Papa Roach Biography
Last updated: 07/01/2012 12:00:00 PM
Papa Roach is...
Coby Dick - Vocals
Jerry - Guitar
Tobin - Bass
Dave - Drums
I'm super-flamboyant, super-happy, and super-pissed-off," understates Papa Roach frontman Coby Dick. "I'm off the hook at shows. I've done stupid things where our lawyer was going, 'You can't be doing that!' but I've also hugged a million kids. How Nirvana was when they came out - that new edge of giving kids a release of emotions - that's how I hope people connect with Papa Roach's music. I want to cause every emotion in people. I want them to fight, to fuck; I want to bring out their violence, their sadness, and their happiness." Singer-Songwriter Dick, Guitarist Jerry Horton, Bassist Tobin Esperance, and Drummer Dave Buckner acheive Dicks estimable goals with INFEST.
Produced by Jay Baumgardner (whose worked with Coal Chamber and System of a Down), Papa Roach's major label debut "is about dealing with everyday struggle,"according to Dick, whose lyrics for songs like "Broken Home," "Never Enough," "Binge," "Thrown Away," and "Last Resort," infest's first radio track are intensely personal and darkly seductive. Inspired from everything from Divorce ("Broken Home"), struggles with alcohol ("Binge"), Attention Deficit Disorder ("Thrown Away"), and suicide. ("Last Resort") Dick tends to write in the first person. "I deal a lot with the line between good and evil. And I tiptoe down that line myself," he confesses.
"I have a side that's responsible, a part that knows right from wrong, and I have my punk rock, 'fuck everything' side." Says Horton of the band's sound; "We lean more towards hip hop, punk and funk, and we also have a rock influence, but we're not really rap-core. The songs have a pop structure, and they're very melodic, with a lot of layers and orchestration." For his part, Dick listens to hardcore bands, digs underground hip hop, played clarinet in his High Schools prize-winning wind ensemble and names Faith No Mores Mike Patton as one of his biggest influences.
Press raves, too, bare out Papa Roach's diverse approach. Las Vegas City Life praised the quartet for it's "surprising moments of vulnerability and sensitivity in it's cathartic opera-core, [Dick] sounding almost pleading in the world weary voice of youth betrayed"; the publication also informed, "Papa Roach stakes out it's territory" (May 20, 1999). Sacramento's News & Review, meanwhile voted the band "most likely to show up Rage Against the Machine at their own gig" (June 3, 1999), and the San Jose Mercury News commended the foursome's "sheer urban grit" and Dick's "randy, alluring and apocalyptic" vocals (Aug. 5, 1999). Not bad for a kid who began "playing" music in his garage with "garbage cans and baseball bats" (and who later moved out while still in high school and began working at an airforce base hospital to support himself).
Growing up in the Northern California town of Vacaville - for the moment best known as the onion capital of the world. P-Roach, as their legion of fans call them, formed in high school (Horton did not attend school with the others; he met them via an ex-girlfriend who was a P-Roach fan.) At the teens' first gig, a 1993 school talent show, Dick's mom overheard a judge mutter, "I hope they don't quit their day jobs." The band improved by leaps and bounds, however, and was soon selling out 300-500 seat venues (some of which would have required fake IDs had the band members been patrons). Despite their youth, the members of Papa Roach brought a wealth of experience to their developing sound.
Buckner, a Los Angeles native whose first instrument was violin, was taking drum lessons from a 70-year-old female jazz drummer by the time he reached junior high. He quickly made first chair in concert band but shortly thereafter got his first drum kit (for Christmas) and proclaimed: "I'm sick of this school band crap - I wanna play rock 'n' roll!" His next move? "I sat down with [Led Zeppelin's] Physical Graffiti and a set of headphones and went to work." He says of his influences: "I remember being three years oldand listening to [Pink Floyd's] The Wall on car rides with my Mom. Later I would kick it at my aunt and uncle's with Suicidal Tendencies and Metallica on vinyl. My friends in grade school got me into Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys, and junior high was all about classic rock. In high school, I was into a whole range of stuff, from John Coltrane to Fugazi.
That's when I discovered all the great and beautiful music that isn't part of the mainstream. I've kept my mind open since then. Esperance - who joined P-Roach at 13 - grewup watching his Dad play bass. "He got me my first bass when I was 10, " he recalls. His fingers blistered from the heavy bottom end he provides P-Roach, Esperance continues: "I had friends who were into jazz and reggae, and I took those and lumped them together. My Mom and I would listen to the same jazz music, or the Doors, or Duke Ellington. Then I had my punk rock category. He confirms that Papa Roach's music takes a similarly melting-pot tack, commenting: "People put us in the rap-rock category. I don't care what they call us, but we definitely do it differently from anyone out their right now."
Though Infest is Papa Roach's major-leagues bow, the band has been spewing music to the masses via CD for several years. Their first recording adventure was 1995's Caca Bonita, whcihc was followed by Old Friends From Young Years. "That's what the future is, " Dick says of the title. "We wanna have longevity, and by putting that idea in the cosmos - it's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy." Two more independent CD's also issued on the band's Onion Hardcore Recordings, built on the momentum: 1998's 5 Tracks Deep (which featured the song "Revenge" [formerly "Revenge In Japanese"], heard on an episode of MTV's "Road Rules") and 1999's "Let 'Em Know". Cranking these out at a steady pace did not keep P-Roach rom the stage, however.
