Papa Roach is a band that has evolved right alongside the music they create. Their music has inspired millions of fans around the world and they keep on doing their thing like there is no tomorrow. With a frontman as energetic and charismatic as Jacoby Shaddix is, it’s no wonder that the band has made so many connections with their fans. In fact, that’s the name of their new album, The Connection. I’ll be seeing the band this weekend at the Carnival Of Madness stop in Cincinnati, OH. It’s a jam packed bill and probably my pick for the best show of the summer. Headliners Shinedown are joined by Papa Roach, Skillet, In This Moment and We As Human. You can find tour dates and purchase tickets over at CarnivalOfMadness.Com.
Listen to the entire Tobin Esperance interview below:
[ca_audio url_mp3=”http://www.unsungmelody.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Tobin-Esperance-from-Papa-Roach-interview.mp3″ url_ogg=”” skin=”regular” align=”none”]
Joining me today is Tobin Esperance. Tobin is the bass player in a little ole band called Papa Roach. First I want to take the time to say thank you for joining me today and welcome to the Unsung Melody family.
Right on. My pleasure. Thank you.
I’m really glad to get to speak with you today. We’re here to talk about a few things, so I’m just going to jump right in here. You’re about to hit the road in a couple weeks for the Carnival Of Madness tour, are you guys getting all geared up for that one?
Yeah. We’re getting geared up South America first. We leave in a couple of weeks. We’re going to be doing some shows in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. We haven’t been to South America in a long time, so we’re looking forward to that. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Then we are going straight from that tour into Carnival of Madness.
I’ve always heard that the South American shows, particularly in the Brazil area, are rather crazy, but enjoyable. So, that’s awesome.
That’s true. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I need a little chaos to enjoy every now and then. The Latin’s they have that passion and that fire, that energy so it’s going to be refreshing to have that.
With Carnival Of Madness, how long of a set can the fans expect?
We’re going to try to play as long as we can, until they kick us off the stage.
Are you guys planning any cool opportunities or surprises that you might want to share with the fans?
Surprises? Well, we’re going to play just a good mixture of new songs, old songs, classic songs, fan favorites. Really just trying to have a good blend that people want to hear and some surprises that maybe people haven’t heard in a long time. Some cult classics or whatever you want to call it. I think when Papa Roach does our own headlining tour, and we play for like a good hour and a half, that’s when we really get to stretch out and do a lot of cool surprises and do more of the dynamic set. Where we have lots of peaks and valleys musically. Really for this run, it’s probably going to be an hour at the most, we’re going to get in there and do what we do best. Just get in your face and leave you wanting more.
I miss the days of bands doing signings and maybe an acoustic show in a record shop. With vinyl making a comeback, I’d love to see that happen again.
We still do autograph signings and we sell our cd’s at every show. We also pressed our last record on vinyl. We try to keep the physical element of music alive and I think there is an underground cult following of vinyl and stuff like that. We do that for those people. Particularly, I’m too reckless and I don’t have the patience for vinyl. (laughter) I’m totally fine with an MP3 or streaming. We do sell our cd’s and we push it. I remember when I used to travel and out on tour and we’d have like three huge cases full of cd’s. Now we don’t have to do that anymore and that works out fine for me. I feel like MP3’s and music that you download, I feel like that’s just kind of the middle right now. It’s either going to be you’re going to want the hard copy like the vinyl or you’re just going to get on like Spotify and stream music. Downloading something to your computer, you’re not even going to need that. You’re not going to want that. I think it will be more like if you want to listen to something, you’re going to stream it on Spotify or something.
Just pull it out of the clouds. For me, you guys are one of the more intriguing bands in music today. Your sound has evolved tremendously over the years. Some of that comes with age and experience, but your band is different in the fact that you have been able to pretty much completely change gears and stay relevant. What do you feel is the common thread that keeps everyone coming back to your guys music?
I think it’s just honesty and energy and maybe the recklessness. There’s no filter on what we do, but at the same time we write songs and we want to connect to people. We want people to sing a long and enjoy it. I think there’s an intimate quality to what we do. Like I said, that honesty. Your heart on your sleeve. That real life stuff that people can connect with. We’re not always trying to re-invent the wheel with the music or we aren’t trying to trick people with tricky metaphors in the lyrics, it’s just really about getting in your gut and making you feel something. Our sound has definitely evolved and grown with each record and I think that’s just the kind of band that we are. For me personally, I get bored and I’d feel stagnant if we wrote the same kind of record, the same song over and over again. If works for some bands, but for us, it doesn’t. I’ll go through phases all the time. I’ll go through a stage where I listen to a lot of hip-hop music or I’ll be listening to a lot of jazz, or I’ll be listening to a lot of electronic music, or I’ll just pick up my guitar and I’ll be playing metal riffs all day long. Just whatever I’m feeling at that point in time, it’s going to influence me. Just like life with the people that you meet or whoever you are in love with at that time. Every thing influences you at different points in time. So for me to write the same record or write the same style that I did when I was 19 would just be stupid because I’m a completely different person. I think that’s how we associate our sound and our music as well.
