Papa Roach: An American haunting

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      The chaos that gave rise to Papa Roach's latest effort included divorce, drugs, and communing with supernatural beings.

      Rock music has seen some strange collaborations over the years, but vocalist Jacoby Shaddix went a little further than most during the recording of Papa Roach’s newest album, The Paramour Sessions . In the midst of a stubborn case of writer’s block, Shaddix sought the help of a renowned Hollywood socialite and oil heiress by the name of Daisy Canfield Danziger. That alone would be strange enough without the fact that Danziger was pulled, in pieces, from the wreckage of a car that plunged off Mulholland Drive in 1933.

      Some 70 years later, her discarnate spirit is said to haunt the estate—Los Angeles’s Paramour Mansion—where Papa Roach holed up for six months last year to record the follow-up to 2003’s Getting Away With Murder . Speaking to the Straight from his Sacramento home, Shaddix claims that Danziger first started fussing when the band was tracking, appropriately enough, an aggressive four-on-the-floor rocker called “Crash”.

      “We had this loop going through the PA,” he says. “And every time we came up to the section where it goes, ”˜I’m going to crash,’ the PA, the computer, and all the power in the house would die. We were like, ”˜This is just way too weird.’ ”

      Shaddix was struggling with the song “Forever” when he decided to actually commune with the deceased former resident. He explains, “I went down to Daisy’s gravesite—she’s buried on the property—and I meditated. I came out of my meditation and I wrote five pages straight. It flowed out of me like water.” An hour and a half later, the track was finished. “It was just one of those songs,” Shaddix continues, “we had to get out of the way and let it come through us.”

      “Forever” is one of a handful of numbers on The Paramour Sessions that lie somewhere between U2-style atmospherics and the kind of chisel-on-tooth hard rock perfected by Metallica after it went Hollywood. On “Time Is Running Out” and “Fire”, Shaddix and company also stir in enough sugar to make their post-grunge habits friendly to the pop kids, while “Roses on My Grave” closes the album in epic fashion with shimmering orchestral assistance. In short, it’s a musically mature piece of work that unequivocally closes the door on the rap and nu-metal hybrid that first brought Papa Roach to the world’s attention with 2000’s Infest .

      The one thing that hasn’t evidently changed—supernatural assistance notwithstanding—is Shaddix’s continuing lyrical fascination with the grand old spectacle of self-destruction. As he bellows in the aforementioned “Crash”, “It is time for annihilation!”

      “It was a fucking chaotic time for the band,” he reveals. “My drummer was going through a divorce and he was out of his fuckin’ mind, sniffing big lines of coke, banging strippers in the ass, going berserk.” Shaddix, meanwhile, was battling an old enemy. “I’m an alcoholic,” he says, “and I lost my mind making that record; eating pills like candy, going crazy.”

      Does the 30-year-old rocker worry about whether or not the behaviour chronicled on The Paramour Sessions is appropriate for a father of two? Shaddix struggles to find an answer, but can’t offer much beyond the claim that his “dual life,” as he calls it, “somehow fits together”. He almost sounds a little defensive until a voice in the background pipes up, and all of Shaddix’s habitual brashness returns in a flood. “You hear that?” he asks. “My lady just said she’d be proud if my kids turned out like me! That’s pretty tight, dude!”

      Papa Roach plays the Commodore Ballroom on Saturday (January 27).