For the past two decades, Papa Roach has performed their iconic brand of rock music around the world. Members Jacoby Shaddix, Jerry Horton, Tobin Esperance, and Tony Palermo recently released their latest album, F.E.A.R. – Face Everything and Rise. Well-known for hits such as “Last Resort” and “Scars,” the band is currently on tour with Seether.
Before the band’s show at the Boston House of Blues, guitarist Jerry Horton spoke with Blast Magazine about the journey from high school students to Grammy nominees and international performers.
Blast Magazine: Papa Roach has been together for 22 years. How do you think that the band’s music has changed during that time?
Horton: The music kind of speaks for itself. We have grown as people and as musicians. We’ve always been adventurous in terms of music, listening to music and introducing new elements to the music. We don’t feel that we can do the same thing over and over. We would just get bored of it and I think the fans would too. We have introduced some electronic elements as of late and we are maturing a little in our musical tastes and our songwriting, but we don’t let that take away from the fact that we are a rock band. Some artists shift from rock into country or other acoustic stuff, but we are still a rock band.
Blast Magazine: When the band started, you were all in high school. Did you ever think that music was going to be your career path or did you see it as more of a hobby in the beginning?
Horton: In the beginning, it was just a hobby. We didn’t have anything else to do in the town we lived in, so we just got together and played at our friends’ houses and parties.
Blast Magazine: When did you first realize that you could make music for a living and pursue your passion professionally?
Horton: I had that moment when we got the record deal. We had been grinding away for seven years before we got signed. Nearly every label in existence had denied us. We got a demo deal with Warner Brothers and that fell through, so right before we got signed, it was a huge letdown and we were all really disappointed. We stayed determined and kept wanting to do it, whether a label was there or not. Then we got signed, and it was so amazing.
Blast Magazine: Papa Roach has been on a number of tours in the past. What is the hardest part of constantly being on the road?
Horton: Being away from our families. We miss birthdays, holidays. That’s the worst of it. The travel kind of sucks, but the shows make it worth all the traveling.
Blast Magazine: The band is currently on tour with Seether and has toured with a variety of groups in the past, including Motley Crue, Nickelback, and Shinedown. Who would you like to tour with in the future?
Jerry Horton: Prodigy. We have done festivals with them and they just crush it live. They are one of our favorite bands. We would love to be on a tour with another band that is as energetic on stage as we are and just has that desire to get the crowd jumping.
Blast Magazine: How did you come up with the title for the most recent album, F.E.A.R., and what does that word mean to you?
Horton: The title didn’t come until the song “Face Everything and Rise” was completed. We had gone through a bunch of different working titles and never really felt like we had the right one. Jacoby finished the lyrics and vocals for the track and we took a second look at the name and thought the acronym “F.E.A.R” really encompassed the whole record. The title is about taking a negative and turning it into a positive. It’s about not letting fear debilitate you and keep you from doing what you want to do with your life. You need to rise to the occasion and usually once you do it, you get out on the other side and everything is good.
Blast Magazine: Papa Roach has released so many songs over the years. If you could pick just one song to best describe the band’s sound and message, what would it be? If you can’t pick just one, what would be a few songs that describe the metamorphosis of the band’s sound over time?
Horton: I would have to say “Last Resort”, “Getting Away with Murder”, “Scars”, “Forever”, and “Face Everything and Rise”, plus there is another one on the new record called “Gravity.” “Gravity” is a little mellower but the subject matter is very heavy. The lyrics are very intimate but it is hopeful at the end. I think the evolution of all those songs chronologically describes us. I would love to be able to boil it down to one song, but I can’t.
Blast Magazine: What is the best advice you would give to an aspiring musician?
Horton: Do it because you love it, because it’s really difficult. It takes a lot of work and determination. Play as many shows as you can and make that connection with people. So many people are now spending all of their time on the Internet and it’s so fleeting. When people have experiences at shows, it’s something that can’t be replicated over the Internet. It’s everyone in the crowd in the same mind space at the same time. The melodies and the harmonies and people singing together is irreplaceable. You need to develop your songs to a point where people want to listen over and over and create a show where people want to come see you and connect with you. I think that is one of the reasons we are still around. We value our show and that connection with our fans.
Blast Magazine: Papa Roach recently released the video for the track, “Face Everything and Rise.” What is the message of this video and what do each of the characters represent?
Horton: In the beginning of the video, the characters are in this chamber and the antagonists are feeding fears into the main character (the hero). He finds a way to escape and runs away from the people who are holding him down, who represent fear. They chase him and finally have a standoff, where he uses the light orb that was his fears and destroys the villains. It’s about overcoming those fears and succeeding in the end.
Blast Magazine: What is the creative process like when working on a new album? Does the band first focus on the lyrics or the melodies?
Horton: Music is always first, but it happens a bunch of different ways. Sometimes it comes from each of us individually; sometimes it will come out of a jam. It was collaborative on this record, but we weren’t able to jam on this one. The studio was adjacent to the jam room and our producer couldn’t work while we were jamming, so we couldn’t do it. We all lived together in a house and we would collaborate during the morning and the afternoon. We would get stuff together and then bring it back to the studio and play it for everybody.
Be sure to check out the band’s new album, F.E.A.R, and follow them on Twitter at @PapaRoach.