|Sunday, Feb 1, 2015, 10:05:53 AM|
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Papa Roach: Off the wagon
Papa Roach's got a brand new bag
By Newt Briggs
When 24-year-old Tobin Esperance first saw Papa Roach, he didn't hold out a lot of hope for the fledgling four-piece, which consisted of a singer, a bass player, a drummer and a trombone player.
"I walked into this café and they were covering [Jimi Hendrix's] `Fire' without a guitarist," Esperance says. "I was like, `This band fucking sucks.'"
Little did he know that less than a decade later they'd be trashing hotel rooms and making out with groupies on the set of Total Request Live. Lead singer Coby Dick--now, Jacoby Shaddix--jettisoned the one-man horn section, recruited straight-edge guitarist and death-metal aficionado Jerry Horton and snagged Esperance after the band's founding bassist "had to go to church camp or something like that." They were typical teenagers jamming in a typical garage in a somewhat atypical small town--Vacaville, Calif., the so-called "onion capital of the world."
"It used to smell like onions way back in the day, but it doesn't anymore," says Esperance, who was 15 when he started playing with Papa Roach. "Now it's the P-Roach capital of the world. That's usually how it is. So many bands try to act like they're from L.A. or New York or some other place. Bullshit, you came from Indiana or some shit."
Vacaville may be in the sticks, but it's also sandwiched between two musical hothouses, San Francisco and Sacramento. For the next five years, Papa Roach shuttled between the two, occasionally detouring down to L.A. and finally landing a deal with Dreamworks Records in 1999. The band's first major-label album, Infest, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 and sold more than 3 million copies on the strength of the frat-boy singalong "Last Resort"--a rap-rock hybrid cut from the same testosterone-soaked cloth as Sevendust's "Denial" and P.O.D.'s "Satellite."
"We weren't like those 30-year-old dudes who try to jump on the bandwagon way after the fact," Esperance says. "We just grew up with a love of funky, weird-ass, tweaked-out music." Yet it wasn't long before the bandwagon was jam-packed with Crazy Towns and Ademas and Hot Action Cops, and rap-rock had become the punchline in a joke about a buck-toothed farmboy and his sexually adventurous cousin. Papa Roach foresaw the trend and jettisoned all but the faintest traces of hip hop from its 2002 followup Lovehatetragedy and this year's Getting Away with Murder. Although both expanded the band's sonic repertoire, neither sold as well as its multiplatinum debut.
Asked if he minds being classified with other nu-rap-rock-power-metal bands, Esperance groans, "Just don't lump us in with Linkin Park." After a few seconds, he adds, "Whatever, dude. You can lump us in with anybody or anything. We've done it all, man. We've done rock, rap, metal, Warped Tour, Ozzfest, Anger Management--all that shit. Not a lot of other bands can say that."
Nor can a lot of other bands say that one of their biggest singles, "Time and Time Again," was used to shill for a short-lived novelty cola like Pepsi Blue. The ill-fated endorsement deal blew up in both party's faces like a stray pyrotechnic at a Michael Jackson gig; even Esperance calls it "one of the worst mistakes we ever made as a band."
"Oh, fuck no," he says. "I was high, man. I don't even remember that shit. All I know is that they said it wouldn't taste good mixed with vodka, and I was through with it."