I wouldn't put Cobraconda in the same vein as anything in Denver," says Spencer Foreman. "We get fucking crazy and buck-wild at shows. We're party animals, man. Fuck-beast mode. This is Godzilla, older and harder than beast mode."
And when provoked, sometimes the Cobra strikes. Just ask Michael Mazzotta. In addition to running the lights and manning Ableton for the act, he makes sure that Cobraconda — formed by Foreman and Graham Nation after the two played together in numerous metal bands in New York — is running tight. He's seen these guys at their best and worst, including when they almost killed each other while dressed in all white at South by Southwest recently after a secret T.I. show.
"We heard T.I. was playing a secret show, and we decided we were going to dress in all white and see how dirty we could get," Foreman recalls. "After getting hammered all day, Graham and I got into a huge fistfight with each other after the show. We were both covered in blood and wasted. I'm sure Mike thought we were going to break up while in Austin."
8 p.m. Friday, April 27, Illegal Pete's LoDo, 1530 16th Street, free, 303-623-2169; 8 p.m. Friday, May 4, Illegal Pete's Boulder, 1447 Pearl Street, Boulder, free, 303-440-3955.
Doubtful. Mazzotta has a tighter bond with the boys than that, especially with Nation, his so-called Eskimo brother. "We've fucked some of the same girls," notes Mazzotta with a high-five to Nation. "That's what makes us Eskimo brothers. Eskimos always like to bury in, if you know what I mean."
This kind of brash talk is normal among the crew. Aptly described as a purveyor of party rap, Cobraconda is more likely to shock you into submission than any other rap act in the scene right now. "We were playing hardcore shows with another band, and Spencer and I would open our shows with a rap song," recalls Nation, nestled comfortably between Mazzotta and Foreman at Shag. "And then he would jump behind the bass, and I'd jump on the drums, and we'd just start killing it, playing metal for half an hour. We got more response out of us rapping in front of hardcore kids who weren't expecting it."
And so the rap collaboration was born, as was the name, a blend of two very powerful snakes, the cobra and the anaconda — a combination, Foreman points out, that is unstoppable. "The cobra and the anaconda are two bad-ass snakes," he observes. "Imagine a cobra the size of an anaconda. I recently learned that a pretty normal size for a king cobra is eighteen feet, and they can stand over a third of their body tall."
"It's scary as shit," Nation interjects.
This Cobraconda seems equally imposing. Foreman is a classically trained bassist who does a lot of guitar and keyboard work. Raised in Boulder, he comes from a music-driven family. His mother is a singer, his father plays guitar, a younger brother is making his mark in the rap world, and his middle brother, Shawn, is, of course, one half of the outfit known as 3OH!3.
Nation, meanwhile, is a Baton Rouge native and fills the role of charismatic drummer. His main influence, he says, is Southern rap, while Foreman finds most of his inspiration in East Coast rhymes and classic records from crews like Smif-n-Wessun. All of that and more informs the music of Cobraconda. "We were both in metal bands," Nation explains. "We've played indie, emo, hard metal, rock, all of that. We don't have to pretend like we understand a certain genre of music, because we've done all of it, and that's represented in how we make our music as Cobraconda."
While most potential rap stars try to find their place among the boom-bap enthusiasts and mainstream hard-core rap world, Cobraconda is working on an aesthetic that's all about the party and nothing but the party. "What we're building is a reputation of party rocking and having fun; that's what it's about," declares Foreman. "We let people know what we're about before we do anything else. Most groups have three or four records before they find their sound — that's not us. We've pretty much got it dialed in."
But don't get it twisted: As dialed into the party life as they are, the guys unequivocally love hip-hop and its evolution. "People who embrace that the genre is changing are the ones who are coming up from the underground," notes Foreman. "Eligh and Amp live is a great example. Living Legends is such a heavy namesake in underground hip-hop. It's still classic, even if it's different."
Reverence aside, Cobraconda will never be accused of making backpack rap. With music best described as life imitating art, the two keep the party gangster while kicking real rhymes with original production and hilarious themes (keep an eye out for The Carter 27, a response to the ongoing series of album releases by Lil Wayne). And there is nothing they're more qualified to write about than the art of the party. Their sound has been described as the love child of LMFAO and 2 Live Crew, and their style is so raunchy and drug-laced, you couldn't get higher if you put the CD directly on your tongue.
"Everyone's music is a reflection of their lives," Foreman observes. "We get fucked up and make bad decisions on the regular. It's more fun that way than the other way. It's never been productive for me to sit in sadness. We make music about what we know and how we know it."
And videos. Take "BBHM$," for example, which was filmed in the band's clubhouse. Foreman and Nation basically invited a bunch of people over, brought out the camera and got live. Directed by Pause, Press Play, the clip plays like a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, with blatant scenes of sex, drugs and more rock-and-roll antics in one place than you can imagine.
"I always joke around and say that was just another Tuesday night," says Foreman. "We party for real, and people turn it up when there are cameras on. Our friends are not ashamed of their lives. We just aim to capture that lifestyle with the music that we make."
The party life receives a good amount of criticism on its own, and that feedback is not lost on Cobraconda. The cries of misogyny and blatant womanizing are only a few of the barbs the guys have endured — all of which they seem to take in stride. "Here's my deal," says Foreman. "I bet you all those motherfuckers watched Taken. The stimulating part of this lifestyle and creating these types of videos is that is it gives people a glimpse into what they don't see every day: fear.
"Everyone wants to tap into that other side," he continues. "That's why we do drugs, drive drunk and get shitty tattoos with our friends. It's just somebody else's idea of what's dangerous or scary.
"I want to say expressly, we're not here condoning you to go out and do a bunch of drugs. But I also don't want you to not do what you do on the regular. I think some people could stand to smoke some weed every now and then."
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The party-centric lifestyle, at least as it applies to the music, is in direct contrast to Foreman's previous approach to songwriting. "I've always been under the traditional belief that songs were supposed to be written about women or your love interest," he confesses. "That's what I always wrote on piano and guitar growing up — classical themes like love interest, tragedy, loss, that feeling where you almost got it and it fell apart. Classic singer-songwriter material."
Needless to say, Spring Break, the band's new album — which is being issued through Illegal Pete's Greater Than Collective — isn't exactly reflective. Rather, the disc, which was produced in-house (a formula the act intends to follow on future releases to maintain continuity and creative control), is chock-full of songs about the clownish behavior of spring-break participants, delivered via clever rhymes and vibrant metaphors.
"When people are out trying to have a good time, they don't really want to hear your opinion," Foreman concludes. "I'm not trying to listen to Rage Against the Machine, 'cause that's not my mindset. Those aren't our views about shit. We aren't occupying shit."