Papa Roach still thriving on chaos
All things considered, Papa Roach has shown amazing longevity. Coming out of the class of 2000 with its signature hit “Last Resort”, the Vacaville, California four-piece was a noisy frontrunner in those wilderness years of nu and rap-metal. You don’t hear too much about Limp Bizkit these days—they don’t even make it as a punchline anymore—but the Roach? “Still Swinging”, as the first single from 2012 full length The Connection puts it.
According to guitarist Jerry Horton, 13 years on from breakthrough album Infest, the band is still seeing an audience of fresh faces.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate over the last few years to have gained a following of young fans,” he says, calling the Straight from his home in Northern California. “And it’s great, cause when you’re a kid, you wanna be at the front and you wanna go nuts, and you want there to be chaos. And obviously, as you get older, you’re more content with kinda watching from the back and hanging out. We have all of that now, and it makes for a great show.”
Longtime Roach-heads would argue that the show is great either way. The band humiliated a saggy Motley Crue during an opening slot in Vancouver back in 2008. Since then, Horton and his bandmates have kept matters reasonably fresh with material that bridges Sunset Strip glam metal with their taste for electronica—as is the case on Connection tracks like “Give Me Back My Life” and “Leader of the Broken Hearts”.
Horton’s own work on The Connection is characteristically focused on big blocks of rhythm rather than histrionics. “As a musician and as a unit, I think we like to have band moments more than solos,” he says, citing David Gilmour, Ty Taber (of King’s X) and Lamb of God’s Mark Morton as players he admires. Meanwhile, indie hip-hop producer Tylias was brought in to goose up “Still Swingin’”. “It’s a chance that we take for every record we make,” Horton says. “We don’t wanna do the same thing over and over again. If it doesn’t make us happy, what’s the point?”
Good question! Making Papa Roach happy is a life-or-death matter after all these years, given its headspinning history of backstage drama. Substance abuse problems forced drummer and co-founder Dave Buckner out of the band five years ago, while frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s career-long struggle with alcoholism and the (temporary) end of his marriage didn’t make recording The Connection any easier. Shaddix later revealed that he was contemplating suicide at the time.
With laudable restraint, Horton describes himself as “the most patient” member of the band. But it also sounds like the very act of surviving-against-the–odds is what keeps Papa Roach alive. “The rest of us had to keep the process going while being there for him,” says Horton “It was tough, but we soldiered through it and eventually got to a point where he felt like he had control... and moved through it. And that’s, kinda, ultimately what we’re about.”
Adds the guitarist, “It can be tough sometimes, but that’s life.”