BraveWords Interview: KOBRA AND THE LOTUS – Success In The Snakepit

Carl Begai

Canadian bashers Kobra And The Lotus kicked off 2018 in the best position they’ve ever been in over the course of the band’s 10 year career. After years of riding the record label carousel, numerous line-up changes, and vocalist Kobra Paige’s battle with Lyme disease that severely reduced the band’s ability to tour, Kobra And The Lotus landed at Napalm Records. The growing label saw worth in the band’s mad scheme (for a small act) to release a double album, promptly developing a plan to market and promote the record, enabling KATL to get back on the road. The proposed Prevail album was divided into two parts by the label, with Prevail I released in May 2017. The record hit the Independent (Soundscan) and Heatseekers charts, yielding three singles (four if you count pre-release taster “Trigger Pulse”). All in all, a fantastic restart for a band that has waded through its share of industry bullshit and personal issues. Prevail II continues this run, charting in similar fashion to Prevail I and seeing Kobra And The Lotus on the road yet again, as it should be.

Paige spoke with BraveWords last year about the motivation behind Prevail I and II, and prior to hitting the road she picked up the thread regarding how the band managed to divide the songs between the two albums – 21 in total, plus bonus material – and create a balance to work in their favour.

“It was pretty stressful at first trying to figure out what to do with all the music we had,” Paige admits. “All we knew is that we wanted it to be equally balanced between the two albums. What really helped us was that Napalm Records chose some of the songs that went on Prevail I. They chose ‘Trigger Pulse’ and ‘You Don’t Know’, and in my head ‘Light Me Up’ had a similar vibe, ‘Gotham’ seemed to match with ‘Trigger Pulse’, so that laid the groundwork. And because we had the one instrumental on Prevail I (‘Check The Phyrg’) it made sense to put the other one (‘Ribe’) on Prevail II.”

Considering the amount of work that went into writing songs for what is essentially a double album, it’s surprising to hear that Kobra And The Lotus were so willing to hand off choosing the track running order(s) to the record label.

“It wasn’t really that hard. We really felt strongly about ‘Trigger Pulse’ for some reason and it went from there. Honestly, it was a relief to have Napalm’s input because once they explained why it would be better to release Prevail in two parts rather than all at once, it made sense. It was really strange but cool that everything just fit into place doing the whole Prevail thing.”

Ambition doesn’t always equal success, however, particularly when it comes to producing a ton of music for a seemingly loyal fanbase. Sure, Guns N’ Roses walked in and went stratospheric with Use Your Illusion 1 and II back in 1991, but how many people seriously absorbed more than the hits off that 30 song wallop? Stone Sour laid out a similar plan to Kobra And The Lotus, releasing House Of Gold & Bones – Part 1 in 2012, garnering the band loads of attention, while Part 2 showed up and disappeared with barely a whimper a year later, proving less is quite often more in the music business. Paige reveals the band did have some doubts along the way.

“Some of us went through this phase of ‘Holy shit, what if people hate Prevail II because they loved Prevail I…?’ but over this last year it’s become exciting to have new material to put out there again. Ultimately, we’re really happy with what we’ve done, so we just decided to let it go and see what happens.”

As if cranking out a two part album wasn’t enough, Kobra And The Lotus made the oddball decision to release the single “Let Me Love You” featuring an official video with the verses sung in Japanese. Nobody saw that one coming.

“We knew when we were getting ready to release the video everyone was going to be saying ‘What the fuck?’ because the lyrics are in Japanese,” Paige laughs. “We did it in English as well, of course, but we thought this was a fun way to share what we’re doing with Japan. The idea came about because most releases in Japan have bonus tracks added, so we decided to take it to the next level with a Japanese version of ‘Let Me Love You’. Kobra And The Lotus hasn’t really been accepted into the Japanese market yet so we decided to make this grand gesture to that demographic. I also happen to love anime, so it turned into this super fun idea. Jacob (Hansen / producer) thought it was hilarious because he’d never done anything like that before.”

“When we were in Denmark (in the studio) I worked with a woman over Skype,” Paige says of honing her Japanese skills for the song. “We did the song line by line; I’d sing it in Japanese, I’d ask her if it was okay, and she give me a little nod of the head (laughs). It was kind of strange but it was fun, I have to admit.”

Read the complete interview here