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The Gibson Interview: Papa Roach Frontman Jacoby Shaddix

As the voice of Northern California rockers Papa Roach, Jacoby Shaddix says the most important qualifiers for a great rock band are simply the music and the live show. Those are the two reasons why our band has maintained relevance in rock and roll and in music today, he said.

Judging by the strong response to Papa Roachs current release on Eleven Seven Music, 2010s hybrid live album and EP Time for Annihilation...On the Record and On the Road, that mindset works. With new rock hits such as Kick in the Teeth and Burn and a co-headlining stint on this falls Rock Allegiance Touralongside Buckcherry, Puddle of Mudd, P.O.D., RED, Crossfade and Drive A, Papa Roach are back with a new lease on life. Moreover, this success comes nearly a decade after their breakout track, Last Resort.

Gibson.com caught up with Shaddix to talk about Papa Roachs key to longevity, his newfound love for social networking and how being a dad has awakened him as a person and as a songwriter.

You have a lot to do with the songwriting in Papa Roach. What process do you go through to write a song?

The process comes out in a lot of different fashions. Sometimes its just a melody or a lyric that sparks the inspiration for a song. Sometimes my bass player Tobin [Esperance] will come in with a song completely written, all the riffs and beats and everything, and Ill take that song back home and write the lyrics and melodies over it. Sometimes its us jamming in a room together. We like to say that its like making hot dogs: You dont want to know whats inside of it and you dont know how it gets done, but in the end, you get a tasty hot dog.

Youre a dad now. Do you find that being a dad affects your writing with Papa Roach?

At this point going forward, its really made me more aware of how cruel this world can be and how beautiful this world can be. Its made me realize the dynamic between the two. Now that I have kids, I realize this world that my children are inheriting isnt exactly the most beautiful place, but I want to let them know, Hey, take warning and protect your neck, but also dont be afraid to experience the beauties of this world. Its really awakened me as a person and as a songwriter, and I think its definitely going to show on the next record.

Papa Roach are co-headlining the 2011 Rock Allegiance Tour with Buckcherry and Puddle of Mudd, P.O.D., RED, Crossfade and Drive A. Have you toured with most of those guys before?

Weve done shows with P.O.D., but weve never done a proper tour with those guys. Weve always talked about getting together, and its the right time. Theyre dropping a new album and theyve got the full lineup back together, so thats killer. I have a lot of respect for those guys. Buckcherry weve done numerous tours together, and they are our brothers in rock and roll. The guys of Puddle of Mudd weve done a lot of shows with, but never a proper tour. RED I dig a lot. I saw them in St. Louis, and after they got off stage, I walked by, knocked on their tour bus door and said, What are you guys doing August to September?  So, I saw them live and thought it was killer. And Crossfade, those cats have a track thats ripping at rock radio right now. Drive A are an up-and-coming punk rock, rock and roll band. So, its going to be a great bill from beginning to end.

What are you most looking forward to on Rock Allegiance?

All the friends that are going to be out on that tour. Its our last tour for this record cycle, so were going out with a bang on this run. Also, Im looking forward to just getting up on that stage and ripping it nightly: Playing our tracks and connecting with the audience and really giving the people a good time and giving them something to remember us by, so when we step away from the rock stage for a while and make a new record, theyre hungry to see Papa Roach when we come back.

Papa Roach had major success with Last Resort in 2000, but your recent tracks such as Kick in the Teeth and Burn are rock radio hits, too. To what do you attribute Papa Roachs lasting success?

The music and the live show. I think another thing is not giving in when times got tough for our band, because there was a moment when the industry kind of turned their back on our band. But, when that happens, that really proves whether youre in it for the music or the fame. For us, were in it for the music. So far, over the last 10 years, weve stuck true to what we really believe in with our music, and weve evolved and experimented with our sound. Were proud of what weve done with our career, and we want to keep that momentum going.

You look at a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have been around for going on 30 years, or a band like U2. You see those bands have careers. We really strive to have that. Youre going to have your good times and your bad times, but if you survive it, you end up one of those bands that goes down in history. Thats what were shooting for. Well see if we make it.

Time for Annihilation is a mix between a live album and studio tracks. What was the reason behind that combination?

We felt it was a bit of a retrospective of our career over the last 10 years, since Last Resort, our first single, and a chance to look back at our career through a live show. We really pride ourselves on being a live rock and roll band. Being with Eleven Seven, our new record company, they gave us the opportunity to do something different. Instead of putting a couple of new songs on the live album, we were like, Lets treat it as an EP, because thats how we used to release songs before we were signed. So, its the best of both worlds: studio and live. I think the brand new songs really fit into the dynamic of the music on the live record, and theyll foreshadow where were going with our sound and music.

Do you have plans to go back into the studio after Rock Allegiance?

Yes, we own a studio in Sacramento called the Red House, and were going to take a break after Rock Allegiance and take a couple months away from each other, and I think thats really important because weve been going hard for five years, so we need a break. But after that, well start getting creative. Theres no gun to our head as far as, Hurry up and get this record out. I think this next album is very important to the career of our band, so we have to make the right record. One goal, for me, is to make the next record a bit more sonically diverse, so it takes you on a bit more of an adventure. Itll still going to have the 1-2 punch of the Papa Roach sound, but something where we can spread out with our sound and the dynamic in our music.

Papa Roach are active online with Facebook and Twitter.

Oh, yeah, most definitely. Its something Ive learned to embrace over the last five to seven years. I didnt grow up with the Internet and websites; it was happening as our career was happening. Im more of a hands-on or a face-to-face type of guy, but now that Ive gotten into the world of it, Im into it. Our Facebook just reached over 2 million fans, and its growing and we see that and are like, This is killer. The Papa Roach online community strong. But I think its also very important that we dont lose the importance of going out to a live rock and roll rock show. I think thats one of the most important things for music these days, when the sound pressure is moving you and youre in the crowd sweating and singing, and afterwards, everyone is talking about the music We want to keep people buzzing with that live experience.

Any advice for up-and-coming musicians?

Be prepared to struggle. Be prepared to be broke. If you can survive that, youll be alright. Write music from the heart. Dont do it for the fame.