On the contrary, the band gigged steadily all over California - sometimes mounting as many as 14 shows a month - with acts like Kid Rock, Static-X, Incubus, Bad Brains and other such compadres on The Warped Tour. One of the questions most frequently aimed at the band concerns their moniker. It seems Buckner had a CD by jazz musician Pancho Sanchez called Papa Gato. The title struck a chord with Dick, whose grandfather's last name was Roatch - he was "Papa Roatch" to his family.
Still, according to Dick: "For the longest time, it's had nothing to do with my grandpa. We drew up this cockroach logo because we wanted to avoid the weed thing. Weed's okay, but it's not what we're about; we're kinda like the cockroach that can survive anything - we're tough, warrior soldier band. We get out there and put the work in." The band also takes pride in their familial orientation. "We're a team," Dick insists. "Some bands are like, 'We just fired our guitar player.' We don't do that shit; we don't fire people. We're family - you get booted out!" Esperance concurs: "We get along better than most any other band in the world. If you were to hang out with us, you'd wonder what the hell was wrong with us. We're constantly laughing, then getting in arguments, telling each other to fuck off, then we're best friends again in the next minute. We can't really agree on a whole lot, except the music and the band. We're real different people, but P- Roach is where we come together.
And come together they do, especially in a live setting. They're pretty goodat getting the audience to join together with the band: At any given show, the fans are onstage and airborne nearly as much as Papa Roach. The four piece has incited this mania over and over, headlining major clubs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, playing more than 400 shows since 1993. Despite such seasoning, Infest represents the beginning of this young band's journey. As the title track promises, these Roach's are "coming to infest." Those who prefer enlightenment to escapism will surely want to invest. "Pop music like Britney Spears is existence in the dark," Dick argues. "Its' candy. I don't want to escape reality - I want to go deeper into it."
In the small Northern California town of Vacaville, four high school friends, Jacoby Shaddix, Jerry Horton, Dave Buckner, and Will James, decided to start a band. In 1993, they became Papa Roach, a band whose influences included prominent Bay Area acts such as Faith No More and Primus. Papa Roach quickly rose to the top of the Vacaville music scene with their blending of hip-hop, groove-funk, and hardcore.
After a couple of years of playing coffeehouses, pizza joints, and keg-parties, they were headlining such places as the Cactus Club in San Jose, the Cattle Club in Sacramento, and the Berkeley Square in Berkeley.
Due to the antics of unpredictable Shaddix, and the raw power supplied by the band in live performances, Papa Roach captured the attention of younger audiences. In turn, kids showed their appreciation for the band by faithfully attending all the band's shows. In these early years, Papa Roach was able to support the Deftones on two shows, and have bands such as Incubus, Snot, Far, Human Waste Project, Downset and Fu Manchu open for them.
In the summer of 1996, while realizing athat they had something special, Papa Roach decided to make changes necessary to reach the next level. First, the band replaced bass player Will James because his commitment to church summer camp that would have prevented the band from practicing and playing any shows over the summer. Papa Roach did not have to go far to find their new bass player. Tobin Esperance, who was only 16 years old and who had been a roadie for Papa Roach since age 13, readily became the new bass player. Second, the band hired a manager, Bret Bair, to help them with bookings, promotions, and merchandising. With a new bass player and management in place, Papa Roach decided to enter the studio to record a full-length CD.
"Old Friends From Young Years" was recorded for $700 at E.S.P. Studios in Pittsburg, California, and was subsequently released in February of 1997. The CD contains 13 tracks, including the songs "Orange Drive Palms", and "Liquid Diet". Without any push from the band or management, many smaller independent and college radio stations in Chico, Davis, San Jose, Sacramento, and the Bay Area added Papa Roach to their playlists. To the bands' surprise, Papa Roach charted number one as Cal-State Sacramento's most requested band for five consecutive weeks. Papa Roach celebrated the release of their first album with several CD release shows. The Vacaville CD release show was attended by 700 kids, while CD release shows in Berkeley and Sacramento were attended by 400 and 300 kids, respectively.
Papa Roach's emerging popularity did not escape the eyes and ears of promoters, who started booking the band as a support act on many larger national shows. In March of 1997, Papa Roach played main support to Suicidal Tendencies in front of 1,000 people in Sacramento. They also either headlined or supported many of today's up and coming acts in the aggressive rock genre, including Incubus, Snot, Far, Human Waste Project, (hed) p.e., Sevendust, WIll Haven and Powerman 5000. Papa Roach has also played Southern California on a frequent basis, and is now becoming a regular at such reknowned clubs as the Troubador in Hollywood, and Soma in San Diego.
In April 1998, Papa Roach released "5 Tracks Deep", and E.P. containing five songs which sold 1,000 copies within the first month after its release. This CD exemplifies the natural growth in musicianship and song-writing ability within band since "Old Friends From Young Years" was recorded 18 months earlier. The songs "Revenge in Japanese" is a perfect example of the Papa Roach trademark sound where hip-hop verses lead to a catchy radio-friendly chorus. This results in a song with both energy and emotion that will attract diverse crowds of people.