SLEEPLESS NIGHTS Cobra Verde

From Klaus Kinski to Foreigner: all in a
day’s work for Cobra Verde.

 

 

BY MIKE
SHANLEY

 

Cobra
Verde didn’t intend to take five years between albums. To ensure they wouldn’t
simply rewrite 2003’s garage-glam triumph Easy
Listening
, they went into the studio and recorded a handful of covers to relieve
pressure and have a good time. The results eventually became Copycat Killers, the best-named cover
album ever, with selections showing up on the shows True Blood and Rescue Me.
It also led to an on-screen appearance by the band – playing Foreigner’s “I’ve
Been Waiting for a Girl Like You” – on The
O.C.
in 2006.  Rather than brand the Cleveland act as
sell-outs, their fans gave them a positive response.

 

“For so
many hipsters that were like, ‘Oh, you’re doing that‘ we had a lot of people tell me, ‘Oh, that was one of my
favorite songs,'” says vocalist John Petkovic. “I said, ‘Wait a minute. You’re
supposed to be hipsters!'”

 

The
group recorded Haven’t Slept All Year soon after, but the album release was delayed for a year while Petkovic dropped
out of music to take care of his dying mother. After reuniting last summer, Cobra
Verde had to relearn the album’s 12 songs since they had never played them outside
the recording studio. A true group effort, it features all five members playing
guitar at some point and adding various extras, resulting in a different yet
cohesive feel on nearly every song. “Everybody went at it with the perspective
of a fan,” Petkovic says, of recent practices. “We almost became our own
tribute band. We didn’t remember who played what.”

 

***

 

Hollywood doesn’t rock, Part 1

“We
went to wardrobe [for The O.C.] all
day. They told us, ‘We want something that really looks rock and roll, like
Foreigner or the Ramones.’ I said, ‘Well, uh, aren’t the Ramones and Foreigner
on the opposite sides of that war?’ ‘No, no, you know: it’s rock and roll.'”

 

Hollywood doesn’t rock, Part 2

“I
thought this’d be funny since we’re playing this serious ballad and I was
hanging myself with the microphone chord [like Ian Curtis]. These people were
like, ‘Oh, that is really cool. Do that again so we can get that on film.'”

 

Talk about playing with fire

True Blood used the version of ‘Play
With Fire’ that we did. After that came out, ABKCO, the Stones’ publishing
company was calling and emailing every single day to make sure that they got
paid up because we got tons of downloads on iTunes after the show aired. I told
them, ‘I understand that Mick and Keith don’t have the luxury to fall back on
day jobs, but we do. And do you know that the money were talking here is less
than the price of two tickets to see the Stones?'”

 

Klaus Kinski, the first punk rocker

“The
band started as a studio project. We didn’t have a name. And I had a friend who
knew Werner Herzog, they were in Telluride. Herzog told him, ‘They should call
it Cobra Verde after Klaus Kinski.’ So I said okay. To me he was like Iggy Pop
before Iggy Pop.”

 

 

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