Kobra and the Lotus opened for Sebastian Bach at Sony Hall, and an abbreviated set didn’t stop them from delivering an energetic performance full of music from their latest release, Evolution. The Napalm Records album is in its infancy; it first saw the light of day on September 20, 2019. Its sound is somewhat a departure from KATL’s earlier, heavier output, and leans significantly toward hard rock. However, that change made for an easier crossover between the KATL fanbase and the headliner’s faithful Skid Row following.
Confined to just over half an hour, the band bounced onto the stage with aplomb, ready to try and win the affections of Tuesday-night spectators. The Canadian fivesome- comprised of Kobra Paige (vocals), Marcus Lee (drums), Jasio Kulakowski (guitar), Ronny Gutierrez (guitar), and Brad Kennedy (bass)- opened with “Burn!”, the main single from the new album.
These are the people you want to take on a road trip, both in your stereo and in your passenger seats (from New York to Golden, CO, and Hollywood, CA, on this tour, to name a few!) The set had elements of fun and chemistry as the band playfully chased each other on stage. KATL gave a taste of their earlier Prevail II catalog with “Velvet Roses”; would have craved more of this material if the performance had been longer. “Circus” broke up the set’s breakneck speed with a doomy vibe, also fresh from Evolution.
“Let Me Love You” landed even more with the crowd, a rollicking rock track with leather-clad Kobra Paige standing a level above the stage, almost levitating as both guitarists joined in on background vocals. The feeling was gritty, but the song’s message is down-to-earth and personal: “Oh darlin’ / Every time you try to run away / It’ll only bring me closer / There are pieces you don’t like / Hiding all the grace of being human I might find.”
Another highlight of the evening was their punctuating number, “Get the Fuck Out of Here”, another single released prior to the album which featured a lyric video and a fun forewarning of romantic misintentions. They dismissed the audience for intermission with a bow, before Sebastian Bach transported the crowd back in time to 1989, among Skid Row’s formative first years.
After the show, Kobra Paige shared words with Metal Solstice about their experience on the road with Sebastian Bach’s band, the struggles of keeping KATL afloat, and the response from fans which makes the effort she pours into KATL worthwhile. The singer often speaks out in support of mental health awareness, explains past struggles with physical ailments including a fierce battle won against Lyme disease, and brings visibility to the challenges facing women in metal, even today.
Metal Solstice: I’ve listened to the album, and I agree with what you have said in other interviews- that this album still has plenty of heavy moments and influence, but is approachable to an audience broader than the typical metal crowd. Why was this the next natural Evolution of KATL’s sound?
Kobra Paige: It comes with the sheer evolution of us as a group, as individuals, and as songwriters. This project has always had hard rock and metal veins. It was time to really integrate those aspects into one smooth sound that made for a defining record sonically for the band. By defining, I mean creating a sound that is unmistakably deemed as a certain project’s sound.
MS: You’ve been on the road with Sebastian Bach for about a month, with over a month to go. What have been some highlights and challenges of this tour?
KP: A big highlight is touring with Sebastian Bach on his Skid Row 30 tour! It’s a legendary tour and we’re privileged to be a part of it. One of the challenges of opening for someone else (and this is just the norm of the industry) is not getting sound checks or line checks very often. We have a short set to prove ourselves to a new audience every night that doesn’t know us, and we have to try to do our very best despite some unfavorable circumstances. It comes with the territory, but it’s quite stressful.
MS: Let’s discuss the intersection of KATL fans and Sebastian Bach/Skid Row fans. What are fans saying who are seeing you for the first time?
KP: There surprisingly isn’t a lot of overlap actually! Most of the people at these shows aren’t expecting us and are very surprised when we come out. It’s been going over very well and we’re hearing some positive and encouraging words.
MS: Similarly, what does it mean to you to be able to introduce them to a more metal-influenced side of hard rock?
KP: I think it’s always awesome to introduce people to some fresh new rock and metal that is part of a newer generation. It shows people that there is still a love for it in the industry as well as that there are always more great bands coming up the pipeline if you can find them.
MS: Your last stop in NYC was in Brooklyn with Texas Hippie Coalition. What’s your favorite New York memory?
KP: I guess the first time we were there really stands out. Some of us walked into Time Square and I remember thinking “Wow, what a privilege to be here right now because of music. This is our life!”.
MS: You’ve spoken quite publicly about how you approach and overcome issues, whether it’s health-related or the obstacles that face women in metal. Are you seeing changes come from speaking up, or at least perhaps feedback from fans who say you’ve helped them as a result?
KP: When people connect with our music and share their vulnerable stories with us, it is the one and only thing that currently keeps me going. I feel like we’ve been rowing against a strong river with this project for a long time. It’s wearing me out, and they are the hope, the reason to not give up. For myself, these enthusiasts of our band make everything I do worth it.
In terms of speaking up, I think that is one of the ways I’ve found an authentic place within social media for myself. I like to be as honest and real as possible. I don’t think sugar coating anything helps anyone most times especially when we have a highlight reel of illusion inundating our faces every day. People need to remember we’re all human.