You write a lot of the bands music, so you’re an integral part of that evolution. That’s why I was happy when I got the chance to speak with you. As part of that creative process, do you guys write constantly or do you sort of hash it all out in your studio when the time comes?
I always travel with a little portable studio setup and of course now, you can do everything with a computer. As far as like programming a decent drum sound. You can plug your guitar in and simulate and kind of guitar sound you want and record the ideas and get them down, so you have them. And then, by the time you’ve been touring for a year of two and you’re just tired of staring at a computer screen, you can take the time to decide to take these ideas or some new ones that are floating around the room, that we don’t even know what it is yet. Then have them bounce off of each other with the four of in Papa Roach in the room playing them really loud. It’s just a combination of both. That’s usually how our songs come about as far as the record goes. We’ll be putting down lots of ideas, whether it’s beats or guitar riffs or full blown arrangements of songs. Musically, everything is done first and the lyrics are usually done last. I think that once we get into the studio at the beginning of next year, we’re going to start writing for our new record. That’s when we’ll all be in the same room and we’ll really start hashing out fresh new ideas that happen spontaneously. Either mixing them with the stuff that we’ve accumulated while being on the road or coming with fresh one. Maybe even trying to write some songs based around lyrics first. I know that Jacoby is in a completely different headspace than he was a few years ago and he’s getting a little bit more into reading and writing. So, it would nice to kind of flip that kind of role reversal of maybe leading some lyrics or talking about a particular feeling or storyline and writing the music to that. Almost like scoring his thoughts. That’s how we’ve done it in the past.
The Connection is your newest album, that’s obviously the album for this tour cycle. It’s a much darker album this time around. Even the music itself, not just Jacoby’s lyrics. It seems like a rough time was being had by all involved. What was the process like when you guys were getting this album together?
I think it had been a rough ride for everyone. We’d been touring a lot and that was like our first big break in a long time. So, when we got home, everything hit us. Everyone has personal demons and personal things that they’re having to deal with and it was all kind of coming together while we were in the studio trying to make the record. So, I think for Jacoby too, all the stuff that he was dealing with, personally, emotionally, physically, it came out in the lyrics. It was like therapy. Ended up kind of setting the tone for the record. There was that light at the end of the tunnel. Now we’re in a much better place and stronger now because of it. A much better band and closer friends. That’s just like how the real life trials and tribulations just comes through the music.
It’s good that you guys are in a much better place now, or at least it seems that way to me. Were there ever any thoughts about hanging it up at all or did you guys need the band to keep pushing?
There’s always some scary moments. When the record was finally finished, we were about to go out on tour and we got out on this tour last year with Shinedown actually, and in the first week we realized that Jacoby had no voice. So it was really scary because we thought maybe his voice is just giving out. Maybe it’s just getting used to things now that he’s sober and he quit smoking. Then it just wasn’t getting better, it was getting worse. That’s when he went to the doctor and they found a node on his vocal chord. It was really bad. We had to cancel that whole tour and everything that we had to do for the rest of that year and that was a really tough decision. We didn’t know how he was going to bounce back after having this major surgery. So yeah, there were a few moments where we thought that this could be the last time we do this. It was scary, but we’ve been through so much as a band that it’s kind of like nothing really phases us. It’s like, “Oh, that? You know what, you’re going to get through this. You’re going to take a year off. You’ll recover. It’ll be fine. We’ll be stronger because of it.” There’s always something that happens in the Papa Roach world that’s just crazy and drama. We don’t let it bring us down or tear us apart because we’ve been doing it for so long we’re like a family and we still have something to prove. Every record that we make, we feel like we can top it and do better. There’s so many goals that we have and we want to reach artistically, it’s just like nothing is going to get in our way. I’m sure there’s moments when we get tired, we get frustrated, and we get angry, and we want to go home, and we wish we could spend more time with our families, but we really feel like this is what we’ve been put here to do. Because we’ve been doing it since we were all like 16 years old and there’s nothing else out there that could possibly mean more to us than the connection that we have with our fans and what not. So, I don’t think anything can hold us back.
Alright, I have a few more questions, but I know you have a lot of interviews left, so I’m going to jump ahead. I always end on a random question. I kind of brought things down a bit with that one and I apologize. So this one will be a bit more lighthearted. So, here goes; what cartoon character best describes your personality?
(laughter) I’m really mellow so I don’t know, but sometimes I can turn into a Tasmanian Devil. Not so much anymore though, because I don’t drink that hard liquor anymore. I used to be the Tasmanian Devil, now I’m probably something a little bit more docile.
Tobin, I truly appreciate your time today. The site and myself wish you all the best. Please be safe and I’ll see you guys in Cincinnati.
Preview or purchase The Connection below:
Papa Roach – Leader Of The Broken Hearts