Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach
On March 24th, Papa Roach will release their latest album “Metamorphosis”. With singles Hollywood Whore and Lifeline already gaining momentum this album was a battle cry for the band (Jacoby Shaddix on vocals, Tobin Esperance on bass, Jerry Horton on guitar, and Tony Palermo on drums) who call it their rock record of the decade.
The band returned to the Paramour Mansion in LA to write the album (their fifth studio release for anyone counting) and tuned out all outside influences to focus solely on the writing process – no tv, no outside world, just the band, a record player and their computers. What followed was a writing process that pushed them to their limits both creatively and emotionally and the final result is an album that the band embraces from start to finish as their best yet.
Jacoby Shaddix, quite possibly the most energetic man alive, took some time to talk to us about the album, the line up changes, and what the new tunes mean to him.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | March 2009
You returned to the Paramour Mansion in Los Angeles to write the album and you disconnected from TV and media a lot during the process and listened to a lot of old great rock albums for inspiration, give us a general idea of how the writing process went down?
While we’re in the Paramour it’s different than any other time we’ve made records. We didn’t’ have cable television, all we had was a record player and our computers. That was fun because we really had to focus on the music. We’d wake up around eleven, go work out at the gym, then come back and be jamming by one o’clock. We’d play until the wheels came off and we had ourselves some musical adventures. It was a really good time making this record but about halfway through the time I was there I kind of lost it. I was just so deeply immersed in the creative process that I didn’t know which way was up or down, what sounded good, what didn’t sound good, and I lost my perception. All the while everyone around me was trying to convince me that the music we were making was amazing but I wasn’t sure, I wasn’t there yet. It got me trying new things and singing differently and I was really just trying to push myself and evolve. When I got to the other side and was able to step away and listen to it I was like “Alright, cool. I’m on board. I’m convinced. I like this direction.”
We sat down before we made the record and we said we’ve been in this band fifteen years, this is our fifth major label album, we have to make a statement here. We have to make our rock record of the decade. Once we said that, I couldn’t turn back, so that added a little bit of pressure, but I like pressure.
Yeah you don’t strike me too much as someone who’s fazed by pressure…
I wig out sometimes, but that’s just because I care.
There was a different working title for the album and then you decided on calling it “Metamorphosis”. Is that indicative of any specific changes the band went through from your last album to this one?
I would say that the working title “Days of War, Nights of Love” just took too long to say. We wanted something that was simple and to the point, something striking. Metamorphosis just seemed to fit. That is what we’re in. We have a new drummer, we had a lot of changes that went on – we changed booking agents, we changed management multiple times. There’s a synergy around us now that we haven’t had in years. The sound of this record and our lives is a metamorphosis, it is an evolution.
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There are a few songs on the album that seem to be politically driven as far as the lyrics go, is this just a result of the current state of our country or were you challenging yourself to take a different approach to your lyrics?
In the past we wrote a song called Legacy that had a political edge to it but then we strayed away from that for awhile, and then it just became unavoidable. I was just so opinionated about how this world has affected me. How can I give back and how can I be a part of society through my music? We wrote a song called “Had Enough” and another song “State of Emergency” and another song “March out of the Darkness” which has personal tones to it but is also pretty broad, but I can imagine that many people feel the same way – had enough of the war, had enough of the violence, had enough of terror, had enough of fear, it’s just me waking up.
You worked with producer Jay Baumgardner again on this album who also produced Infest, your best selling album to date, what was it about his work that brought you back to him?
It was really just his back to basics approach towards recording. A lot of bands got off the chain by using protools and when they play live they play tape behind them because they have all these loops and samples and jingle bells. We wanted to make an album that was just guitar, bass, drums and vocals, maybe a keyboard here or there or some added percussion but we wanted it to have a real human feel and not really salt it up with too much goo and slick production. We did produce a couple of songs a little more than others but just because they needed it. We just saw eye to eye with Jay. We’re great with our own arrangements and we write our own music and he just seemed like the right guy. We got great tones in the studio, the sonic quality of this album is kickass, and it bumps in the car.
Jerry said that for this album that “you weren’t focusing on one particular style” and that you were “opening yourselves up to everything” – in your own words what do you think the results of that approach was for the album?
