Nights In

Interview: papa roach

Multi-platinum hard rock heavyweight outfit Papa Roach require little introduction, but allow me to indulge in one anyway. The Californian rock quartet consists of Jacoby Shaddix (vocals), Jerry Horton (guitars), Tobin Esperance (bass) and Tony Palermo (drums). 2015 is shaping up to be a very significant year for Papa Roach.

Not only are they releasing their eighth studio album F.E.A.R on January 26th via Eleven Seven Music but, it promises the subsequent Face Everything and Rise tour, which is bringing Papa Roach to Dublin’s The Academy on March 20th. I chatted to Tony from New York ahead of these upcoming excitements.

2015 also deepens in significance for the band as it marks the fifteenth anniversary of their triple-platinum debut album Infest and on asking about the significance of the latest album title F.E.A.R, and Tony outlined his feelings.

“Well, you know, ‘fear’ if you just say it like that, obviously everybody fears something and we decided to break it into an acronym; instead of having a fear, just face it…face everything and rise, basically.

“It dictates the positivity of the record and the strength that people need to just conduct their daily lives,” he explained.

I wondered about the album musically, in particular with the hip-hop element of the track Warrior.

“We have  been known to always have that hip-hop influence within the tempos or the beats in the songs, obviously not every song, but that connection has always been there.

“We have been fans of that style for years growing up, really. It cool to see when you can play a song that’s got a bounce and a swagger to it..I think it sets us apart from other rock bands,” said Tony.

We continued to discuss the new album. The album is very honest, raw and profoundly introspective, considering tracks like Broken as Me and Falling Apart.

“Lyrically it’s such a huge thing for any band, if you have great lyrics you gonna have people relating to that. For this record Jacoby… his headspace was in such a different place compared to when we were writing [last album] The Connection, when he was just going through a lot of turmoil and his confidence was really low,” said Tony.

“He was afraid that he could not come with valid or pertinent lyrics because the music we were writing was just coming out very strong.

“This time around it was way different, he had a clear head. Jacoby basically wears his heart on his sleeve and whatever he’s going through at the time is what he’s going to sing about. He is just in a better spot now and it’s awesome for everyone,” Tony concluded.

Tony continued on the topic of his bandmate “Honestly is such a huge thing for this man, it’s not only his voice that comes out but it is the honesty too, the emotional factor of it. That’s a major factor in the longevity of this band. The biggest compliment you can get is people coming up to you and saying you saved our lives, this song saved my life…It’s a crazy underlining responsibility. We never hinder our writing because of, it’s one of those things…like, I’m going to write some real shit. Over the past five or six years our crowds have really expanded not just in size but in age group, we are playing shows and seeing kids in the front row and it’s so gratifying to be bringing in new people. Even though we are somewhat an older band it still seems like we are writing relevant and valid music and if it’s cool enough for the kids, it’s gotta be pretty cool”.

The band relocated to Las Vegas to record the latest album and worked with father-son super producers Kevin and Kane Churko, so has the  professionalism pushed the band out of its comfort zone?

“We totally went out of our element as far as location and the way we approached the record. We were going into the studio with nothing. There were a few little guitar ideas but nothing solid or any songs written.

“So, we really stepped out of our comfort zone and it is like, when to take on this project you set aside a certain amount of time and hope that creativity is on your side (laughs). When you come in..we were like..what do we do, where do we start?” said Tony.

“It basically started with the song Broken as Me, which is the third track on the record and after that first song was written and recorded it was like a weight lifted off everybody’s shoulders. I remember we all just said..Ok there’s the first song, let’s keep going, you know?

To go to the production side of things, we pitched Kevin Churko to produce this record, to make the record sound huge. We knew that we that he had the tools to do that and we just had to come with the material, something he could put his sonic ability on it and produce the shit out of it.”

Next we turned our attention to the tour, and in particular the Dublin date.

“We are excited to get back. It has been one of those things that has really been building for us and we really tried to take the time and make the right decisions for the right gigs and the right packaging and Dublin is one of those places that we consciously made the decision to frequent.

“We told our agent that we can’t not go there. We might not hit Dublin every time we come to Europe, but it is one of those places that has to be on a tour cycle, at least once or twice. It’s cool when you can just keep building a market, it means so much to us and we have to give it back to the fans.

“We have messed up and waited and neglected markets and when we go people ask ‘how come it took you so long to come back’, and we say, why did we wait so long? So we are trying to manage that in our touring world and make sure we hit every place that matters and also building new places up,” he explained.

Finally, I put to Tony whom he thought was the best drummer in the world?

“The best drummer in the world, wow that’s an even harder question than who is your favourite drummer! There are so many different great drummers for so many different reasons and that is why questions like that are so tough. I can throw out Neil Peart, he has been such a drumming influence. It’s hard to think of somebody other than him first.”

Papa Roach play The Academy on 20th March, with tickets available from Ticketmaster at €27.50.