Remember that bit on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, “In the Year 2000”? In a way, it was prescient: Those first few years of the millennium were like a hilariously awkward comedy sketch. Pop music ruled the airwaves, and somehow, angry white guys (some of whom were not-so-secretly crazy and Christian) endeared themselves to listeners, too. Their genre was a cross between rap, metal, punk and the Tao of Bro, which Public Enemy and Anthrax invented with ‘Bring the Noise’ in 1991. Some asshole added “nu-metal” to the national lexicon, and unfortunately for everybody involved, the name stuck.
One of the bands that got lumped into the genre was California-based Papa Roach, consisting of Jacoby Shaddix (lead vocals), Jerry Horton (lead guitar/backing vocals), Tobin Esperance (bass/backing vocals) and Dave Buckner (drums; Tony Palermo has since taken over that role). Tearing onto the scene in ’00 with the multi-platinum-selling Infest, the band’s lead single ‘Last Resort’ found its way into heavy rotation on modern-rock radio and MTV and never really disappeared. The guys soon found themselves playing to throngs of disaffected youth at big-time tours like Ozzfest.
Unlike many of their period peers from the Angry Era, the band has stuck around—dare we say like a giant roach after the apocalypse. Their two follow-up albums went a respectable gold. And in 2015, the P-Roach is releasing their first album in three years, F.E.A.R., which includes a very Linkin-Park-y new single, “Face Everything and Rise.” They recently played the Slipknot-procured Knotfest both Stateside and in Japan, and they have a number of dates planned for the New Year. So grab those tweezers and fire up that (lowercase) papa roach, and let’s get this Oral Hit-story party started. We talked at length with Shaddix (third from right in the photo above) about ‘Last Resort,’ among other things…
“I remember we played this one show in the rain in Kansas City, Missouri, and Ozzy Osbourne watched the whole show standing in the rain, drenched, with everybody else. It was fuckin’ cool. On side-stage, no fuckin’ umbrella, no hood on.”
What was the response like to your new music in Japan?
It was bangin’, dude! We were all like, ‘What the fuck happened to Japan in the last five years?’ We realized it was YouTube. Japanese fans were going on YouTube, and they knew every song. It shocked us.
Tell me why everyone in America should be F.E.A.R.-ful.
For us, every time we roll into the studio it’s about taking a snapshot of who we are at the time. This is probably a bit more of an uplifting record for Papa Roach. We want to speak to people on a deep level with our music. We want to dig deeper and really just kind of reinvent ourselves, but give the fans something that is still P-Roach to the core. It’s the next step.
We noticed you’re going on tour with Seether, who got their name from a Veruca Salt song. Did your band name come from an aborted insect-removal job in your teen years?
No, [it’s] from a jazz record called Papa Gato by an artist named Poncho Sanchez, and we grew up in the era of funky band names. Red Hot Chili Peppers was a big influence on us. You think of bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones … it’s kind of, ‘Huh? I don’t know, man.’ Papa Roach, man! We’re one of the bands with the worst band name.
Let’s talk about ‘Last Resort.’ Do you know exactly where you were when the song came to you?
Yes. I was on 19th and Capitol in Sacramento, in the basement of an old Victorian home where our manager and all the dudes in the scene lived. I remember our manager walked in the room—and when I say ‘manager,’ this guy was our friend that made phone calls for us, do you know what I mean?—and he was, like, ‘You’ve got to play that noodle again!’ He called riffs ‘noodles.’ Tobin wrote it on piano. He was listening to The Fugees. We were really into that record, The Score. So we had Jerry play it on guitar, and it sounded like Iron Maiden. You know what I’m sayin’? And a hit was born. A fuckin’ world-class hit, dude. A classic! A classic, bestseller, fuckin’ crowd-mover, rock-anthem song that changed our fuckin’ lives.
P-Roach circa back in the day. Safe to say their look has, um, evolved a bit.
That opening line “Cut my life into pieces/this is my last resort” strikes me as very Ozzy Osbourne. Are you an Ozzy fanatic?
I did like Ozzy Osbourne a lot when I was growing up. He influenced me. My parents didn’t like him, and it made me like him more. Yeah, dude. We did Ozzfest, and it was a fucking honor to meet Ozzy Osbourne and to share the stage with him. I remember we played this one show in the rain in Kansas City, Missouri, and he watched the whole show standing in the rain, drenched, with everybody else. It was fuckin’ cool. On side-stage, no fuckin’ umbrella, no hood on.
‘Last Resort’ is an extremely depressing song. The “mother” who is “lost” in the tune: Is that yours, and if so, how old were you when it happened?
No, the song is actually about a very good friend of mine. He was my roommate, and I’ll leave him nameless. But he went through a crazy depression. We were doing some drugs, he kind of snapped while he was high and had a mental break and didn’t sleep for a week. And we were like, ‘What’s wrong with him?’ He wasn’t even still doing drugs. He just never was the same, and he went to the hospital because he tried to kill himself. And it was, like, ‘My friend just had a fucking mental breakdown and it was scary.’
I’m 17, living in a house with him, and so I wrote that song about him and his situation, and for him, that was his mother. He was probably eight or nine years old. But you know how funny things are. As you create art … and I found myself in that position 10 years later, feeling that way, you know what I’m saying? I went through my personal darkness, but I came out on the other side good. It’s funny how it all works.
The album Infest from whence this song came sold three million copies. Does that mean you have a Rolls Royce with a driver named Nigel who serves you Grey Poupon on crackers?
No, that’s funny. I’m not that kind of person. Everybody who knows Roach knows that I’m as real as real gets, you know what I’m sayin’?
So do you drive a Honda Accord like I do?
I drive a Ford F-150. I’m simple, dude. I think that whole, ‘Let’s play it big Kanye West’ bullshit is whack. My focus in my life is so much more on a relational level. I just found that that whole money-and-fame thing is a trap in a weird way. You’ve just got to be yourself. I don’t got no motherfucker named Nigel drivin’ me around and doin’ that shit.
If you could pick one all-inclusive beach-and-booze hotspot in the world, which place would you actually want to make your last resort?
Dude, I mean, Mexico is a go-to. And I would stay on the Riviera Maya side. Cabo Wabo’s out there—you’ve already got the rock-and-roll spot—but yeah, dude, I’ll put up shop in Cozumel.