Beyond the Boys’ Club is a monthly column from journalist and radio host Anne Erickson, focusing on women in the heavy music genres, as they offer their perspectives on the music industry and discuss their personal experiences. This month’s piece features an interview with singer Kobra Paige of Kobra and the Lotus.
Kobra and the Lotus have evolved musically over the years, and the Canadian hard-rock band’s latest chapter is captured on their new album, appropriately titled Evolution.
“It’s literally the meaning of evolution of our songs, as well as my life and health development along this journey as a person,” singer Kobra Paige tells Heavy Consequence. “It’s also an evolution of the band playing our new music and setting our bar a little bit higher.”
Evolution was released this past Friday (September 20th), and was produced by Michael Baskette, known for his work with Slash, Alter Bridge, Chevelle, and other prominent rock acts. In support of the new LP, Kobra and the Lotus are currently opening for Sebastian Bach on his tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first Skid Row album.
Paige spoke with Heavy Consequence for the latest “Beyond the Boys’ Club” column, discussing the change in Kobra and the Lotus on Evolution, her inspirations, her path as a woman in the heavy music scene, and more. Read the full interview below.
On her early days with Kobra and the Lotus as a woman in the heavy metal and hard rock scene
I feel like all the women were so underground. We would meet each other, but we were all in the underground scene and trying hard to push forward with the bands coming up. Then, the digital age took over, and it was challenging. When we started playing, we were part of street teaming. People would go out and put posters around the city. That’s not part of life anymore, which is so crazy. It has really started to shift as my generation — and the generation a little bit older than me — of women have persisted and kept going with their bands, and now we’re starting to bubble to the surface. It’s a strong movement. It’s common to see more women. It’s an amazing time for music, in general. I think there are so many good bands out there and good music, and women are a big part of that.
On how being a woman in heavy metal and hard rock still surprises people
I was just at a venue, and the owner of the venue was very nice to me and very lovely but thought I was a groupie of the band. She stuck a wristband on me, and the tour manager saw that happen, and he’s like, what did you get a wrist band for? I told him that she thought I was just hanging out with the guys on tour. There are so many bands, and she was so sweet, so it didn’t bother me at all, and after our performance, she came up and was hugging me and apologizing. It didn’t feel degrading. But it shows that it is still takes people by surprise to see a woman doing this.
On the female artists who inspired her to make music
I’ve never idolized anybody. For me, that mentality isn’t healthy in my mind. It’s more about what I can do as an individual to bring to the table in my own way to match this feeling. I do really love a lot of female artists, though. I love Heart and classic rock, and I really enjoy seeing some of the women that are doing their thing now, like [In This Moment’s] Maria Brink, because I think she’s being authentic. [Halestorm’s] Lzzy Hale is also out there being herself and encouraging other to be themselves. I relate to that kind of genuine attitude.
I’m inspired by any woman I’ve met who is out there, working hard, and grinding this out, because I know what the path is like, and I’m honored to be on tour with any of the woman who I’ve toured with. I respect what they’re doing, and they’re so great at their craft. There is so much more room, musically, and it’s great to be part of that.
On whether she’s noticed a difference in the music industry since the #MeToo movement emerged
I haven’t noticed very much in our little bubble. All I’ve seen is the stories and hearing how people we know or friends of people have been impacted. I haven’t actually seen anything change, but now that I think about it, I’ve been much more respected when I’ve taken photos with people on this tour than I have in the past. It might happen by accident — people get excited and pull you in aggressively not knowing. But, now that I think about it, there has been less of that on this latest tour.
On her overall experience being a woman in the heavy music scene
I have learned so much and have become very strong. Every time I’ve had to cross a challenging bridge, it’s made me stronger. I am very fortunate that I didn’t experience anything traumatic in a physical way, but I have had different obstacles that I’ve had to climb over that have not been easy. But, I’m grateful for them, because they made me who I am today, and I have a strong sense of who I am and what I stand for.
On why Evolution is the perfect title for Kobra and the Lotus’ new album
We thought this new album was another evolution of the band, both in our songwriting and sonically. We focused really hard on incorporating textural elements into this record to help us become more identifiable as Kobra and the Lotus. I really brought a lot of the soulfulness in my voice to the table this time around, and we took one step closer to hopefully be really identifiable as the band that we are.
On the song “Thundersmith” from Evolution
I really enjoy playing “Thundersmith” with the guys live. It’s my story. It’s an attitude that has taken my whole 20s to finally step into and be like, I don’t care what people think or the stories people are going to make up or how hard this industry is going to test me. I’m going to do this because I love it and am proud of what I’m made of, and that’s enough. But, it’s supposed to be empowering for people, and that’s definitely an empowering track. So far, the reaction has been really good to the new music, and we’ve been getting a lot of comments, especially from women, saying, “That made me really empowered,” and that’s awesome, because music should make you feel good.
On her recent engagement to Tommy Karevik of Kamelot
I never imagined in a million years that the man I would want to spend the rest of my life with would be in the music industry! I’ve only been exposed to this demographic of people for a long time — I never go to bars, and I’m always just with musicians. I’ve had very typical relationships with different musicians, and those were not very good. I thought that after the last relationship I had, there was no way in a hundred years I would be in another relationship with another musician. I thought that I wouldn’t find a person with the same values I have, because I walk a pretty known tightrope when I comes to my values and code of ethics. So, I got blindsided when I met Tommy. My band was supporting Kamelot in Europe in 2015, and Tommy needed a singer to fill in for the female parts for Kamelot’s next U.S. run, so he invited me. That’s how we met — really on that European tour. It unfolded from there.
On the advice she would give to young people looking to get into music
If you’re passionate and this is your dream, now is the time when you are young to go for this and pursue it. Look for mentors that can give you any pieces of advice on how the industry works, and start getting music out there. Really enjoy what you’re doing, and don’t let fear hold you back. Know that everyone you see who is successful has been through tons of trials and tribulations and has failed time and time again and got back up. It’s going to happen, but they’re going to need to get back up and keep pushing. Don’t let criticism get to you, too. It’s art and subjective, and you’re putting your heart on your sleeve for everyone to judge, so take the good and bad, but don’t take the bad to heart. Know how to separate constructive criticism from non-constructive criticism and keep going.