The result is just a record that is so diverse yet cohesive at the same time. To give Jerry some props, his guitar playing stepped up crazy to the next level. We went back and listened to a lot of classic records and realized that the guitar players stand out, and it was time for Jerry to make that move as a player. His riffs and solos on this record are just next level and I think our fans will recognize that. It is what it is, baby.
Other than the two singles that a lot of people have already heard, what are some of the tracks your most proud of on the album, and can you tell us a bit about them?
I think State of Emergency is a stand out track on this record. Lyrically it’s a little more abstract; the song has a really massive dynamic. The verses are kind of slow and open and the lyrics are abstract and when the chorus drops it goes from mellow to rock and roll/punk rock/frenetic energy with just this siren guitar and the title lyric, then it trips into this prog rock bridge where our drummer goes off. It’s just a very dynamic rock song that spans so many different styles in five minutes, its rad. Another song “Into the Light” has just blitzkrieg drums and the verse and chorus rhythms are totally different from each other, it’s a bit of a breakdown chorus with a bit of stoner rock to boot. It’s about being trapped in your head, in your own hell, in your own cell inside yourself and screaming to be freed from yourself, a song of desperation and hope. Mick Mars from Motley Crue laid down the lead guitar track on that one as well; a rock and roll legend on Papa Roach’s album.
Tony has become a permanent member of the band now, how was that transition for the band?
It was tough, it was an emotional transition for the band. To play music with someone for fifteen years and to have to just go separate ways was hard. At times I miss Dave. He’s an amazing person, he’s like my brother. I’ll always be tight with him and we’ll always be friends but it’s just a little different. Tony on the other hand, is an amazing drummer. He’s a little faster and he’s got a little bit of a punk rock edge and a crazy prog rock style to him so when we went to write the album we told him he had to sharpen up on his P-Roach groove and learn all the songs because it’s all about groove, and then let’s see how you come out. We ran into him two months later and he had the groove mastered so now we had to combine the groove with his natural style and see where we could go. He took charge on this record and it was cool, it was exciting to see him lay it down.
Because I’ve seen your live show and always marvel at your level of energy, I have to know what it is you do to prepare yourself before hitting the stage?
I drink a couple red bulls, but I could go up there without red bull and still snap off the hinges, that’s just an added bonus – I’ve got a lot of energy regardless. For me, it comes from within. Some nights I’m more insane than others but I’m always snappin’ and going off, the band is too. That’s the thing about watching us live, that I’ve heard from fans is that they could watch any one of us all set and be entertained. We each lay it down and fire on all cylinders. We want to wear people out when they come to see us live.
You’ve mentioned in a previous interview that one thing that sets you apart is that you’re not jaded and that creating music is still exciting for you. Since you’ve been at it for quite some time, how do you keep from getting jaded considering that there is a business element to the industry that you’re in?
The thing is, and this sounds kind of crazy but David Bowie said it best “I had to become a better business man to become a better artist.” That’s a fact. I had to get everything in line so I don’t have to worry about the business side. The business handles itself and it’s great. I don’t have to stress out about that and lose focus creating music. Fortunately this time everything was in line so all I had to do was go make a kick ass rock record that was my complete focus. When one of the guys in the band comes in and plays a groove, it gets me off. We’ll sit there for twenty minutes just playing around with it, jamming. That’s the beauty of music, it’s a total cliché but it’s a gift that keeps on giving. As long as you let it sink through you, you’ll be alright. For us, that’s the deal, I’ve got a hard on for it right now, straight up.
How did you become involved in the Cruefest tour over the summer and what did you take away from it?
We were in the Paramour writing the record and our manager called us up and asked us if we wanted a slot on the tour. We asked him who was on the tour and he said Buckcherry, Sixx: AM, Motley Crue and before he even finished we said OF COURSE we want to be on that tour, that tour is badass. The tour was everything it was cracked up to be, it was a great one for us and we made a lot of new fans along the way. We gained respect from our peers and made friends with Motley Crue which was killer.
You’ve already stated that you think this is your best album to date. How do you measure success, for you personally and for the band as a whole?
I already measured it. It’s already successful to me. I’ve been riding around town for the last month listening to our new album and it makes me feel alive and it makes me feel part of the world, it’s everything to me. Record sales are going to be what they are but I know that we put everything in our lives into this and so how could I go wrong. I bought the ticket, let’s take the fucking ride.
Visit Papa Roach’s official website for more on the band