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Interview with Papa Roach bassist Tobin Esperance

It’s time for annihilation which means it’s time for Papa Roach! Since the year 2000, Papa Roach has grown, changed and morphed with the times becoming one of rock’s premier and most successful acts. We spoke to the band’s bass guitarist Tobin Esperance upon the release of Time for Annihilation to get his thoughts on this new record and on what else is up with the band.



It’s time for annihilation which means it’s time for Papa Roach! Since the year 2000, Papa Roach has grown, changed and morphed with the times becoming one of rock’s premier and most successful acts. Along with a label change to Eleven Seven Music, the group also released a new record Time for Annihilation… On the Record and on the Road at the end of August. Time for Annihilation is a fairly unique release with half of it a live album along with a few brand new songs. The hits are all on the live portion of the disc (“Scars,” “Last Resort,” “Getting Away With Murder”) with five new songs that start off the record including the first single “Kick in the Teeth.” Papa Roach is currently touring behind the record with dates lined up well in to 2011. We spoke to the band’s bass guitarist Tobin Esperance upon the release of Time for Annihilation to get his thoughts on this new record and on what else is up with the band.

Your seventh record Time for Annihilation comes out today so it must certainly be an exciting day for the band. How do you feel about the album now that it’s dropped?
Tobin: I actually like listened to it for the first time today and I was really excited, I took time away from it after we recorded it and then went back and listened to it and I was you know pretty proud listening to what we’ve done in the past ten years and what we’re capable of doing in the next ten years you know what I mean? Hopefully the people listening will feel the same way, it’s got a lot of energy and a lot of heart in it so I think people will dig it.

Now Time for Annihilation is Papa Roach’s first ever live album. How did the idea to do a live album come about in the first place?
Tobin: It came about basically just by demand from our fans and just the fact that we’re pretty known as being a live band and so why not make a live record and kind of incorporate a greatest hits element of having all the favourite songs on one disc. And also kind of to commemorate that this our ten year anniversary as a band on the mainstream and we just wanted to show the body of work we have.

It started out as giving just a bonus of you know a couple of new tracks which you know that’s been done before, people put out a live record or greatest hits and they always give a couple of bonus tracks or never released songs. We just wanted to give more, we were just like “you know let’s just go and write two brand new songs real quick” and then it ended up being five and we thought you know let’s just put it out and give fans something special. And that’s pretty much how it came about, by accident but I think it’s cool that way and it kind of incorporates that feeling of you know an EP or something like what I think Kiss did way back in the day with Kiss Alive II.

No it’s not something you see all the time with the five new tracks and the live tracks which is a really cool idea. Speaking of the studio tracks, when were these songs written? Are they recent creations?
Tobin: Yep, actually the live tracks were recorded in December of 2009 when we were wrapping up a tour that we were doing with Shinedown and right when we came off that tour you know we just took a little break for holidays and then it was a new year. We had just split ties with our old record company, contract was up, we were ready to move on and planning to go independent so we met with Eleven Seven which is you know a big rock label and supporting and giving us a lot more control which is what we always wanted. So we just said “you know what, there are no rules here, we’re starting from scratch, let’s go in for a month in our studio in Sacramento and just jam and write songs and that’s what we did. We picked the five best ideas that we had and took them to Jersey and spent another month there. This is basically a product of what we did in Sacramento and what we did in New Jersey; you know mixing the live stuff and recording the five new songs that we created.

I read that originally the song “Burn” was going to be the single but then you chose to release “Kick in the Teeth.” Is this true and if so, why the change?
Tobin: I think we always right off the bat thought that “Kick in the Teeth” was the more kind of like single-esque sounding song, we just had that idea of putting out kind of a set up song and we thought “Burn” would be a good one but then we decided you know let’s just put out the radio song and see what they do with it. And they ended up embracing it and now it’s a top ten track. But “Burn” is going to be a single; it’ll just be a second single.

You worked with the well-respected producer David Bendeth on Time for Annihilation. How did David end up getting involved in this project?
Tobin: It’s kind of funny because we had talked to David Bendeth in the past you know and his name was brought up as one of the top rock producers and on the last record we had a meeting with him but it wasn’t in person, it was just on the phone. And at that point in time we had like twenty meetings over the phone with producers and we ended up saying “you know what let’s just fucking do it ourselves” which is kind of what we ended up doing which is kind of what we did with our first record. But after we did that we realized that really didn’t bring out the best in us because we didn’t have anyone really pushing us you know what I mean? So we basically said you know what “who do we want to work with, who should we work with?”

So we put out the call again to producers to work with and basically it was just the first one that called us back and showed interest was David Bendeth and I ended up on the phone with him for like two hours and we were just shooting the shit. We had a lot of similar interests in music and I really respected the fact that he was also a musician and an artist and that’s something that means a lot to me because not a lot of producers have that quality. And when we finally met him, we were like “aw shit, he’s one of us; he’s a kooky little nutbag.” So it was great, we had a great time.

