20 years ago a band formed in Sacramento, California that would later explode on to the nu-metal scene, but whilst attaining a high level success many other bands have still not achieved, they have never quite made it to some of the heady heights experienced by other bands of the genre. That band is Papa Roach and they have finally come back to the UK for a full UK tour to finish out the promotional cycle of their “The Connection” opus.
We caught up with guitarist Jerry Horton backstage (with bass player Tobin Esperance sitting in trying to share some files for an upcoming Ronnie Radke project) before the first show in Portsmouth and were privileged enough to have the rest of the band dip in and out of the room to throw in their tuppence worth (or maybe that should be 5 cents worth), but unfortunately our trusted recording device decided not to be so trustworthy, so what you will read below is not quite the verbatim conversation you may be used to reading on this site. We apologise, but have brought you everything that was recorded and everything else that we could remember in our overexcited minds.
Welcome back to the UK!
Jerry Horton: Thanks it’s great to be here.
How was Europe?
JH: Europe was really good – Germany has the crown right now.
So we’ve gotta step up!
This is your first UK tour in a while…
JH: Yeah the last time wasn’t even our tour it was Taste of Chaos with Buckcherry and Disturbed, so we’re very excited, it’s a been a long time and we’ve got a lot of excitement on the web from fans coming out and I believe most of the shows have sold out.
We know there ain’t no party like a P.Roach party coz a P.Roach party don’t stop, but what can we expect from this tour?
JH: Yes we do know that… Umm, we have a pretty good mix of old and new stuff, we have a few surprises and this is actually the first time we’ve toured with Middle Class Rut and American Fangs. We had, for whatever reason, a UK band tour with us in Europe (Glamour of the Kill) and I don’t really understand how it worked out that we don’t have a UK band here, but we’re pretty excited (about playing with these bands).
I heard the first Middle Class Rut album a few years back and really liked it.
JH: They just released a record this year and it’s really good. Normally they’re just a 2 piece but they’ve brought a full band for this.
Who would you like to tour with in the future? Who would you like to support and who would you like to have open up for you that you haven’t already?
JH: I would like to support Muse. We’ve done the odd show, like festivals and stuff in the States and they put on a good show. I’d like to take out with us…err… (Looks to Tobin) who would we like to take out with us?
Tobin Esperance: [looking up from where he still hasn’t got Dropbox working] Umm…I guess any band that would really get us pumped up before we went on.
JH: I’d like to take out The Bronx.
TE: Yeah. Or our friends in Blindside. Or Letlive. Bands like that that really fucking bring energy and destroy it on stage and something that’s more along our tastes in music and makes us play harder and better too.
Obviously, Tony (Palermo, drummer) is an amazing drummer but do you ever wish Dave (Buckner) was still behind the kit? I’m not taking anything away from Tony, but do you ever wish it was still the original line up carrying on?
JH: Yeah sometimes I wonder what Dave would have done on a song, but I love Tony’s playing and the audience like watching him. We did a festival back in Sacramento and Dave actually got up and played Last Resort with us, it was really cool.
You still speak then?
JH: Oh yeah! His new band, The Halo Method are playing the Shiprocked Festival with us next year and the first thing he said to us was “So. Let’s talk opening slots.”
You once had a second guitarist onstage, what happened to that?
JH: Yeah, he didn’t really move around on stage and kept getting in Tobin’s way, ha ha! We took a lot of video on that tour (This was way back promoting the Lovehatetragedy album – Helpful TINAS) and it was clear it wasn’t really right.
TE: We tried it, it didn’t work.
After being a band for 20 odd years, what gets you out of bed and into work now?
JH: The shows. They make it all worthwhile.
And what has been the highlight of your career?
JH: Well we have done some BIG shows. We did Rock in Rio for 250,000 people and that was amazing and then we went to Woodstock Poland and there were 400,000 people! It was funny coz the next day we were playing Download (I’m pretty sure Jerry is referring to their 2009 performance on the 2nd Stage here) and there were like 60,000 people and normally we would be excited, but because we had just come from 400,000 we were like “oh this is OK…”
And how many times have you been halfway through Last Resort and thinking “Jesus I wish I didn’t have to play this song AGAIN”?
JH: Never actually. There’s been a few times where I’ve seen it’s coming up next and thought “oh man”, but then when we start it gets such a reaction that it’s still exciting to play.
TE: The worst is actually when people are chanting for it and you’ve got, like, 6 songs to go and you just think “Oh, maybe we should just get up, play it and leave…”
What are your favourite songs to play live?
JH: Blood Brothers, Give Me Back My Life, Where Did The Angels Go…
TE: …where DID they go?
