From there, his story gets a little kooky:
“I went down to an American Indian reservation and smoked peyote with all these Indian dudes,” Saporta begins with a slight smirk spread across his face. “One night, staring at the sky, this fucking cobra bit me in the neck, I almost died and I was hallucinating for a week. When I woke up, the cobra was still there and he started talking to me. He told me that he came back from the future to find me to teach me how to dance and make break beats. We practiced in the desert for weeks … I named [the project] Cobra Starship in honor of the spaceship the snake came down on.”
Regardless of the audacity of the story he tells, Saporta seemingly had the groove in him for years, even as a kid growing up in Queens, N.Y. He says his love of punk rock was sparked in the early '90s by the legendary Nirvana.
“They were just friends making music and that made me realize that I could do it as well,” he recalls. “I was so influenced by that music, it changed my life and I wanted to do that for other kids too.”
Saporta returned the favor early on, dabbling in the underground rock scene before fronting the New Jersey pop-punk outfit Midtown for the last five years.
“[Music] became a really personal outlet,” Saporta says of his previous work. “But it was so personal to me that sometimes I felt overprotective of it … You're always shooting yourself in the foot if you take that attitude when you want to make music but you're scared about getting it out there.”
After Saporta's encounter with the snake, the singer says he took a decidedly different approach to his craft. Saporta has used Cobra Starship to make music representative of who he is as a person without delving in to his deepest (and sometimes most uncomfortable) emotions. It was something the singer had never done before.
“I'd been writing certain kinds of songs since I was like 14,” he says. “Punk rock is my first love, but I'm basically taking all those elements and putting dance beats on them and blending a whole bunch of different genres.”
Saporta flexes his newfound sound all over Cobra's debut While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets. With producers S*A*M* & SLUGGO (Gym Class Heroes) on the boards, Saporta slithers through the record's 11 tracks flawlessly, melding pop-punk riffs with electro beats that are worthy of the robot. The band even puts on a proper live show – a plus considering that the band hasn't been a band for long.
“The dudes in my band didn't know each other a few months ago, but I knew all of these people from different walks of life,” Saporta says of his ensemble which features Ivy League guitarists Alex Suarez on bass and Ryland Blackinton on lead guitar, drummer Nate Navarro and keytarist Elisa Schwartz.
“How stoked am I to have the most beautiful girl in my band … and she can shred too,” he jokes, before delving into more serious apprehensions. “One of the things that scared me about doing the band was starting all over again. After doing Midtown for five years and having done all the small baby steps when I was young, having to do all those steps again is really daunting.”
Luckily, Saporta has good friends in good places that are willing to help him out. Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, William Beckett of the Academy Is… and Maja Ivarsson of the Sounds contributed to Cobra's most popular tune, “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It),” for the Samuel L. Jackson flick's soundtrack.
Since, the band has been on the road opening for the Heroes and will soon join up with 30 Seconds to Mars, Head Automatica, Men, Women and Children and Rock Kills Kid for another round of touring.
For Saporta everything has worked out the way it should, he says, from peyote-induced hallucinations in the Arizona desert to a venue near you.
“One thing I've learned about life is that you don't ask questions,” he advises. “You go as you may and you focus on today and things will work themselves out.”
While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets is currently available. The band will perform Nov. 25 at the Wiltern LG, in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.cobrastarship.com.