Papa Roach Discuss ‘F.E.A.R’ Album Recording, Favorite Songs + More
Papa Roach just released their brand new album, 'F.E.A.R.,' which found the band embracing a new way of recording -- starting fresh in the studio without any material written beforehand. We spoke with the members of P-Roach about recording with producers Kevin and Kane Churko and also got some intel on some of the group's favorite songs from the 'F.E.A.R.' album. Check out the chat below.
You guys recorded 'F.E.A.R.' a little bit differently than your past efforts. Tell us about how this album came about.
Jacoby Shaddix: I remember when we were on the road, touring on the last record 'The Connection,' and talks started to come about what we wanted to do on the next record, who we wanted to work with. We all were unanimous about wanting to work with Kevin Churko. Actually, I don't know if we were all unanimous. You guys were all into getting on a phone with him, I was about it. So we got on the phone, chatted it up, really liked his personality. Thought he was cool.
We talked timetable, schedule and stuff like that and it just seemed like our projects would fit. Then once it got closer to the end of the touring cycle, we committed to working with Kevin. He came out to our show in Las Vegas and was like, f--kin' love you guys! Both he and his son, Kane. We shook hands and said, "Let's do this." Then after that we talked about scheduling the date and it was right after we got off the road, we didn't have anything written. They thought that was perfect and told us to just come into the studio without anything written. Tobin is like, 'F--k yeah!' Me, Jerry and Tony are looking at each other, 'What?'
Tony Palermo: How long did we have in there?
Jacoby Shaddix: Tobin was all about it. We just followed that lead. The producers were like just come in! You guys have been writing songs for how long? Just come here, we'll see if it works. We showed up.
Tobin Esperance: The creative channels of just writing and recording at the same time; it was nothing that we'd ever done before. We usually get together as a band and work on ideas months prior and come into the studio with pretty much full songs written, but this time we just decided to switch it up and luckily we found the confidence to roll in there and write and record as the ideas came along and we hit a stride and rolled with it. It worked. Collaborating with the Churko's was great, too, because they're very hands on. They're the producers, the engineers. They're recording everything, they're giving great insight and ideas. We were just inspired by that. Plus, I think we were very focused and excited to be making a new record. It all worked out great. We banged it out pretty quickly and painlessly. It was awesome.
Jerry Horton: It didn't seem like there was too much lag in writing. "That sounds good, yeah!" Or, "Nah let's try something else." Sometimes you kind of ponder over it, is this right? Or is this the way to change?
Tobin Esperance: It forced us to not over think everything and we had to create this kind of flow where we'd work on a musical idea and then once that was done and everyone thought that was a great musical bed, we'd give it to Jacoby and he'd write lyrics on that while we were already working on the next idea and that was just how we did it. It was kind of ass backwards to how we made records before. We used totally different gear and recording techniques. Recording the drums is one of the last things we did. We programmed drums for the demos. It was a lot of new things we just had to let go. I think that's part of choosing a producer is you trust what their process is.
It's perfect in some ways that the title is 'F.E.A.R.,' especially with going in and recording this new way...
Jerry Horton: I was just gonna say, the thing that was hard for us to really wrap around our heads around was the fact that after the third or fourth day Kevin said, "No more jamming. You guys can't play." Because the live room that they had had a joining wall with the control room.
The cool thing was I heard a Papa Roach song being written when I was playing a different Papa Roach song [laughs]. While I was recording 'Broken as Me,' Tobin and Tony were in the other room jamming out 'Skeletons.' In between takes I was hearing what they were doing and was like, "F--k! That's cool." Then they came in and Kevin just said, "This isn't going to work." We're like, what are we going to do? We adjusted and like Tobin said we worked on stuff at the house and brought it in.
Tobin Esperance: We all had a house that also had a studio in it, so we could come back home and just be like, "Okay, what are we going to bring in tomorrow? What's going to be a good solid idea? We'll build off that." That's what created this really focused workflow. It's great, you probably don't think of that happening, making a record in Las Vegas, because there's a lot of other tantalizing distractions that come to mind when you think of Las Vegas. We stayed away from that s--t.
It is getting away from home, though, which is its own distraction.
Tony Palermo: We went out three times in the first week.
Tobin Esperance: The great thing was there's an awesome Italian old school restaurant that was right next door, so if you wanted to go gamble and sit in a booth and eat some spaghetti and have a nice glass of wine with some Jameson, you could do that.
Want to give them a plug?
Jacoby Shaddix / Tony Palermo: Bootlegger Bistro, aka Bojangles. We kept messing the name up. We'd tell [the producers] and they'd say, 'What? You mean Bootleggers?' Oh yeah, but now they call it Bojangles, too.
I know a lot of bands when they try and pick producers because of what they did on another band's album. Was there an act that the Churko's had worked with that caught your attention?
All: In This Moment.
Jerry Horton: We had done tours with them back before they were working with the Churkos and have been fans for a long time. Then when we heard what they did together, it was cool.
Tobin Esperance: We noticed the old school sonic fatness of these big monster guitars, and big monster drums but then we also heard on that record the more modern approach to some different songs that had teched out vibes.
