Oftentimes in these MusicMaker columns we highlight the folks who make the music, while ignoring the folks who make the music happen. That's where Brooke "Cobra" Homer, comes in.
Cobra grew up going to concerts with her mother from the time she was 8 years old and fell in love with live music. As she grew older and began attending concerts on her own, she eventually got interested in what was going on in the "back of house," behind the scenes of a show. For the last few years (who keeps count?), she's toured as a manager and production assistant — among other roles — with bands ranging from Megadeath to Joe Jonas to the entire Warped Tour crew.
About a year ago, Cobra got burnt out on the tour life and decided to begin focusing more on her interior design business, although she still picks up local gigs at The Fillmore and is open to returning to the tour scene if the situation is right.
Before that happens and we lose her to the road, we caught up with Cobra to tell us some stories about the pros and cons of tour life.
Creative Loafing: First off, how did you get the nickname Cobra?
Cobra: It came from the way I carry myself; doing what I have to do to get by but if backed into a corner then you really get to se what I can do.
So what does your job consist of?
First there's the pre-production, so that can take anywhere from like a month to three months, depending on how big the band is. Figuring out where we're going, where we're staying, if we have any friends in that town, everything.
On the road, it's early in, last one out. You're the first one in the venue, and you're the last one out after that bus call. It's hectic, it's busy, you're always on your phone — sometimes it's two phones and the internet. You're making sure everyone gets exactly what they need. Smaller bands, not so much, they usually don't get riders, but bigger bands, you're making sure that the rider is filled.
Do you get to watch the show or are you running around the whole time?
- Brooke "Cobra" Homer
There is that perk of getting to see the show, because there is downtime. Especially when they're on stage, you've got anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half to do whatever you want. Usually, getting ready for them to come off stage, that's when you start getting busy, making sure that bus drivers are picked up, making sure food's in the dressing room or on the bus, closing out with runners. But you do get to enjoy the show and it is nice, but there is a lot of running around during, before and after.
Does the job get exhausting, doing that day in and day out?
Oh yeah, I think it would for anybody. It's one of those things where tours can be so amazing in the beginning and then like two days after it starts, you're over it. It's like you've been around everyone for so long. I see people saying things like, "Oh yeah, one-week tour, had so much fun." Try doing that for three months. Try touring with Warped Tour and being a female living on a bus with like six dudes. That's not fun.
You must enjoy it to a certain extent, though.
Yeah, depending on who you're working for — if everyone's cool, if everyone's friends with you. I do Punk Rock Bowling [Music Festival] every single year, and it's always a good group of people and we're all buddies, we're all friends; no one is like these egotistical males, no straight bitches, everyone has a good time, and that's what it's meant to be. Unlike these long ones where everyone's arrogant, like, "I don't want frozen edamame." It's during one of those where it pays good but it's not fun.
What's the most arrogant or asshole thing you've witnessed from an artist on the road?
[Editor's note: Cobra informed us beforehand she could not name anyone she spoke negatively about, as she's still in the business and under contract with a local venue.]
It was the first time I ever quit. It was literally mid-show, mid-tour. My sister was bringing all the stuff to fill the bus, and he looked at her and said, "Who the fuck are you?" She had her hands full and she had her satin badge on, and she stood there and I heard him say that to her and I go, "Man, fuck him. Drop that shit. Fuck him, get the fuck out of here." I know it's really excessive with the language, but that's the only way to express it.
You're not going to treat someone like shit for no reason. When you've seen this person all day long and just because you're so-and-so, ya know. I'd love to name his name, but I can't. That was probably the worst thing, and I just told them, "Man, I quit." After that, I was done. You're not going to treat someone who has worked for you for so long like shit for no reason. Luckily, we happened to be in Charlotte. [laughs]
How about positive memories from the road that stick with you?
I think the one that has stuck with me, it was The Struts, from England. When they played Carolina Rebellion last year, I saw this little girl, she's wearing this little orange shirt and you can see her in the front. I had me, my best friend and my assistant with me, and we're watching this girl go crazy, singing every single word to every single song. I went down and they had given her a set list, and I took it from her and was like, "Come with me."
Her dad was like "Don't fuck my daughter!" but we just brought her back and she got to take a picture with all the boys. I took her backstage, there were all the boys there, she got to meet every single one. She's sobbing. She got to meet her favorite band. She drove all the way from Florida. She was like 16 years old. She was so excited. Her parents were like, "How much do we owe you, what can we do for you?" I was like, "Just buy me a beer." It's what I do. It's one of those things, I'm in this position where I can do that, and I'd much rather do that than give it to somebody who doesn't care.
So you gave up on those long tours last July, but would you say you're done for good?
I would never, ever say that. That's sinful to me. My schedule is flexible so if I wanted to pick up like the Warped Tour I could do that, but I don't know, I kind of like the homebody life. It's different.
When I see big names go out, and I get emails asking me what I'm doing, I know they want me. But it's one of those things, like, what do I have to sacrifice? I don't want to sacrifice everything anymore.