Kobra and the Lotus
Passion…It can move mountains and change lives; ignite the imagination and turn dreams into reality. Canadian rock vocalist Kobra Paige has it and for her anything is possible…
As a student, her passion for singing, piano, guitar and musical theatre would open up a path to metal, a path that would see years of classical training giving way to a heavier genre of music every bit as demanding and expressive in terms of creativity, dedication and applied talent. Kobra has established a lifestyle, a 100 per cent no-compromise commitment to the metal world’s way of life.
It was a headline show by Judas Priest at the 22,000-capacity Saddledome in Calgary, Canada, that lit the fuse; a life-defining moment from which there would be no turning back… “It was the first time I’d been to a concert on that scale,” recalls Kobra, “and it was quite overwhelming. The atmosphere, the energy, the noise, the bond between the fans, and then of course the band themselves. I loved the twin-guitar set-up, but it was Rob Halford that grabbed my attention the most – he’s an iconic frontman, and he’s been truly influential in defining what heavy metal has become.”
Kobra didn’t just get a kick out of seeing Halford live and in the flesh; she now knew what she wanted to do in life. The die was cast…in METAL. So, out with the classical, the operatic and all things symphonic; in with the leather and the studs, and the burning desire to walk, write and sing her way down the metal brick road.
“I became addicted to the whole culture of the music straight away,” recalls Kobra. “I love the fantasy side of things, and if I didn’t keep a close eye on myself I could easily end up wielding a sword and wearing a suit of armour. Heavy metal has an escapist quality, which is something the fans love. It’s larger-than-life, bombastic and full of great imagery, and I’m very comfortable with that tradition. It suits my personality and the way I see the world.”
Of course, it’s one thing to want to grab said world by the balls and quite another to actually do it. Not an easy task, and certainly not for everybody. Kobra set to work scouring the scene for musicians of equal ambition and intent, the breakthrough arriving when she responded to an advertisement in a local Calgary paper.
The ad wasn’t seeking a singer; it was seeking a drummer – but it carried the right tone and reference points. Taking the attitude of nothing ventured, nothing gained, Kobra was bent on challenging whoever happened to be the singer, which turned out to be the guitarist pulling double duty. Microphone and spotlight were hers for the taking, and Kobra didn’t hesitate.
The new band sharpened its fangs on classic metal covers such as Iron Maiden’s ‘Aces High’, but from the very beginning – on the first day of rehearsals, in fact – original material began to take shape. Finally, Kobra was on a path that made sense; finding her true voice, working with players committed to the same cause, and choosing a band name that had more to support it than a dictionary and a pin…
“The original name was just Lotus, because it has a mystical feel,” explains Kobra. “I like the symbolism that it conjures up, with the lotus being a flower that grows in muddy water then rises above the surface to bloom. That really ties in with the lyrics I write, which are generally to do with light shining out of dark places, but by and large the theme is one of hope, of the purity of heart and mind as represented by the lotus.
“Later, we extended the name to Kobra And The Lotus because I also like the idea of a fearless and powerful creature, and now I’m happy with the balance. We’re Kobra And The Lotus, and it feels right.”
If success is measured by the number of tours under an artist’s belt, Kobra And The Lotus are already near the top of the mountain. And climbing. Since 2012, the band has logged several thousand kilometres of travel, playing club, arena and festival stages around the world. They have torn up the main stages at major international festivals, including Sonisphere (Spain), Download (UK), Bloodstock (UK), Hellfest (France), Graspop (Netherlands), Gods Of Metal (Italy) and many more, and opened up for Judas Priest at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo (London, UK).
“It was surreal opening for Judas Priest in London,” recalls Kobra. “It felt like me coming full circle to where this whole story started. It was another launch point, and now I’m ready to take my story forward as part of the next generation of metal musicians…”
All of this roadwork has prepared them for what promises to be the most intense touring cycle of their career, once their new album, ‘High Priestess’, is unleashed. “We’ve been going non-stop, but it’s the way it has to be,” reflects Kobra. “I love playing live. It’s a crucial form of enjoyment for us, and that feeling has to be there if you’re going to make this work. I’ve only known one thing and that’s touring. Performing live is what makes us able to sustain ourselves.”
Following their North American tour in August 2013, Kobra and guitarist Jasio Kulakowski made a beeline for Groovemaster Recording Studio in Chicago, spending the next two months with Grammy Award nominated producer Johnny K (Megadeth, Three Doors Down, Disturbed, etc.), hammering out the songs that would become the ‘High Priestess’ album. “It was exhausting,” admits Kobra, “but it was certainly a challenge, and the best studio experience I’ve had so far.”
Simply, ‘High Priestess’ showcases Kobra And The Lotus’ ongoing rise as a hungry, no-nonsense metal band founded on classic values. Kobra’s vocal evolution includes a flooring new mid-range voice now highlighted alongside her signature highs and lows. Kulakowski, meanwhile, dominates as a riff-heavy shredder with progressive undertones, turning in songs steeped in the realms of classic Judas Priest, Megadeth, Blind Guardian, Death Angel and Metallica. ‘High Priestess’ is a high-energy assault, dynamic and original, with anthems such as ‘Battle Of Wrath’, ‘Hold On’ (both revealing fresh vocal territory), lead metal radio / lyric video track ‘I Am, I Am’, and the over-the-top theatrical show-stopper, ‘Lost In The Shadows’, making it clear just how high the bar has been raised.
Kobra declares, “‘High Priestess’ is a straight-up expression of the music coming out of us. We wrote from the soul. Jasio and I came up with half of the album together, I wrote the title track alone, and there was material that was already there that I’d written with other people. I also wrote some material with Johnny in the studio (‘I Am I Am’, ‘Battle Of Wrath’) because I felt so inspired working with him. The album is a collaborative mix.”
The band took the ‘all killer, no filler’ approach to piecing ‘High Priestess’ together, keeping the final track-list to a lean ‘n’ mean 10 songs rather than trying to bludgeon the listener with 75-plus minutes of music. Kobra avows, “If you have 13 or 14 tracks on an album you run the risk of watering it down with weaker material. We try to avoid that as much as possible.”
On top of releasing their strongest album to date, Kobra And The Lotus are kicking off what looks set to be their loudest ‘n’ proudest era yet by supporting KISS and Def Leppard across North America this summer. Having already shared stages with a wide variety of acts over the past two years, including Sonata Arctica, Fear Factory, Black Label Society, Steel Panther and Buckcherry, Kobra And The Lotus are confident about converting audiences every night…
“The mix of bands we’ve toured with is crazy, but it’s been awesome,” concludes Kobra. “I think it’s really important to get out of your niche and play to people who might not normally be exposed to your music. This is a really exciting time for us and I’m stoked by the challenge of playing to the KISS and Def Leppard faithful.”