Chicas of Corrosion: An Interview with Kobra and the Lotus Frontwoman Kobra Paige
Part tomboy, part femme fatale, Zeena Koda is a SiriusXM DJ, vocalist, journalist, and lover of all things hardcore. You can catch her radio show Monday through Saturday on SiriusXM Liquid Metal and watch her inquisitive feminist side via her video web series Boxx Talk and Ask A Bombshell. Rot and roll, baby!
Some teenage girls grow up idolizing the cookie-cutter sounds of pop icons like Britney Spears, but for Kobra Paige, who fronts her namesake band Kobra and the Lotus, she was fortified on a hearty formula full of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Beginning her singing career as a classical singer, Paige possesses the technical skill that is required in order to sing notes that are massively sustained at a highly-belted vocal range. Drawing passionate influences from classic metal voices such as Rob Halford, Paige and her band is not just interpreting a classic sound, but giving a modern nod to the brick-and-mortar sonic output that built the foundation. It’s readily evident that rock and roll is in her soul, and in a metal world filled with male archetypes, she acknowledges that, as a blond bombshell, she does indeed stand out. “People will think you’re just a pretty face put up there. They think there is no connect between the fact that you have to be there dedicated to the band” she confidently states. “They didn’t just pluck out a Barbie and put her onstage.” Although the picturesque frontwoman could easily be mistaken for a model, her persona is striking and oozes of amorous dedication to her craft. Paige combats the naysayers by stating, “Any person obviously has to be really into heavy metal, living and breathing for it, in order to be on the road constantly.” After officially changing her name to Kobra two years ago, there was no turning back on her mission to rock, this is her message.
As a vocalist who actually utilizes a sustained singing voice, it is key that Paige takes extra care of her signature pipes. In her classical trained, she learned the art of signing and segued to metal quickly at the ripe age of 15 after being blown away at a Judas Priest concert. “When I saw the way the crowd responded when ‘Painkiller’ started playing, I knew needed to be part of this culture” she recounts from her first show. Taking notes from the higher echelon of classic metal and built off of a love for the diversity and depth of Led Zepplin’s Robert Plant, she made the life-changing transition by starting Kobra and the Lotus in 2008. “I felt it was an extremely natural progression because metal allows for that chest voice to be used” she explains. “I wasn’t trying to emulate them but the singers I loved sounded similar to the range I was already working in.” Interestingly, many of those singers she emulated are male while singing in a predominately female range, something Kobra naturally was blessed with.
It takes a whole other form of discipline and dedication to make a sound so beautifully destructive in the studio come across consistently flawless onstage, which is one challenging factor on the full U.S. tour they are embarking on with Fear Factory. “There dates are six days on, and one day off, so I’m glad we only have a 30-minute set” Kobra admits. “I have no clue how Burton [C. Bell] from Fear Factory can do that long of a set every night. It’s crazy to me!” She adds, “Metal is vocally taxing. You have to be careful. The last thing you want are nodes–it’s my greatest fear.”
It is Paige and her bandmates’ stamina and dedication that has brought the once-localized Canadian band to the label home of KISS’ Gene Simmons and helped them tour throughout the U.S. and Europe. Touring becomes a way of life for a band planting their seeds and often the conditions can present a quandary to the generally rigorous hygienic demands of the female sex. While most dudes may be all right with missing a few showers on tour, Paige recognizes that the “most important thing is being clean and I don’t care how I have to do it–tons of baby wipes on tour.” Understandable, considering as a frontwoman, she not only has to perform her musical duties but also spend time after talking to journalists, fans, peers, and everyone in between. As cordial as an artist might try to be, it is inevitable that the dreaded “creep hand” or unwarranted come-on will always sneak its obnoxious way in. This is not limited just to female musicians like Paige but applies to all females. When asked if she experienced any excessive creep handing, Paige cites a familiar scene. “A man will give me a friendly hug and it starts a wave of hugs” she laughs. “Nothing personal to those people but sometimes you don’t want people in your space.” It is hard to deny the magnetism that oozes from Paige, who through a rigorous touring and recording schedule still finds time to research nutrition and the effects various foods and natural resources have on the body. Perhaps the secret behind her amazing figure and energy is her dedication to making almost all her daily meals herself and keeping tabs on what is going into her body. No small feat given the lottery conditions of eating on the road while touring.
Life on the road for a babe like Paige can be hilarious in many ways, and early on she found some audience members oblivious to her talent–that is until she stepped onstage. “When we were touring around Canada the first time, I got a lot of questions like, ‘Are you the merch girl?’ but they shut up the minute I got onstage.” Fortunately, fans have come to recognize her for that firm vocal stance and can get a taste of Paige’s pristine pipes on their current tour with Fear Factory. She laments that one of her dream tours would of course be with Judas Priest. “I was beside myself when we got to open for them the first time,” she says, “and, not to be cliche, but it would be awesome to tour with Maiden–who wouldn’t wanna tour with Iron Maiden?” With the don of metal success, Gene Simmons, aiding to steer them in the right way, international success is only a matter of time. “Gene has built this empire and he’s a marketing guru. It’s amazing that his door is always open to us,” Kobra proudly admits. “It took me about a year to believe that it was really true. I kept thinking one day I’m going to wake up and this all going to be gone, but it’s been wonderful because, you never know, nothing is set in stone in this lifetime.” That endearing humility and graciousness will fuel Kobra and the Lotus to go in for the kill in 2013 and never look back.