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Papa Roach - On their way to arena shows
On the 15th of October, me and Shaydee went to Tilburg to see the one band we’ve been going to ever since their first gig in the Netherlands. This time, we had an appointment with drummer Dave Buckner and bass player Tobin Esperance from Papa Roach to talk about their latest record, the changes of the band and the upcoming future while eating stroopwafels.
Your album The Paramour Sessions has just been released but is this your fourth or fifth album so far?
Dave: It’s our fourth release on a major label and it’s our fifth full-length album. We’ve done a couple of EP’s before our full-length album, called ‘Old Friends from Young Years’ which was our ‘Indie’ do-it-yourself, independent record. After that, we released ‘Infest’ and you’ll probably know the rest.
At this moment, Shaydee brings in the stroopwafels which gets a big response by the band.
Dave: Wo, those are great. We don’t have these at home
We were discussing how do you call that stuff in the middle, between the cookies?
Dave: I guess we call it something like sugar. Or cinnamon. Because it has both flower and cinnamon taste. Or probably just caramel.
Tobin: This is what happens if you smoke that freaking hash of yours. (he holds up his hands to make an imaginable big pile of stroopwafels)
The first thing we’d like to mention is the changes in how you look on promotional pictures and also the change in the logo. What’s the influence of that?
Dave: Ok, on almost every album we’ve made we have a slightly different look. And because we never make the same album we also never make the same kind of promo pictures. And we have several different logos; we have the cockroach, we have the bleeding cockroach that you see all the time and then skull crossed bones. For this album we wanted to have a logo that identified us as a real rock and roll band. Just like the logos of AC/DC or Aerosmith. Also Judas Priest, you see it and you know what it means. We wanted to hold on to that vibe, and we’re going to integrate that in the flow.
So you’re going to stick to it for the rest of your career?
Dave: Yes, but together with the other ones. We think that those ones really identify us as a band. And this one is our side as a classic rock band. I think it is important to keep on building on styles you’ve created in the past. Some bands out there don’t dare to say they’ve played nu-metal but we don’t do that. If you come to see us live, we play songs from every single record, like a big rollercoaster ride.
Jacoby explains on the website that you got the idea from recording the album in a house because you were hanging out with Slipknot during the recording sessions of ‘Getting Away With Murder’? What did they tell you that made you feel like doing so?
Tobin: It wasn’t actually Slipknot that made us recording into a house.
Dave: We actually always wanted to record an album in a house, because we saw Red Hot Chili Peppers doing it and we saw Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. But we thought we could never make that happen, until we saw the guys of Slipknot doing it. That’s when we started to think: ‘Well, maybe it’s not as hard as we think it is’. And we were making Getting Away With Murder there and they were making Subliminal Verse and we were only a couple of miles from each other. So we hang out a few times with each other, also in the house and we thought it might be a realistic thing. So when we started to work on this album, we talked to our management and asked if they would look out for any houses available for us. And then we found this Paramour Mansion.
And there are still people living there?
Tobin: There is an owner, but it’s more an artist commune. They just go there, record albums do tv-shows or come to relax as a little retreat. But we’ve been the first ones that really put a mark on that place and felt some kind of a connection to it; emotionally and spiritually and we wanted to adapt that. And that’s why we called the album The Paramour Sessions.
And that’s why you feel like you wouldn’t be able to make this album on a different location?
Dave: I can tell you this: We recorded some songs when we got back from a holiday brake, after the tour for the last album. And none of them made it on the record. The only songs that made it on the album are the songs we recorded at the Paramour. We had about fifty songs in total of which we recorded 15.
At first, we thought that with this new album you come closer to the kind of music that is in the hit parades and we saw some comparisons with bands like Lostprophets and we hear influences of Coheed and Cambria for instance. Do you agree with that?
Dave: wow, because to me, I hear influences of Guns ‘n Roses, AC/DC, Pearl Jam, U2. These were places we’ve been when making this record. The closest thing we’ve come to that’s something new will be maybe Bloc Party or Arcade Fire. We don’t really listen to those other bands.
Tobin: Those may be our peers, the bands we play shows with, but I don’t think we really listen to those bands.
Maybe I can make it a bit more clear like this. I discussed you with a colleague and we came to the conclusion that there were only two bands who really identified themselves in the nu-metal scene. That’s Papa Roach and Slipknot. And now I see a bit more similarities with other bands.
Dave: I think there is only a few bands in any genre that could be considered as the first ones. In our era you have Deftones, System of a Down, us, Slipknot and Incubus. So then you have that core that is really pioneering the sound and than all those shitheads come up an totally screw up the sounds with their albums, and then there is nothing left to explore, because they’ve done it all and they all sound really shitty. So we decided to take it back more to the roots. Incubus took it back more to drum & bass and melodic. Deftones took it back to crazy metal, electronic. Slipknot is taking it back their direction and we’re taking it back more to the old days like AC/DC, the old style of rock.
