Cobra Starship Took Flight

Before Gabe Saporta even had a band together.

The words to "Pleasure Ryland," a song on Cobra Starship's 2007 disc ¡Viva La Cobra!, are very different from the ones initially warbled by the tune's co-author and namesake, guitarist Ryland Blackinton — and that's fine by him, since the originals weren't intended for public consumption.

"I have a little bit of a potty mouth," Blackinton confesses, "and I think when you're on tour, sometimes you say things that would make a sailor blush, and they don't mean anything. In this case, I was writing the song, and I had all the parts done, but I felt like it would be cool if there was a Vocoder part — like a real West Coast hip-hop Vocoder-sounding part. And I'm not sure why, but the first thing that came to mind was, 'Lick my balls and play with my asshole.'" After a laugh, he adds, "We obviously had to change it."

Why? Probably because of the young audience Cobra Starship has attracted during its rapid rise to prominence. The group's frontman, onetime Midtown singer Gabe Saporta, was a free agent when he created "Bring It (Snakes on a Plane)" for the soundtrack of the 2006 Samuel L. Jackson flick referenced in its subtitle. The accompanying video, which featured Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz, among other teen dreams, quickly became an MTV smash, prompting Saporta to start looking for permanent Starship passengers. He soon offered tickets to Blackinton and bassist Alex Suarez, whose band, This Is Ivy League, made moody, intricate music informed by influences such as Belle and Sebastian. Their work sounded nothing like the dance-driven rock Saporta had in mind, but they took the gig anyhow, partly because of the momentum behind the project. "The first time we played was on television — it was on the Jimmy Kimmel show," Blackinton remembers. "It was like playing Chutes and Ladders and getting to that really tall ladder on the second turn."

The snake charmers of Cobra Starship.
Lauren Dukoff
The snake charmers of Cobra Starship.

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Warped Tour, with Against Me!, Gym Class Heroes and many more, 11 a.m. Sunday, June 29, Invesco Field at Mile High, 2755 West 17th Avenue, $32.50, 303-830-8497.

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Blackinton barely played on Cobra's debut full-length, While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets, issued by Wentz's Decaydance imprint, and he admits that during the group's inaugural tour, "everyone said it sounded like we were a rock cover band of the songs on the record." But Viva incorporated all the members, and fans have embraced the results; every date on the band's spring tour sold out. Hard to know how supporters will react once they learn about the earliest take of "Pleasure Ryland" — but Blackinton says that if he's suddenly inundated with offers to make a certain line a reality, "there will be a screening process."

Just like the one he had to pass to get into the band.

Visit Backbeat Online for more of our interview with Cobra Starship's Ryland Blackinton.

 
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