Some are calling Papa Roach's "Last Resort" ear candy; others call it a lifesaver.
The rap-rockers' debut single, which opens with the infectious line, "Cut my life into pieces/ This is my last resort" and examines the mind of someone contemplating suicide, is providing hope for troubled youths by showing them others can relate to their problems.
"I'm getting letter after letter about how many lives 'Last Resort' has saved," Papa Roach co-manager Gary Avila said. "They're glad to know that someone else feels the way they do and understands how they feel."
Melissa, a 13-year-old fan from Philadelphia who asked that her last name not be used, wrote a letter to Papa Roach singer Coby Dick in which she said she had tried to kill herself several times.
"['Last Resort'] affected me in many ways," Melissa wrote in a separate sonicnet.com e-mail interview. "I no longer feel alone. I know now that I can get through this. I know that I am not the only person out there who feels this way."
Although the exuberant Dick (born Jacoby Shaddix) draws on personal experiences for most of his lyrics, "Last Resort" (RealAudio excerpt) is actually about a former roommate, even though it is written in first person.
" 'Cause I'm losing my sight/ Losing my mind/ Wish somebody would tell me I'm fine," Dick sings on the track, which is #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.
"I was just putting it out on the table, you know, this is what this guy went through, and this is how he felt," Dick, 24, said on Wednesday from a tour stop in Buffalo, N.Y. "It has a positive edge to it, as far as like, 'Don't succumb to it. Keep yourself afloat. With these problems in your life, find a friend you can confide in.' "
Drawing A Comparison
"Last Resort" is not only striking a chord with music fans for its poignant lyrics, but also for its memorable guitar riffs. So memorable that some have pointed out the similarities in the rhythm and bass guitar progressions to Green Day's 1995 hit "Brain Stew" (RealAudio excerpt).
"It's funny, someone came up to us afterward, and we were like, 'Aw sh--, it does [sound like 'Brain Stew'].' But we don't care," Dick said. "There's only 12 notes on a f---ing guitar. Everything's been done before. We didn't consciously say 'That song's tight, let's bite it.' Not even close. I've tried to sing the ['Last Resort'] part to that song, and you can't. It's like the same thing, but it's not. I don't know what the f---."
Green Day don't mind the similarities, Dick added, noting that Papa Roach are touring with the punk trio on the Vans Warped Tour and "having a great time together."
Papa Roach, whose lineup also includes guitarist Jerry Horton, drummer Dave Buckner and bassist Tobin Esperance, formed in the early '90s in the small suburban town of Vacaville, Calif., which Dick describes as having "10,000 people and nothing to do."
The bandmembers overcame their boredom by playing music and quickly became the town's entertainment foundation through intense live shows and independent releases.
"It was either [music] or drive out to the country and get f---ing drunk and cause trouble," Dick explained. "Instead of being a small fish in a big pond, we were the big fish in a small pond. We were the Vacaville band, you know, and started branching out from there."
The P-Roach Posse
From the beginning, Papa Roach have been about their live show, Avila said. Opening shows for Sevendust, Suicidal Tendencies and Powerman 5000 helped land the band a record deal with DreamWorks. Since then, their affinity for the road has grown into what they dub Project Infest — a plot, named after their current record, Infest, to expose their music to the masses.
"Project Infest is just to get in everybody's face and give them an opportunity to see what we're trying to do, backing this album and this hype with a banging-ass show," Dick said. "It all comes down to the live show with us. F--- everything else."
A typical Papa Roach show, Avila said, consists of an assembly of fans — "the P-Roach posse," as Dick calls them — singing every lyric to every song.
After a show, the group goes out to meet fans and sign autographs. Up until a few weeks ago, they gave their e-mail addresses out on the Papa Roach Web site and answered every letter.
"Being on the road every day, we don't have Internet access, so we can't stay up on it," Dick said. "We just feel like, if we say we're going to say we read them and we're not, then that's lame. So we just see what kids say to our faces, that's where our fan interaction is now."
Dick stays close to the P-Roach clan through his lyrics as well. He purposely writes about issues that young people can relate to, from alcohol abuse in "Binge" to divorce in "Broken Home" (RealAudio excerpt), the group's next single from Infest, which is at #8 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
"What we did with 'Last Resort,' the real emotional vibe behind it, we're going to take people farther into that with 'Broken Home,' " Dick said. "It's about dealing with divorce from a kid's spectrum — something I've been going through all my life. It's a f---ed-up situation that a lot of people can really connect with."
Papa Roach will shoot a video for "Broken Home" later this month before hitting the road with rap-rockers Korn.