"Nineteen years ago, I was watching Def Leppard with some friends up in Calgary, standing in the nose bleeds, now I'm getting to support them on tour... This is surreal!" says Brittany Paige, aka Kobra Paige.
She's the lead singer and chief song writer of heavy metal revivalists, Kobra and the Lotus. Her band is currently on a mammoth tour of the States, supporting rock behemoths Def Leopard and KISS, heading to West Palm Beach's Cruzan Amphitheatre on July 22.
The magnitude of it all is certainly not lost on her. "The other night, I was standing amongst all the KISS props back stage while Def Leppard played," continues Paige, "I was just standing there looking at Rik (Allen) playing on the drums, and I'm like, 'this is insane!'"
Paige's modesty belies the euphoric choral yelling, bludgeoning riffs, and grandiose pomp and power of the band she has driven from humble beginnings in Calgary, Alberta, to supporting two of rock's most deified acts in a little over six years. The band's latest album High Priestess is packed with clattering rhythms, fist-pumping, stadium-sized choruses, and Paige's own distinctive soaring vocal. It's a formula concocted to adrenalize.
This wasn't necessarily the way it was supposed to go for the singer. As a child, Kobra Paige was a classically trained singer, who, inspired by a family trip to a Judas Priest show, decided to drop the drama, passion, and pageantry of opera for the drama, passion, and pageantry of heavy metal.
"Classical and heavy music are fairly parallel," she says. "The transition didn't seem completely unnatural. The night of the Judas Priest concert turned everything around. I thought, this is what I want to be part of, there's a place for my voice that doesn't have to necessarily be operatic, it can fit somewhere else."
The decision had proved fruitful, with Paige's astonishing set of pipes helping elevate Kobra and the Lotus' brand of metal above the lumpish power-chords and the balls to the wall, testosterone fueled riffs of their contemporaries. Three albums in, and the band's star continues to rise.
One of their early champions was none other than he of the epic tongue, Gene Simmons. "We were working on the last album," Paige explains, "Mark Spicoluk, an A&R man at Universal Music Group got a hold of some preliminary tracks. He took the music to Gene, Gene liked it, and he became involved."
Though the band has moved on from Simmons' Universal label, they still received wise words from the KISS rocker, "Gene brings all his knowledge, his experience. He's very open about it, so we can approach him and ask him about things to help us to help ourselves move forward."
Kobra Paige is the lone mainstay in a band that has seen a few personnel changes in recent years. A new guitarist, bass player, and drummer have all been recruited since the band's last album, though lead guitarist Jasio Kulakowski has been present for a few years now. As the band's line-up has evolved, so does the band's sound.
"I guess the sound always hopefully evolves as we grow as musicians and have mentors in our lives, and learn about who we are," says Paige, "High Priestess has a lot more versatility. A lot of it is drawn from personal experiences or things I want to bring attention to. I'd actually say it's a darker album than the previous one. Usually there's hope, and there's a way of pushing out of it. There's more intensity with this one, and there's a little more soul bearing."
Inevitably, there is the question of how Kobra Paige manages to thrive in a genre still dominated by the less fair sex and subtle free masculinity. "Sure, it is challenging sometimes, it can be hard. At the same time, I try not to think that way, and want to put myself on the table for the music we make. It's hard for everyone in this business. If you're going to write people, there will always be people who love it or hate it, whether you are a girl or a guy."
Having previously toured with Judas Priest, and headlined several massive European metal festivals, Kobra and the Lotus are primed to suck up all the feelings that come with a 23-date tour with two of hard rock's elite, Def Leopard and KISS, as well as showcase their galloping metallic bluster to new audiences. "Expect wailing vocals, heavy riffs, some tasty licks and some high adrenaline performing," says Paige, "...and of course, a lot of hair!"
Kobra and the Lotus with KISS and Def Leppard, July 22, Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach. Call 561-795-8883, or visit cruzanamphitheatre.net.
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