One of the few survivors of the nu metal, rap/rock movement of the turn of the century is California’s own Papa Roach. At a time, the band was one of the most popular groups in rock and metal music thanks to their smash hit album Infest and song “Last Resort.” Even though that movement has long passed, P. Roach is still a popular band with a huge following of fans that have witnessed the group morph from their rapping days to now, a more traditional straight forward rock band. This progression in the band’s sound is well on display on Papa Roach’s new record The Paramour Sessions, an album written and recorded at a beautiful mansion in Los Angeles. Recently we were fortunate enough to talk to Papa Roach’s lead singer and frontman Jacoby Shaddix (formerly known as Coby Dick) about the new record, living and working in a mansion, the progression in the band’s sound and what the future holds for Papa Roach as a band.
Your fifth proper studio album The Paramour Sessions was just recently released. Now that it’s out to the public, how do you personally feel about the record and how do you think it matches up to your past releases?
Jacoby: Usually I’m really nervous about releasing albums and stuff like that, like you know, what are people going to think, what’s going to be the reaction but with this one, I can’t fucking wait for our fans to hear this record. I think just due to the excitement around what we were doing and how we made the record, you know the whole story behind this album. It was a pretty amazing experience making this record, we lived in a house together and it was fucking rad. I think as far as how it weighs up against our other releases, I think every release is a bit different for us, a different animal and a different beast you know, anytime we make a new record we’re different people. So you know I look back and I’m proud of everything we’ve done from our first album to where we are now and it just tells a story of our lives and how we’ve grown as people and musicians.
The album The Paramour Sessions is of course named after The Paramour Mansion, a 22, 000 square foot famous mansion in Los Angeles. How did the whole idea and opportunity of recording your new record at the mansion come about?
Jacoby: I mean we heard about Led Zeppelin recording records in castles or Red Hot Chili Peppers recording at the Houdini Mansion in the Hollywood Hills and it just seemed like one of those rock and roll dreams that had yet to be fulfilled for us. So we had talked to our management and we were like hey let’s find a place where the band can live together and write and record a record. So they went out and checked a few places and they came back with this place the Paramour Mansion and they were just like, you guys are going to fucking love this place. So we trusted their judgement and we packed up our equipment and showed up down there and when we stepped foot on the property we just knew we were in the right place, it just felt like this is it you know? And you know Los Angeles is just the city of fake titties and real assholes and this place was just a sanctuary among that, I just became a recluse, I probably left the property like four or five times out of three months, I just didn’t want to be connected to the world out there, I wanted to be connected with this music and this experience we had. It was far beyond my expectations.
Speaking of recording in the mansion, do you think that working there and living there contributed to the vibe or sound of the new album at all?
Jacoby: Oh yeah, most definitely. I mean I think if we had have stayed in our rehearsal spot and then you know done that, and kind of balanced our family lives with our music; we would have had a completely different record. But you know, we just totally immersed ourselves in the creative process and the music and the rock and roll and the life. We went up on this hill to try to like create this masterpiece you know and we left everything that attached us to the world behind. And uh, the house, the vibe there is amazing; this is an old haunted mansion. When we set foot on the property, the owner was like, ok I have to disclose this to you, this house is haunted, just to let you guys know and we’re like, ok cool, let’s get it on. We had amazing jam sessions at this house and some of the songs were born from those jam sessions. This album is more of a collaboration than any of our last records because we just locked ourselves in this rehearsal hall and just went off.
The Paramour Mansion is of course a beautiful country estate where I’m sure most people would rather relax and party at rather than work. Did you ever find it distracting or difficult to focus on writing and recording while staying at such a beautiful place?
Jacoby: I mean, there was a healthy balance of relaxing, rock and roll and partying you know. And it was a great experience, there were mornings we woke up and we didn’t start jamming until 3 pm, we’d just kick around, I’d go meditate or read a book you know, or just cook some food and chill by the pool. And then you know, 2 or 3 pm comes around, we start jamming and we’re jamming until 10 pm at night and then the festivities began. It was just like living a dream up there, I wouldn’t trade that experience for any amount of money or anything in the world.
Let’s briefly touch on the writing and recording process for The Paramour Sessions. Did you write the whole record as a band or did you individually write your own parts and ideas and then bring them to recording sessions?
Jacoby: I mean pretty much both of those ways. There were jam sessions where we just wrote songs and then either I’d come with a vocal melody or some lyrics from the outside and go ok cool let’s work on this, or Tobin would come with a drum loop or a keyboard synth line and then we’d build a song from that. So the songs manifested in all different ways and I think that’s what gives each song a different life and a different vibe and you know a different soundscape. For us on this record, we didn’t want to make a one dimensional rock and roll record and I think we definitively achieved that, there are a lot of different sounds and a lot of different styles on this record, but it’s still true to who we are as musicians.
How many songs did you record in total for the new album and were all the songs the product of recording at the Paramour Mansion or were any leftover from previous recording sessions?
Jacoby: Um, pretty much everything that we wrote and recorded was from the Paramour. We had stuff that we had before and stuff that we had written at our home rehearsal studios that just didn’t cut the butter dude, it didn’t cut it you know. For us, pretty much that house is where it all went down you know, we wrote like thirty songs and recorded fifteen and thirteen made the record. And it’s just pretty apparent in the songs which ones were the rockers and which ones just weren’t really album worthy. And we went into this record, when we started laying down the tracks and actually recording the drum parts and everything, we were a lot more prepared than we’ve ever been before you know going into making a record.
For the new record, you again chose to work with Howard Benson, a prolific rock producer who also produced your last record Getting Away With Murder. Why did you decide to go with Howard again on this latest album?
