their transition and evolution. I think I am going to hang onto that- and I think there are many bands like this out there.
I don’t think it necessarily is going to be the same rebirth from the 80’s ever again- where these metal giants are touring all around the world like Iron Maiden with arenas. I do think that double headlining things are possible, and then again you never know. You see Nightwish in Europe and they are huge, so I think that there are exceptions that you might see as you go along here. There are people that will always love rock and metal, and I don’t think that this will necessarily change.
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