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Cobra Starship's Ryland Blackinton talks Grad Nite, his trippy trip to Disney and his advice for the class of 2012




A rite of passage for Floridian high schoolers came to an end last spring when Disney’s Magic Kingdom held its final Grad Nite, a 39-year tradition.

The annual party for 12th graders had brought in a huge list of performers over the years, ranging from Kool and the Gang to Night Ranger to Britney Spears to Weird Al Yankovic to Fall Out Boy to Katy Perry.

Thankfully for the class of 2012, Busch Gardens has stepped up to fill the void. The park will host its first Grad Nite on Friday, with headlining pop-rock group Cobra Starship and comic Gabriel Iglesias. Select groups of graduating 12th graders will have the run of the place from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. (A Grad Nite for eighth graders is scheduled for May 4.)

When Cobra Starship performed at December’s 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball in Tampa, we spoke with guitarist Ryland Blackinton, who grew up in Boca Raton and graduated from Florida State. So he has his own experiences with Florida’s high-school-senior traditions. We couldn’t resist asking him about Grad Nite.

How did you celebrate your own high school graduation?

Our Grad Nite was at Disney.

Who was the headliner?

You know, I don’t remember, but I think it was Justin Timberlake. I remember my high school girlfriend was a huge fan, and I remember being really impressed with his dancing. But I remember a bunch of people took acid, and I was the outsider. Yeah, it was kind of boring. So I’m gonna do it right this time. I’m gonna do acid before we play Busch Gardens.

Have you ever had to deliver a commencement address?

No. Never. Not on acid, anyway. I’m just kidding — I wouldn’t know how to do that.

Well, I wouldn’t do it in Busch Gardens, because there’s animals everywhere. And roller coasters. That would be kind of terrifying.

(laughs) Yeah.

Do you have any advice to the graduating class of 2012?

You’re done. Congratulations. Yeah, I don’t know that I would have anything helpful to say. I pretty much did all the really impractical and unrealistic things after college.

But look at you —you’re nice and successful.

Yeah, I guess so. Be like me. That’s what I would say.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 10:48am]


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