Cobra Starship may be gone but they are far from forgotten.
11 years on from the release of Cobra Starship's 'Viva La Cobra', we're looking back at their legacy in the scene.
We always look back on the past with rose tinted sunglasses. It's a natural part of human emotion. No matter how good things are now, they were definitely better back in the day. The music was louder, the parties were wilder and we were 100% happier and more care free. Of course, this is just us coping with our own feelings in a nostalgic manner, but when it comes down to the rise and rise of Cobra Starship it is 100% true. The music WAS louder, the parties WERE wilder and it felt like absolutely anything was possible. The band crossed the boundary between scene acceptance and celebrity culture with grills firmly planted in their teeth and chains drapped proudly round their necks like it was second nature. It was an absolutely wild time.
Looking back to 2008, rock stars were still a huge part of celebrity culture. Pete Wentz and Gerard Way graced red carpets of awards ceremonies and film premieres every other week while the likes of The All-American Rejects and Sum 41 found their music being played on prime time TV across the world. It was an unusual time though, as the scene had always acted as an alternative to what is going on in the mainstream. A distraction from the carbon copy pop stars and label assembled bands who exist solely to fill up radio space and print money. Yet here we were, lines blurrier than ever before. Gabe Saporta saw something in that. An opportunity to clash cultures in a way that would crack rock. To bring elements of the wider world of entertaintment into a place which had never really rubbed shoulders with it before. It was a bold, brave and in many ways baffling move and that's what makes it so iconic.
It was the level of self-awareness that many didn't dare reach that helped propell the band into the stratosphere. Hell, you've got to remember that it was a tongue in cheek rendition of Gwen Stafani's 'Hollaback Girl', titled 'Hollaback Boy' of course, that caught the eye of Pete Wentz in the first place. That moment of cheeky invention was the thing that brought them into the folds of the Decaydance family. They knew what they were doing from the start. After years of pumping out the pop-punk with Midtown, Gabe wanted a release. A place where he could be as colourful, sexy and ignorant as he wanted without real consequence. There was no better place for him to be.
The most endearing and utterly irresistible aspect of the Cobra Starship story was their rejection of what everybody else expected of them. Elsewhere within the alternative bubble, bands were either singing about falling out of love hard or smashing out breakdown after breakdown just because that's what they felt was the right thing to do. Starship ripped up the rulebook and rewrote it in lipstick. They plugged their Casio keyboards in, turned the dial up to 11 and set out to fill every dancefloor they could. They infiltrated from the inside, bringing hip-hop and club culture to Warped Tour and convincing the most passionate of Blessthefall fan that "this stuff isn't actually that bad". How many bands can say they stuck to their guns so brilliantly and flamboyantly when many would have changed just to not stand out from the crowd?
Though the band released four albums in total, it's '09's 'Hot Mess' that encapsulates everything that they represented in the finest manner. A mesh of synth-conjured whizzes and bangs, funk-riddled guitars and choruses designed to be chanted along to with bottle in one hand and best mate in the other, this was a party album like no other. There's the infectious pomp of 'Pete Wentz Is The Only Reason We're Famous' and the sticky sweet 'Wet Hot American Summer', the danceoff inducing 'Move Like You Gonna Die' and the now classic floorfiller 'Good Girls Go Bad'. A collection of songs where nothing was off limits. A record that you could get sweaty and saucy to in equal measure. The audio equivalent of a VIP area at the back of Oceana that you're actually allowed in. This is how the other half was living and we were all invited.
The band was the tsunami sized wave that was needed to push the floodgates wide open. Starship joined tours with the likes of Fall Out Boy and All Time Low while also working with people like Flo Rida and playing events like the VMA's. They were living the celebrity life while still being accepted by the outcasts. Their equal acceptance in both the underground and overground gave other bands and artists the opportunity to experiment, bringing in neon lit infleunces and taking the metalcore and post-hardcore genres to places it had never visited. It was a time when anything felt possible and nothing was off limits.
Looking back on this period of the scene is nothing short of fascinating. It feels like a lifetime ago yet still so viscerally relevant. Though they disbanded in 2015 and there is little to no chance of them ever coming back, the legacy that Cobra Starship laid out is there for all to see. They made it easier for rock kids to express themselves in ways which weren't considered acceptable. They contributed to making being yourself a hell of a lot easier than it was before. They helped to blur the lines between the rock and pop nightlife like no-one else and introduced individuals who would never have dreamt of spreading their wings this wide to completely new types of music. Bands like them are necessary for development within scenes like this. They are needed to keep things interesting, fresh and dangerous. If Cobra Starship hadn't painted the town neon green, god only knows where we would be now.
Thanks lads, we owe you one.