Cobra was the first all-women rock bank in China. The original six members of Cobra had studied classical Western musical instruments from a very young age, except drummer and lead singer Wang Xiaofang, who studied the yangqin, a traditional Chinese zither, before getting into the drums. Most were also members of military art troupes before forming Cobra. Founded in spring 1989, in its early phase this metal band mostly covered European and American rock songs. In 1992, Cobra released their first single, “My Own Paradise,” a pop-rock song with a hint of jazzy melody and a psychedelic beat, concerning individual dreams and the idea of a utopian “faraway land” similar to the rhetoric of many major rock bands and singers of the time.

As one of the first bands to gain international attention, Cobra was invited to perform in the Chinese Avant-garde Art Week in Berlin, along with Cui Jian, Tang Dynasty and 1989. Subsequently, they released their first album, Hypocrisy, in Germany in 1994, released in China two years later under a different title, Yanjingshe (or Cobra). On this album, they put together a signature style of gloomy metal with lyrics revealing wounded love, hardship and bewilderment at life. As one of the most celebrated female rock bands in the 1990s in China, the misty, poetic sentiment from Cobra’s lyrics reinforced their all-female presence, while heavy rock and their forceful attitude redefined public understanding, particularly towards women musicians.

Invited by an American festival of women’s music in 1996, Cobra toured the US and performed in prestigious underground-rock venues including CBGB in downtown Manhattan, and released Yanjingshe in the US. In 1998, they released their second album, Yanjingshe 2. After the 2000s, with several years in hiatus and several significant personel changes, Cobra announced their comeback in 2012.

(Qu Chang)

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