On the occasion of the upcoming release of “F.E.A.R.”, RockUrLife had the opportunity to meet Jacoby Shaddix and Tobin Esperance, respectively singer and bass player of American rock band Papa Roach, at the Hardrock Café in Paris, where a press conference took place later on the same day.
First, how are you?
Jacoby Shaddix (vocals): Good. You’re the first interview of the day, so we’re waking up!
You’re back with a new album called “F.E.A.R.” Why did you choose this title?
J: Fear is something we all face in our lives and we don’t have a choice about it. It’s what we do with our fear that really matters. Each day, we need to wake up and do our best to overcome our fears, because if we don’t, they can start to fool us. It’s like the number one offender or the dream killer that stops a lot of people from doing some amazing things in their lives. Fear is one of those topics that we all face everyday, and we just thought it would be a good centerpiece for the record. It deals with how we cope with fear, and how how I’ve walked through my fear I came out on the other side a better person.
You’ve worked with Kevin Churko to produce the record. How did you end up working with him and how was it like?
T: It was a recommendation. I didn’t know much about him at all until our manager told us about this guy who did a couple of records with bands like In This Moment. For some reason, we are that kind of band that works with different producers: every couple of years, we switch it up and pick somebody new. Kevin just seemed to be the right person to work with, his records sounded really good. We met him a couple of times, him and his son work together. There’s a studio in Las Vegas that we hesitated about working at at first, because we didn’t really want to go to Las Vegas. We have our own studio in Sacramento, and we would have preferred to make the record there, but he wanted to work in his own studio so we just said “You know what? As long as we stay away from the Strip and just focus on making the record, it’d be all good.” And we ended up showing there and had a really good time. It was just work.
J: We didn’t go to Vegas to party.
T: We didn’t party at Vegas at all. We went to the house in which we were all living together, and the studio was also set up there. We were working on some stuff in the house then going to the studio back and forth, just constantly working on the record.
What was the creative process like? Did you first come up with the music, or did you first write lyrics?
J: The creative process was music first, lyrics second.
T: We walked in the studio with pretty much nothing written…
J: I only had one chorus in. Usually we show up with five, six or seven demos of songs, but this time, we didn’t have shit.
“F.E.A.R.” begins with “Face Everything And Rise”, which is the first single taken from this new record. From the title of the song and some lyrics such as the line in the chorus that says “I’ll take their broken wings and learn to fly”, we quickly understand that there’s a more positive vibe to this album than in the last one, “The Connection” (2012). Can you explain this?
J: It’s interesting how we ended up in Vegas. That’s the scene of the crime, the scene of some of the biggest failures in my life, and for some reason, I was supposed to go back to Vegas and try it again. We went there and that’s where the lyrics “I’ll take their broken wings and learn to fly” come from. We take our past mistakes and grow from them. I’ve been through dark times in my life, and I’ve taken those times and put them in the music. Those things have been the things that connect to me and a lot of people in the world. It made me really feel part of something bigger than just myself. Definitely, there’s a sense of hope in this record. There’s also feathers in the music video that represent courage and hope. They’re scatted about through the artwork, scattered about through the music video, and that’s a running theme through the record.
One remarkable thing about “F.E.A.R.” is the music itself, for example the guitar and bass line in “Broken As Me”. So, Tobin, how did you come up with some ideas for this new album, and how much have you learned as a bass player through the years?
T: It was a little bit different for this album as we were coming up with ideas in the corner spot. We were supposed to jam things out for a long period of time. We had some collaborative efforts too, because the four of us were living together, and we had my brother there, helping us out with everything that we were doing. He also had influence and was contributing in his own way by telling us what he felt was cool for Papa Roach, whether it was riffs or ideas. It was good to have an outside opinion. With that song especially, he helped us to find the right balance. I usually never concentrate too much on what the guitar is doing, I really focus on what the song is as a whole. I’m not trying to be too flashy or stand out too much… It’s about the music as a whole process.
Jacoby, it seems like in every album, there’s always at least one song that might talk about your wife, just like in “Love Me Til It Hurts”. How influential are love and family to you?
J: My wife and I have a twisted way of loving each other: we love each other through the hard times and the low times. She sees something in me that I don’t see in myself at times. For that, I’m grateful. I’ve got an awesome wife, awesome woman, one of my best friends, but I think it’s very important to always put elements of my life in the music, that’s why I play fucking rock n’ roll! This is why I do what I do so I can be emotional. I’m a very creative and very emotional individual, so to me forming a rock band was the right thing to do. That’s why God put me on this earth! I found my purpose at a young age, I threw myself into the fire and I’ve been burning ever since.
There’s one really good song that caught our attention: “Gravity”. It’s the seventh track of the record featuring Maria Brink of In This Moment and you’re rapping and singing in this one, just like you used to do in the first Papa Roach albums. How did you come up with this song, and how did you start working with her?
