With a new album hitting stores, frontman Gabe Saporta talks about rubbing elbows with Leighton Meester, Katy Perry, and more

By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated August 07, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

The emo world’s court jesters have crossed paths with the zeitgeist several times on the way to their third album, ‘Hot Mess’ (out Aug. 11). Lead singer Gabe Saporta talks about some highlights.

SNAKES ON A PLANE A theme song for the 2006 campfest (starring Samuel L. Jackson) became the band’s first hit. ”Before anybody knew what the movie was about, it was an Internet phenomenon. Cobra Starship is that kind of joke. If you get our sense of humor, you love us. If you don’t, you scratch your head.”

KARA DIOGUARDI The American Idol judge and pop producer/songwriter extraordinaire co-wrote two songs on Hot Mess. ”When I was told Kara was coming in, this was before she was on American Idol,” says Saporta. ”We were kind of skeptical. She can hang with us, though. You should never have any preconceived notions.”

PETE WENTZ Cobra Starship, which are signed to the Fall Out Boy bassist’s Decaydance imprint, gave one Hot Mess tune the cheeky title ”Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We’re Famous.” Laughs Saporta: ”He’s definitely not the only reason we’re famous. We like to make fun of ourselves. But all joking aside, Pete is a good friend of mine.”

LEIGHTON MEESTER The Gossip Girl star lent vocals to CS’ current single, ”Good Girls Go Bad.” ”We’re a bunch of goofballs, and Leighton is a consummate professional. So it was a funny juxtaposition. The first time I met her, I was like, ‘I’m a super-Gossip Girl fan, and I’m supposed to tell her how to sing?’ It worked out awesome. She’s actually a great singer.”

KATY PERRY The band recorded ”I Kissed a Boy,” a gender-flipped cover of her ubiquitous ”I Kissed a Girl,” for a free mixtape last summer. ”We’ve known Katy forever,” says Saporta. ”We were on Warped Tour together last year. I was like, ‘Yo, Katy, get me the [masters] for that song, ’cause I want to do a remix!’ But we were secretly really going to do a parody.”