Spearheaded by songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/vocalist John Sharling, Kuko De Kobra dropped their fifth record and second concept album Liontamer on the 23rd of August 2023, and today we’re gonna sit down with Sharling and dig into his influences, sound, and concept of Liontamer.

  • First, we’re happy to have you here with us on Rock Era, hope everything is going great.

Thank you – everything is going okay – but we are hopefully moving into something that could be labelled great. 

  • Releasing five records is not an easy job especially with two of them being concept albums, how did your sound progress reaching Liontamer? What makes each one of your records stand out? 

 I was a relatively young man when we recorded Naja Naja. It was my first record and of course it was quite a big thing for me. I wanted to make it really wide in scope – there had to be something for everybody. And there is. Rockers, ballads, semi-epics even! 

 I had very high hopes for Naja Naja – and it got some rave reviews. But nothing really happened. I wanted the follow-up A Girl And Her Giraffe to be a rock album with a pop sensibility. We trimmed almost all the fat from the songs to make them overall leaner. I wanted every song to be a hit. Of course that did not happen. 

 Before we even began recording GaneShaMan I knew that we were going to make a really hard sounding album to fit the overall (and weird) concept about three old friends floating in and out of consciousness in their hospital beds while being taught and taunted (a bit) by Ganesha. Heavy subject matter, heavy riffs and sounds. Making it was one of the most exhausting experiences in my life for a myriad of reasons. But I am very proud of that one and the work we put into it. 

I produced Underdog Chorus myself – a wonderful learning experience. There are a lot of little blemishes – but the songs are catchy. In the beginning the plan was to make a pure power pop album. A couple of songs in I could not help myself and threw some harder stuff in as well. GaneShaMan is quite bleak – Underdog Chorus has a more upbeat and positive overall message. And I am proud that I let my self be vunerable and adventurous at the same time. 


I recorded Liontamer while I was also working on Underdog Chorus but they are quite different from each other. This was also the mean reason why I didn’t “just” put out a double album. Liontamer was recorded in a very relaxed environment even though there is much tension in the songs. Marco Angioni produced and did a wonderful job. He is also quite funny (almost as funny as myself!) and makes the best coffee. 

I had decided to record lead guitar myself which was fun. But I am no shredder – I like melodies much more than speed. I don’t want to show off on guitar. Well, I CAN’T show off on guitar!  

I would like to thank Klaus Agerbo for his drum work on Liontamer. I was there when he recorded the drums and it was a very organic approach. He is a beast on the skins for sure.  

  • Liontamer offers a diverse range of sounds and elements from alternative to heavy, sludge, and even some subtle punk-ish twists, I’d like to know more about your early influences, and which ones shaped the writing of Liontamer? 

I have written songs as long as I can remember. But here is a cute story about the first band that really inspired me. I first experienced with them at a sock hop when I was ten. The DJ started playing this INSANE song – a guitar going widdle-widdle-diddle-diddle with drums and shouting following. And then the singer began singing. I thought to myself that it was The Devil screaming. But it was just Brian Johnson. The song was Thunderstruck by AC/DC. I bought a bootleg copy of their The Razors Edge album in Poland on holiday. That set the ball rolling.  

There are a lot of musicians, writers and producers I admire. Those around me can attest to me talking about The Beatles twice a week at the least. It also (almost) goes without saying that I love King’s X, The Who, The Cure, Pink Floyd… The list goes on and on. 

While writing Liontamer I listened to Jawbox, Quicksand and Fugazi on the alternative side and Sleep and Trouble on the heavier side.  


  • As Liontamer digs into the theme of communication gone wrong, how did that reflect on the song’s writing and lyrics? 

I would love to say that it was quite a thought process – but it certainly was not. Not to say that I didn’t put effort into writing the lyrics. But inspiration was all around and just needed to be filtered. I saw friends stopped being friends, wives leaving husbands, families destroyed by addiction. All the while politicians talked, wars barked and I just wanted to play some rock. 

  • How does your writing process usually go? And were there any changes in your process while writing Liontamer? 

Beside from having a go at lead guitar and adding some noise rock elements everything was as it always has been. Most of the time the songs just appear and I just need to add and subtract. Other times I have to dig a little deeper.  

  • How did your decision to release new music each month affect your creative process? What did you adjust in your usual process to keep up with that decision? 

It gave me a chance to experiment a little more than I usually do. I could afford to make some “uglier” songs. An album is quite the undertaking – but a couple of songs that stand on their own can be a bit of fresh air. Having to meet a deadline also keeps me on my toes. I like the discipline.  

  • How would you describe your sound? 

I think we are on the heavier side of classic rock with a little toe occasionally dipping into metal, noise rock, punk or whatever. 


  • If you could choose one song from Kuko De Kobra‘s catalog for someone who wants to get into your music, what would it be?

Oh, what does that person like? If it was a casual radio listener I would choose “Where You Are Going” from Underdog Chorus. If it was a hard rock/metal head I would serve a slice of “Educated Wallower In Fascism” from GaneShaMan. If it was someone’s mother I would serenade her with “Melanin” from Naja Naja 

  • With the addition of Thomas Hesselholt on guitar and Kasper Neubert on drums do you have any live gigs planned?  

Yes – a few under our belt and more coming. I am happy that we are up and running. 

  • What are Kuko De Kobra‘s plans for 2023/2024? 

Hopefully more gigs and recording with the new line-up. I want Kuko De Kobra to be our band – not my band!  

Thanks for your time, I wish you the best of luck. Cheers!