There’s a hidden track on the record that is a special message from Jacoby encouraging fans to help combat hunger and homelessness. How did you guys get interested in this cause?
Tobin: This was something that started almost two years ago when we got to the point where we were like you know we need to start giving back. We wanted to find a good charity that we could be a part of so we did our research for a long time and found Why Hunger and basically the way they explained it to us was you know it takes only 33 cents to put a meal out for the homeless and we said cool, we’re going to do everything we can to raise awareness. It’s just been really hard times lately especially, we just felt like giving back because we’ve been fortunate to receive so much love to fans and be so grateful to do what we love.

This is our chance to do something to give back and create awareness so we just made it a part of everything that we do, on our website, on our records, a portion of our ticket sales, it’s all going to a better cause. We just believe in giving back, Why Hunger is a very respected organization so we’re pushing all the way. We actually went down to the LA Mission here in Los Angeles today, it’s a homeless shelter and rehabilitation centre right in the heart of skid row and we went down to serve food to some of the people in need. It feels good to give back and not just be the typical dumb rockstar who runs around. I mean don’t get me wrong, we have our moments but it feels good to do something positive.

You recently changed labels to Eleven Seven Music for Time for Annihilation. What made you choose Eleven Seven?
Tobin: Well we had worked with Allen Covak on Metamorphisis part of the management company Tenth Street Entertainment and we saw what they were doing with Motley Crue and Buckcherry and how close knit and tight the rock and roll family was. He was someone who had a plan and he knew what to do with rock bands whereas when we were on a label like Interscope it was like this huge label that had a lot of pop and hip hop artists and I think sometimes the rock bands tend to get lost in the shuffle and they don’t know exactly what to do with bands like us. We just wanted to go where it felt more like home and we were able to work very closely with the people in the office here, we talk to each other every day, we’re all friends, we all know each other and we all share the same common love for rock and roll music and just you know getting it out there to fans the right way.

Related to your move over to Eleven Seven, your former label Geffen released a greatest hits collection at the end of June which you asked fans not to buy. Have you received any trouble or complaints, legal or otherwise from Geffen regarding this?
Tobin: No, I mean they put it out so there shouldn’t be any trouble you know. We’re not encouraging our fans to go buy it, it’s kind of like a big slap in the face to us as a band. They knew what we were doing as far as putting out this Time For Annihilation record and what was on it as far as the live kind of greatest hits thing and they were like “hmm, we’re going to go ahead and put out our thing right before they put out theirs.” It was kind of like a big fuck you to us so we’re like “you know what, what are you doing?” I’m sure it’s been done before, I think labels have been known to do that to artists when they leave, it’s just one of those music business fucking kind of sheisty moves but whatever, it is what it is. We have way more important things to worry about.

You have an extremely extensive tour starting next week that will take you all the way until the end of the year. Are you excited or maybe a little scared to be getting out there for such a long time?
Tobin: No man, I’m so used to it, I’ve been out on the road since I was sixteen years old and it’s what we do, it’s what we love, it’s our passion and it’s also how we make a living, we gotta feed the children and save the whales… No really, I’m excited because this is going to be a great tour, I think it’s actually the first tour where I think all four bands have something going on on the radio and a buzz with the fans. We got Skillet, a great live band and you know, I think Trapt has a new single out and the opening band is My Darkest Day and I heard they have the new strip club anthem. Every band is different, every band has something to offer, I think it’s going to be great and you know once we wrap up the U.S. tour we go and do Taste of Chaos with Disturbed, Buckcherry and Halestorm overseas and that’s going to be fucking insane, that’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the road with our old friends Buckcherry.

The band’s sound has certainly transformed quite a bit over the last decade or so. How do you look back on your earlier days as part of the nu-metal, rap/rock craze? Are you still fond of the music you made in these earlier years?
Tobin: I mean it’s always going to maintain a special place for that time in music and for the fans who have a record like Infest or Lovehatetragedy. I mean obviously, we’ve always been a band that’s grown as musicians like our influences and our common love for music is just across the board. I don’t think anybody can ever take a band like us and pigeonhole like you know “this is that kind of and, this is what they sound like and this is what they’re capable of doing” because I think in the past ten years we’ve proven otherwise. I think we’re going to continue to do that from here on out because we’re just that kind of band. I love a band like AC/DC but we all know that AC/DC is a fucking rock and roll band and every song is going to sound pretty much you know, balls to the fucking wall, AC/DC you know? Papa Roach might throw you a left curve every now and then and that’s how we are and that’s how like it.

What’s next for Papa Roach aside from the tour? What are your more long-term plans like going into the New Year?
Tobin: Just to keep touring, we really want to make this a world tour and go other places, some places that we’ve been before, some places that we haven’t been like Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South America, Mexico. We’ve had amazing shows all over the world from London to Russia and it’s really about getting out to all of those places and just spreading the word of Papa Roach. I think our live show is getting better and better, it’s kind of becoming a bigger spectacle as time goes on, it’s really a lot of fun, we have so much more to do and share with the world. We’re just going to keep fucking touring and rocking and writing songs, hopefully putting something else out the end of next year.

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