NEW YORK — It's not unusual for a band to enter the studio feeling excited, but it is unusual when the source of that excitement is the disappointing sales of their last album.
"Some bands get jaded and lose it, but we're just excited about making music," exclaimed singer Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach, whose Lovehatetragedy sold less than 20 percent of the copies of their previous album, Infest. "It's kind of cool because we don't have a record that's really anticipated, which is cool for us, 'cause the pressure's off."
Papa Roach's attitude about the past year will be clearly reflected in the title of their new record, Dancing in the Ashes.
"That refers to every year, if I'm home, [when] I take my Christmas tree and burn it and dance around that tree and go, 'That year is gone, it's something new,' " Shaddix explained at Radio City Music Hall before the MTV Video Music Awards. "So we're dancing in the ashes of everything Papa Roach was."
The band is leaving Lovehatetragedy behind, but still bringing some of the album's influence with them.
"We're trying to take how Infest had the big anthems and Lovehatetragedy had more of the rock and roll style and try to fuse it," the singer said. "It has all the elements of stuff we listen to, it's just a new way to craft it. It's like you make a taco and then you make a burrito — it has the same things in it, it's just put together in a different way. So we're just excited. We feel like it's the best music we've ever written."
Shaddix, guitarist Jerry Horton, bassist Tobin Esperance and drummer David Buckner have demoed 13 songs with vocals, plus more that are still instrumentals. Later in the month, the foursome will enter a Los Angeles studio with Howard Benson, who has produced albums for P.O.D. and Cold, among others.
"He makes good-sounding records and we feel like we can learn something from him," Shaddix said. "Hopefully someday we can produce our own records; that would be the goal."
So far, standout tracks have titles such as "Take Me," "Scars" and "Empty Promises."
"It starts off kind of like Atari Teenage Riot, then goes into punk-reflected rock and roll and then a metal chorus," Shaddix said of the latter.
Shaddix and Esperance's favorite song, however, is a tune called "Getting Away With Murder."
"That track is the grooviest, hardest, funkiest track we ever wrote," Shaddix said. "It has a guitar tone, kind of like Nine Inch Nails, a fuzz tone. I can imagine it being a summer jam. People want to dance to it and people want to pit to it. It's a very infectious groove."
Dancing in the Ashes will most likely be released in March of 2004, that is if Shaddix can contain his excitement that long.
"It's like having a kid — it's just beautiful, it's unexplainable," he said, attempting to sum up his joyous mood. "It's like a rebirth of the band. We feel like nothing can stop us."
While a new Papa Roach single is months away, fans can get their fix now with "Anxiety," a collaboration on the Black Eyed Peas' Elephunk that rock radio stations have flocked to, despite it not being an official single (see "Black Eyed Peas Exhibit New Breed Of Elephunk On Upcoming LP").
"It was a true collaboration, we learned something," Shaddix said. "The Peas are tight, they've got innovative ideas with hip-hop."