Cobra Starship's Gabe Saporta talks new song, working with Icona Pop
Dance-pop band Cobra Starship hasn’t released an album since 2011’s Night Shades, but frontman Gabe Saporta has been keeping busy: In that time, Saporta got married, made one of the official “I Don’t Care” remixes, staged a Midtown reunion, and started experimenting with a new sound for Cobra Starship. And now, the band’s back with a new song featuring Swedish duo Icona Pop called “Never Been in Love.”
Saporta wanted to draw from ’90s Britpop for his new music, something evident in the “na-na”-tinged, clap-heavy “Never Been in Love,” a song that samples the piano from Fatboy Slim’s 1999 hit “Praise You.” “We wanted to find something that people would be familiar with,” Saporta said, “but it’s been so long that it almost feels new again.”
Cobra Starship won’t be releasing an album until next year, but Saporta spoke to EW about what he was up to during the break, why touring with Justin Bieber in South America was so special, and what kind of sounds to expect in the band’s new music.
EW: This new song is so much fun. What influenced it?
GABE SAPORTA: What I really wanted to do for this new record is I really wanted to draw an inspiration from, I was listening to a lot of George Michael and a lot of like early ’90s U.K. artists and there was really this era of time in that period where all these bands first started experimenting with break beats and electronic music. So I really wanted to draw an inspiration from there.
And how’d you guys hook up with Icona Pop?
We actually met because we did one of the remixes for “I Love It.” We ended up doing one of their official remixes and they loved the remix so much they actually asked us for the part so they could perform it live. So when they went on tour with Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, they were actually performing our version of the remix, which is so awesome. And I’ve always loved, loved, loved the way they sing in particular. Because they’re like punk rock girls singing pop songs.
It’s been a few years since Night Shades, so what have you been up to during that break?
I got married, which was really exciting for me. I think something people are going to be surprised to hear about me is we didn’t live together until we got married, we kind of went the traditional route. So once we got married, we had to live together, and build a home together, so we really took the time to do that right. The other thing is I really wanted to make sure… I wanted to experiment with this new sound that’s kind of like early ’90s U.K. thing I was talking about as opposed to just repeating “You Make Me Feel…” or something. I didn’t want to fall into that pitfall of having success, trying to replicate it, but only end up only repeating yourself. So I really wanted to make sure I had something fresh and new.
Is there an album coming?
No, actually, I’ve only been working on new music for the past four months or so, but this is just more of a song that came together so quickly and everybody got really excited about it. And the label and everyone was like, “hey, we haven’t had new music from you in three years, let’s just put this out now and we’ll get the album out next year. But let’s get new music going now.” I’m working on the album, but it won’t be ready ’til next year. And it’s amazing the song is coming out on the 25th, because I was born in Uruguay, and Aug. 25 is actually Uruguay’s independence day.
Does your family listen to your music?
[Laughs] I don’t know if they know every word and are blogging lyrics on Tumblr, but they definitely listen to it. My family’s very supportive at this point. Definitely when I started, especially in my punk band Midtown, when my dad saw me leave college, and I’m like, “Okay, I‘m going to go on tour,” and I came home like in this $3,000 van that was sputtering and he could hear it around the corner and I came out of the van and I was all emaciated because I hadn’t eaten on tour. He was like, “You left college for this?” Now he’s very proud of me.
After not playing together since 2005, your band Midtown reunited this past year. How’d that go?
It was amazing. It was better than I could have expected. In Midtown actually, I played bass and I sang. So to play an instrument again, live, was really awesome.
Can fans expect more of that? Or was it a one time only thing?
I know there’s a lot of people that didn’t see it. Now that we’ve spent six months rehearsing all our songs and practicing again, I think hopefully we’ll be ready to do it again if the situation arises.
You guys toured with Justin Bieber a few years ago–
We toured with Justin Bieber all over South America. That was really one of my goals was to have my family get to see us play, and we had to been to South America a couple times before Justin Bieber, but we were like in Brazil, like in Chile. We had never come close to Uruguay, where I’m from. We actually played in Argentina with Justin Bieber and a lot of my family got to come see us play, and not just see us play, but play in front of like 50,000 people. So it was really, really incredible.
And I bet the crowds were crazy because it was Justin Bieber’s crowd as well as yours.
Absolutely. Kids were crazy. And when you’re into Justin Bieber, you’re very young. So the fact that he took a band like us out is cool, it really exposes kids to new artists. And so a kid can be listening to pop music and then he kind of gets into new things from that. But for me, what was really cool, is that I think that kids knew that song, they knew Cobra Starship, like “You Make Me Feel…” was a big hit happening when we did that, it was big international song, so people knew that song. But I think when kids heard me speak Spanish and they found out I was from Uruguay, they were like “Wow, that’s really cool that someone from South America moved to America and had a successful song.”