Helena Cos – Spider Rockets



Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi

AC/DC, Metallica, Five Finger Death Punch and so on. These are a few names that inspired the New Jersey band Spider Rockets, back on the metal scenes with the new record “Bitten”, which is welcoming the band to return soon in Europe. A record that already obtained lots of great feedbacks and much more. The kind and pleasant Helena Cos is proud to introduce a couple of things that no one did not know yet.
From New Jersey, we welcome Spider Rockets’ lead singer Helena Cos. Welcome Helena. Let’s start our chat talking of the band. Spider Rockets was born as a duo, formed by Johnny Nap and you and then some other band members joined the band later. Would you like to tell us how was this project born?

Johnny and I started doing cover gigs as a duo, playing every dive bar in NJ and New York. We played our original songs in between covers of GNR, AD/DC and Metallica. I remember playing this one gig in Asbury Park on New Year’s Eve where we played 5 sets and finished at about 4 AM. Soon we expanded to a full lineup and released the band’s first CD. We’ve played all over the USA, performed in Europe and can’t wait to do it all again to support our new CD, “Bitten”.

Spider Rockets combine contemporary rock with classical elements. What were the main influences that have inspired the band sound?

We each have a ton of influences so it’s really hard to pick a few. We all love rock—AC/DC to Metallica, to Five Finger Death Punch and everything in between. Right now I’m listening to Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Adele, Billie Holliday and Green Day. I love Billie Holiday’s phrasing and can listen to her voice over and over and never get tired of it. Something so intimate about the way she delivers a vocal. I can listen to Adele’s “Take it All” over and over again (my favorite from “21”).

As I’ve said before, after having enlarged the line up, you’ve started a collaboration with Martin Bisi, an indie producer that previously worked with Sonic Youth, John Zorn, Herbie Hancock, Helmet and White Zombie. What can you say about this experience?

Martin was the first producer that we ever worked with and I loved that he always approached rock from an eclectic place. He never settled with doing whatever was popular at that moment, instead he veered to the interesting. I mean this in his approach to recording and producing. A great guy and we learned a lot from him.

A collaboration that has allowed you to release your first record, “Flipped Off”. Did you get some good results with this first record of yours?

Yes, we made it to the radio charts and got a good buzz going, did a lot of fun shows.

After this release, you’ve also published an EP, “Preview” and a new album, “Ever After”, both delivered by Locomotive Records, both in North America and in Europe. What is the main difference between your American fanbase and the European one? What were the feedback you got from press and fans?

We love all our fans—what band doesn’t? But truth be told, we would love to have more opportunities to perform in Europe and play more festivals here in the States. When we played the Popkomm Festival in Berlin, Germany I remember the crowd being so receptive to all kinds of music. It was like a big party. In the States, when we played The Warped Tour, fans would line up outside the venue at 9am and hang out all day in 100°F weather going from stage to stage to see as many bands as possible. It was fun time!

Your efforts has been efficient: indeed, many radios broadcasted your music. Are you happy about the result?

“Bitten” charted at #3 most added for CMJ Loud Rock radio and previous releases were are #15 most added to radio as well as #12 most added on the FMQB “Metal” radio charts. On commercial stations where they are putting our song “Going Down” in cage matches against bigger bands, we are winning. Wow, we are taking on the big bands and giving them a good run for their money. It feels good!

Once that the band got great results, you’ve also released a new self-title album, that has seen the attendance of the producer Eric Rachel, that already worked with giant stars like Atreyu, Black Dahlia Murder, Hatebreed, Misfits, Patti Smith… just to list some! What could you say about this experience? How did you feel like working with such a great producer that has produced and mixed records of giants like the ones I’ve mentioned above?

We worked with Eric Rachel on our self-titled CD and on our newest CD, “Bitten”. I think it is fair to say we have spent a lot of time with him and have learned so much as a result. The man has a great ear! Eric kept pushing and pushing for us to make each song stronger. If a part was weak musically or lyrically, he made sure we re-wrote it. He was also relentless with perfection in the studio. After Eric did his work on the CD, Ryan Sambrook in South Florida added production and we recorded some more parts. Then, the tracks went to Zach Ziskin in South Florida for mixing and mastering.

Ok, let’s talk about your new album, “Bitten”, that has been released on June 5th. This record has been considered as the most energetic one by so many people. Do you agree with me?

We really concentrated on our song writing and building strong songs before anything else and I think the CD is better for it. On our last CD, we had a more progressive musical approach— quite a few odd time signatures and some interesting musical parts. On “Bitten” we got out of our own heads and let the songs dictate the music not the other way around. For example in “Scream” my first idea for a chorus was too wordy and complicated. If we would have kept it, the song would never have the impact it has now. As it is, “Scream” is simple and straight from the gut— I think that’s why people like it. My other favorites are the power play of “Break” and the balls out aggression of “Better When It’s Loud”. Also, I love the way “Going Down” toys with the listener and the dynamics that come into play on “Gasoline”.

What can you say about the writing and the recording process?

We devoted a year to getting  “Bitten” ready for release—most of the time was spent writing, rewriting, recording and re-recording. It was a lot of work—we were a fixture at the recording studio, Trax East— it became a second home for us. And Eric Rachel didn’t let up with us—but that is what it took. All the effort paid off and the CD is definitely better for it!

If you could pick a song to identify this album in the best way ever, what song would you choose?

The songs on “Bitten” are about love, hate, interesting uses of power, anger and fun. “Scream” was the first song that we recorded. We played it on The Warped Tour soon afterwards to see how it went over live. We were really excited by it and our songwriting approach with “Scream” strongly influenced our approach with the rest of the CD.

And if you were to describe the sound of the band with a few words? Which ones would you pick?

Elegance tempered by aggression in guitar driven, riff-oriented rock.

Now that the album is out, do you have something new to work on?

Yes, we are currently performing live and management is actively working on touring plans. The road work starts now and we are looking forward to touring! Also, we are working on our first music video for ‘Bitten’.

Thanks for your time, Helena. You have carte blanche to say something to SR fans and to our most faithful readers.

We love hearing from our fans on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. We are especially active on Twitter. Drop us a line and tell us which song is your favorite on “Bitten”. We run all our online sites and read everything you send! Also, sign up on our mailing list to get the latest news on all things Spider Rockets.


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