Thursday, February 13, 2014


New Band Alert! Saint Cobra are a New Haven area quartet who are new to the scene but they have been starting strong. With a barrage of shows and a building fan base its only a matter of months before Saint Cobra will become a household name. Guitarist and vocalist Mykl Sivak took some time out and answered some questions for us.

How would you describe Saint Cobra to the kids?
That’s actually a bit of a tough one. We all went into this project not wanting to pigeonhole ourselves in terms of genre or musical style. As time went on, however, the group moved pretty organically toward very loud, fairly heavy, semi-technical, hard-hitting, guitar-driven indie rock. I’d say at the moment there are equal portions of Superchunk, Galaxie 500, and Ozzy-era Sabbath in there. Lo-fi, prog, and cock rock influences have all worked their way into the mix somehow. If that makes any sense. I don’t know. I’m bad at describing this band. At our last gig, some kids told me we sounded a bit like Archers of Loaf, which doesn’t sound inaccurate to me.

What are your personal influences when it comes to songwriting?
I guess it depends on the song. So far, with this project, lyricism has taken a bit of a back seat. At practice, we play with the PA volume pretty low, or sometimes I even sing through a piece of shit guitar amp, which probably accounts for all the screaming and lack of super-specific lyrics. Personally, I also have a strong background in singer/songwritery shit, which tends to focus on the interplay between the vocal melody and chord structure, but in Saint Cobra it’s really been more about what is happening with the guitars, bass and drums. So in this sense, in all honesty, the vocal melodies are sort of dropped on top of the music as opposed to interwoven with it. In this sense, I think the writing aspect is influenced by bands like Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, and punk in general. We all grew up around the CT Hardcore scene, and though, I don’t think, any of us were fully committed to that music, we were at the shows and our friends were a part of it, and I think a lot of those 90s hardcore sensibilities snuck their way into the musical aesthetic of the band.

I know you enjoy pizza. What is your favorite topping?
The only real gauge of how truly good a particular pizza place is, is their plain cheese pizza. Brass tacks. With nothing but crust, sauce, and cheese, you have nothing to hide behind. The best plain pizza requires no other toppings. In fact, toppings detract from the purity of the experience of a perfect slice. Or whatever.

What pizza place to you like to go to the most (you know so the fans know where to eat)?
I eat a lot of pizza and though I consider myself a pizza enthusiast, I’m no snob. I’ll eat at any of New Haven’s first, second, or third tier pizza spots. In terms of pure logistics, i.e. location/late night pizza, I tend to end up at EST EST EST most frequently. It’s fine. It get’s the job done when drunk and hungry.

Guided By Voices or Pavement?
Okay, well, I should start out by saying that Pavement is probably my favorite band of all time and has been since I was about 15 years old. The first time I heard “Crooked Rain Crooked Rain” quite literally changed my life forever. I remember the moment clearly. In high school I was in a band with Jimmy Jude (Battlecats, Death To New England). We had just finished practice and were in Jimmy’s garage in Stratford listening to records on an old piece-of-shit turntable. Prior to this, I had been listening to bands like early R.E.M., Nirvana, Violent Femmes, Velvet Underground, Daniel Johnston. So, I was already exposed to similar music. But there was something about Pavement that I felt I hadn’t experienced musically before. I don’t think I moved or spoke until both sides of the record finished playing. I remember thinking “What the fuck did I just hear?” Someone once described Pavement as “a bookish Nirvana” and I think that is accurate to an extent. Where Nirvana was all angst and anguish, Pavement had this sort of sly-wit about them. Like they could intellectually beat the shit out of a bully without the guy even knowing it had happened. They always seemed comfortable doing their own thing and didn’t seem to give a fuck what anyone else thought about it. Though they are now legends in their own right, at the time, in the 1990s, Pavement were kind of like anti-hipsters. In fact they had a real suburban goofiness about them. They didn’t have cool haircuts or clothes. Arguably they didn’t even write cool music. They all looked like guys you would see mowing their grandparents’ lawns or something. I really responded to that. By the end, some of this mystique had faded away (Terror Twilight is almost entirely shit, in my opinion). But the first 3 albums, and to some extent the fourth, are modern masterpieces of intelligent indie slop. Guided by Voices are arguably the better band with possibly a better run, but personally I never responded to that band the way I did to Pavement.

