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
So, me and my extended BW&BK family have issued our individual Best Of 2012 lists because that’s the sort of thing you do in this biz as the new year kicks off. I’ve decided to post my long-winded overview of the last 12 months here, with a link provided leading to my Top 10 Albums list along with other honourable (and dishonourable) mentions…
It was a rollercoaster of a year, as they all are in the music biz.
From being blindsided by Halestorm’s new album The Strange Case Of… and becoming a fan against my will, to dealing with a fuckwit promo rep at Roadrunner Records who decided to change my questions in an email interview because she felt they were “too harsh” for her artist (um, shouldn’t that be for the artist to decide?), to bucket list interviews with Brighton Rock’s Gerry McGhee and the lovely Lita Ford, to witnessing some amazing shows on both sides of the pond, 2012 has been quite the adventure.
See the list here for the Hot and Not albums of my year, then pick apart my sanity at your leisure.
Gotta say that I was surprised at not being disappointed by any of the shows I was able to attend this year. The third annual European run of Rock Meets Classic featuring Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Steve Lukather (Toto), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), three-fifths of Primal Fear’s roster and Trillium vocalist Amanda Somerville was positively brilliant, with PF singer Ralf Scheepers going above and beyond lending his voice to the Toto hit ‘Rosanna’ (!). Watching Devin Townsend successfully manipulate a Motörhead crowd into doing his bidding was a gut-buster, seeing former Helloween members Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen on stage together with Unisonic belting out classics ‘I Want Out’ and ‘Future World’ was ’87 surreal, and the Leaves’ Eyes / Firewind tour that looked so weird on paper turned out to be one of the best gigs of the past 12 months.
Nightwish gets a scrapbook all its own due to a brilliant show in Nuremberg – featuring more pyro than the sun – and a day and night hanging with some of the finest people in the metal business. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Kobra And The Lotus are one of the busiest bands around.
Sure, a comment like that comes off as a whole lotta bullshit lip-service when people are aware the journalist hack doing the talking is in good with the band, but the fact is that from month to month – and in some case from day to day – the lads and lady that are Kobra And The Lotus are touring or packing their bags to head out on the road. Even as I write this, they’re gearing up for shows in the UK supporting Buckcherry through the end of November, having just wrapped up dates with Steel Panther and confirmed for December shows in the US supporting Sonata Arctica.
Back in August during my annual trip home to Toronto, I received a call letting me know that the band would be in town shooting a video for ’50 Shades Of Evil’ from the new self-titled album, would I like to come down? The invitation – and from what I understand, the video shoot – came out of nowhere considering Kobra And The Lotus had just wrapped up a European summer festival tour only a week or two before. Accepting the invite was a no-brainer.
The shoot took place at the Berkley Church on Queen Street West, just off the Don Valley Parkway. Near as anyone can tell, the only services the church is used for these days involve DJs and drinks on the weekends, but on August 19th director Lisa Mann – who has previously worked with Apocalyptica – turned it into a Kobra And The Lotus dreamscape. The photos below were taken following the band performances for the clip, involving mirrors, lights, a leaf blower and assorted old school camera tricks.
Since there’s no NHL hockey season thanks to certain greedy sons of bitches, you can brush up on your Canuck metal below:
Blackguard are back on the road yet again, only this time they’re on the other side of the pond on the highly anticipated Kamelot tour. This is going to be huge for the band in the Kamelot are a huge draw right across Europe, and the band’s new Silverthorn has been receiving rave rviews across the board. Vocalist Paul Zinay recently commented on the trek:
“We had a blast conquering North America with Kamelot and now it’s time to conquer some new territories. We are very honored that we were asked to join them on this tour and we’d like to give our deepest thanks and gratitude to Thomas (Youngblood / guitars) and all of the Kamelot crew for extending us this invitation. This will be the last tour supporting our latest album Firefight and we can’t imagine ending on a higher note than this.”
