I’m super-flamboyant, super-happy, and super-pissed-off,” understates Papa Roach frontman. Jacoby Shaddix aka Toby Dick “I’m off the hook at shows. I’ve done stupid things where our lawyer was going, ‘You can’t be doing that!’ but I’ve also hugged a million kids. How Nirvana was when they came out – that new edge of giving kids a release of emotions – that’s how I hope people connect with Papa Roach’s music. I want to cause every emotion in people. I want them to fight, to fuck; I want to bring out their violence, their sadness, and their happiness.” Singer-Songwriter Dick, Guitarist Jerry Horton, Bassist Tobin Esperance, and Drummer Dave Buckner achieve Dicks estimable goals with INFEST. Produced by Jay Baumgardner (who has worked with Coal Chamber and System of a Down), Papa Roach’s major label debut “is about dealing with everyday struggle,” according to Dick, whose lyrics for songs like “Broken Home,” “Never Enough,” “Binge,” “Thrown Away,” and “Last Resort,” infest’s first radio track are intensely personal and darkly seductive. Inspired from everything from Divorce (“Broken Home”), struggles with alcohol (“Binge”), Attention Deficit Disorder (“Thrown Away”), and suicide. (“Last Resort”) Dick tends to write in the first person. “I deal a lot with the line between good and evil. And I tiptoe down that line myself,” he confesses.“I have a side that’s responsible, a part that knows right from wrong, and I have my punk rock, ‘fuck everything’ side.” Says Horton of the band’s sound; “We lean more towards hip hop, punk and funk, and we also have a rock influence, but we’re not really rap-core. The songs have a pop structure, and they’re very melodic, with a lot of layers and orchestration.” For his part, Dick listens to hardcore bands, digs underground hip hop, played clarinet in his High Schools prize-winning wind ensemble and names Faith No Mores Mike Patton as one of his biggest influences.Press raves, too, bare out Papa Roach’s diverse approach. Las Vegas City Life praised the quartet for it’s “surprising moments of vulnerability and sensitivity in it’s cathartic opera-core, [Dick] sounding almost pleading in the world weary voice of youth betrayed”; the publication also informed, “Papa Roach stakes out it’s territory” (May 20, 1999). Sacramento’s News & Review, meanwhile voted the band “most likely to show up Rage Against the Machine at their own gig” (June 3, 1999), and the San Jose Mercury News commended the foursome’s “sheer urban grit” and Dick’s “randy, alluring and apocalyptic” vocals (Aug. 5, 1999). Not bad for a kid who began “playing” music in his garage with “garbage cans and baseball bats” (and who later moved out while still in high school and began working at an air force base hospital to support himself).
Growing up in the Northern California town of Vacaville – for the moment best known as the onion capital of the world. P-Roach, as their legion of fans calls them, formed in high school (Horton did not attend school with the others; he met them via an ex-girlfriend who was a P-Roach fan.) At the teens’ first gig, a 1993 school talent show, Dick’s mom overheard a judge mutter, “I hope they don’t quit their day jobs.” The band improved by leaps and bounds, however, and was soon selling out 300-500 seat venues (some of which would have required fake IDs had the band members been patrons). Despite their youth, the members of Papa Roach brought a wealth of experience to their developing sound.
Buckner, a Los Angeles native whose first instrument was violin, was taking drum lessons from a 70-year-old female jazz drummer by the time he reached junior high. He quickly made first chair in concert band but shortly thereafter got his first drum kit (for Christmas) and proclaimed: “I’m sick of this school band crap – I wanna play rock ‘n’ roll!” His next move? “I sat down with [Led Zeppelin’s] Physical Graffiti and a set of headphones and went to work.” He says of his influences: “I remember being three years oldand listening to [Pink Floyd’s] The Wall on car rides with my Mom. Later I would kick it at my aunt and uncle’s with Suicidal Tendencies and Metallica on vinyl. My friends in grade school got me into Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys, and junior high was all about classic rock. In high school, I was into a whole range of stuff, from John Coltrane to Fugazi.
That’s when I discovered all the great and beautiful music that isn’t part of the mainstream. I’ve kept my mind open since then. Esperance – who joined P-Roach at 13 – grew up watching his Dad play bass. “He got me my first bass when I was 10, ” he recalls. His fingers blistered from the heavy bottom end he provides P-Roach, Esperance continues: “I had friends who were into jazz and reggae, and I took those and lumped them together. My Mom and I would listen to the same jazz music, or the Doors, or Duke Ellington. Then I had my punk rock category. He confirms that Papa Roach’s music takes similarly melting pots tack, commenting: “People put us in the rap-rock category. I don’t care what they call us, but we definitely do it differently from anyone out there right now.”
On the contrary, the band gigged steadily all over California – sometimes mounting as many as 14 shows a month – with acts like Kid Rock, Static-X, Incubus, Bad Brains and other such compadres on The Warped Tour. One of the questions most frequently aimed at the band concerns their moniker. It seems Buckner had a CD by jazz musician Pancho Sanchez called Papa Gato. The title struck a chord with Dick, whose grandfather’s last name was Roatch – he was “Papa Roatch” to his family.
” The band also takes pride in their familial orientation. “We’re a team,” Dick insists. “Some bands are like, ‘We just fired our guitar player.’ We don’t do that shit; we don’t fire people. We’re family – you get booted out!” Esperance concurs: “We get along better than most any other band in the world. If you were to hang out with us, you’d wonder what the hell was wrong with us. We’re constantly laughing, then getting in arguments, telling each other to fuck off, then we’re best friends again in the next minute. We can’t really agree on a whole lot, except the music and the band. We’re real different people, but P- Roach is where we come together.
Watch Between Angels and Insects at RapidIq Media Blog.