by WestCoast Weasel WestCoast Weasel
November 22, 2009

informant5

It had been some time since I anticipated a show for months, like I did for the recent performance at The Red Room, Vancouver, BC. 

Isotopes, the local baseball clubbing punk rock brats opened the show, before hometown heroes, the Tranzmitors, took to the stage.  Dressed in black, they unleashed their poppy, energetic Jam-styled tunes leaving me unsure how to feel about blatantly impersonating the Brits.  Teenage Bottlerocket took to the stage and delivered their standard mix of Kody’s enjoyable, though nasally vocals and Ray’s painfully annoying “oh, oh, ohs” and “whoa, whoa, whoas,” but it was the band before them that I was looking forward to the most. 

I was anticipating Cobras Skulls (one of my favorite groups of recent memory) and their policobra1tically charged set.  Despite some problems with the vocal levels, the thrilling delivery of “I Want Bigger Cobra Skulls”, “H.D.U.I”, “Cobra Skulls Jukebox”, “Rebel Fate”, “Cobra Skullafornia”, and “Back To the Youth,” among others, more than satisfied.   

Prior to the show, I sat with Devin and Adam of Cobra Skulls for a chat about their latest album American Rubicon and threw in nostalgic, school-boy like tales of past punk rock shows.

Weasel: Welcome to Vancouver.  Have you been here before?
Devin: Thanks.  I’ve been here when I was younger.  I guess it must have been like 10 years ago or something.  I went on a cruise and it ended here in Vancouver.  It was like Anchorage, all through the Glacier Bay stuff, and I was just here for a day.

Weasel: How has the response been thus far with the tour, in support of Teenage Bottlerocket?
Devin: Great…awesome.  It’s been our favorite tour, I think.  It’s been really fun and we have a good time with the guys.  We get along well with them, which makes the tour a lot easier when the band’s nice to hang out with.  Toby from Red Scare’s been on the tour most of the way.  We were with Lawrence Arms for a week or nine days and that was awesome.  We were on the west coast, in California and everything’s been great.  Better responses.  Constantly more people that know us.  Yeah, it’s been great.

Weasel:  Great job with American Rubicon.  I feel that songs such as “Back To the Youth” and “One Day I’ll Never” are some of the band’s best work.
Devin: Why, thanks.

Weasel: Personally, I feel a strong connection to “One Day I’ll Never”.  Was a decision made to offer a more personal offering overall with the new album, as opposed to a more political backbone heard on Sitting Army?
Devin: Right, I see what you’re saying.  No, I don’t think so.  There’s maybe less songs with religious connotations on it.  I think it’s probably just as political as Sitting Army in respect to… (interrupted by Adam Beck [guitarist and background vocals] who sits down and we do our introductions) Yeah there are songs like “One Day I’ll Never” and more intimate, personal songs on the new album but there’s also like seventeen songs on the new album as opposed to fourteen, or a little more but I think there’s still quite a bit of political stuff on there.  I mean, I don’t set out and go “I’m gonna write a political song or anything.  I just write what I care about and that’s what I care about.  cobra2
Weasel: It just flows naturally.
Devin: Yeah, for instance, on the new album a lot of the songs deal with the relationship between our military spending we do in our country and like our economic issues and our environment issues and I think they’re definitely directly related.  It’s a concern of mine.

Weasel:Back To the Youth” acts as an ode to the youth who act as main support for most touring musicians within your genre.  (agrees)  How do you feel the level of enthusiasm and support rates with kids of today versus kids when you went to shows?
Devin: It’s hard to say.  I feel there might have been more people going to shows when I was a kid but we played with Youth Brigade a little while ago, for example and seeing video footage of Youth Brigade shows back in the 80’s compared to the show we played with them a year ago.   I was talking to Mark, I’m like “Wasn’t the scene better back in the 80’s or do people just say that and it’s just nostalgic?” and he’s like “Well, you know, I think it was better, yeah, sure it was better but you know it was probably also better back in the 1950s when Elvis was playing shows and stuff.”  So I don’t know what to say about the progression of music and really the culture of music.  I think that people get too caught up in videos and MTV and the web so a lot of people get too much out of that instead of going out and experiencing something real.  I guess people are happy with what they get out of their computer so, I don’t know.

Weasel:  Any notable favorite shows either of you saw as a youth, or any you were unable to see but wish that you had?
Devin: Well, my favorite show that I can remember that I went to when I was a little kid, when I was like 16, it was probably NOFX and Swinging Utters at this roller rink in Moral Bay in California.
Adam: That was a good show.  I was there.
Devin:  It was an awesome show.  That was probably my favorite show. 
Weasel: Yeah, I saw both of those bands together.  Put on a good show for sure.
Adam: Yeah, that was a memorable show.  Every show growing up was memorable.  Really.  When you’re a kid, going to shows is the coolest thing in the world.
Devin: That Less Than Jake show with… Frenzal Rhomb (said by both of them in unison).  That was awesome.
Adam: …and Limp dude.  Limp played that show.
Devin: …and I got stepped on by huge dudes at that show, in the pit.
Adam: That’s right!
Devin: The pit for Frenzal Rhomb was way crazier than when Less Than Jake played, I’m pretty sure.
Adam: That—that was a long time ago.cobra5
Weasel: I saw Limp with Less Than Jake and Good Riddance when I was in high school and it was awesome.
Devin: Oh cool.  And then Good Riddance.  That was a good show too, in Ventura.
Adam: Good Riddance and No Use For A Name.  Awesome show.
Devin: …and Mad Caddies
Adam: …and The Caddies, that’s right!
Weasel: Yeah, I saw a show that tour too in Edmonton.
Adam: Those are the bands from our time.  Those were the bands that were doin’ it. 
Devin: The thing is, a lot of those bands are from California, Central Coast and we’re from San Luis Obispo, Adam and I.  All those bands were really big where we were from.  Those were the shows we went to.
Adam: It’s what we did.

Weasel: Some strong, catchy tracks containing Spanish lyrics were heard on Sitting Army.  Were you immersed in the language growing up, and what brought the decision for English only on American Rubicon?
Devin: There is a song on the new album that has one verse in Spanish and a chorus so it has Spanish on “Thicker Than Water.”  I’m half Argentinean.  My Dad’s from Argentina and I frequented visiting my family in Buenos Aires in Argentina.  I haven’t been totally immersed in Spanish my whole life but it has been a second language to me.  There’s two songs on Sitting Army.  There’s one about Che Guevara t-shirts.  I just decided to do it in Spanish because I thought it was topical and I didn’t set out to just go “Oh I’m gonna write a song in Spanish because that would be fun.”
Adam: If you listen to that song, you’d be like “Oh yeah, that makes sense.”
Devin: On the song, on American Rubicon, “Thicker Than Water” I’m talking about… kind of my parents and when I talk about my Dad it just made sense.  The other song on Sitting Army that has Spanish on it, “Use Your Cobra Skulls” is about world unity and I just wanted to use Spanish as the language for that, right before the chorus and that.
Adam: It’s a great song.  We never play that song.  We should play that song. 
Devin: Learn it dude.
Adam: I know it.  Tell Chad (drummer) to learn it.
Devin: …tell Chad to learn it and we’ll play it.

Weasel: Are there any specific plans for Cobra Skulls as we enter the New Year?
Devin: No, we’re gonna go on break for a few months and probably do three weeks or a month in March, but until March we’re doing nothing.  Just going on break.  We’ve been on tour for five months.  We’re gonna spend some time off and work and write, and do whatever.

Weasel: Is there anything further you would like to say or address?
Adam: I got nothin’.
Devin: I’m pretty stoked to be in Vancouver.  Thank you for having us in your beautiful city.
Adam: I like Vancouver.  I agree.
Weasel: Right on, thanks guys.

Back To The Youth (live)

Cobra Skulls – Hasta Los Cobra Skulls Siempre! (live)


Visit these bands online:
Cobra Skulls
Isotopes
The Tranzmitors
Teenage Bottlerocket

Lycis courtesy of LyricWiki.

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