Not long before Papa Roach hit the stage of the prestigious Olympia venue, RockUrLife’s team had the opportunity to chat with its guitar player Jerry Horton for a joyful and laid back interview.
Let’s start with “Crooked Teeth“. With this new album, you keep on moving forward while incorporating sounds from your past albums, especially “Infest” (2000). Where did the desire of bringing those elements back come from?
Jerry Horton (guitar): The process for recording this album was very different from the last. This time, we actually sat down and talked about some ideas that we individually had. My vision for it was that we get back to how we used to write songs before working with producers. We were just going and we weren’t thinking about making a radio hit, or sticking to a certain formula. At the same time, we wanted to do something really different in terms of sound for the album. We talked about having the production be more of a pop sound in terms of tons and instruments, but having the writing have the energy and innocence of the songs from “Infest”.
Actually, in the beginning of it, we didn’t know who we wanted to work with. So we started to work with a few different people on different songs to find who we wanted to do the whole album. “Born For Greatness” was the first song we did, and that was with Jason Evigan [Madonna, Demi Lovato, Maroon 5]. The idea was to work with somebody who’s in the pop world, to push us out there. But because we’ve been doing this so long, we know what Papa Roach is supposed to sound like. We didn’t want the sound to get way too far out there, so we’ve worked with a bunch of different guys: Colin Brittain [Stick To Your Guns, One OK Rock] and RAS [All Time Low, Machine Gun Kelly, Avicii] for the production of the whole record. And they both agreed on having Jacoby rap and have that intensity in the vocals again. Without talking about it, we were kind of all minded-like when it came to the writing process.
There is something very raw and honest about Papa Roach’s work. The overall theme in “Crooked Teeth” seems to revolve around the idea that being imperfect or vulnerable is okay, which is something you’ve stood up for quite a while now. Was it a common decision that you made as a band when you first started?
Jerry: At the beginning, it was definitely not a decision. Before “Infest”, the lyrics were nothing like that. It wasn’t until then Jacoby decided to write about a lot of things that were happening in his life that we took another direction lyrically. We had become adults, we were living on our own, experiencing things. He just started to write about those experiences, and about himself. And then, other things that would happen around him. “Last Resort” wasn’t about him, but about one of his friends. He just felt compelled to write about it. It wasn’t until we started to meet fans, have people give us that feedback that they really identified with the songs and that they would help them go through some tough moments of their lives that we realized that Jacoby writing about his struggles for everyone to hear made people connect to the music on such a deeper level than just a pop song would say “Let’s party!”. We realized we needed to be authentic, trying to lift people up.
(Jacoby sneaks into the room quietly before leaving)
Hi! We were actually talking about you.
Jacoby Shaddix (vocals): Hi! (laughs)
Talking about you as an individual, what do you do outside of music that contributes to your musicality?
Jerry: (thinks) I listen to music all the time. I pick out things that I like and that I wanna try, but I think that’s really about it.
Are you interested in other artistic endeavors?
Jerry: I’ve been a hobby photographer for a long time, but it doesn’t really contribute to the music I think.
It could, because music and visuals are deeply connected.
Jerry: That’s true, and I’ve done photography for our last album artwork before, but I feel like up until now I haven’t look up to an image and say “I want to write a riff about that!” (laughs)
Maybe you could bring some of those elements to a music video someday.
Jerry: That’s true!
Are there any specific subjects that you like to photograph?
Jerry: No, it’s just what I see. Sometimes if we have a day off, I’ll just go take some pictures. Usually, it’s landscapes or architecture, sometimes it’s people. I tend to find patterns in things and I focus on that. I also like macro photography, to get really close to something and present it in a way that most people don’t see.
How would you describe Papa Roach’s visual identity then?
Jerry: The strongest thing that we have is the upside down cockroach. We’re trying to change the visuals to suit each album, so I don’t think there’s really anything that’s been continuous throughout our whole career. But lately, we’ve wanted to go back to those old aesthetics, a little more punk rock and greedy.
On another level now; the music business seems to get more and more concerned with social issues such as gender inequalities, trying to make shows a better and safer place for everyone. We’ve recently seen several band members stopping shows because they’d witness someone behaving inappropriately towards women in the crowd. Is it something important for your band? Have you seen some improvement in your music scene?
Jerry: When it comes to gender inequalities, I’ve seen a lot more female bands lately, which is great. At the shows, we do not tolerate inappropriate behavior, especially if we see it. We want everyone to be able to have a good time and not worry about being in danger of anything. We have stopped shows before to take care of that kind of thing.
Last question now: our website is called “RockUrLife”, so what rocks your life?
Jerry: The crowds! Especially on this tour, it’s been amazing. Jumping up and down, singing along, moshpits… people have been great. And tonight, Paris rocks my life. (laughs)
That’s a good way to conclude this interview. Thank you!
Jerry: Thanks, see you tonight!