Blackguard is due to release their new album, Storm, in the spring of 2013 via Victory Records. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
In mid-2011, Calgary-based Kobra And The Lotus surprised their fans with the release of a video for the song ‘Welcome To My Funeral’. At the time it was a non-album track, a taste of what was coming down the pipe later in the year with their second official record, Visionary. It was a bold move, particularly since there had been zero build-up to the new record in the press prior to the video release, and shocking in that singer Brittany “Kobra” Paige’s vocal style had evolved even further since the band’s 2010 debut, Out Of The Pit. Everything was ready to go for Visionary right down to the artwork, but the band’s plans were abruptly scuttled when they were offered a deal with Spinefarm / Universal in cooperation with KISS legend Gene Simmons’ label, Simmons Records.
A new game plan was put into play along with a couple line-up changes, and Kobra And The Lotus found themselves back at the drawing board for what would become their self-titled second outing.
“When we signed the new deal the label wanted us to write more material for them to choose from so we could release the strongest album possible,” says Paige. “They also wanted to keep it upbeat, so they cut all the ballads. We wrote a bunch of fast hit-you-in-the-face songs and they picked four to be used with what we already had for Visionary. We actually wrote ‘Forever One’ in the studio, and that was created out of four different demos that the label decided not to use (laughs). It was pretty crazy taking chopped up pieces of songs and realizing we had one really solid song in there. What’s really interesting is how the band has evolved sound-wise on the new album. There are a lot of dual guitar leads, there’s some thrash in there now. Everything is so much bigger now.” Continue Reading
Metal news from the first nation of Hosers. Read on…
Quebec’s northern hyperblast legends Kataklysm released their new documentary DVD, Iron Will: 20 Years Determined last month, and it’s a monster. For anyone who has a band, started a band, tried starting a band and failed, tried starting a band and became Nightwish or Metallica, it’s worth spending the five hours needed to watch the whole thing. One of the best working class band documentaries ever. Seriously. It goes right back to the beginning of Kataklysm’s career, leaves no stone unturned, and shows the band at their best, worst, most embarrassing and most righteously awesome. Even if you don’t get the music, you’ll get the story: dream big, dream loud, screw the naysayers.
The package also comes with the band’s complete 20th Anniversary show from Summer Breeze 2011. Complete details can be found here along with order information. Check out a clip from the live portion of the DVD here. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Even though the release of Kobra And The Lotus’ new album, Visionary, is still months away, the band has been anything but quiet. In a surprise move they issued a video for new song ‘Welcome To My Funeral’ as a taste of what’s to come without a date even being set. On top of that, they’ve been tearing up the road in the UK, and have confirmed an extensive European tour supporting metal veterans U.D.O. for the fall. Recent developments saw me doing some work on behalf of the Kobra crew, which involved hearing Visionary in its entirety, and it’s safe to say the band has evolved into something much stronger and meaner than even their most devout fans can imagine. Vocalist Brittany Paige took some time out from a hectic tour schedule to discuss where the band has been, where they’re going, and what kind of mayhem the fans are in for.
Bottom line; it’ll be worth the wait.
“After our first big summer tour in 2010, it put in perspective the main areas of improvement we needed to focus on,” Paige begins, discussing the line-up changes that have taken place since the release of their 2010 debut, Out Of The Pit. “The first step was making sure the line-up was strong enough. We needed every member to be on the exact same track in terms of commitment, vision and effort. We parted ways with Matt Van Wezel (guitars) and bassist Ben Freud. It put us in a very tough position because we had the UK tour coming up shortly after. When we came back in the winter, Chris (Swenson / guitars) and I began writing the album. This also really put into perspective the true foundation of the band. I composed some of the songs by myself – such as ‘Welcome To My Funeral’ – and together we wrote the album, so the fact that the bass and lead guitar weren’t filled concrete roles had no effect on the writing process.” Continue Reading
Kobra And The Lotus are a little band from Calgary, Alberta that I took an immediate dislike to when I first heard them in 2009. The music was fine but I couldn’t stand the vocals, provided by the otherwise lovely Brittany Paige. I have to admit, their debut album Out Of The Pit isn’t the car crash I expected. I recently spoke with Paige about the changes that helped Kobra And The Lotus get out of the career-stifling hole they were in, and was surprised to learn I had a hand in pushing the band’s decision to re-record all the vocals for the debut. Following is an excerpt from the story, with Paige discussing life as a metal band from the Canadian prairies.
According to her Calgary is the city where metal goes to die… Continue Reading