DATE OF INTERVIEW:
KOBRA AND THE LOTUS
4th December 2010
BRITTANY PAIGE; CHRIS SWENSON; GRIFFIN KISSACK; BRYAN BUSS; PAT LAWTEY
Hailing from the Canadian city of Calgary, Kobra and the Lotus only formed two years ago although have already notched prestigious support slots with the likes of Primal Fear, Stratovarius and 3 Inches of Blood. 2010 has seen the release of debut album 'Out of the Pit', which was remixed and had vocals re-recorded by none other than producer extraordinaire Kevin Shirley ahead of its official release. The result is a collection of up tempo trad-metal tunes that are as infectiously melodic as they are hard-hitting in their delivery. Add to that Brittany Paige's unique singing style which oozes resonance, passion and charm in equal measure, and you have one of the scene's brightest prospects for the future. Touring the UK towards the end of 2010, their final show took place at Prestatyn's Hard Rock Hell, and still on site the day after their storming performance on the festival's second stage, the band chatted to Metal Discovery in the press room which, on closer inspection, was actually a games room in the Welsh Pontin's holiday complex, doubling up for media requirements during the weekend. So, situated between a couple of full-size snooker tables, discussions commenced...
METAL DISCOVERY: How was the show for you guys yesterday? It was a very strong set, I thought, so how was it for you guys?
BRITTANY: Oh cool, thank you.
(Brittany Paige on general reactions to Kobra and the Lotus' music)
"If we garner a response then it’s been confusion as they’re not really sure what to think because it’s not fully operatic like a lot of female vocalists..."
Kobra and the Lotus outside the press room at Hard Rock Hell, Pontin's, Prestatyn, UK, 4th December 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
CHRIS: Awesome, it was amazing.
BRITTANY: Yeah, awesome.
MD: You’ve been on quite a long tour of the UK and this is effectively the end of the tour, so how have all the shows been?
CHRIS: Awesome. Tons of fun. Just meeting new people and turning up to shows and people know your songs already, it’s pretty awesome.
BRITTANY: Or request them, that’s crazy.
MD: I heard from your tour manager Susan that you had to drive through blizzards and all kinds of bad weather.
PAT: We brought the Canadian weather with us!
MD: Yeah, it must be like home from home! It doesn’t usually snow this bad at this time of year over here. I’m sure you’re asked this question all the time but it’s quite an ambiguous band name you have – is that just random words or is there any significance or meaning behind Kobra and the Lotus?
BRITTANY: Yeah, there is actually significance behind it. The cobra’s a pretty sacred, auspicious animal in a lot of cultures…it’s really strong and it symbolises good things, and the lotus is the light that comes out of the darkness. It’s really beautiful and it comes out of mud. We thought that was pretty metal and it also has the male and the female aspect so Kobra and the Lotus. It’s actually two old band names put together. Once upon a time it was Lotus and then there was Kobra after, and then it became Kobra and the Lotus when the album was being released.
MD: Talking of names, I read you were called Judas Cradle originally…
BRITTANY: Oh my god! [laughs]
MD: Was that after the mediaeval torture device, like an Iron Maiden style of name, or was that a fusion of Judas Priest and Cradle of Filth maybe?
CHRIS: The first one.
BRITTANY: Yeah, don’t look it up, it’s disgusting!
MD: I’ve seen it. It looks pretty horrific! And you abandoned this name because…?
CHRIS: Well, you looked it up!
MD: Okay, that’s fair enough then!
BRITTANY: That was actually before Kobra and the Lotus, so like a long time before. That was mine and Chris’ band with other players. Kobra and the Lotus is actually me, Chris and Griffin – we’ve been in that band for the last years. But yeah, that was our project…[laughs]
CHRIS: A different apparition.
BRITTANY: Yeah, exactly.
MD: I don’t know what it’s like in Canada, but there’s so much talk in the UK of a “female fronted metal” scene, and on the continent as well, and people seem to regard that as a genre of music even though all those bands have different styles of metal. Would you see that as limiting for your band if you ever got labelled with that umbrella term?
BRITTANY: Actually, surprisingly, no. If we garner a response then it’s been confusion as they’re not really sure what to think because it’s not fully operatic like a lot of female vocalists, and it’s not…I don’t know, it’s just a bit more confused.
MD: I’ve read in interviews where you’ve mentioned some diverse influences in your music that are maybe a bit covert for the listener like Chopin and Pink Floyd. How would you say such influences manifest in your music?
PAT: Pink Floyd, I think, is anyone who’s ever been a kid and gotten into Pink Floyd almost, I think it’s just a universal thing, like most kids who deal with alienation, I guess, or whatever…you can be influenced by completely different styles.
CHRIS: We grew up on punk rock, you know. Pat and I are huge fans of prog, like 70s prog, and Dream Theater. It may not show, but maybe in secrecy or something.
PAT: And subconsciously, it comes out in what you’re writing too, and everything that you listen to.
MD: So it’s not like emphatic in the music where you could say, “ah, that bit sounds like Pink Floyd”, but maybe in the atmosphere or something.
GRIFFIN: Maybe to some people but it’s hard to say.
PAT: If you listen for it maybe.
CHRIS: Like Griffin’s experience was in death metal in the form of blast beats but, if you put it to music like this, most people wouldn’t notice it’s a death metal influence.
MD: Of course, yeah. ‘Out of the Pit’ was released earlier this year and then re-released as well in September, in the UK…
BRITTANY: Yeah, September 27th.
MD: I’ve seen some pretty mixed reviews with some people raving about it and giving it nine out of ten, but others three out of ten…
CHRIS: At least it’s not fives.
MD: Yeah, exactly, average ratings are the worst kind of review.
GRIFFIN: Love it or hate it!
MD: Are you generally pleased with how it’s been received in terms of getting really good and really bad reviews then?
CHRIS: As long as it’s evoking emotion in people, I think that’s it.
BRITTANY: Yeah, exactly.
MD: So a one out of ten, at least that’s kind of provoked some sort of reaction whereas five is just like…
PAT: If somebody really hates it, somebody else is gonna love it!
MD: So what do you want to say to the journalists who’ve given it five out of ten then? Defend your album! Defend the mediocrity they’re accusing you of!
GRIFFIN: I think, in the end, we love what we’re doing. Even our live shows where especially the old album shines through, because we’ve got Pat and we’ve got Bryan, and the songs remain the same but they’ve got a really, really new touch to ‘em. So what I would say to the guys who are giving it five out of ten is come and see the live show; see what we’re doing with the songs now. The album, I think it’s still great and I’m really proud of what we did, but we’re progressing and that’s what any band should be doing. Every time we get together and jam, something new comes out; somebody puts something new into the song. You know, that’s great. It should be a progression every time we play live.
CHRIS: Even half the drums on the album, Griffin’s only on a few songs.
GRIFFIN: Yeah, I only did four tracks on the album so the rest of the drums on the album I don’t really even play whatsoever.
MD: I actually have a review copy on the way; I’ve not heard the album as such at the moment, but from what I’ve listened to on your MySpace, it comes across a lot more powerful in the live show. I enjoyed it a lot more live than what I’ve heard so far, but I will hear the album in its entirety…and not give it five out of ten!
MD: If I feel like that I’ll give it four out of ten so at least you’ll be a little happier then!
MD: Actually, I do really like what I’ve heard but live, I was blown away; I thought it was really, really good.
CHRIS: Thank you so much.
BRITTANY: Yeah, thank you.
MD: So, with it being your first UK tour, did you get big audiences at the shows? I guess the snow stopped some people getting out.
BRITTANY: Pretty big.
CHRIS: We heard a lot of people were gonna come but they couldn’t because of the weather, or they heard about it at the last minute or something.
MD: What’s the smallest crowd you played to?
GRIFFIN: It’s hard to say…probably twenty or something like that.
BRITTANY: Yeah, twenty or so.
GRIFFIN: What’s great, though, is that even at the smaller gigs and there were, say, twenty people there, they all got into it which was great.
BRITTANY: Yeah, they just wanted to see our songs; it’s great.
GRIFFIN: We had a lot of advertising in Metal Hammer and some people would come up to us and say, “I heard about you guys in Metal Hammer and I’m here to see you”. You know, that makes a show.
BRYAN: There was that one kid who said, “you’re my favourite band”.
MD: Do you ever lose some of the vibe when you get twenty people turn up instead of two hundred?
GRIFFIN: I think with the more people that are there, the more it pumps you up, but I found, and we’ve talked about this a lot, we’re always there to make new fans. So when people come to see our show, we give ‘em a show. And if there’s one person into it, that’s one more fan we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t played.