The Cosmos of Cobra Starship revealed by Ryland Blackinton and Alex Suarez
By
Julia Werner
5/31/2007 9:55:12 AM

"We try to pull kids against their will, though, kids who look like they don’t want to do it, so those are the ones we need to save"

Despite ugly and inhospitable security, this writer managed to happily step onto the Cobra Starship tour bus for their first interview with Nighttimes.com. The members of the band, obviously chomping on the bit for this mega-press opportunity, were casually sprawled on couches playing video games. The atmosphere was laid-back, but welcoming and the guys seemed perfectly comfortable treating me as a new friend rather than a prying member of the press.

With their debut album While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets, [Decaydance Records, 2006] gaining attention and numerous promotional opportunities, Cobra Starship is definitely taking off.

I spoke with guitarist Ryland Blackinton and bassist Alex Suarez.

NT: I understand that you two also have another band called Ivy League, could you tell me a little bit about that?

RB: We just had a show while we were home that was a lot of fun.

AS: We’re still writing songs, we plan to do a release in the future.

NT: Is it just the two of you in the band?

AS: Yea, well we have people that play the rest of the instruments for us, in fact Gabe (Saporta) has been bugging us about playing the bass, so…we think we might let him do it.(mock frustration)

RB: We think for Hannukah this year we’re gonna…ya know, invite him into the band, Nate (Navarro) will probably be playing drums.

NT: Ok, so as far as this band goes, I know there’s a story about a cobra from the future coming and enlightening Gabe…did that happen to you guys too?

RB: No, we weren’t around for that. When we came, Gabe had already made the deal and everything. It’s all explained in our new video, just go to absolutepunk.net.

NT: So Gabe just kinda hooked up with the rest of you guys?

RB: Yea, in outer space.

NT: So you guys did the Snakes on a Plane theme song, what was that like?

AS: That was definitely the best introduction into being in this band and it was the first thing we did too. I’d never been to Los Angeles before myself, so it was just a cool way to go. We also got to go to the premiere of the movie.

RB: We played Jimmy Kimmel right after the first show.

NT: I heard you guys sometimes pull audience members onstage to sing part of your songs?

AS: Yea, our first tour was with Gym Class Heroes and Travis did the rap (in “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)” song) every night.

RB: So later we had to find a way to fill his shoes.

AS: Basically Gabe is like yea, I can’t rap, I’m not good at it…

RB: We’re like, you’re right, you suck at it.

AS: I think Gabe had the idea, he was like you know what? Let’s pull a kid up from the crowd to do it, they’d be psyched on it, it would make everyone really excited and happy and everything…

RB: We try to pull kids against their will, though, kids who look like they don’t want to do it, so those are the ones we need to save.

AS: We’ve had a couple kids crying onstage.

RB: Yea, we literally pulled them up onstage.

NT: Do you at least have a copy of the lyrics for them to read?

AS: Nope, that’s it…no a lot of kids are like “I wanna do it! I know the rap!” And they go up there and they’re like…[stares blankly].

RB: Or they just go [imitates another kid] “Yo, my name is Jason!” [everyone laughs]. You have to make fun of it. It’s just that they’re so excited that they say yes to any question you ask. So the funny thing is right when the part comes, typically like fifty or sixty to a hundred people all at once say the lyrics to the rap and we’ll be like “Great! But now I need just one…of all you hundreds of people that just said it.” And then when they come up they get a little bit of stage fright.

AS: We’re actually not doing that for this tour though unfortunately though, cause it’s too big of a show. Plus, we’re fortunate enough to have Dirty do it.

Gabe Saporta walks by and says: But it might be someone else doing it tonight…

AS: We’ll let you in on a little tip. Paul Wall I think is gonna be doing the rap.

NT: Yea, Paul Wall seems like a bit of a wildcard in this show.

RB: He adds a bit of versatility I think.

AS: And we might even get some free grillz out of it, ya know?

NT: Yea! Speaking of Nelly, have you guys ever been to St. Louis [before now]?

AS: Yea, we actually had a day off in St. Louis and we played at…right by that college campus…wait we played twice on the Cartel tour a place next door to a strip club that was 24 hours that we heard about, it was actually a pretty cool venue.

NT: Oh, Pop’s?

RB: Yea, Pop’s. And then we played also at another place on the other side of the river, right by this University, a little tiny tiny place.

AB: Remember when we snuck into that breakfast?

RB: Yea, absolutely, we got in on their campus mess hall or whatever, and we had like this huge college buffet, it was awesome.

NT: Have you guys had any interesting fan experiences?

RB: We’ve had a lot of good fan experiences. Last night for example, there’s like this new trend, and it’s like, sign my shoe, sign my bra strap, sign my ticket, you know all these weird things…take my picture with me, you know all these things kids wanna do. And last night, a couple dozen kids had me use my voice as their voicemail message.

AS: I had a bunch of that too, yea.

RB: They were like “Here!” and I didn’t know what was happening and it was like press pound when you’re done beep, and I was like oh hey, uh…Emily can’t come to the phone right now because she’s hanging out with me…Ryland from Cobra Starship [everyone laughs].

NT: What do you guys do outside of music?

RB: Alex is a chef.

AS: I love to cook, yea.

RB: He went to culinary school.

AS: I was like really into it for many years I was doing it down in Florida and I started a catering company with some friends of mine and that was going really well but it went sour with one of our business partners and I had to kind of like rebuild myself a little bit after that. So I moved back down to south Florida and I got offered to open up a restaurant and that all fell through and I was like, screw this, I’m moving to New York. So I got a job at Whole Foods cashiering, which was like really depressing, transferred up to New York and ended up delivering groceries which was even more depressing but the money was good and it ended up being kind of fun…and then everything just kind of fell into place after that. I’ve always been into music and I’ve always wanted to do music but I was like nobody makes it…but look what happened.

NT: What about you, Ryland?

RB: I actually went to school for acting, [takes on accent]I wanna do pictures. [everyone laughs]

NT: Have you thought about trying to make that transition?

RB: If I ever did, let’s say, here’s the scenario, let’s say I get into, I sneak my way somehow into a film. Everyone would be like [uses gruff voice] “Oh this guy’s in a band and he thinks he can be an actor” but the truth is I went to school for acting, I put in the hours. I starved, off Broadway, for like two and a half years, gained equity, actor’s equity, but just decided I’d rather be in a band and starve. But at least I get to starve in a bunch of different cities around the country.

NT: Well I think that’s about it, is there anything your fans don’t know about you that you’d like to share?

AS: Actually you know what we mentioned yesterday that we never talk about in interviews really is that for fashion week about two years ago, Ryland and I were ushers.

RB: Yea, odd jobs.

AS: And it was probably one of the best weeks of our lives.

RB: For one whole week we did we worked all the New York fashion shows. Barcelona, Rebecca Taylor, Kenneth Cole, Diane von Furstenberg.

AS: Did you hear about that fashion show where all the lights fell down? Two years ago at the Diane von Furstenberg show.

RB: And these beautiful just gazelle-like women were trouncing around and we were just like watching.

AS: But I mean we couldn’t have done anything, we were way stuck in the back.


Hopefully, Cobra Starship won’t be stuck in the back for long. The fun and playful attitude they have both on and off stage matches the exciting, up-beat dance music they have created, and if we’re lucky, will continue to create.

 

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