On June 4th, 2007, when the Honda Civic Tour stopped for a show in Columbia, MD, I got the amazing opportunity to interview Ryland Blackinton and Alex Suarez, guitarist and bass guitarist of Cobra Starship and members of their own band, Ivy League. Gabe Saporta, frontman of Cobra, stepped in for a few words, also. I’ll be posting the unedited version of the interview as a podcast soon, so, once it’s posted, if you’d rather listen to that, be my guest, and tell me if you find any mistakes. Thanks to Christina and Tom for all of your help!
Tell us your names and a little about yourselves.
Ryland: My name’s Ryland Blackinton and I play guitar.
Alex: I’m Alex Suarez and I play the bass guitar.
I’m really sorry, but I have to ask this question. How did you come about with the name Cobra Starship?
Ryland: Actually, Gabe came up with the name. Alex, I don’t know, how did he come up with the name?
Alex: You know that whole story about Gabe going to the desert? Yeah, that’s the story. That’s how we got the name.
Ryland: Check out the video! That’s basically it.
Would you tell us a little bit about those two videos?
Alex: First we did Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Church of Hot AddictionÃ¢â‚¬. They kind of tie in together, because, you know, Gabe went out to the desert for spiritual retreat and while he was out there I guess he found the Church of Hot Addiction and he got bit by a snake and got sent into outer space and this cobra from the future kind of told him he had to start this band Cobra Starship. That’s basically it.
How did it come about that Victoria, Nate, and you two were recruited to Cobra Starship?
Alex: When I moved to New York from Florida (Ryland and I already knew each other), we made another band together called Ivy League. I met the drummer from Midtown, Rob, who was my neighbor pretty much, and he introduced me to Gabe and we became friends, and he saw us play, and he asked us to start this band Cobra Starship. We met Nate when he was the drum tech for Armor for Sleep, and Gabe found Victoria on the Internet, and I actually already knew her through her ex-boyfriend.
So, you guys are still in Ivy League, aren’t you? How is it to be in two bands at once? Is it difficult?
Ryland: We’re focused on both but we’re a lot busier with one than the other, but we’re still recording.
Alex: We’re trying to keep up with both.
Ryland: You’ve got to water the plants, you know what I mean?
Cobra Starship has a unique sound, so what musical genre would you consider yourselves?
Ryland: That’s a tough question.
Alex: Gabe, what musical genre would we consider ourselves?
Gabe: Punk rock Justin Timberlake!
I like that! Where do you get the inspiration to write your music?
Gabe: I think that the idea for this band was kind of drawn from a lot of influences that we had growing up that weren’t necessarily punk rock but we were all punk rock fans until we started playing so, you know, we wanted to do something just reflecting about music and what it was about like when we were eight and we didn’t even know what it was. It’s just cool. It reminds me of Sound Machine.
What bands were you all in before Cobra Starship?
Alex: Gabe was in a band called Midtown. I played in a shitty screamo band called Kite Flying Society. It was awesome.
Ryland: I’ve been in so many bands, I don’t even know.
What has motivated each of you to be part of the music scene?
Alex: Love for music, I guess.
Ryland: The kids get really excited about shows, so that’s motivating.
Yeah, there are a lot of kids out there that wanted me to say hi to you.
Ryland: Yeah, that’s awesome! All of those little things are very motivating. It’s very self-contained in that way. It motivates you to keep doing it, which motivates you for it. It’s a great cycle.
Alex: Playing a show of any size is motivating, you know? Even when we were in other bands and we would play shows in tiny basements it was just as nerve-wracking just playing a show for seventy five people as it would be playing for six thousand people.
Not many people play the keytar. Do you know how Victoria got into playing the keytar?
Ryland: (jokes) She doesn’t actually play it.
Alex: I think the keytar kind of plays her.
Ryland: She doesn’t even play it. She’s all digital. She’s not even real. Victoria’s an idea. She’s not a person. Haha. No, I don’t know, it’s really just an inverted keyboard.
Alex: It’s not even a keyboard. There’s a whole different machine that runs the sound.
Ryland: There’s more glamour than genius involved.
I’ve really rarely seen people playing keytars.
Ryland: Don’t be surprised if you start seeing them a lot more. I think that a trend has been set.
How did it come about that Cobra Starship did a song for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack?
Alex: Atlantic released the soundtrack for that, and we’re a subsidiary for Atlantic, so we got in for that one when they asked us to do a song. We’re all huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans.
Can we expect any other videos from While the City Sleeps We Rule the Streets?
Alex: That’s a good question. We have a concept for the next video, which I can’t explain obviously.
I’m really interested in the storyline you have going on.
Alex: I think this one will be a little bit different, and I’m curious to see how it will actually turn out.
What do you plan to do as a band following your tour with the Academy Is… this summer?
Alex: Yeah, we’re going to Australia, and to Japan as well. It’s gonna be awesome, because we’re bros with them [The Academy Is…] to begin with. We’ve gotten much closer with them on this tour as well. It’s gonna be a good time.
Ryland: We’re working on writing demos for the next record.
I’m sure a lot of people will be excited about that! What song gets the best reaction when you play it live?
Ryland: Snakes on a Plane.
Are you guys going to be playing that tonight?
What do you do in the part of the song where Travie raps?
Ryland: You’ll be surprised. Someone else will be filling the shoes, and will be doing a very good job.
What do you think of having your own fan club, the Cobra Clan?
Ryland: Oh, it’s great! It’s awesome great. Great kids!
Alex: We have a really good fan club.
Ryland: Don’t forget about Cobra Clanada.
Alex: We have Cobra Clanada, and the original.
Ryland: OCC, the Original Cobra Crew.
Alex: There are some whole different branches of the fan club.
Ryland: There are some battles going on between them, some bloodshed.
Alex: Civil war, you know?
Ryland: We’re trying to explain to them, though, that they should all join one another and not fight one another. Unfortunately, though, that’s kind of what happens.
Alex: Sometimes it’s violent.
Can you explain your hand signal?
Alex: It’s a cobra. There’s fangs and then a hood, see?
Oh, is that what it is? That’s awesome!
Alex/Ryland: Thank you.
Bands don’t really have hand signals a lot.
Alex: I think we’re more like a gang.
What would you say to your fans that you haven’t yet had a chance to meet?
Alex: We look forward to meeting you. We try to meet everyone as much as possible!
And all of those people out there that told me to say hi to you, what would you like me to tell them?
Awesome! They’ll be really excited about that. They’ve been yelling at everyone coming in and out of the venue.
Ryland: Oh, really? Awesome.
Alex: It’s kind of hard to hear in here because of the sound from all of the buses.
Thanks so much for taking the time for an interview! Good luck tonight!