Like the insect after which they're named, Papa Roach have adapted to every new environment they've been exposed to. Since their formation in 1993, they have evolved from a raging rap-metal band to a punk-metal hybrid. Through it all, their songs have been united by the belief that life is, for the most part, pretty unfair and meaningless.
Now, with their third major-label album, September's Getting Away With Murder, Papa Roach have metamorphosed yet again by creating more upbeat-sounding songs with vocal harmonies and positive personal and political themes.
"We just wanted to reinvent ourselves and create a new Papa Roach for our fans to fall in love with again," said frontman Jacoby Shaddix. "We wanted to push ourselves musically and lyrically and do stuff we've never done before but that our audience would really like. That was the challenge."
Papa Roach wrote many of the new songs on the road last year, and when they got back to Sacramento they began to flesh them out at drummer Dave Buncker's home studio. Once the music was in good shape, the band recorded demos, then Shaddix added vocals at his home studio. By the time the band headed into the (non-home) studio with producer Howard Benson, the tracks were pretty much finished. But the real reason why Getting Away With Murder was relatively pain-free had more to do with Shaddix's new work ethic.
"When I was in the studio this time, I didn't party at all," he said, a startling revelation from a former die-hard drinker who now says he's clean and sober. "I put myself and my brain and my soul and my heart into the music. And that was really good for me because it helped me look at life in a different light, and all of a sudden everything didn't seem so bleak."
The first single from Getting Away With Murder, the soaring, melodic title cut, will hit radio next month. Instead of playing the victim in the song as he has in the past, Shaddix assumes the role of an antagonist involved in acts of deception and deceit. But the song also has double and even triple meanings.
"I wrote it so you can take it in different ways," he said. "It can be about when you're doing some sh-- behind some people in your life's backs and they don't know about it but it makes you feel like sh--, which I've done. But it can also be about what's going on right now in the political world [in the Middle East], or about these big, huge corporations who are so corrupt."
Papa Roach tested the track along with four others from the record during a recent string of shows that led up to their appearance at the South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas. In addition to warming up the band for the upcoming tour, the jaunt helped cement the group's choice to make "Getting Away With Murder" the album's first single. "Every time we played it the kids were going crazy," Shaddix said. "It just translated live, and the fans latched onto it like f---ing leeches."
The band is currently on a monthlong club tour that finishes August 6 in Santa Cruz, California. After playing festivals and mid-size venues for much of their last tour, Papa Roach are looking forward to reconnecting with a smaller crowd.
"We want to really start from the ground floor again, start with nothing and build our way back up to the top," Shaddix said. "A small club is really a great place to see our band because the energy between us and a small crowd in a small room is intense. I think our fans will appreciate being able to hear these new songs in a really intimate setting."
Papa Roach club dates, according to Geffen Records:
- 7/13 – Towson, MD @ Recher Theater
- 7/14 - Winston-Salem, NC @ Ziggy's
- 7/16 - Saint Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Landing
- 7/17 - Orlando, FL @ The Social
- 7/18 - Fort Walton Beach, FL @ The Swamp
- 7/20 - Houston, TX @ Engine Room
- 7/21 - Dallas, TX @ Trees
- 7/23 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Bricktown Live
- 7/24 - Lincoln, NE @ Knickerbockers
- 7/26 - Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
- 7/27 - Salt Lake City, UT @ In the Venue
- 7/29 - Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theater
- 7/30 - Seattle, WA @ Graceland
- 7/31 - Chico, CA @ Senator Theater
- 8/1 - Sacramento, CA @ Empire
- 8/3 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim's
- 8/4 - West Hollywood, CA @ Roxy Theatre
- 8/6 - Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst