The term supergroup is tossed around loosely and can shift a band’s focus from making good music to juggling high expectations. Christian Larson knows this — he also knows some people might consider his new project, Night Cobra, a Houston supergroup. But, he insists, the reasons the band formed have kept it rooted in firm, fertile soil, which has been critical this past year when so many music-related plans are up in the air. “Everybody in the band has been in something more well known,” Larson says. “But we came together out of friendship.”
Larson is best known for his work in the acclaimed metal band Venemous Maximus. Guitarist Bill Fool hails from Bickley, one of Houston’s best-known punk acts. More recently, he’s helmed the Satanic Overlords of Rock N Roll. That band’s drummer, Cheech, followed Larson and Fool into the rehearsal room two years ago. Bassist Trevi Biles, from Venomous Maximus, then joined, followed by guitar phenom Brandon Barger. The pieces were in place.
“People will pay attention just because certain people are in the band,” Larson says. “Someone who knows Houston music might think, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve seen all these people — lemme check this out.’ But that’s from paying dues over years and years. A long time ago, all of us played in bands where we showed up and everybody was like, ‘Who are these dudes?’”
These dudes are established Houston musicians whose first joint venture — In Praise of the Shadow, released last August — melds searing metal with punk rock’s grit. And, of course, the band’s individual members are spotlighted on certain songs — real supergroup stuff. “Everybody is super-talented,” Larson says, “so we try to showcase what everybody does best.” The group continues to explore, throwing its pandemic energy into writing songs for a new album set to release later this year.
Perhaps the band is a supergroup, but in the end the key to its success might be less about how other people know the band’s members and more about how the band’s members know and trust each other.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez