(PCM) Multi-platinum and Grammy nominated alternative rock band, Papa Roach have released their new album, The Connection (Eleven Seven Music). Produced by rock veteran James Michael (Sixx:A.M., Halestorm) and John Feldmann (Panic at the Disco, The Used, Escape the Fate), the album was recorded at the band’s hometown studio, The Red House in Sacramento, CA. The Associated Press recently spoke with frontman, Jacoby Shaddix regarding his battle with substance abuse and an emotional suicide attempt during the making of The Connection. Click here to read the article. Shaddix also underwent surgery in mid August to remove nodes from his vocal cords after being forced to exit early from this summer’s Uproar tour. The band documents Shaddix’s road to surgery in part 2 of their video series that gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at their album process. Click here to watch the video.
The Connection’s lead single, “STILL SWINGIN’” is a middle finger in the air that reminds critics and doubters of Papa Roach’s hit-making abilities as it currently sits at #3 on the active rock chart and has clocked over 1 million total views on Youtube.
Kristyn Clarke had the opportunity to chat with Papa Roach’s Tobin Esperance to discuss the creative process and obstacles while making “The Connection”, upcoming tour plans, and more! Read below:
Q: “The Connection” has been unleashed! How does it feel to finally have this album out?
Tobin Esperance: I’m excited. I’m very proud of this record and we have been waiting a very long time for it to finally be unleashed and it feels good to finally have it out. We started this record at the end of last year and fast forward to October 2nd and finally our new baby has been born.
Q: How happy are you with the feedback that the album has been receiving so far? I have seen a multitude of fans saying that this is album of your career and the best one yet from Papa Roach.
Tobin: It feels great! The feedback has been great and the vibe around the record has been incredible. I think the first single speaks for itself in saying ‘we’re still swinging’!
Q: Absolutely! How did you enjoy working with James Michael as a producer?
Tobin: I think the best part of it was that we were friends first. A lot of times when bands are in a position that they are working with producers you don’t always know what you are getting into, meaning you pick some guy based on whatever work he has done in the past, but you don’t really know the person. You go to some foreign place and get to know each other in the process of being creative. We know James really well and we had a great time. He knows us and he knows how to get the best out of us. He was also willing to let us experiment and try new things so us working together really brought this record to where it needed to be…we spent a lot of time just talking about this record before we even started making it and I think that helped.
Q: Obviously when that chemistry is right between the artist and the producer you can really create a great thing!
Tobin: Yeah, we would listen to music together, we would talk about it. We went to shows together, we hung and partied, we had drinks together, we got weird and had fun. That whole vibe had been missing for a long time. We had been so busy and rushed and we are always in off-places making records very quickly and this time we could do it in our town in our studio. We purchased all the gear and got everything together and really just took our time. I think it shows and we had a lot of personal stuff that was going on while we were making the record; there was some drama here and there and I think that kind of crept into the lyrics, like therapy for Jacoby and I think the music and the lyrics came together pretty easily on this one.
Q: Do you partake in any part of the writing process yourself?
Tobin: I am usually the one who kick starts the initial writing process. Musically our ideas form first and a lot of the songs on the records were ideas that I had written on the road on my laptop. That is kind of where the electronic tinge comes in from because I had constructed the ideas while traveling around the world with just a computer and a mini keyboard. It was weird how some of that just stayed how it was from the initial idea and we ended up using it on the record. Some songs we just tore apart and re-did and some songs were just initial jams, spontaneous things that we wrote and recorded on the spot, but the lyrics didn’t really come together until the very end. I think he (Jacoby Shaddix) was really searching for something to write about and he kind of had writers block at first, but then when the stuff started happening to him, you know he got sober during the process of making the record, he was separated from his wife that he had been married to for like fifteen years, so it was like the world was crumbling down on him and we just had to be there for him and I know he definitely had stuff to write about after all that stuff was going on.
Q: Of course. I just read the very candid interview he did with The Associated Press talking about substance abuse and the suicide attempt amongst other things. What was it like for you from your point of view to be watching your brother and band mate go through this?
Tobin: I just hoped for the best, you know Jacoby is a strong person and he usually knows when it is time to hit the reset button. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off and say ‘this isn’t me at my best’ and kind of reel it in and he did it. After all that when we got on the road and he had vocal issues and that was another tough hurdle, but he got the surgery done to fix his vocal chords. He had a really bad node on it and he got the surgery like a month ago and the doctors are saying that it is healing great so we are ready to get on the road and do what we do best. For the next two years we are going to travel the world and play our music. We are very excited about this new record.
Q: That’s great! I was going to ask how the recovery process was going for Jacoby. When do you plan to start touring?
Tobin: We get together in two weeks and we are going to start rehearsing. We have two live Guitar Center sessions that we are doing at the end of this month and then in November we fly to Russia and we start a tour, we will be in Russia for like two weeks and we are flying to Siberia. It is going to crazy! We are going to work our way all through Europe all the way over to London; we will be touring with Stone Sour.
Q: Nice! So being in Siberia and places like that on the road, is there any place that you would like to visit that you have not had the chance yet?
Tobin: We have not been to Australia and New Zealand in awhile and I would like to get back over there again, as we have only been there once. Maybe some different places in Asia would be really cool. I have heard about bands touring Malaysia, we will play anywhere! That’s where we have our best shows, uncharted territory, the first time we are there and fans are just jumping out of their skin they are so excited that you are there. There are also a few places in South America like Argentina and Chile I heard it goes off really well so we are really looking forward to getting there. We have some crazy fans in South America.
Q: It definitely seems like “The Connection” has been one of the most challenging albums for you guys to put together both physically and emotionally. What would you say is the one thing that got you through it?
Tobin: The music and each other. We are really close and share a certain brotherhood and we have been doing this for over fifteen years. I think just being a family and supporting each other and the desire to just prove ourselves with these songs and maintain that desire and passion to stay healthy and get out on the road and just destroy it every place we go. It’s a lot of fun and we enjoy what we do; we are grateful.
Q: In what ways would you say that you have grown as a band over the years?
Tobin: We have grown in every way. To say that we haven’t changed would be a complete lie because everything’s changed. We are much smarter about the business and we have learned how to balance that whole you know when you are on tour it’s a big party and you being to not feel so great when you are doing it every night. You have to take responsibility for your actions so we know when to act up and when not to! We are smart about touring, you know the whole music business has changed and we are up on the whole media thing, but for the most part we are just on tour and killing it every night having fun.
Q: It definitely looks like you guys have been able to embrace this rise of technology with the way that people are sharing music and the way artists are doing promotion. How do you feel about that up rise?
Tobin: I just try to embrace it; I mean it is a lot different for me now to how it was when I was growing up when I was idolizing rock stars and stuff. I did not know everything little thing about them and it kind of weird how people divulge so much information now. People want to be invested in the artist and they want to be a part of everything little thing that they do so I have to try to get up on that whole Instagram/Tweet stuff.
Q: Yeah, I think the fans nowadays want to know what you ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner on top of everything else.
Tobin: Yeah, if anyone wants to know I’m eating four eggs and some chicken apple sausage.
Q: Nice! So, how do you feel about the current state of rock music within the industry? Do you think we are due to see an up rise again?
Tobin: To be honest, a lot of rock music has been kind of stale lately. There hasn’t been any real rock stars, nobody out there who has just been going for it. I think there is definitely some sex, violence and some aspects of mystery and danger that are missing and hopefully somebody can bring that intensity back to rock n’ roll because I know that is why I fell in love with it and I think we are just trying to push our own version of modern rock right now and if you want to know what that sounds like then you can pick up “The Connection” (laughs)
Q: Absolutely! Do you have a pivotal music moment that happened in your life that made you decide that you wanted to pursue music for a career?
Tobin: Probably after just playing our first big show, we had like 500 kids coming out and you feel like you are part of the scene. You don’t want that feeling to go away and when it multiplies and it grows and its’ not just something happening in your hometown, it’s happening all up and down California, you are like ‘man, this is what I want to do for a living, I want to play music’. Back in the day I think just playing shows with bands like The Deftones and watching them get record deals you realize that this could really be a job.
Q: What is it like for you to be looked at as an influence to younger bands?
Tobin: It’s cool. We are giving feedback and people come up and asking up pointers on how we do things on stage and how we navigate the business and stuff. We feel proud to be able to share that advice, trust me; we have been through it all, all the ups and downs. We have a lot of advice to give, so we are open to it. We are vets, but we still maintain that young hungry passion and we’re still damn handsome as well!
Q: What has been one of the most memorable fan experiences for you personally? Does anything stick out in your head?
Tobin: Just recently we played probably the biggest show we ever played which was the Woodstock in Poland with 400,000 people and we didn’t expect much of anything when we showed up, it was kind of just this random gig that we had to fly into and literally it was so intense that whole feeling of being in front of that many people and having them just go absolutely nuts for you was pretty memorable.
Q: I can only imagine. What was it like for you to make the jump for the major label to working with Eleven Seven now?
Tobin: It was just about time. Like I said earlier, the music industry has completely changed and we are at a point in our career where we have been doing it for over ten years on the major level that we have all the resources ourselves. We built the fan base and we have the relationships, we know how to run our business and we needed to have more control. We needed to be part of a team and a family that are just closer and we found that with Eleven Seven and 10th Street Management. It’s been great. We do what we want to do, we put out our records and we tour and it’s all up to us.
Q: That is great! It has to allow for more creative freedom, which is awesome!
Tobin: Yeah, that’s what it is all about. We have had a lot of battles with the major labels and sometimes they don’t know what to do, especially with a rock band. Let us go and have control over our music, our destiny and our own career.
Q: You have the recent music video for “Still Swingin’” off “The Connection” Any more music video plans in the works?
Tobin: Yeah, we are actually going to start shooting a video in a few weeks for “Before I Die” and “Leader Of The Broken Hearts”.
Q: Nice! “Before I Die” is definitely my favorite track off the new album! Do you have a personal favorite off the album and why?
Tobin: I think those two songs are two of my favorite songs and I think they show a lot of depth. It just kind of what we do, we bring it right in your face sometimes and then sometimes we take it back and it can be a bit more reflective. I think the fact that we have a couple of different sides to our music is a good thing.
Q: It definitely shows a lot of diversity!
Tobin: We are a f**king sexy band too!
Q: (laughs) That you are! With the upcoming touring plans, are there any surprises in store for the live show? Are you incorporating anything new and different?
Tobin: Other than the news songs, I really can’t say right now, I don’t know right now. I know the new big things with touring bands right now is having a lot of smoke and mirrors and lights and crazy electronic things but I think at the end of the day I think we bring it live and I think we are a great live band without all of that stuff. It might just be about the four of us and our handsome faces and our guitars and our new songs and hopefully that’s enough.
Q: Of course! Thank you so much for taking a few minutes out to speak with me today! You guys have a ton of stuff going on and I’m sure the best way for us to keep up to date would be on the website and Twitter and all the fun stuff, right?
Tobin: Absolutely! We are going to be on Facebook, Twitter and everything so we are going to be everywhere. We plan to be touring back in The States next year so literally for the next few years we are going to be out on the road.
Q: We definitely look forward to it!
With a bevy of global promotional responsibilities to gear up for their album release, the band will perform for a worldwide live stream and take questions from fans at youtube.com/presents on Oct 23rd at 4pm EST, joining a list of the biggest names in music including Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. This also marks Shaddix’s triumphant return since pulling off the main stage of Uproar due to vocal issues.
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