Jacoby Shaddix: Vocal production with stutters and chopped out editing, great keyboard work, too.
Tobin Esperance: That's where Kevin and Kane come in. They both add different dimensions to their sound.
Jacoby Shaddix: They f--kin' grew up with Mutt Lange as their father, so it's like, what's up now, dude? We just got rock god sauce just drizzled all over it. It was great, man.
You mentioned In This Moment and being friends with those guys. I thought it was real cool to have Maria Brink on the song 'Gravity' with you. Over the years, I don't remember that many Papa Roach collaborations.
Jacoby Shaddix: Nah, we've never been much for the collaborations, man. Some of the ones I've heard in the early 2000 period, I was just like, 'God that's terrible.' We kind of just shied away from it. We're very selective about what we like.
Tobin Esperance: We talked about it, we could just never agree on the person to do it with.
Jacoby Shaddix: The first one we agreed on was Mick Mars. He did a guitar solo on 'Into the Light' that was just disturbingly rad. It sounded like a f---in' elephant having a heart attack. Serious dude.
Tobin Esperance: Maria just worked out great, she has such a rad raw chick voice and she really got to do something. I feel like she did something different on this song, it was a different song for us too.
You want to talk about 'Gravity'?
Jacoby Shaddix: That's a raw nerve, too, man. I always want to put myself out there in the music and this song just more so than really ever. It doesn't really necessary paint me in the best picture as far as the cliche rock guy gives himself to the rock and roll excesses story. But we went through that in our relationship, I failed as a husband, as a father, as a lover, as a friend to her and I just wanted to write a song about that brokenness and how somehow she sees something in me that I didn't see in myself at times. She loved me when I couldn't love myself. She stuck by me through a lot of really f--ked up situations. Just dark moments. She's always been that person. As much as that woman drove me crazy, I love her madly, you know?
So I put my failures and insanity out there in the music and I think that for us, it's a testimony to this endless love we have for each other no matter what. The songs' are about forgiveness, brokenness, failure and redemption. I feel that it's just, we love and accept each other for who we really are. It's how we've been together for this long. I joke about how this b--ch drives me f--king crazy, I love her. We're going to be that old couple at each other's throats in love.
So many solid tracks on the album -- 'Broken as Me,' 'Gravity,' 'Falling Apart,' 'Love Me 'til it Hurts.' But for each of you, can you name a favorite song on the new album and why it stands out to you?
Tony Palermo: One of my favorite tracks is the second track, 'Skeletons.' It came out of a jam and that's one thing I'm so into. Just coming up with stuff when you look at everyone in the room and like, "What's that?" That's awesome to me. That's the rawest form of songwriting. Also, that song for me personally, the drums. One of my favorite beats in the world is 'Fool in the Rain' from Led Zeppelin. I sort of took it upon myself to incorporate a feel like that. It's not the exact same beat but it has that vibe and it just fits with Jacoby's vocals, they're super elongated. It's definitely not a secret that he likes to cram words in and that's one song where everything, when the verse hits. It's just got this…
Jacoby Shaddix: Space to it.
Tony Palermo: Like a slow wave coming in. Like turning the ocean on slow-mo [laughs]. Just the overall vibe, then the middle it just gets crazy. In the bridge, I'm playing a cross between keeping the beat and accenting everything. That was a challenge to do, because there's accents going and then on one bar, you're holding the beat and then accenting it. That's a cool challenge for me.
Tobin Esperance: My favorite track on the record I think would have to be … well I love 'Gravity.' I was going to say 'Falling Apart,' but 'Gravity' is definitely one of my favorites, just because it was a song that was really collaborative. We all had our hand in morphing that song into what the final outcome was. It originally started with an idea that Jerry had and then it transformed it. Right away, I knew it was a unique song. It sounded like it was going to be different. The verses allowed a lot of space for me to do some fun stuff bass wise. Just the way it features Maria, I always thought it'd be cool to have a female voice accompany what we do in Papa Roach. It all fit great. The beats, it takes you on [a journey]. Obviously the lyrics, the story? It's heavy s--t, man. There's just no denying the realities and the truth.
Tony Palermo: I remember when I first heard the lyrics and I was just like, dude.
Jerry Horton: I really like 'Love Me 'til It Hurts' just because it's got a different... it's got a pulse to it and there's just some little nuggets in there ...
Jacoby Shaddix: The guitar solo in the bridge is just f---in' eeeeyaaaahhh!
Jerry Horton: What I love about it, is the post-chorus, how everything sort of builds up in the chorus and then the post chorus. It's just...
Jacoby Shaddix: Just a slamming ass song dude. Just admit it, it's one of the best ones we ever wrote. Favorite song right now? 'Falling Apart' man, I think that song -- because it's very complex in the verse but it's like moving around you in a circle but the vocal holds down just like the straight ahead vibe. The chorus is just big and open and swaying, it's got so much life to it. For me, the message behind that song, I love it. I love the song, period. The bridge too, the way it slows down and takes you into a whole other world. Then we bring it back, it's like, bam. That's what I like out of a song, dude. Super dynamic.