Jerry Horton of Papa Roach
On their new album Time for Annihilation…On The Record and On The Road Papa Roach did things a little unconventionally. Rather than release a full live album they mixed live tracks with five new studio tracks giving fans a bit of a hybrid between the two. Calling it a look back upon their career through their live songs and a statement that they’re here to stay with the new songs the the album offers up the signature Papa Roach energy while giving fans an idea of what the future holds.
With their recent departure from a major label and new relationship with indie label Eleven Seven Music the band feels more in control than ever before and feels like this is a whole new chapter for them. The chains have been cut.
With a new album under their belts and gearing up for a fall tour with Skillet, Papa Roach guitarist Jerry Horton took some time to fill us in on what’s been going on in the Papa Roach camp since the last time we met up with the band.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette
So let’s talk about the new album Time for Annihilation…On The Record and On The Road – it’s a mixed media album combining live tracks with new studio tracks – what inspired you to go this direction?
Well we’re not with Interscope/Geffen Records anymore, we’re on Eleven Seven music which is a smaller rock label. They told us that they were open to doing whatever we wanted to do so we talked for awhile about putting out a live record because a lot of our fans had been wanting one. We felt like this was the right time. When we were putting it together we thought we’d put a couple of new songs on the album and then we felt like two songs wasn’t enough so we thought about doing a live album plus an EP of new songs. We had about 12 new songs written and we picked out the best five and combined those with the live tracks and there you have it.
This is your first live album and considering how integral the live aspect of the band is to who you really are I was surprised by that. Why do you think you waited until this point to put out live material?
We wanted to in the past but being on a major label doesn’t always afford a band much flexibility. There were probably 3 or 4 years where we wanted to put out a DVD and the label said no, they didn’t want it to interfere with record sales. That was their main concern – record sales – so they didn’t really let us step outside the box so to speak. They had a formula that they wanted to stick to. For the longest time we wanted to go in and record a record that captured the live feel of the band and we just decided that instead of capturing that live feel on a new record let’s just capture live songs and the actual live experience. We recorded five shows on the last tour that we were on with Shinedown and we picked out the best performances from all of the songs. We didn’t want to doctor it too much to take away the feel but we also didn’t want to have glaring mistakes to where it would annoy us every time we would hear it.
Having seen you live many times and knowing how high energy you are – how did you whittle down which live tracks you’d use on the album? You must have had a lot to choose from, did you want songs that spanned through your career?
It was just kind of how we make our set list each night – it’s up and down and it’s mixed up between all the records. We just basically wanted to take the hits and a couple of the misses and the fan favorites. I think we got the good songs covered.
Jacoby has called this album a statement – one saying that “you’re here to stay” – do you feel like it was important to make that statement at this time in your career?
I do as a matter of fact. I’m fairly active online and keeping up with our press and I like to look at the comments people leave and sometimes people will say things like “This band still has a career?” or negative statements like that. Like Jacoby said – we’re here, we’ve always been here. Here are the songs I’m sure you’ve heard but might not have known they were us. We wanted to do the new songs to show the direction that we’re going with the next one.
Yeah, and we all know you can’t put too much stock in the comments you read on websites.
I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said something to the effect that no matter what you do, people are always going to criticize you. (Editor note: We looked it up and we think this is the Eleanor quote Jerry is referring to: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway” HEY, it’s not every day we get a rocker quoting Eleanor!) So that comes with the territory, we know how it is. People making comments on websites like that are hiding behind their computers and probably wouldn’t say that directly to us but we’re not worried about that. We’ve been together for 17 years.
Yeah and I think that says a lot more about your band and your career than anything else.
Yeah, there are definitely a lot of bands that come and go throughout the years, even from the genre of rap/rock or nu metal or whatever you want to call it, there are a lot of bands from our era that aren’t around anymore. It’s a testament to our work ethic and also a testament to our fans to being as great as they are.
Let’s talk about how the new songs on the album came together. I know for your last album Metamorphosis, the writing process went down in Paramour Mansion again and you sort of cut yourself off from all of the luxuries of modern technology. What was the writing process for these new songs, were all five songs written for the new album?
They were written in our studio in Sacramento, CA. They were all written for this record. We got off of the road in late December of last year and got right into the studio. We started writing in February. Even though Jacoby and I live outside of Sacramento, we all stayed and slept at the studio and kind of lived there for a little while. Even though we’re pretty much together 24 hours a day it gave us some continuity and whenever anyone had an idea we worked on it right away and no one was worried about finishing early so they could go home. We focused really hard on writing the songs. We did that for about a month and then we went to New Jersey to record with David Bendeth. When we got there he pretty much said that we didn’t have any songs. We thought that we had five or six solid songs but he didn’t agree. To back up a little, Jacoby went to Nashville right before we went to Jersey and he wrote with James Michael (Singer of Sixx:AM), he wrote the lyrics for “No Matter What” and he also got together with Bobby Huff and Bobby wrote the music for “Kick in the Teeth”.
So the first week of recording and writing and Tobin, Tony and I were really adamant about the songs that we had so instead of writing new music we kept playing the songs we had written together back in CA just to kind of beat it into Bendeth’s head a little bit. We took the stuff that we had and he broke down and decided to work on it with us. We came out with five really good songs.
You mentioned producer David Bendeth – isn’t he a great guitar player as well? How did that impact you specifically, did he have a different perspective as far as the guitar playing went?
Absolutely, he gave me great direction. It was kind of intimidating at first but he’s got a good energy. He has a way of working with musicians and he pushed me. He pushes people but not in a way that makes you feel small. It was a really good experience and I learned a lot from him and from his engineer Kato. I learned a lot about playing and recording. The reason that we wanted to work with him is because he’s done stuff like Breaking Benjamin and Paramore and we liked the sounds that he got but we had also heard that he’s pretty high energy and really involved in the studio and we felt like it was a good fit for us.
You recorded a video for “Kicked in the Teeth” (watch it here) and many people have speculated that the video is portraying how you felt about being treated by your old label on the way out. Did it feel good to make that video and do you feel like there’s a universal message there that people can take away?
It can be applied to general life in that it’s sort of a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” kind of thing. It did also have that specific connotation that we’ve been working our asses off for all this time and they did help in the beginning and it started off good but then they sort of shifted away from rock and kind of lost interest in pushing us and getting our music out there. There’s a whole lot that goes into it but we just felt like we weren’t getting a fair chance. To now go through all that and come out the other side and to not only still be making music but to feel like we’re growing and doing better things – it feels good.
There’s a hidden track on the album that’s special because you’re helping out a good cause. Can you tell us a little bit about it and why it was important for you as a band to be a part of that?
We’ve been working with World Hunger Year (WHYHunger) for about a year and it’s an organization that’s affiliated with a lot of smaller local organizations that help get money and help distribute physical tangible donations to the people that really need it. It started out in Sacramento where Jacoby went down a couple of times to a local place called Loaves & Fishes and helped out. Being that we’re on the road a lot we just thought it was a good idea to spread the message nationally. Donating 33 cents will put a meal on the table for someone. It’s kind of hard to even fathom that but WHYHunger has it down to where it’s that efficient and can make the money go that far. It’s something that we’ve been involved with for a year and we feel very fortunate in the times that we live in to have jobs and we felt like it was time to give back. The secret track is basically a PSA of Jacoby giving a number for people to text to and they can donate five dollars by sending the text to World Hunger Year. It was something really easy to do and hopefully it gets people to help out as much as they can.