gabe saporta artist friendly
[Courtesy of 'Artist Friendly']

6 takeaways from Gabe Saporta’s Artist Friendly interview

Gabe Saporta, formerly of Cobra Starship and Midtown, is the latest guest on the Artist Friendly podcast. The artist and entrepreneur, who has transitioned into artist management and development with TAG Music, joined Joel Madden to chat about Cobra Starship’s early days, what he’s learned throughout his career, and more.  

The episode is available now wherever you listen to podcasts. Before you dive into the full conversation, check out the key takeaways we rounded up below. 

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He calls “the bookends” of his career his favorite eras of it

Saporta has had a long career, both fronting bands and working with rising artists behind the scenes. But when Madden asks him what his favorite era of his career is, he’s quick to say it’s what he considers “the bookends” of it, or when he was first starting out and when Cobra Starship crossed into the mainstream. He spoke about looking back fondly on the time when he was playing in the pop-punk group Midtown and essentially considered it an extracurricular project. He said, “That beginning was really special,” mentioning memories of playing house shows and turning 21 on the road. In addition, he said it was exciting when he saw unprecedented success and “doing the stuff you never thought you would do.” 

He saw Saves the Day at a VFW hall in New Jersey

Saporta declares that Saves the Day “changed the game” and thinks that they don’t get enough credit for what they’ve accomplished as a band. During the episode, he recalls seeing them at a VFW hall in Bluffton, New Jersey, supporting Ensign at a record release show. At the time, Saves the Day had recently signed with Equal Vision Records and were handing out vegan cookies and pamphlets during the gig. What most surprised Saporta, though, was that their drummer disregarded the hardcore dress code (read: cargo shorts, New Balances, and choker necklaces) by wearing skinny jeans and a puffy Polo jacket.

One of the most full-circle moments of his career involved Jay Leno

On the podcast, Saporta spoke about how his family immigrated to the U.S. from Uruguay and explained that it took some time for his father to better understand why he was pursuing a more creative career. When he came around to championing his son’s focus on music, he would tell him that he needed to play on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno because that would be huge in helping with his band’s big break. Once Cobra Starship played on the show years later, he told Leno the story and the talk show host called his father’s office — only to be hung up on. Saporta ended up connecting the two, but it’s safe to say it was a full-circle moment for the both of them.

Aging out of the neon-pop scene is why he stopped making music

Many fans experienced heartbreak when Cobra Starship announced that they’d be calling it quits in 2015. For Saporta, however, the decision made complete sense. “Even if I love the music, there’s just something about being 40 years old and trying to speak to a 15-year-old kid,” he suggests. The ability to relate changes, and he says the music becomes dishonest (especially when you’re making songs called “Good Girls Go Bad” and “Hot Mess”). “Part of the reason why a young kid connects with someone a little bit older than them is because they’re still experiencing the same challenges,” Saporta continues. 

Some of the greatest advice he’s learned is “to be of service of others”

Saporta explains that something that’s stuck with him is advice his grandfather gave him when he was younger, which is “to be of service of others.” He’s since used that philosophy a great deal in working with the up-and-coming artists that he manages. He explains that it’s of the utmost importance to him to always add value to peoples’ lives — and with his artists, that means not forcing any decisions on them and giving them the support and time they need so they can be excited about their careers.

Saporta only wants to create music for young people

Midtown and Cobra Starship’s music tapped into youthful abandon, and for good reason. Both projects were helmed by Saporta when he was in his 20s and 30s. In fact, Saporta says that he’s “only interested in [making] music for young people,” rather than transforming into the type of artist who hinges on nostalgia. “I want to impact a person when they’re still impressionable and they need it,” he explains to Madden. “That’s how you’re helping people. I don’t want to make music for fashion shows — I want music that will change people’s lives.”