If you ask him for the official story, Gabe Saporta will say that he started his band Cobra Starship after wandering through the desert, eating too much peyote and being bitten by a snake who then told him it was his responsibility to save self-important hipsters from their own serious selves.
The former Midtown front man made a beeline for infamy with "Bring It (Snakes on a Plane)," the soundtrack single that was a bigger hit than Samuel L. Jackson's movie. While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets, Cobra Starship's 2006 debut, was packed with ridiculous, relentless dance rock interspersed with campy quotes culled from classic movies. He even brought back the keytar.
Now fully integrated into the Fall Out Boy pop & pop hit machine -- Pete Wentz signs bands to his label, and singer Patrick Stump produces their records -- Cobra Starship's sophomore album, Viva La Cobra!, comes out this week.
Saporta spoke with Out about making out with his boss to end homophobia, the raunchy track he recorded with gay hip-hoppers VIP Party Boys, and why Justin Timberlake will always be his favorite.
Out: "Guilty Pleasure" is my new favorite song. I kept trying to listen to the rest of the new CD and couldn't get past it. What's your guilty pleasure?
Gabe Saporta: Cobra Starship! But the whole idea of guilty pleasure is like -- I love Britney Spears, you know, and that's not a guilty pleasure. I'm stupid with it. Even though her career's gone down the tubes, I love her.
Is there anything you're actually ashamed of?
No, I've got no shame.
What's your favorite track on the album?
I think my favorite song is "Pleasure Ryland." It's so quick, and I kind of sound like Michael Jackson, you know, and that's all I wanted to do with this band -- sound like Michael Jackson. And I quote Old Dirty Bastard. I refer to myself in the third person.
How does Ryland [Blackinton, Cobra Starship's guitar player] feel about the song?
Ryland loves it. That's the song that Ryland had all the music for, and we didn't know what to do with it. And then one night, we were fucking wasted on the bus, and we just recorded it. I wrote those nasty lyrics. We used to refer to that song as "Lick My Balls," because he just laid down some words to have on it, like, [singing] "Lick, lick my balls, and play with my asshole." We had to change it around and make it legitimate.
Thank you for making that song sound even gayer than it does on the album. Tell me about working with the super-queer VIP Party Boys.
Ryland used to live with Jonny [Makeup, from VIP]. Ryland's girlfriend is from Philly, and she was good friends with all of them, and Jonny needed a place to stay. I had first seen VIP play at MisShapes a few years back and was like, "Wow, this shit is amazing." And then Ryland said, "We should get them to be on our album." I was like, "Done." "Scandalous" was the track that we knew it would work best for. They came to the studio, and we didn't have anything prepared. We just got drunk, and they went in there and started talking shit. Also, they refer to everyone as "she." We were working and they're like, "Oh, she's drunk!"
This album and your last one are really campy. Do you think of yourself like that?
We wanted to have those one-liners and make people laugh. The problem is that you don't want to become the Bloodhound Gang. I don't want to be making poopy jokes, you know? That's why "Lick my balls and touch my asshole" would never work as the chorus. It's too base. We had to make it funny in a way that was also witty. It had to have some smarts in it, a half shit-eating grin, super tongue-in-cheek. I think it's more tongue in cheek than it is campy.
We have to talk about your love for Justin Timberlake. Why is he worthy of your obsession?
When I first started this project, I really wanted to be the punk rock Justin Timberlake. I think on this record I was finally able to do it. It took me a little while because, you know, I didn't grow up in the Mickey Mouse Club and and I didn't know how to dance for a long time. I didn't have Timbaland to make my beats. But Patrick Stump is kind of like my Timbaland.
What would you do for one night alone with Justin?
[laughing] I don't know that I would even want to meet him. I've gotten a chance to meet a lot of my idols, and I'm always just disappointed. I'd rather just keep him as a mythological character. Plus he'd probably never hang out with me, anyway, so it's cool.
Where did you get your, uh, dance moves?
My first year of college, I dated this girl who was two years older than me, so she was already 21 and going to all these clubs in the city. I would go out with her and just like, fucking sulk in the corner because she was dancing with all these random dudes. I realized you either gotta get with the program or get the fuck out. Practice makes perfect, you know. When you go to white-boy parties, where a bunch of kids are dancing to '80s music, and no one knows how to dance there, but they're having a good time, and you can really work on your moves there. And I'm Hispanic, I was born in Uruguay, so I always had it in my blood. I just had to tap into it.
I haven't done an official count, but it seems like Google has at least as many pictures of you making out with or groping dudes as there are of Pete Wentz doing the same. So why does Pete get all the gay cred?
Pete gets gay cred? Who is he making out with? The only one I saw was of him making out with me. Is he cheating on me?
He talked to The Advocate. He talked to Blender about making out with guys.
He talks the talk, and I walk the walk.
That sounds like a challenge. Do you want to throw down?
Yeah -- let's see how many more boys we can kiss at the same time. For me, I was just thinking about that, actually. Our record just came out, and I wanted to feel what everyone was thinking about it, so I spent like two hours last night just reading comments and looking at blogs. I saw all these video collages that kids made of those pictures! And they'd make up love stories. And I was like, Wow, this is awesome. I was thinking about how when I was younger -- I totally remember this -- I was maybe 11, and Nirvana played on Saturday Night Live, and Kurt Cobain kissed Krist Novoselic on the lips. On national TV! And I was like, That's fucking awesome! I remember thinking how revolutionary that was, what a statement that was, and especially at that time. I think it's awesome to encourage people not to be homophobic. That's my motivation, to really make it seem like it's not a big deal.
What would you like to do with a guy that you never have?
Um, go on a romantic hot air balloon ride?
What do you think your career would be like if you were gay? Do you think you would be accepted?
Right now, I think, like this year and last year, it's become a much more accepted thing. You hear rumors and you don't really know. I heard that the singer of Bloc Party is gay, and I don't think that's affected them at all in terms of their fan base. I think right now is a great time for gay people to be completely comfortable with who they are. I guess it depends on the kind of music you're making. If you're making music for the red states, for dudes who have shotgun racks in the back of their truck, I don't think they'd be psyched if you were gay. But for cool music, for Bloc Party and everything else, I don't think people think about that twice.
What's your fan base like?
Definitely we're a very gay-friendly band. A lot of kids -- especially high school, that are just discovering their sexuality -- they definitely like our band, the way we joke around, but in a very nonhomophobic way. Having VIP on our record is definitely making a statement, too. I noticed that online a lot of gay guys comment on our board that they love us. I think our stuff is good for clubs, which is what I really want to make. It's like in that Sex & the City episode where Samantha was trying to make the Absolut hunk famous. And she was like, "First come the gays, then come all the little girls."
That's why I called you. Here we come.
The gays have the best taste!