Ah, fate. It affects all walks of life, and in the world of music, let’s just say that heavy metal fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that a 15-year-old Brittany Paige saw Judas Priest and not New Kids on the Block back in Calgary during her formative years.
If not, it might be quite a different scene when Ms. Paige, now legally known as Kobra Paige, and her band, Kobra and The Lotus, set up for tonight’s show at The Studio at Webster Hall in New York City.
“The thing that was the pivotal event for me when I was younger was Judas Priest and seeing them perform live,” said Paige. “That turned everything 180 degrees on me. I thought that’s exactly the vein that I belong in and what I need to do. I just loved everything about it – the energy, the way it included people from different genres, there was a hard rock element to it, the dual leads…and my voice fit into that style too.”
That voice. It’s what catches you immediately and keeps you there, and again, it makes you happy that it was Rob Halford filling her mind with metal visions that night in the Great White North. Classically-trained, Paige has the pipes made for traditional metal, and hearing her and her band do their thing, both live and on their latest album, High Priestess, is almost soothing, as you can actually understand the lyrics, appreciate the singing and the musicianship, and embrace something that’s modern sounding but with the kick of legendary bands like Priest.
“I think it’s just a matter of taste and what people become interested in performing,” she said. “I know for me, I listen to a ton of different music, but when I started the band, it had to be this. It was just the way my soul was. This is who I am, I’ve got to do this. You can’t really change what you’re given. It (music) is an impression of who people are.”
Yet despite their ability to do what they do better than most, you had to wonder how this band was going to be received on a tour opening for Kiss and Def Leppard. But it’s been so far so good for Paige and the gang on the biggest tour of their career (one that resumes Friday in Mansfield, MA).
“It’s been unbelievable and a huge honor,” said Paige. “Nothing is bigger than opening for Kiss as their support band. So for us, this is like a once in a lifetime experience. We’ve really been blessed and have had a very positive response so far, so it’s been wicked. It’s a new environment. To come out there and see people sitting in the seats and scattered all over the place in such a huge amount of space is very different, but it’s been great. We had to get used to it at first and figure out how to work that amount of space.”
They’ve made it work, and when graduating from clubs and theaters to arenas, the set list may be the most important part of the whole equation, something Paige is well aware of.
“Working out the best set list is something that we did in the first couple shows,” she said. “We already had a few rehearsal shows prior to coming out on tour, just to see how our new material played out in front of people because we hadn’t tested our new album out on any audience before. That was a little nerve wracking, and we needed to see how people moved to certain songs, which ones picked everyone’s spirits up more than others, and stuff like that. It was a little bit of experimentation, but we pretty much had the set list down for what we were going to do before the tour; we just made a few tweaks in California and have been going strong with the set list we’re doing now.”
So have they “made it?” She laughs.
“We didn’t make it, obviously, but nothing gets bigger than this.”
It is a legit question though, because at this point, Kobra and The Lotus appear to be on their way to bigger and better things in the future, something evident by the Kiss / Def Leppard tour slot and positive critical and popular response to High Priestess. So are they ready for that next level? Of course they are.
“The way it’s gone has been a very natural progression,” said Paige. “It hasn’t felt like a giant leap to us because it’s been a very ongoing process. Being in a band, at least from my point of view, has been this never-ending chunk of time. It’s never broken down like another 9 to 5 job would be. It’s an ongoing project and it’s almost like a clay sculpture that you’re continuing to refine and work on. That’s how the last six or so years have felt for the band. So it’s been a natural progression and we’re not stunned by anything. We’re ready for every next step that comes.”
Kobra and The Lotus play The Studio at Webster Hall in New York City tonight, July 30. For tickets, click here