Papa Roach


In the small Northern California town of Vacaville, four high school friends, Jacoby Shaddix, Jerry Horton, Dave Buckner, and Will James, decided to start a band. In 1993, they became Papa Roach, a band whose influences included prominent Bay Area acts such as Faith No More and Primus. Papa Roach quickly rose to the top of the Vacaville music scene with their blending of hip-hop, groove-funk, and hardcore.

After a couple of years of playing coffeehouses, pizza joints, and keg-parties, they were headlining such places as the Cactus Club in San Jose, the Cattle Club in Sacramento, and the Berkeley Square in Berkeley. Due to the antics of unpredictable Shaddix, and the raw power supplied by the band in live performances, Papa Roach captured the attention of younger audiences. In turn, kids showed their appreciation for the band by faithfully attending all the band's shows. In these early years, Papa Roach was able to support the Deftones on two shows, and have bands such as Incubus, Snot, Far, Human Waste Project, Downset and Fu Manchu open for them.

In the summer of 1996, while realizing athat they had something special, Papa Roach decided to make changes necessary to reach the next level. First, the band replaced bass player Will James because his commitment to church summer camp that would have prevented the band from practicing and playing any shows over the summer. Papa Roach did not have to go far to find their new bass player. Tobin Esperance, who was only 16 years old and who had been a roadie for Papa Roach since age 13, readily became the new bass player. Second, the band hired a manager, Bret Bair, to help them with bookings, promotions, and merchandising. With a new bass player and management in place, Papa Roach decided to enter the studio to record a full-length CD.

"Old Friends From Young Years" was recorded for $700 at E.S.P. Studios in Pittsburg, California, and was subsequently released in February of 1997. The CD contains 13 tracks, including the songs "Orange Drive Palms", and "Liquid Diet". Without any push from the band or management, many smaller independent and college radio stations in Chico, Davis, San Jose, Sacramento, and the Bay Area added Papa Roach to their playlists. To the bands' surprise, Papa Roach charted number one as Cal-State Sacramento's most requested band for five consecutive weeks. Papa Roach celebrated the release of their first album with several CD release shows. The Vacaville CD release show was attended by 700 kids, while CD release shows in Berkeley and Sacramento were attended by 400 and 300 kids, respectively.

Papa Roach's emerging popularity did not escape the eyes and ears of promoters, who started booking the band as a support act on many larger national shows. In March of 1997, Papa Roach played main support to Suicidal Tendencies in front of 1,000 people in Sacramento. They also either headlined or supported many of today's up and coming acts in the aggressive rock genre, including Incubus, Snot, Far, Human Waste Project, (hed) p.e., Sevendust, WIll Haven and Powerman 5000. Papa Roach has also played Southern California on a frequent basis, and is now becoming a regular at such reknowned clubs as the Troubador in Hollywood, and Soma in San Diego.

In April 1998, Papa Roach released "5 Tracks Deep", and E.P. containing five songs which sold 1,000 copies within the first month after its release. This CD exemplifies the natural growth in musicianship and song-writing ability within band since "Old Friends From Young Years" was recorded 18 months earlier. The songs "Revenge in Japanese" is a perfect example of the Papa Roach trademark sound where hip-hop verses lead to a catchy radio-friendly chorus. This results in a song with both energy and emotion that will attract diverse crowds of people.

Musical evolution. It's what every band strives for, but few successfully achieve from one record to the next. Then there's Papa Roach.

In 2000, the group scored triple platinum success with the scathing rap and metal hybrid Infest. Embracing an "if it ain't broke, fix it anyway" strategy, the band returned two years later with the tortured, despairing Lovehatetragedy, a ripping album devoid of hip-hop beats and raps. But it's the new disc Getting Away With Murder with which Papa Roach take their most mature and daring leap.

"We really wanted to do something new and continue to grow," frontman Jacoby Shaddix says. "We've always felt like outsiders, so, we've just sat in our own little category and done what we believe in."

"We're really big fans of transformation," adds drummer Dave Buckner. "But each time we reinvent ourselves, we do it without abandoning who we were in the first place."

Unlike the many musicians who have changed their sound in accordance with the trends of the day, Papa Roach have developed by turning a deaf ear to the whims of the industry and the advice of so-called experts. As Shaddix sings in the chorus of the album's first song "Not Listening," "The more I learn, the more I ignore."

"There are always outside forces trying to tell you what to do," Shaddix says. "So, we just put up our middle finger to critics and other people, and said, 'We're gonna do what we're gonna do.' We stand up for ourselves as a band, and our message to our fans is to shut yourself off from anyone who wants to run the show, and run it yourself."

Now, the show is running like a finely-tuned vintage sports car. From the time they formed in 1993 up until the release of Lovehatetragedy, the band was angry and nihilistic, lashing out haphazardly at a chaotic and uncaring world. It was easy to get hooked in by their propulsive riffs and energized beats and become a part of their cesspool of communal rage, but there wasn't a whole lot of room for good vibes. The new Papa Roach is much more upbeat and even more captivating.

Getting Away With Murder is still loud and abrasive, however the real power and passion in the music lies in what the band has previously downplayed -- melody and vulnerability. Shaddix sings with more precision and tunefulness than ever, and while the band exhibits some of its heaviest and most groove-oriented rhythms to date, the choruses are jam packed with poignant vocal harmonies that bond to your skull like Crazy Glue.

The title track is at once stoic and sensitive, driven by a surging rhythm, tumbling beat and undeniable refrain. "Take Me" starts with wall of tinny dissonance before evolving into a staccato, metallic guitar riff and climaxes with an enthralling chorus, and "Scars" resonates with aching vocals, a mid-paced tempo and textural washes of sound that compliment the melody.

"We're still a tough rock 'n' roll band, but we weren't afraid to break out of our shell and use more melody this time," Shaddix explains. "When I go back and listen to this record, it just makes me feel good. People ask me what I'm listening to lately. I ain't gonna lie, dude. I'm listening to Getting Away With Murder obsessively. I believe in it so much."

"We made a conscious effort on this album to write really good songs, not just really heavy songs," Says bassist Tobin Esperance. "We wanted to have anthems that you can sing along to and good rock and roll songs that have energy."

"When you listen to Papa Roach, you get a feeling of passion and energy as opposed to just melodies," adds guitarist Jerry Horton. "I think that's what separates us from a lot of other bands out there."

Papa Roach started writing Getting Away With Murder on the road last year, and finished when they got back to their homes in Sacramento, California. By the time they started recording demos, they had over 30 complete songs to work from. And when they began pre-production with producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., Blindside, Hoobastank) they had 12 songs chosen and pretty fully arranged. "We knew where we wanted to go," Shaddix says. "It was just a matter of honing it and getting it perfect."

"We fine-tuned everything," Buckner says. "Even if we liked a part, we kept trying to find a better way to make it work. There were songs we rewrote five or six times before we were happy with them. They had different arrangements, different choruses, verses, bridges, tunings. Everything."

Many of the guidelines for the creation of Getting Away With Murder stemmed from lessons learned working on Lovehatetragedy. While Papa Roach relied on impulse and spontaneity to craft a visceral and immediate record for Lovehatetragedy, in retrospect they decided the results were sometimes brilliant, sometimes scattered. For Getting Away With Murder they wanted to be sure everything was exactly as they wanted it to sound.

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