Papa Roach has reached millions of fans worldwide over the past 20 years and having delivered such anthemic, aural epiphanies as “Last Resort,” “She Loves Me Not,” “ Getting Away With Murder,” “Burn,” and most recently, “Still Swingin’.” The California natives have a rich, diverse, and, at times, tumultuous history, battling things like record companies for their rights, addiction, and physiological impairments that have all attempted to stunt their creative development. The great thing about P-Roach is that they are very much like their moniker/mascot the common cockroach- determined, persistent and not easily squashed beneath the heels of the meek. So, with a passion and diligence once thought scarce in the music industry, P-Roach managed to re-emerge with a new album, a new fire, and renewed purposed. In short, they got their sh*t together.
Before the second vocal chord scare, the temporary break, the cancelled South America tour, and before Sevendust stepped in to temporarily bridge the gap on the Carnival Of Madness tour, Papa Roach was just coming off a string of music festivals and touring and amped about the events on the horizon. Examiner.com got a chance to have a little tête-à-tête with P-Roach bassist Tobin Esperance during this time to chat about the last album The Connection, their inspiration for the record, the upcoming “Madness,” and Esperance’s inner funk…
Are you looking forward to Carnival Of Madness?
TE: Yeah, yeah! I look forward to everything that’s in-forward of me…(chuckles) But yeah, especially since last Summer you know we had to unfortunately pull out of our Summer tour obligations because Jacoby had to have surgery on his vocal chords. And that was some pretty serious sh*t, so we had to kind of take the rest of that year off. Now this year, it’s like we’re just trying to make up for lost time and get out there and play for our fans. We’ve got the new songs and a new set. We’ve just got a new energy.
You were quoted by Upvenue as saying Time For Annihilation represented the past and present of P-Roach. So, what does The Connection tell us about the future?
TE: The Connection is pretty much a representation of where Papa roach was musically, creatively, personally, you know spiritually. Everything that was going on in that moment in time, it was pretty much just that. And you know when we go into this new record that we’re going to begin writing and recording next year, it’s going to be a representation of where we are and where we’re gonna be at that point in time. And we’ve had some talks and we’ve been writing some demos, recording some riffs and just kind of feeling things out, you know? That’s really how we do it.
“Still Swingin’” is obviously the most upbeat song on The Connection, while the rest tend more toward the darker side. What was it like working with Jacoby to “exorcise his demons” (in a sense) considering everything that was going on at that time? How (if at all) did it differ from your usual writing process?
TE: Um ,(chuckles) We’ve always kind of…Jacoby’s always…his melodies and vocals…I’m sorry, his lyrics and all that stuff have always been kind of a therapeutic process for him. So, I just thought it was fitting when the world comes down on you and sh*t just seems like it’s falling apart all around you, and pretty heavy stuff was going on at the time that we were making that record…It’s only fitting to write about it and get it off your chest, you know? What is it that they say? Pain and all that stuff, sometimes you need that to help you create and your best work comes out of it. But at the same time, we’ve always had a light at the end of the tunnel. So, who knows, maybe this next record will be more posi-core!
(laughs) “Posi-core.” I like that.
TE: You know, P-Roach, we’ve always been a band that wears our hearts on our sleeve and I don’t thing anything will change about that….I’m really excited about what we’re gonna do next. You know, The Connection was great because it was the realest, most honest moment for us. We made that record in our own studio in our hometown, which we had never done before. It was really just the four of us and our good friend James Michael living in this studio which also had like a living quarters built into it. Just living there for months and trying to be creative and write songs and making sounds and having fun with our friend, and then also dealing with all this real-life sh*t that was going on. So it’s really just a perfect little representation of what was going on at that time. I’m just excited to see what’s gonna happen next, because I know that we’re all in a completely different place than we were two years ago.
I really liked the hard electronic element on this record and I hear you get a lot of credit for that influence. So, what music or artists inspired you to bring that to the table?
TE: I go through phases with music. So sometimes I’ll be listening to hip hop, or I’ll be listening to my old punk rock records, or I’ll listen to electronic music. I was just heavily into a lot of electronic music then, but I’ve always been a big fan of like 80s synth pop (laughs) and I was listening to a lot of that stuff too. With some of the weird stuff that I was writing the guys were like "What are you doing?!” and I was just like “Oh, I’m just playing around, doing my own thing. Just having fun.” Then, there would be a couple of demos that they would overhear and Jacoby goes “Hey, that could be...We could do something with that,” and I was like “Oh, really?” A couple of those turned into songs: “Before I Die” and “Leader Of The Broken Hearts.” And I’ve always been a fan of like Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails, they’re two of my favorite bands, The Cure and M83, I listen to some of that. Plus, you know, electronic music is like taking over the airwaves, and at that point in time it was like I couldn’t get away from it and started treating the sound…it was a new dimension of sound for Papa Roach. We don’t have two guitar players like a lot of bands do, so I was just looking at it like, “Ok, if I can get the rhythm doing this, then maybe there’s an alternate melody and we can add some more percussive elements…” It gave our music a different sound and we were just experimenting with that at that point in time, and well, yeah, that’s my fault. (laughs)
Do you remember your first concert?
TE: (proudly) My first concert was Michael Jackson! Well, I thought it was Michael Jackson, but it was just an impersonator. But in my mind, I’m still gonna say it was Michael Jackson, because I came home and I had the jacket and the glove and I wore it to school the next day. Then, I found out later on, when I got older, that it was an impersonator, and I was crushed. But I’m just gonna put it out there that it was Michael Jackson…Actually, the first real concert that I remember going to was James Brown, and that is why I think I am part Black and that funk and that soul is embedded in my blood.
That is probably the best answer I’ve ever gotten to that question! So, any last words? I know you guys are doing “ShipRocked” at the beginning of next year and working on the new album. So, what can we expect from P-Roach in the future?
TE: Holy ship! (laughs) Yes, definitely “ShipRocked,” that’s gonna be fun. We’ll be making a new record at the beginning of the year. We’re gonna be touring for the rest of the year…We’re just trying to hit up the whole world before we have to go back home and make a new record (laughs) and do it all over again. Except we’ll be even better looking next year! Because we get better with age, Papa Roach is like George Clooney, as we get older, we get more handsome and...You know, f*ck that...We’re like a fine wine. We’ll just keep doing our thing until it’s not fun anymore.
Back on track and ready to rumble, the guys of Papa Roach are back on the road assaulting city after city on the Carnival of Madness tour. If you haven’t already, you can check out The Connection on iTunes and keep up with P-Roach via Facebook. Also, tickets are still available for the upcoming Carnival tour dates as well as ShipRocked which is scheduled to set sail from Miami on January 26, 2014. Here’s hoping that P-Roach keeps coming back “swingin’” and keeps it fun, funky, and looking good!
**For those that may have been curious as to how to strum along to the P-Roach breakthrough single "Last Resort," see the attached video for a quick tutorial!**