We talk about the last ten years with Jacoby Shaddix and how what he has learned is influencing where they are heading next
Papa Roach are gearing up to release their second Greatest Hits collection, looking back over the last decade of their career.
A period of time defined by changes not just within the way that music is consumed but also within the way it is moulded, the band have never let the opportunity to experiment pass them by. The result is a collection of albums, and more specifically the tracks that appear on this particular release, that tear up the guidelines for whatever Papa Roach can be and rewrite it time and time again. It's a tracklisting that tells the story of a band that refused to throw in the towel, no matter how out of their comfort zone they were.
To dissect the last decade, we jumped on the phone with vocalist Jacoby Shaddix to find out what he learned and what that means as we look forwards...
This past decade has been one of significant experimentation for Papa Roach and pushing the limits of what the band can be. Though that’s something that has always been a part of your DNA really, hasn’t it?
“We have always been one of those bands that play with progression. We love progression and evolution. We love trying new things. We’ve never been the band that go into a studio and try and rewrite our first record over and over again. You could do that successfully a couple of times, but after a while do you just become a parody of yourself? For us, it’s been about pushing the limits of what we can do stylistically as well as remaining authentic. Authenticity is the benchmark for our band. If we feel like we are being authentic to who we are as writers and creators, then we’re going down the right path. Music is fucking exciting to us, and that is always important.
“Sometimes our fans are totally into what we are doing and sometimes it does totally over their heads, and that’s ok. We’ve experienced the backlash but we have also experienced some great successes from doing what feels right. Like we wouldn’t have even made a song like ‘Scars’ in the past if we had listened to the haters. We wouldn’t have then done a record like ‘The Connection’ if we had read the message boards.
“Though for us to be able to look back on this catalogue of music in the form of this second volume of our greatest hits, which I can’t believe we’ve been able to do and see what we have been able to achieve through this second evolution of the band, it blows my mind. We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this shit, but we are still here.”
To go back to the start of the last decade, what was it that you really wanted to achieve? With the world at your feet, what was your mindset?
"So we had a pretty successful campaign with ‘Metamorphosis’ and a US Number One with ‘Lifeline’, which was a big deal for us. We were still making records that connected to the rock fan base, but we were thinking, ‘How do we expand?’ Music had changed again and on alternative radio having guitars on your track all of sudden wasn’t okay. Like, what the fuck was happening? It was quite confusing being in a band at that time because you’re wondering how to connect to people when people don’t want what you offer. So we just did what we always do and go and create music that’s exciting, fresh and different.
"With that in mind we started writing for ‘Time For Annihilation’, which was an EP and live record, and we wanted to bring back some of the spitfire aggression with a new face to it. A big part of that us being big fans of electronic music and bands like The Prodigy. We wanted to put some of those elements, like keyboards and programming and drums, into our own sound and add an extra layer of production. That felt so exciting and over the course of the next couple of albums playing with that we were able to discover a modern approach to our band."
You could very easily at that point go, ‘Well I guess that’s us’ and stepped aside for whatever new bands are coming through, but you dived in and tried to learn about this stuff with everybody else?
"I’m always a fan of discovering new music, and over the last ten years, I’ve fallen in love with so many new artists. For me, and everyone in the band, we’re always searching for whatever is fresh and then being inspired by it. It’s just about being bold and brave enough to risk it all and have people either adore us or hate us. If anybody is willing to be in the public eye and willing to be in a rock and roll band, I think it takes a certain amount of courage to be able to do that. It hurts when you fall flat on your face and think that you’re not cool and people don’t give a shit, but at the end of the day why do we do this? It gives us purpose. That’s the sort of life I want to live. I don’t ever want to get stagnant because to be stagnant is to die for me."
