Kobra and the Lotus were back in the UK in December, as part of their world tour supporting their album Prevail I (released in May 2017 on Napalm Records). Gunnar Mallon caught up with the band’s very chilled-out guitarist Jasio Kulakowski before their show at Corporation in Sheffield to interview him and talk about exploring cities on tour, their next album, and the success of single TriggerPulse.
Hi Jasio, many thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. How has this Kobra and the Lotus tour been so far?
It’s been good, it’s been good. This is the first time coming to the UK as a headliner since we released Prevail. I guess we were here last year as a support band with Delaine and Evergrey but the record wasn’t out yet, so we played a couple of songs. Now that we have the CD, people are excited and buying it. That’s super cool!
I remember that tour, it was a great show. What have been the highlights of this tour so far?
Well, it’s always a highlight when we can go back to a place where we’ve been before and we always see a few more people showing up. That’s always really cool. Even better than that is going to a brand new place, such as Belfast for example, where we hadn’t played before, and there were people there [laughs]. So for me that’s a giant highlight.
Did you get to explore the city?
A little bit, but not much. Me and Steve, our merch guy, went and walked down Queens University campus a little bit, it’s super pretty.
How about some of the other cities with the tour taking you all over the world?
Yeah, a little bit. Some places you do, some you don’t. One of the things about touring with a band is actually that you quickly learn that your daily routine and schedule is usually quite busy. So if you want to see stuff you have to make a bit of an effort to either wake up early or get your stuff done really quickly. So, usually we get an hour or two and just walk around, which is always really nice. You get like a little taste of each place.
Did you get to see Sheffield a little bit as well?
Just a bit, but we’re actually staying around the University area now and it’s really pretty. I’d never seen that part of Sheffield before. We’ve been here four, five times or so in the last five years, but we always come here, to this venue [Corporation], and it’s always a direct line between here and whatever inn we are staying at. So, I’ve had very little time to actually explore, but I’m glad we saw another part of the city today. It’s beautiful with all the old manors and houses and stuff, it’s really cool.
Changing topic a little, are there any things outside of music that you draw inspiration from?
Well, yeah I like really like walking. It’s one of those things I can do to refresh my mindset a little bit. So I love doing it, especially in a place I haven’t been before, to kind of forget about the whole music world for a minute and return to planet earth for a couple of seconds. I think that’s always great. But as far as inspiration, I really like being out in nature. We live close to some amazing mountains back home and when I can get there for a few days, that’s one of my favourite things to do.
Are you looking forward to heading back to Germany next?
Yeah, I am actually. It’s been a while since we’ve done, I call it a semi-extensive, tour in Germany where we cover a lot of cities. That will be really great. We got to get there in August with British Lion, Steve Harris’ side band, and we did a few gigs there with them. They were really cool. Yeah, it’ll be nice.
I saw that Timo Somers from Delain is joining you in Germany. How did that come about?
We needed a session guy for that leg of the tour. We currently have Andy [Andrea Martongelli from Arthemis] with us today and he’s been doing these last dates with us in Europe. But his band is going to Japan at the same time that we’re doing these German dates. We just had to call in somebody else and we had met Timo last year on that tour and we all like him. So, we invited him to play with us, if he wanted to, and he said yes.
The single TriggerPulse is doing is doing fantastically well. Is there something that you attribute this to?
Playlists, playlists on Spotify. There’s kind of a thing happening in streaming music right now, where if your song can make it onto these ‘hot new tracks’ or ‘hot new metal’, or ‘hot whatever things’, they tend to have a little like spark of fire beneath them. I know in the dance world it’s huge. Guys go out of their way to make personal relationships with the people who own these playlists because they know if they can release a song and it gets dropped there, they are going to instantly have this crazy reach.
So that happened for us somehow. I really don’t know how that did, but TriggerPulse, when we put it out, ended up on a few of these new metal playlists and just got put in front of a lot of people’s eyes. And from there people started sharing it and putting it onto more playlists. And yeah, it got a little bit of wind. Super cool! That’s a first for us with any of our songs to get that kind of reach. It’s been really exciting for everybody.
With Prevail I out, what can we expect from Prevail II?
You can expect more of the same in the sense that if you were to look at every track on Prevail I you probably come to the conclusion that a lot of the songs are quite different from each other, you know one to one, and so that trend will continue. They all came from the same sessions, so it’s the same sounds, same engineering and production work behind everything, but the songs are all quite different. We had to write a lot of songs to make two albums in a short amount of time so we experimented a lot and we really tried to do different things to keep things interesting song to song.
You played Belfast for the first time and people turned out. How important is the contact to the fans for you?
I would say, very important. I mean, without the fans, bands would not exist anymore. I don’t know if there are artists out there, maybe there are, who just continue to pump out a catalogue of music their whole lives and nobody is feeding back on it, so it’s super important. We’re ever grateful for anyone who takes the time to write to us or come to a show, even the silent ones out there who say nothing and appreciate the music in their own time.
We do it to share, you know, that’s what it’s there for and sharing that experience means a lot to us. It’s great to get feedback and super interesting to see what people like. Everybody has different tastes and people get into different things. That’s always neat.
The evening’s show saw a line-up of four fantastic bands with a wide ranging musical style. Kicking off were the hugely talented punk-rockers Air Drawn Dagger, who played their way into the audience’s hearts with their perfect synergy and harmony, followed by the “interesting” Aonia who combined theoretical metal with opera to some extent.
Following the two local acts, up-and-coming crossover band Brutai totally smashed it. Clearly ones to watch, their sound is reminiscent of the experimental metal crossover of many of Mike Patton’s side projects, with their own unique poppy touch.
Finally, Kobra and the Lotus dropped a magnificent and engaging melodic heavy metal set for a highly enjoyable evening all round.
Photography and interview by Gunnar Mallon of Kobra And The Lotus on 2nd December 2017 at Corporation, Sheffield.