Interview: Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach
November 09, 2006 12:13 PM
by Paul Gargano
At face value, "The Paramour Sessions" may appear to be little more than a collection of songs that comprise the latest release from nu-metal survivors Papa Roach. But, below the surface, the album beats with a pulse as vibrant as the band that spawned it, and as haunting as the houses that made the recordings holy.
One of the most storied estates in the Hollywood Hills, The Paramour lent a sense of historic awe and paranormal fascination to an already tumultuous period in Papa Roach's decade-plus history. Long before the site played studio host to artists as varied as Gwen Stefani and H.I.M., it was the1920s home of silent-movie star Antonio Moreno and wife Daisy Canfield. But, when the oil heiress died in a tragic accident in 1933, it cast the property into a state of perpetual disarray, seeing time as both a convent and a school for girls before being devastated by an earthquake in 1987.
As Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix shares in the following interview, sometimes it takes one era's tragedy to help unleash another era's triumph. "Last Resort" may have tagged Papa Roach the poster boys of the nu-metal movement, but "The Paramour Sessions" cements their status as rock-and-roll survivors. From here on out, it's history in the making... ...
LiveDaily: You started gravitating toward more of a rock sound on your last album, and this record continues that evolution.
Jacoby Shaddix: Yeah, most definitely. When we wrote "Getting Away with Murder," we were trying to find who we were as a band. There was a level of confidence there, but after playing it live, touring, getting a solid fan base and getting our success back--not on the strength of hype, but on good songs and a good show--we went back into the studio and the writing of this record with a new sense of confidence. That was one of the key elements in writing this record, because we weren't scared of doing anything. We always wanted to live in a house together, because we're all Red Hot Chili Peppers fans, and watching "Funky Monks," the making of "Blood Sugar Sex Magik," when I was like 16-17, I was like, "That's a rock 'n' roll dream to be lived."
What were your expectations heading into The Paramour?
We went into that house knowing that we were going in to live a dream. It was kind of a rediscovery of who we are as a band, who we are as people, who we are as musicians... We wanted to write a real hard-edged, straight-ahead, four-to-the-floor, savage rock 'n' roll record. Then, when we started to jam, we had jam sessions that would last, like, seven, eight hours, and we tapped into something besides what we expected to come out of us. We wrote songs like "Forever," "What Do You Do," "Reckless," songs that are so far removed from anything we've ever done as a band. Stuff that's got a big-rock feel to it. There were moments where we were like, "F---, dude, what are our fans going to think of this?" but then the reality hit and we realized that we were doing something that feels right, and we couldn't not explore that side of our band because we feel we're going to disappoint somebody. We owe it to ourselves to explore, and that's the freedom of music. That's why I'm in this band. The way I look at it, the artists and the musicians that I look up to the most are the artists and the musicians that take the greatest risks to evolve, like Red Hot Chili Peppers when they released "Under the Bridge."
Did the house offer inspiration?
For us, this house had a spirit about it. There was something that was bigger than us. We have never jammed like we jammed when we got into this house. In the years and years that we've been playing together, we never stepped into a room and played for six-seven hours straight, just being creative. There were times I was just lyrically stuck, and I'd go down to Daisy's grave--the lady buried on the property there--and just write whatever comes to me. I wrote a song called "Forever" down there, and also "My Heart is a Fist." When I'd get stuck, I'd walk around the property and go find the lyrics.... We all went into the depths of our own fears and our own selves and ran from our fears, and faced our fears.
How was that?
We were in a pretty volatile state when we made this record, because a lot of us were going through a lot of personal s---. It all came out on this record. I'd say that this is the most personal band record, as a whole--there's love on this album, there's sexuality on this album, there's f---ing violence on this record, there's sex, drugs, and rock and roll, there's fear, there's f---in' strength. Every experience that we could experience as a group of people, we experienced in that house. We cried. We fought. There were sleepless nights. We kind of got scared of who we were for a little while in that house, and coming out on the other side of making the record, I think getting lost in ourselves was the best thing that we could have done.
How has your approach to writing changed with your evolving sound?
First and foremost, I want to write songs, lyrically and melodically, that you could sing along with. Going in with that intention and being able to execute that on this record was really f---ing cool. We weren't just writing heavy s--- for the sake of having heavy s---; it was heavy s--- because we wanted to write it. And good stuff, that you can sing along with, but with also a pop sensibility. We look at ourselves as the band that tries to walk that line between metal, hardcore, punk rock and pop music, you know what I'm saying? We do our best at trying to make it tasteful.
How has fatherhood affected your approach to the band?
My oldest is four, and my youngest turned two the day after the record came out. Those are my little sidekicks! Being a father is my rock. Being a father has taught me unconditional love, and that's extended to how I feel about the people in my band. I love them like they were my kids, in a way, you know what I'm saying? It doesn't matter what you do, I'm always going to love you. P-Roach, we put each other through the f---ing ringer. Go ahead and go off the deep end, and I'll still be here for you. And that's exactly what's happened lately. We have to look out for each other, and to that end, being a father has taught me a lot about being compassionate and understanding of people.
You're opening for Guns N' Roses now. How's that going?
It's going cool, man. We just jumped on and have done three shows so far. It's been a while since we've been on an arena stage, so it took, like, two shows to really become comfortable on that stage again. The first two shows were good, but the third show was magic, we f----ing ripped it up, the crowd was great, and the response was awesome.... In the beginning, we didn't know how we'd approach it, because we'd been in theaters for a while, but once we got the rhythm going, we slayed. To get back in that environment, it's like the carrot in front of the rabbit--I want to get here again!
Will that change your approach to your upcoming theater tour?
When we did our headlining run through Europe, we just had a killer set put together and it was a little bit different, because everyone's chanting "Papa Roach" and everyone's going off on every song and every vibe. To go from that to being an opening band again, it was like, "OK, how do we adjust?" So, when we go back to headlining, I think we're going to just go back to business as usual, because we ripped through Europe and had great shows. Going out and winning over crowds is fun, but headlining is where it's at. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be headlining arenas, but that's just not the case right now.
You were supposed to tour with H.I.M., but they canceled the tour at the eleventh hour. What happened?
They won't tell us... We got the news just as we were getting on the plane to go to Europe, and we were like, "What gives!" [Laughing] We still haven't gotten an answer--it would have been a good opportunity, but we've just got to roll with the punches.
What does your headlining tour hold in store?
We're taking out a band called Bullets & Octane, and Hed P.E. is our main support. It's cool; it's a diverse show. We're excited about this run, because we haven't done a headlining run in the States in a while now, and the ticket sales are going good. We're playing, like, an hour-fifteen; eight new songs off "Paramour Sessions," and pretty much three or four songs off each record. The new songs keep it fresh, then we flip it up a bit. Like, we give "Dead Cell" a more punk-rock feel. There's a good ebb and flow to the set. We just rip it up every night.