By Carl Begai
Canadian bashers Kobra And The Lotus kicked off the summer of 2014 in the best way possible; they released their monstrous High Priestess album to rave reviews, hitting the road the day before the record hit the shelves supporting KISS on their 40 Anniversary North American summer tour alongside Def Leppard. Not the sort of honour bestowed upon one’s metal head every day, especially to a young band that has been paying its dues in the clubs and on festival circuits since 2009. Membership has its privileges, of course – in this case being signed to Simmons/Universal featuring KISS legend and business mogul Gene Simmons – but Kobra And The Lotus still had to deliver to audiences that generally didn’t give a damn about them.
“As a whole that tour was amazing,” says Paige, agreeing the band was widely regarded as window dressing by the diehard KISS fans. “The experience was incredible and really inspiring for us. KISS and Def Leppard were really great to us, they’re great people, and they shared some stories that really put them on the same level with us. It showed us that you have to have faith in yourself and push through a lot of obstacles. Def Leppard told us about getting bottles of piss thrown at them in ’88, but they kept going. The shows were very different and we had to adjust to that. Capacity for the amphitheaters we played was about 20,000 every night, and people were kind of pouring in and having drinks as we were playing, so we’d be in front of 8,000 to 10,000 people but that looks really scattered over that amount of space.”
It sounds as if Kobra And The Lotus were like a restaurant lounge act on any given night; patrons milling about, more concerned about finding their seats and ordering food and booze than the music.
“It was like that! But, it was good for us and it made us improve as performers because we had to figure out how to captivate that kind of audience. It was fun, and there were some shows that were definitely epic. Nashville was completely full when we played and it was amazing, it was so loud. That was probably the highlight for me on that whole tour.” Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
During my interview with Kobra And The Lotus vocalist Kobra Paige for the band’s new Canadian rock classic covers EP, Words Of The Prophets, one subject that came up was the band’s lack of touring in support of their full length album from 2014, High Priestess. They had the once-in-a-career experience of opening for KISS and Def Leppard through North America that same year, but Kobra And The Lotus were conspicuously absent from the European touring and festival circuit after years of being non-stop on the go on both sides of the Atlantic. At least that’s how it seemed.
“You’re completely right, we toured significantly less,” agrees Paige. “The main reason for that was I got really sick and the doctors said I couldn’t go out on the road. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and it got really, really bad. We didn’t tour for eight months. I’m just starting to get back into it now but I’m still on antibiotics and being treated.”
According to medical journals Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks that can cause arthritis, neurological issues, and heart problems. It also wears down your immune system. Fortunately, the disease is NOT contagious and can’t be passed directly from human to human.
“I wasn’t sure if I should say anything about it to the fans or bring it up in the press because it was scary being off the road. If a band’s activity drops people start to forget about you really fast, but it was unavoidable. Basically, my body took me out. I had such severe mono that I didn’t really get out of bed in the first month that we were home. You can’t fight anything off when your immune system gets so bad like that. The last place you want to be when that happens is on the road because there’s nothing working for you at all.” Continue Reading
Been a LONG time since I’ve dished out one of these columns, but things are back to what passes for normal around here which means we#re back in business. That said, read on for your metal hoser updates…
As most Dream Theater fans know, Canada-born frontman James LaBrie recently released his new solo album, Impermanent Resonance. There a full story with LaBrie here that goes over the ins and outs of the record, but from a completely biased point of view it’s fair to say Impermanent Resonance is one of his best (perhaps falling just shy of Static Impulse’s epic stature).
Plenty of aggression, which falls in line with Static Impulse’s in-your-face approach, but there’s a bloody infectious melodic aspect to the songs that open LaBrie’s music up to a wider audience. Hails to collaborator/keyboardist Matt Guillory for his brilliant songwriting skills. But don’t take my word for it; check out the full record on YouTube. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Vocalist / guitarist Danko Jones is best known as the mouthpiece for the Toronto-based rock trio that bears his name. He writes songs admitting that he thinks bad thoughts about your daughter, that maybe just maybe he has a regret or two in life, and that rock n’ roll can never be too loud. When he’s not on stage somewhere in the world or locked in the studio, however, downtime beyond his private life extends to the realms of an online blog, the official Danko Jones podcast, and keeping the fans informed on the state of the world via Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else he can think of. Call it a working vacation from his daily grind.
“I really cut out all the time-wasters in my life,” he says of pulling off this Olympic-level balancing act – “I don’t watch too much TV or movies, I don’t drink and I never really did so I don’t go to bars, I don’t sightsee, so that’s how I can do it. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. When I’m walking around, the things that are going through my head are the things you’re reading on the Huffington Post or wherever.”
Case in point this past April, when Danko took the unusual step of expressing his disgust for what he considered a poorly written and unfair concert review posted on Beyond The Watch. Yes, he took it personally and ripped into the journalist that wrote it via his Huffington Post column:
“I fucking skewered them so hard (laughs). And then you posted it on Brave Words, so it was even more hammering on those guys. My whole thing with pointing them out is because it wasn’t just a blog or a writer, it was people from our home town. It was a more sensistive place to write a review. You can be from Toronto and put us down, but you should know why and how you’re putting us down because we’re from your home town and we’ve been doing this for 17 years. These guys are mid-20s probably, so they’ve grown up seeing our videos on MuchMusic. There’s kind of no excuse. It was a Toronto blog so I figured that fair’s fair.” Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
I recently crossed Black N’ Blue frontman Jaime St. James off my interview bucket list.
No, he doesn’t have the high profile career, matching fame, or “legendary” status of Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford, but St. James is one of those voices from my formative metalhead years in the ’80s that never disappeared. And while I can’t say that I’ve listened to Black N’ Blue religiously since the days I had a full head of hair, I can lay claim knowing every word, vocal nuance, widdly guitar part, drum fill and additional noise found on the Nasty Nasty record. It was and is one of those things I can’t explain beyond the fact it was music that struck a chord with me and became part of my bloodstream. That they have a new album out all these years later on par with Nasty Nasty is nothing short of fantastic in my world.
St. James recently took time out to discuss the record, Hell Yeah, and the interview will appear on these pages soon. In the meantime an excerpt from the chat is available below, as I address something that’s been bugging me for over two decades…
In 1987 a new band called EZO – rumoured to have been discovered by KISS legend Gene Simmons – started popping up regularly on MuchMusic and MTV through their video for the song ‘Flashback Heart Attack’. This was followed by a second single, ‘Here It Comes’. Hailing from Japan, they played the glam metal part well, fitting into the hair-and-make-up ’80s scene running amok at the time as if they were born to it. Musically, however, they were different from their more-pose-for-your-buck peers, making EZO something definitely worth investigating for a youngling with preferences for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Helloween. Continue Reading