JH: …and Leader of the Broken Hearts.
TE: Give Me Back My Life, Where Did The Angels Go, Leader of the Broken Hearts and Between Angels & Insects
Is that just because there’s a bass solo in ‘Angels’?
JH: Tobin plays a bass solo in pretty much every song, he just doesn’t tell people about it…
There’s a trend at the moment to play an album in full on tour – if that was something that was presented to you to do, which album would you play?
TE: Either the first one or the last one. The first has all that nostalgia that everyone loves, but the last is the one that, hopefully, everyone is currently into.
Your sound has changed quite dramatically since the first album – has that been a natural thing or a conscious change?
JH: Both really, it changed naturally but we wanted it to. I mean when I joined the band it didn’t have any sound at all it was horrible. I was a metal head and everyone else was into like Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Primus, it wasn’t until Tobin came along that we really started to develop our own style.
What actually is your writing process?
TE: [looking up from laptop] It’s not like someone presents a song, it usually starts with a riff or two someone has and then we develop it together from there. It could be a riff, a melody, a beat even. Then down the line Jacoby (Shaddix, vocals) will put some lyrics to it if he thinks it’s workable.
A few years back there was an acoustic recording that you cancelled the release of, will there ever be one?
TE: That tends to be something that other people outside the band want, for some sort of Special Edition or whatever, but honestly I doubt we will. Don’t get me wrong I love acoustic music and I often write on an acoustic, but it’s not really us to sit and strum, it would be boring.
I want to change subject now and…(at this moment Jacoby walks in the room) ah I was just about to talk about you. Jacoby Shaddix AKA Coby Dick, Mr Dick if you’re nasty, you’ve been known to rock a mic with a voice that’s raspy, how you doing?
Jacoby Shaddix: (I’m not going to lie to our beloved readers I have NO idea what was said in response at this point due to the failed recording, I just recall some crazy rapping about dicks and Christmas and being hungry being launched in my direction – Bewildered TINAS)
Obviously about a year ago you had a….near…..incident…
JS: Oh man yeah, it was about a year and a half ago and I was in a dark dark place man…
I just wondered how that had since affected the band dynamic?
JS: Yeah man.
JS: Fuck yeah!
TE: Only in a positive way man.
JS: Oh yeah, it’s all totally positive, I’m in such a good place man, such a good place, everything is great, everything is positive.
You’re a band that slogged, you worked fucking hard back in the day, do you think with the way the industry is now that bands still need to do that?
JH: Well, I certainly think they should.
JS: This is the proving ground for rock bands, it’s different for pop groups and even hip-hop artists… the average life span of a hip-hop artist is 3 years.
Is that why you don’t rap anymore? You’ve had your 3 years?
JS: Hey, don’t call it a comeback. I been doing this shit for 13 odd years, getting up there playing the old shit…
Back in the day when “Infest” broke you were part of the nu-metal scene and you were the frontrunners along with Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit…
JH: And Korn, don’t forget Korn.
And Korn…They have all since gone on to play arenas and headline stadiums while you have been playing at this sort of level – not that that isn’t a success, but do you think you guys did or didn’t do something to be up there too? Do you think the way your sound changed is a reason why?
JH: I don’t know, but we are fighters and we are happy with the success we have achieved and we hope to get there one day.
If you weren’t in Papa Roach what would you be doing?
JH: Probably racing some kind of car.
TE: I’d be making music some other way. I enjoy being creative and being creative with electronic sounds. It’s hard sometimes on stage coz I don’t really like playing the same thing over and over, it’s not that exciting to me, I like finding new things.
Is it fair to say then that you prefer the studio to playing live and you’re the opposite Jerry?
JH: I don’t think it’s quite that black and white, but yeah I would agree to a degree.
2014 is almost upon us, what are you guys gonna be up to?
JH: We are heading into the studio for a new album in February.
Have you got much demoed?
TE: This will be the first time we’ve gone in with nothing and are just going to see what happens. Normally by now Jacobi has like 2 CD’s worth of ideas we’ve been working on, but not this time, so February 1st we go in…
Will he pick up a guitar and chip in?
TE: I keep telling him to! I keep saying you only need like 3 chords and you’ve got a song…
What about shows? Will we be seeing you at Download or Sonisphere as that is apparently back next year…
JH: We definitely aren’t playing Download, we might be out doing some shows around August so maybe Reading/Leeds? And maybe another tour like this.
Well, it’s my birthday in October so if you could come round then, that’d be great. Thanks for your time and have a good show tonight guys.
TE: Thanks … Hey can you check if I’m doing this Dropbox thing right?
[looking] Yeah you need to click that “upload” icon…