In many ways, ‘Born For Greatness’ is the perfect example of those risks paying off for you…
"This is one of those songs that managed to be bold but is also authentic to us. It just connected. It’s really cool to see the hard work and passion that we put into the music in the way we do actually paying off. ‘Born For Greatness’ was the first song that we wrote for ‘Crooked Teeth’ and we went into the studio with our friend Jason Evigan and said, ‘We want to step outside of the box. Let’s see where we can go’. We had a blast writing it. Is has this positive attitude to it but also this funky oddball-ness. When we play that song live, it goes off. And it goes off with rock audiences as well!"
Have there been any points over this decade where doubt started to creep in?
“Oh, absolutely. Sometimes we will be in the process of writing something and I will be like, ‘I’m really not sure about this one’. Then a couple of the other dudes will be like, ‘Just trust the process and see where we get when we’re on the other side’. We have to remember each time that we are writing things for an album. With an album, there has to be different arms and legs and pieces that tell the different parts of the story. For me, when I started approaching album writing from that angle, a few more of my walls fell down and I would feel comfortable giving it a shot.
“We know that not everything we do will always please everyone, but if we bow to the expectations of the fans I feel like we’re not pushing the art form further. Any type of progression is painful. In society it’s painful. In our personal lives, it’s painful. But there is always a result at the end, it’s just the process that isn’t always pretty. There have been growing pains with our fans and us over the years, but we have lost some and we have also gained some. But we’re just one of those bands which are just going to keep on pushing no matter what.”
How do you feel as though you as a person has changed over the course of this decade then?
“In 2010 I was spiralling. I was drinking really heavy and having a fucking rough go at it on the inside. 2012 in the process of making ‘The Connection’, I put the bottle down and I quit drinking. That was a really big step for me. I had struggled with it since 2004. So in those years, I would pick up, then sober up, then pick up, then sober up. During the making of ‘The Connection’, I really started to understand the power of how music can truly save people’s lives. When I put the drink down, I had so much madness in my head and so much shame. I didn’t like myself. When I wasn’t creating it felt like there was a boot on my head. When I was in the studio and writing something, the boot came off. I felt free again.
“To put some time together and then work on mending my relationships and start trying to seek a spiritual life and form a relationship with my higher power, that was a really big turning point. I tried to play God in my own life, and I simply can’t. It’s too big of a job for me. I can’t carry that weight. Spiritual growth and sobriety was a huge catalyst for me coming to a place where I felt comfortable in my own skin. When I could look in the mirror and say, ‘You can go and do this’. Even though I have worked on these things, I don’t always have total freedom from this negativity and dark voice that exists in my mind. But at least now I have gained these tools that when shit is going sideways I have to break out of it.
“Being a father and watching my boys grow and seeing them become young men that have good hearts is another thing. I’ve been married through this whole thing as well. I’ve had my moral failures as a husband and being able to work through those things with my wife and have love and compassion for each other has made me into the man I am today. At some moments I can say I’m really proud of him and some moments I just want to shout, ‘You fucking idiot’ at myself, but it’s just the fact that I’m willing to be self-aware now. That’s the key. I’m willing to still learn.”
How do you feel being able to say that Papa Roach is still such a prominent part of your life and a prominent part of who you’re going to be moving forwards?
“I look back on these past 20 years with so much gratitude man. I think that gratitude inspires hope in me that there is a future for this band. Then we step into the studio again and hear the sounds that we are making and go, ‘Oh fuck yeah, there really is a future for this band!’. I feel like right now we are doing our part as a band in progressing rock music, period. I still feel like we have something to prove as a rock and roll band and we still have a lot more to say.”
So how does that slot into the new record you’re working on?
“We’re now 14 songs done with it, and every time I go back and listen it fucking blows me away. We’re onto something and it’s so exciting to even feel that. This new music has some of that 'Crooked Teeth' energy. There was this feeling that I had when we were creating that album where it felt like we were on to something new, exciting and the illest version of Papa Roach we could be. I think we are standing at that same place again as creators. We’re super excited about it. It’s going to be fire.”
You can pre-order/pre-save Greatest Hits Vol. 2: The Better Noise Years right HERE