This year marks the 15th anniversary as a recording act for Papa Roach. Looking back, vocalist Jacoby Shaddix can say, at the least, it’s been quite an adventure.
“The long and short of it is it’s been a (expletive) roller coaster,” he said in a December phone interview. “There have been moments where we felt like the wheels were going to fall off. There were some great high points and some extreme low points.”
For Shaddix in particular, the past three years have been something of a microcosm of the extremes that have characterized the band’s entire career. But today he’s excited about where his life is at and what Papa Roach can accomplish moving forward. “I feel like we’re in the middle of the ride, and I see 15 more years, 20 more years of doing what we do,” he said.
Three years ago, Shaddix wasn’t able to see a future with that sort of optimism. As the band was working on its 2012 album, “The Connection,” its singer was hitting rock bottom.
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“Half way through the record I was like ‘I’ve got to get sober again,’” Shaddix explained. “My wife left me. I’m just really broken and in the most desperate place in my life. And my confidence as a musician was gone, as a person, everything. I was shattered. That record was really the record that I felt the power of music. …That record saved my life, in a literal sense.”
The drinking and drug problems were nothing new for Shaddix. He’d been battling his addictions for a decade, moving from periods where he cleaned up and went on the wagon, only to relapse into familiar indulgences.
Despite Shaddix’s various phases of addiction and sobriety, Papa Roach managed to thrive musically through much of its first 15 years as a band, which released its eighth studio album, “F.E.A.R,” earlier this month.
The band, which formed in 1993 in Vacaville, Calif., blasted into prominence with its 2000 major label debut CD, “Infest,” which sold more than 3 million copies and featured the hit single “Last Resort.”
The 2002 follow-up CD, “Lovehatetragedy,” however, topped out at about 700,000 copies, causing some to say Papa Roach had suffered the sophomore jinx. But with its third album, 2004’s “Getting Away With Murder,” the band answered the doubts, as the CD topped 1 million copies sold and featured two top five rock radio hits in the songs “Getting Away With Murder” and “Scars.” Since then, sales of the group’s more recent albums have dipped markedly, but much of that has mirrored industry-wide declines in album sales that have left even long-established bands selling mere fractions of the numbers of albums they did through the 1990s.
Even as sales dipped, Papa Roach has continued to turn out top five rock radio hits like “Forever” (from the 2006 CD “The Paramour Sessions”),“Lifeline” (from the 2009 CD “Metamorphisis”) “Still Swingin’” (from “The Connection”).
Along the way there have been a couple of personnel changes – the most notable being the 2007 dismissal of long-time drummer Dave Buckner – as well as Shaddix’s personal ups and downs that culminated in his low point during the making of “The Connection.” That’s when Shaddix decided he had to make sobriety work once and for all.
“I went out on the road, and we toured for that record,” he said. “And I stayed sober the whole record cycle and really just saw the world a bit clearer and a little more focused and got my confidence back as a songwriter and as just a human being and started just making better decisions in my personal life and the relationships around me started to become healthy again.”
In recording “F.E.A.R.,” (it stands for “Face Everything And Rise”) Shaddix gave himself a major test to see if he could resist the behaviors that had at times threatened not only his health, but the existence of Papa Roach.
“I went to Las Vegas, the scene of the crime, to record this (new) record,” Shaddix said. “Some of the greatest failures of my life have been in that city. I had to go back there and try to like make things right with myself, and I just threw myself into this record and was on fire from the first note that was written rather than ‘Oh, where the (expletive’s) Coby, dude? He’s off on a bender and we don’t know where he is.’ I was present and I was pushing the band. It was just a great feeling to be there with the guys instead of the guys waiting for me to come with it.
“Facing our fears is huge, man,” he said, sounding very much like a man who has learned from the errors of his ways. “If we don’t face our fears in our lives, it can stifle our growth as a human being, as a person, as a spirit, and it can define your life.”
Shaddix is clearly proud of the “F.E.A.R.” album, and feels that Papa Roach has really hit its stride musically in finishing “The Connection” and then making the new album. The band’s sound, which originally had a strong rap-rock element (an emerging trend in the early 1990s), has shifted toward more of a melodic hard rock sound on recent albums.
“We definitely picked up where we left off on ‘The Connection,’ moving into ‘F.E.A.R.’ stylistically and musically,” Shaddix said. “We kind of settled into a place that we thought was just good for the band. There are some old-school sounds in there, bringing back those big riffs.”
Papa Roach, which also includes guitarist Jerry Horton, bassist Tobin Esperance and drummer Tony Palermo, began introducing its newest material in January, as it began a month-long co-headlining tour with Seether.
“We’ll probably play three or four new songs on this tour,” Shaddix said. “And then we’ll just pick and pull the classics from the older records. There are a couple of mandatory tracks we have to play. Both of our bands have those tracks that we’re just like if you didn’t play that song, it just wouldn’t be a Papa Roach or a Seether show.”
If you go
Seether and Papa Roach
When: 6:30 p.m. Monday
Tickets: Sold out