INTERVIEW with Helena Cos of Spider Rockets

INTERVIEW with Helena Cos of Spider Rockets 3
Credit: Jason Nappi

Hazlet, New Jersey-based rock outfit Spider Rockets recently unveiled the music video for “Rip Your Heart Out,” a track lifted from their latest album, Along Came a Spider. Made up of Helena Cos (vocals), Johnny Nap (guitar), along with the rhythm section of Brian (bass) and Dan (drums), Spider Rockets started as a duo – Helena and Johnny – who played most of the dive bars in New Jersey and NYC, followed by expanding the band’s lineup and releasing their debut album, Flipped Off, which landed on beaucoup radio charts.

Since then, they dropped Ever After, followed by a national tour, along with their self-titled album, resulting in sharing the stage with Pop Evil and Framing Hanley and performing on the Vans Warped Tour. 2012’s album, Bitten, made Metal Odyssey’s Top 10 Hard Rock Albums of the Year, while “Going Down” was licensed by WWE as the band hit the stage with Trapt, Papa Roach, and Steel Panther.

Produced by Dan Malsch, the band’s latest album, Along Came a Spider, pumped out full-on aggression highlighting the band’s bad-ass attitude and was followed by touring with Puddle of Mudd, Saving Abel, Tantric, and Bobaflex. Spider Rockets’ sound blends blues-rock, metal, punk, pop, and alternative music into songs drenched in wicked rowdy energy, all capped by the torrential, femme fatale voice of Helena Cos.

The video, directed by Roman Fernandez and animated by Tawakal Animation Studio, conveys a cautionary love story akin to The Spider and the Fly. The Machiavellian female Spider ensnares the naïve Fly through flattery and charm.

XS Noize caught up with The Spider Rockets and spoke with Helena Cos about the band’s name, the genesis of “Rip Your Heart Out,” and impending new music in the pipeline. 

What’s the origin of the name Spider Rockets?

Our band name came into being because of a “cease and desist” letter on behalf of a band in Florida. Johnny tweaked our band name, removing “monkeys” and adding “rockets” to make “Spider Rockets.” In my mind, Spider Rockets sounds like a posse of superheroes. They zip around the world on their rocket bodies with the epic purpose of saving the day for the downtrodden, tired, hungry, weary, or just bored, with goodwill and majesty. Not sure how they save the day, but that isn’t really the point here. Then, all the people are happy and say, “yeah, hurray, spider rockets, you saved us!” And, the posse is very humble, doesn’t get a big ego and continues its mission of bringing awesomeness to the universe.

What inspired your new single, “Rip Your Heart Out?”

Johnny was messing around with a riff and needed me to come up with vocals to get things moving along. I listened and then came up with the chorus vocal, “I’m not here to change your mind, but I will rip your heart out.” The line stuck, and it was funny — to me anyway. The initial thought started as a f*** you to naysayers. I’m sure many people can relate. But, as the verses developed, the concept went in another direction. Not consciously. Instead, Johnny started riffing, and I grabbed onto one of the ideas that made me think of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock.” Not the riff, but the vibe.

Anyway, AC/DC is always a great inspiration, so the lyrics took their shape. Instead of “In the beginning,” I began with “This is the story….” The song evolved into a tale of when two flawed characters meet and what happens next. I love people watching. One of my favourite things is sitting on the boardwalk in Asbury Park with a coffee and just watching all the people walking by. In the summertime, there is plenty of material as there is a virtual parade of people on the boardwalk from morning until the wee hours of the a.m. So, I watch the flirting, the arguing, the gestures, and I create backstories for them in my head. And haven’t we all met toxic people? And suckers? So, the seed of an idea started for me on the boardwalk where I was sipping my blueberry coffee, people watching and creating a story of a toxic hottie meeting a dumbass guy.

How did you come up with the artistic direction of the music video?

In our collective mind, our song, “Rip Your Heart Out,” called for visuals with a dramatic story and action. We wanted to tell a story in the video but wanted to portray the tension between the characters as well as plenty of action. That’s a lot to pack into a three-and-a-half-minute video, right? Animation made the most sense without going over the top with a killer budget. We tossed around different animation styles, looking for one that could be fun and portray dramatic action without too much movement. We were drawn to the general idea of anime featuring big facial expressions, flashing eyes, and flowing hair. We started with the two main characters and later expanded to include the other characters to help move the story along.

Finding the right artist for character development was not easy. We went through a few artists before finding someone who could apply our vision of how we wanted each character to look, what to wear, hairstyle, accessories. This is where we stylistically veered away from traditional Japanese anime. The storyboards came next, and we had to work through hundreds of details to make the narrative cohesive and create a worthy ending. Finally, finding the right animation team took a few months. When the team was in place, we all went through the process of reviewing, suggesting revisions, and finally approving 1 to 3 seconds of animation at a time. After many months, the video was completed, and we were so happy with the results we decided to enter it into film festivals. It ended up being awarded “best music video” in four film festivals and awarded “finalist” in eight more. Kudos to all involved! It was truly an international effort: North America, South America, and Asia.

Is the music scene in New Jersey bouncing back – post-pandemic?

Wow, what a crazy nightmare this pandemic has been for the live music scene. A rough year for artists who lost a year’s wages due to not performing. For us, we kept busy writing and recording new material and working on the video. Our last show was in Baltimore, MD, about 15 months ago. The shutdown literally happened the day after our show. Now, here in New Jersey, we see some venues opening again, and maybe some more will be opening in the Fall. But some have shut down permanently, which is tragic for live music. Early days still, so we’ll see how this plays out.

Do you have any upcoming shows?

Yes, we do. A couple has already been announced. One in Buffalo, NY, where we are returning after 2 years and one in Clarksville, TN, where we last played with Puddle of Mudd. More shows will be announced within a few weeks, depending on how re-opening pans out post-pandemic.

Who are some of the bands you’re digging on right now – new or old?

Some of our staples: AC/DC, ZZ Top, KISS, Queen, Heart, Godsmack, Led Zeppelin. Also, Shinedown and, recently, The Pretty Reckless have hit our playlists. It’s funny because we played some dates with The Pretty Reckless on The Warped Tour a while back. For Johnny, our lead guitarist, add Stevie Ray Vaughn for his guitar playing groove. For Brian, our bassist, add the Bee Gees for catchy songs and great grooves. For Dan, our drummer, add Lady Gaga for her musical diversity and standout hits. Most recently, I have been listening to Katy Perry. Well crafted, memorable songs and huge vibrant anthems. Also, a lot of optimism, which I seem to crave right now.

Do you have more music scheduled to release this year?

Shhhh. Very under wraps, but yes, we are planning another release for the Fall. As I mentioned before, we spent a lot of our time under COVID, writing and recording.

Spider Rockets

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Xsnoize Author
Randall Radic 194 Articles
Randy Radic lives in Northern California where he smokes cigars, keeps snakes as pets, and writes about music and pop culture. Fav artists/bands: SpaceAcre, Buddy Miller, Post Malone, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, and he’s a sucker for female-fronted dream-pop bands.

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