By the time future preconception-leveling heavy metal siren Kobra Paige hit age fifteen the Calgary, Alberta native had already been studying piano, classical vocal technique, and music theory for eight solid years. She possessed the pipes for a career in opera, but found her teenage musical muse gravitating toward punk. And then Judas Priest came through town on the Painkiller tour.
"The energy in the arena; the power of the riffs; the way Halford carried himself on stage, so strong -- I saw all of this and thought, ‘Oh, wow, there actually is a place for me out there in the world!’" Paige tells Decibel. "It hooked me right away. I knew I had to be a part of that culture."
Befitting a woman who would one day dub herself a "heavy metal shaman" in her Twitter bio, Paige didn't sit around waiting for magic to conjure itself. She hit the classifieds.
"I really just wanted to jam at first; do some covers: Priest, Maiden -- classic eighties metal, basically," she says. "But when I met up with the guys, we played 'Aces High' through once I think...then immediately moved onto writing our own songs."
Enter Kobra and the Lotus, a band that saw Paige transition to her newfound sturm und drang passion without forsaking the in extremis elements that characterized the best-loved parts of her previous lofty vocation. "Metal," she avers, "was a place I could use the voice I was born with as well as the tools, like vibrato, I'd developed in classical training to an end that was much more authentic to me, as an individual, than opera."
A much-praised self-titled debut and touring followed -- including pinch-me dream slots supporting Priest -- a crucible in which both musical chops and philosophical intent were further honed.
The culmination of that evolving vision -- High Priestess; out June 24 -- is a stunning slab of beating, bleeding traditional metal heart and unadulterated bombast refracted and heightened through a dynamic prism of those very things that are actually right with modern metal.
Exhibit A: The world premiere below of the lyric video for the self-empowerment anthem "I Am, I Am"...
Exhibit B... A slot opening the KISS 40th anniversary tour, an opportunity Paige describes as "surreal and thrilling."
"We were jumping out of our skin when we got the call," she says. "For me it’s still not a real thing. I’m not sure it will be real to me until we’re at the venue for the first date."
Oh, and, by the way, don't let yourself get tied up in knots over the whole tedious, played out, so-how's-it-feel-to-be-a-woman-in-metal? thing on Paige's account. She's got this.
"It can be challenging, sure," Paige says."You can sometimes feel a skepticism before you hit the stage. But that just fuels me all the more. I don't mind having to go out there and convince people the music is for real at all...I love what I do -- and if you can find what you’re passionate about and pursue it, that’ll make you feel more alive than anything else."
High Priestess is available for pre-order at Amazon and iTunes. Follow Kobra and the Lotus on Facebook and Twitter. Photo credit: Tessa Quinn-Dirty. Check out a video of Paige killing Maiden's "Fear of the Dark" below, along with another Kobra and the Lotus jam.