Gabe Saporta Interview: Cobra Starship Singer on ‘Never Been in Love,’ ‘Step Brothers’ + Leighton Meester [EXCLUSIVE]
When you sit down for a conversation with Gabe Saporta, prepare to discuss anything.
PopCrush chatted with the Cobra Starship singer about his new single, 'Never Been in Love,' and we had no idea that we would eventually end up chatting about everything from an iconic scene in 'Step Brothers' to the Dougie. We shouldn't be surprised. After all, Gabe's enthusiasm, his willingness to discuss pretty much everything and his natural charm are evident in Cobra Starship's music.
Check it all out in the interview below!
In ‘Never Been in Love,’ there’s a line “You'd never think a random night could change your life.” Was that inspired by a night in real life?
Kind of. The first night that I met my wife was so, so random. First of all, we had known of each other for years because my guitar player – his girlfriend used to be my wife’s assistant. So just random, weird one degree of separation. Literally, my wife’s dogs were in one of our earlier videos before I even met her, years ago. And then for three or four years we had never met.
We randomly ended up at a dinner together. We left the dinner, that night we ended up at the same club. This is when ‘Teach Me How to Dougie’ was big on the radio and you’d never think that she knew how to Dougie. We were talking about that song during dinner, and we walked in and that song’s playing and then we were dancing.
The next day I sent flowers to her office, which is a little stalkerish of me because she didn’t tell me where her office was, I had to look it up. The only thing I wrote on the card was “Teach me how to Dougie.”
Listen to Cobra Starship's 'Never Been in Love' Feat. Icona Pop
One of the reasons I like ‘Never Been in Love’ so much is that it really captures that total blissed-out feeling of falling for someone. How do you go about writing a love song?
For me, it was a bigger question of trying to figure out how to transition [from] being the guy that makes good girls go bad to being married now. What would I sing about, you know? So I really want to connect that energy of being happy, being positive. I started Cobra Starship to make a lot of fun and have a good time. To do that in regards to love was also interesting. Another step in that evolution.
I heard you’ve been working on a new album. Are there any updates you can give us?
I think that for Cobra records, for fans, one thing they love about our records is that in some ways they feel like mix tapes. There’s lots of different influences from different places. I think you can expect more of that as well. Very particularly, my inspiration for ‘Never Been in Love’ and what I’m doing now is about this early '90s, kind of U.K. sound with George Michael, EMF, Jesus Jones … Return to full songwriting. I feel like a lot of the stuff that was happening, it just became all about the beat and the drop. For me, I really like full songs and things you can sing in the shower and hum along. And so definitely a lot more of that.
Speaking of influences, I’m going to take a stab and say, based upon your Twitter bio [which references Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis'], that you’re a little bit of a book nerd as well.
I was, when I was in high school. I’m glad, actually, you caught that reference. People read that bio and they’re like “Whaaaat? You’re a cockroach.” And Gregor Samsa has the same initials as me, Gabe Saporta.
Oh, that’s cool. Are there any literary influences on the album as well?
I really am much more influenced by hip-hop than I am by … I really did love literature when I was younger, but I really don’t have the attention span to read books anymore. It’s so sad. Do you? Do you read books anymore?
I try to. I have to force myself to focus sometimes. It’s hard!
It’s crazy. One of my best friends is an author and he just spent 10 years writing this book that just came out. It’s called ‘A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall.’ It’s a thousand-page book and I feel so bad, I still haven’t read it. He’s one of my best friends and he was working on it for 10 years.
But hip-hop has always been a big influence. One thing I like to do, I like to take hip-hop lines and I use them in songs and they sound totally different. Like, I use A Tribe Called Quest lines, “So what, you got a crew / I got a crew too.” Really funny things that you don’t expect a white guy to sing. “You say you got my baby / But I know it ain’t true.”
I really want to connect that energy of being happy, being positive. I started Cobra Starship to make a lot of fun and have a good time. To do that in regards to love was also interesting.
Are there any big hip-hop artists that you’re into right now?
Not really. I still really listen to a lot of early '90s hip-hop. I’m really into the '90s right now for some reason. A lot of Gangstar. I went to this party the other day and this guy was spinning old-school hip-hop, and I asked him to play Gangstar. He’s like, “Sorry, we’re only playing 1993 and before,” and I’m like “Gangstar was ’91!” So many music snobs out there.
That’s a very intense cut-off point!
Right? 1993 and before! It’s like, what’s the movie, ‘Step Brothers’? At the end when they go to the Billy Joel cover band and he’s like, “Play ‘River of Dreams,’” and he’s like, “Sorry, we’re 1993 and before Billy Joel!” Do you remember that scene? You’ll have to pull it up on YouTube. [Editor's Note: We found it!]
Another one of your collaborators, Leighton Meester, is releasing her first album soon.
I’m so excited! It’s about time. She never put out an album.
I agree. Have you heard any of her new music?
I only heard, back in the day she played me songs. I realized when she got signed, everything was just pop and I think she had a conflict that a lot of artists have. The label wants it to be pop and she wanted to do more of a folky thing and she played guitar.
I haven’t heard her album now, but I saw her not too long ago when she was doing ‘Of Mice and Men’ and she seemed very excited. I’m really looking forward to hearing it.