J: Oh thanks! The antithesis of the song was: Jerry was working on this track and I heard it through the wall, I walked in and it just had this reflective, emotive vibe to it. It was very different. Whenever we write a track that stands out and that is different but great, we know that we have to work on that one. It was the same with “Scars”, it was different and it just really spoke to us. So, I just wanted to go in and put some down. Tobin and Jerry were like: “Listen man, if you want to rap for this thing, you’d better make us cry.” (laughs). So I just put it all out there. I took the darkness in me and my wife’s relationship, put it into a song lyrically and used that as a testimony for some people that might have been in the same situation, or still are. You know, me and my wife have been through this, and we’ve come out at the other side stronger people. It’s another song about turning darkness into light. Having Maria on the track was great. They were at the studio at the same time working with Kevin, so it was perfect fitting.
What song would you consider to be your favourite from this record and why?
T: I like “Falling Apart” because the verse has this off kilter rhythmic vibe and the chorus opens up, it’s really beautiful. But it’s still heavy and progressive in a weird way. Just the melody, creating this overwhelming sense of spirituality and hope. It makes you feel all of these things at the same time, you want to bang your head and jump up and down.
J: I back you on that song man. It is just very dynamic. The verse, the chorus and the bridge take us to three different places but somehow they just really fit together.
T: When Jacoby came up with the vocal melody and lyrics, I was like: “You just sound different on this one! You just say it a little different than you normally do on other choruses.”
J: It just has this kind of swagger to it dude!
Your style changed a bit through the different albums. What would you have to say to the people who miss the “old Papa Roach”?
J: Listen to the old Papa Roach!
T: I think this record has more intensity and energy than the early ones, because there’s a lot of good and powerful riffs, which is what we were doing in the first record, plus all kind of mixing which is how we approach our songs and our music now. We took all kind of influences and intertwined them with what we’ve done over the past.
J: To people saying they miss the old Papa Roach: you have to look at a band’s career like it’s a movie. And now we’re just at the beginning of the movie. Are you a fan of the band or aren’t you a fan of the band? You only like the beginning of the movie but you don’t like the end? It’s just part of the arc of a creative life. And we play old songs live too!
T: The songs we play live still go off, but everything that we’ll do in the future will always be a snapshot of who we are at that moment time.
Let’s talk about touring. You played Warped Tour about 15 years ago. At that time, it seems like the crowd was allowed to go insane and people could have as much fun as they wanted to. However, things have changed and it is now forbidden for people to mosh or to crowdsurf. What is your opinion about these new rules?
J: (huge laughs) That doesn’t stop people!
T: The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is: when we played Warped Tour, there was no cell phone or people trying to videotape. The show was just crazy. I think when people get hurt, people get sued and technology takes over. It’s fine excuses trying to stop people from having a good time.
J: There’s no show that is such a good time as the P.Roach show! This kind of rule is the reason why we won’t be part of that tour no more. Honestly, it’s probably promoters protecting themselves, so if somebody gets hurt, they will be like “We told them not to mosh! It’s not our responsibility!”. People like to sue each other… We’ve been sued a few times.
J: Yeah! By our own fans, in our hometown. It’s awesome (laughs).
Making a new album often means going on tour again. Have you already thought about some of the new songs that will make it to the setlist?
J: All of the songs can be great live. Period.
T: We’ve been talking about performing the whole record front to back or the whole first record at a festival, beginning to end. We have all kinds of ideas because we would like to do some surprises next year. Oh and, we are going to play a couple of new songs on this next tour.
What attracted you to the alternative rock/metal scene rather than another one?
J: ‘Cause it’s in our fucking blood! This is what we do, this is what we grew up in – we grew up listening to all kinds of music but the thing that really just drew us together was the culture behind rock music.
And what were your favourite bands when you were children?
J: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More.
T: A lot of stuff like Helmet, pop punk bands like Fugazi, Bad Religion, Social Distortion. But Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Korn… that was our stuff that we were listening to when we were in high school. Deftones was a band we looked up to, we were watching them play telling ourselves “Someday, we will get a record deal, be signed…”
J: (jokes) “… be awesome like them!”
T: Also the stuff that was going on in the early 90’s kind of made what we were doing. It made us feel like the dream could be a reality.
We suppose you’ve toured with some of them now!
J: We ran into a show in New Zealand with Faith No More, which I was really excited about.
If someone wanted to get a better idea of who you are, which books would they read or movies would they watch?
J: (pauses) Maybe Mötley Crüe’s “The Dirt”, fourth chapter.
J: And then pick up the Bible afterwards, read it for three minutes then go watch “Pulp Fiction”.
T: Or “Fight Club”.
J: “Fight Club”! That was a big influence.
T: That’s a good question. Some John Waters film maybe?
Is there a book or a movie you’ve watched recently that you would recommend?
J: I’ve watched nothing but terrible movies lately. My wife has been choosing the movies we watch and… Errrghhh…
T: (laughs) I saw a couple of good movies: “Boyhood” and “Mud”. They’re just kind of simple indie films but nothing too artsy.
J: We have that movie “Chef”, do you have it here? Chef: thumbs up. Or “Irreversible”?
J: It’s a fucked up movie.
To conclude, our website is called “RockUrLife”. What rocks your life?
T: My family rocks my life.
J: (laughs) For real dude? – My wife, my kids, the music, the fans, the spirituality.
T: Working out, going outside running or hiking, just getting it sweat.
J: Sex with my wife rocks my life.