Tobin: We would like to go back to the old school sing-along rock sound. I’m not going to dress in those big black baggy clothes, long dreadlocks and D-tuned guitars. We didn’t even to that in the first place. And we never sounded the same, we never really did so I don’t know why people compare us with other bands in a certain genre because we weren’t in there. We were actually doing completely different.
Dave: Just like I said, there was this core nucleus of bands doing their own thing and then those shitty bands came in and started eating up all the materials. For us, there was an unspoken thing that said: ‘We’re going to take it in our own direction’ and that’s what we all did.
We think that production-wise this is the best album you’ve made so far. But isn’t it hard to have that same sound live, because there are sometimes even two guitars on the album?
Dave: Actually it works really well.
Tobin: In the writing process, in the studio I play a lot of guitar and write a lot of songs incorporated into guitar. On the album, that’s necessary and live we take the most important parts out of it. And I think that we don’t really miss the other parts. We’ve tried to bring somebody else with us on stage but it’s just looks funny. You know, we have certain chemistry, a certain communication, a certain flow, because we’ve been together for thirteen years and it just doesn’t work. And we’ve been thinking about it though, to bring elements live that are really special on the record, like keyboards, percussion, organs, extra guitar players when we are on a certain phase in our career. But for now, we really enjoy being the four of us on stage. There’s no tape rolling or anything like that. It’s a four piece rock & roll band who love to play music together.
Dave: I look back to bands like Stone Temple Pilots or Queens of the Stone Age who also brought in two guitar elements. But when you saw them live it was like one guitar sounded like fifteen guitars. And people have compared us to bands like that, like STP.
Is that why you played a Stone Temple Pilots cover at the Lowlands festival in 2004 then?
Dave: Yeah, we started to get that comparison and we did ‘Sex Type Thing’. Maybe subconsciously it was a way of identifying ourselves that way because they were never credited with bodying anything but when you look back at their work they have a really important influence on the music business.
Tobin: I have that too. That feeling you almost forgot how great that one band was, how great their songwriting was and they were as players although their singer is a strange guy.
Dave: I remember playing with them and went to see them a couple of times live. I was thinking: ‘Oh ok, Stone Temple Pilots, ok, it was never my favorite band but let’s see’. And then they started playing and I was like: ‘Hey, I know that song. And I know that song, and that song, and that song.’ And that’s where we are now. You have like our hardcore fans, and the people who come to the show and recognize a lot.
Do you see a lot of new fans in this tour then?
Dave: we see a lot of hardcore fans, young kids, even people from thirteen. You know, our record came out when they were eight! There must be something clicking to the new shit. And we see people who are 25 now and they were 19 when our first record came out. So we must be doing something right because it’s not just the same crowd coming over and over again, it’s developing. I feel blessed that we are able to have a career instead of bands that do one thing and their audience never grew.
And that’s what we wanted to address in that other question, that you have the same sound but changed somehow.
Tobin: That’s basically what we’ve always been. We did a lot of different things, like punkrock festivals, the WARP tour, we’ve done Ozzfest, name it, collaborations with hip-hop artists, Top of the Pops, write a catchy tune or a metal riff.
Dave: We did a festival last year with a bunch of metal bands like In Flames , 3 Inches of Blood and there were these guys coming to me saying ‘Last Resort’ was actually the first song they learned on their guitar. And that’s when I first thought we took it to a next level.
And now you’re going to tour with Guns ‘n Roses. Is that a definite thing?
Tobin + Dave laugh pretty loud.
Dave: I’ve seen the dates on a piece of paper but until I’m on stage I have no idea so far.
Tobin: Believe me, we had one schedule and then we got a new one which was nothing like the old schedule. And then there was another one.
Do you have any other specific goals for the band?
Dave: I want to take this band to the level where we are finally headlining our own arena tour. If we make that, on that level, apart from the television shows, the magazine covers which doesn’t matter to me any more, that’s our goal.
Tobin: We want to do big things otherwise we wouldn’t make big songs.
Dave: And we live big lives so how can you not write epic songs about it?
But this European tour is actually pretty short.
Dave: This is like our promotional tour for the album, to have club shows and do interviews to help to set up the next time we come over which will be likely in February maybe into March. And we’ll do 2000-3000 seat shows. And if you’ll stay for the show you’ll see everyone is really excited about it and the new songs.
Because for the Getting Away with Murder tour you only came here once.
Tobin: Yes, we were busy rebuilding ourselves in the States and unfortunately that meant we couldn’t come over as much as we wanted to. But now we’re back, also with a new album. And we’ll be back in February.
Dave: We had to not die in America, because if you die in America, you die like in the Matrix, which means everywhere.
Ok, that was actually the last question. Thanks for the interview.
And as our two heroes walk out the door and we pack our bags I wonder where the rest of the stroopwafels are. I really couldn’t find them anymore, but the energy and the joy on the faces of the band that night, on stage, with a huge package of incredible songs made me realize they were already in somebody’s stomach.