Jacoby: I mean that’s something we’ve never done before, work with a producer two times in a row. It seemed like we were onto something when we were making Getting Away With Murder and working with him and he really pushed me hard as a vocalist to push my range and my vocal abilities to the fullest potential. On Getting Away With Murder I wanted to prove myself as a valid rock and roll singer and I started to get there and I wanted to take it even further on this new album. And uh, working with him really pushed me as far as I could go and uh, sonically just working with him, his records are really thick and lush and big sounding and for us, that’s what we were going for. You know, writing these songs in this giant ball room we were playing in, so we were playing accordingly to the size of room we were playing in, it had big ambient reverb, it was all about the big chords, the big rock and the big sound. So working with Howard was definitely a great experience again, and I think you know, it was like how do we top Getting Away With Murder? That was our goal and I think that on this album on a whole we did it.
When you guys exploded onto the mainstream around the turn of the century, you were a large part of the movement known as nu-metal or rap/rock, but on your last two records, you’ve largely shied away from rap style vocals. Did you deliberately decide to reinvent your sound or do you attribute it to a natural evolution and progression in your music?
Jacoby: I mean, yeah for us, even when we came on the scene in 2000, like there was a rock band brewing back then, even though our singles weren’t the straight ahead rock and roll songs, there were some songs on Infest that were sort of straight forward rockers. And uh, I think it was pretty much like a natural progression of where we were headed as a band. When we came in in 2000, we had one of the biggest rap/rock hits with “Last Resort” and it’s like, ok cool, we did it, we mastered that but what do we do next? It felt like if we kept making that song over and over or that vibe over and over we would just have become a parody of ourselves. So it’s like, it’s always about setting up and planning for the future and not be trapped or pigeon holed and you know, I just think it’s like an evolution. And it keeps it fresh and exciting for us as artists because it’s like, it’s taking that risk, and you don’t always succeed but when you’re doing something that makes you feel right as a person, as a human being, as a soul, as a musician, it’s like you’re onto something. And I mean, I knew getting into this business and being in a rock and roll band that’s it’s going to be a fucking roller coaster ride and it’s like, you’re going to have your successes and your failures and we’ve experienced it all. It’s cool because we’re still in the game and we’re still doing it, we got a pretty solid career laid out and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next.
Speaking of going in a new musical direction with your last two records, some long time fans of the band have been critical of your new, less rap inspired sound. Were you ever at all hesitant to go in a new direction for fear of how your long time fans would react?
Jacoby: Well I mean for us, nothing is forever you know what I’m saying? It’s kind of like, I equate music to sex in a weird way, if you have sex with the same person and you do it in the same position, the same way every time, it’s going to get old. And so, you gotta switch it up, you gotta try something new. Not everyone is going to be down for every evolution of what a band does and it’s like, I mean, kind of the unwritten law in our band is “I refuse to be a slave to your expectations.” And some people might not dig it but you know what, we’re doing something right because we’re still here and we’re still making music that connects people so it’s like, you can’t please everybody so you may as well please yourself. Not that what we’re doing is totally self-indulgent, we still think about our fans, but you know, if you’re going to be a fan of this band, just to let you know, be prepared for a wild ride, it’s not always going to be the same, you’re going to have some wild sex.
Yeah, that’s an awesome analogy man, it makes total sense.
Jacoby: Yeah, seriously, if you do the missionary every time it’s like, come on you want to hit some doggy style sometime.
Perhaps the biggest hit the band has yet to release was the second single “Scars” from your previous disc Getting Away With Murder. Are you finding that “Scars” has attracted a whole new segment of Papa Roach fans that maybe weren’t previously fans of the band?
Jacoby: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s kind of crazy because, I mean we’ve always had a gang of chicks at the P. Roach shows, but like, the level of sexiness of the women that are coming to the shows has stepped a bit. And that’s kind of nice, it’s nice to look out in the crowd and you got a gang of hotties out there. And uh, it’s opened us up to a broader audience and you know, we’re not trying to be a band that’s just a niche band, I want to play for all kinds of people. You look at a band like Green Day and to me that’s inspiring, even though they’re a punk rock band at heart, they cross over to a really broad audience and they’re still true to themselves. For us it’s always about walking that line, we’re not afraid to write a good pop song, as much as we like to write heavy stuff it’s like, it’s always a challenge to try to write a song that connects with the masses. It’s crazy, because when we wrote “Scars,” it wasn’t about how we were going to connect with a mass audience, it was like, we wrote it and we were like oh my god, this is so different but fuck, this is so good. How can we deny ourselves exploring this territory musically so it definitely kicked open a new door for our band and I’m proud of it and I’m happy about it.
Things look to be going strong for Papa Roach as a band right now. What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year and 2007?
Jacoby: Um for us, we actually are doing a three week European tour with a band called Bangkok 5, some friends of ours from Los Angeles. Then we come back to the United States and we start the Lost Prophets and HIM tour and then we’re out on that for a couple of weeks. Then we jump to another tour called The Zippo Hot Tour, we’re taking out a band called The Bronx and Hed PE. And then after that, we’re going to take a bit of a break for the new year and then in late January, we’re going to do a Canadian run for like a month so right when it’s really fucking cold we’ll be there. And then after that we’re going to go out on another U.S. tour then we’re going to go to Europe for the summer festivals and probably try to get over to Japan and Southeast Asia later in the fall to wrap it up. Pretty much just try to tour, tour, tour and we’ve actually started to write some songs for the next record. For us it’s always about staying creative and keeping it going.
Yeah it seems like you guys are really prolific, in a really good spot, just working away and you’re loving what you’re doing.
Jacoby: Definitely. A lot of bands we came in with in 2000 aren’t doing it anymore and we’re still doing it and we just feel blessed to be able to still be here. [ END ]