If you could be in any new haven band past or present what band would it be?

Who is your celebrity crush?
Brad Pitt in Fight Club with the yellow rubber gloves. And Emma Stone.

What are your top 3 favorite bands of all time?
I’m just going to go with the first 3 that come to mind: 1.) Pavement, 2.) The Replacements, 3.) Superchunk.

What are you currently listening to?
I have been listening to a lot of Yo La Tengo. I feel like they are a band I haven’t paid enough attention to during my life. Though they aren’t my favorite, and I know this is an extremely loaded statement, they are arguably the best band. They have such a prodigious output and repertoire. Plus they are from Hoboken, which is basically local. I think despite all their indie-cred and cache, they are another one of those bands that isn’t really “cool.” They are just people from New Jersey writing these perfect, solid, songs.

Our guitarist Chuck Scholz is the de facto music historian of Saint Cobra, and he is constantly sending us deep cuts from little known indie acts, side-projects, and live show recordings from the 1980s and 1990s. So I have been listening to a lot of that stuff. To be totally honest, there is a lot of casual research that we do as a band in terms of looking for obscure sounds we can rip-off and incorporate into our music.

As a purely academic exercise, I have also been listening to a fair amount of Weezer lately. I think everyone generally agrees their first two albums are pretty decent. I think everyone else agrees that anything after that, with the exception of moments on “Maledroit,” is pretty much shit. I’ve been trying to decode what makes the good Weezer stuff good and the shitty stuff so terrible. I actually am close to concluding that it all comes down to the presence of Matt Sharp, which is strange, because he is such a bad bassist. I think he must have served as some counterpoint to Rivers Cuomo’s terrible reign as the be-all-end-all of that band. Which is probably also why he wound up having to leave. The really important conclusion I am coming to, though, is that if I never heard another Weezer song again, good or bad, I would be fine with that.

If you could compile an all star band - 2 guitars, bass, drums, vocals - who would be in your band?
Man. I am not even qualified to answer this without sounding like an idiot. I am such a shitty musician I don’t even know what constitutes good playing. Also, I generally like bands as ensembles. I think the thing I respond to in a particular band is the way the members work with each other as a whole. It’s no secret side projects and “new bands” are almost always far worse than the original acts (See: Frank Black, Stephen Malkmus, John Lennon, Paul Westerberg, Sugar, on and on and on…) Just to give an answer, I’ll just say all the guys from Built To Spill minus one of the guitarists.

Past or present what is/was your favorite venue to play in?
Tune Inn. I lament the loss of that place every day of my life. New Haven has never fully recovered from its closing.

What is your goal for Saint Cobra?
Being in a band is a tough thing to rationalize in many ways. It takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to do this thing that as far as the world is concerned is a fucking hobby you do nights after you get out of work. As a band, we don’t have unreasonable expectations of fame and fortune, but we do aspire to something greater than being a “mere” bar-band or musical hobbyists. With the recent addition of Chris Serapiglia on bass, we’ve got our final lineup. The primary goal now is to reassess some of our older material, separate the good stuff from the weaker material, and to complete writing our debut LP. Basically, we all want to write and record our own favorite album. The current, unofficial goal of the band is to keep playing shows across the Northeast, release an EP, three solid albums, and then retire with some niche of people who are aware of what we did and have an appreciation of the work we produced.

You have some upcoming shows. What are they and where?
Our next show, which we are super psyched to play, is at Three Sheets in New Haven on March 14. We are playing with Grammerhorn Wren (Northampton). I think this is going to be an amazing show. We are also playing a show in March at The Outer Space in Hamden.

Would you like to give any shout outs?
Not really.

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