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They Love It When a Plan Comes Together: The van? The warehouse? You guessed it. Papa Roach are the A-Team.

Roach Warrior

After being away for years, Papa Roach rips through the club circuit with a vengeance

By Sarah Quelland

'The energy level is fuckin' through the roof, 'cause it's in such a small environment, and everybody's going apeshit!" frontman Jacoby Shaddix raves about Papa Roach's return to the club circuit.

He's calling from the band's tour bus, which is parked outside the Engine Room, a Houston club with a capacity of about 800. The group is about halfway through a national tour with Instruction and Dead Poetic that brings it to the Catalyst Friday, Aug. 6, and apparently things are going very well.

It seems like a million years ago since Papa Roach last played the Catalyst. On March 16, 2000, the band hit town on a touring blitz in anticipation of its major label debut, Infest, which dropped that April and proceeded to sell more than 3 million copies, launching the band to multiplatinum status and seemingly overnight success.

But in reality, "overnight" success took seven years for the band, which came together in Vacaville in 1993. After a steady rise that culminated in a deafening buzz, Papa Roach rocketed up from the California underground. The band outgrew the small clubs that early on embraced its energetic, aggressive, emotionally charged mix of rap and rock and wildly unpredictable performances. After Infest came out with a vengeance, Papa Roach began dominating the spacious stages of the arenas and amphitheaters that became its main stomping grounds.

Now, vocalist Shaddix, guitarist Jerry Horton, bassist Tobin Esperance and drummer Dave Buckner have returned to the club circuit to preview songs from their latest album, Getting Away With Murder, which is due out Aug. 31 on DreamWorks/Geffen. The chunky and sinister-sounding title track and first single, "Getting Away With Murder," was just released to radio with the video hot on its heels. Set on a frantic trading floor like the New York Stock Exchange, the dark, steely clip quickly flashes messages that morph sayings like "In God We Trust" into "In Guns We Trust."

Getting Away With Murder is an important album for Papa Roach. Compared to the monstrous success of Infest, sales of its 2002 follow-up, lovehatetragedy, registered a "disappointing" 500,000. It seems that young fans who strongly connected with topics of suicide ("Last Resort") and divorce ("Broken Home") didn't identify with Shaddix' road-weary expressions of exhaustion and depression and couldn't relate to songs about his struggles to keep his marriage together.

"I was in a bad spot when I wrote that record," Shaddix confesses. "I wasn't a happy person."

Today, he's in a better place.

"Coming to the conclusion of the confusion of my life through music gives me the ability to move on from that point in my life and go, 'You know what? I can't change it, can't fix it, it put me where I am today,'" he says. "And where I am today--I'm relatively happy with the person I am today."

The voice of Papa Roach continues to evolve as Shaddix exorcises new demons, but the band's straightforward, streetwise, topical appeal and its ability to write both inciting anthems and passionate confessions never wavers. Getting Away With Murder offers bursts of pure emotional adrenaline and purposeful lyrics.

"I'd say there's moments on this record where it's definitely the traditional style. I'm baring my heart and my soul," Shaddix says of the new material.

He's also screaming for people to wake up their minds and really see what's going on in the world today.

On the chorus to the new song, "Not Listening," Shaddix swears, "I'm not listening, not anymore/ The more I learn, the more I ignore." Revealing his contempt for Fox News and the Patriot Act when discussing that song, Shaddix says, "I'm reading about politics and the shit is just shady! People need to wake up and look at what's going on. I don't give a fuck what side politically you're gonna be involved in, just be involved."

Shaddix describes "Blanket of Fear" as another "rattle-your-bones kinda track." The new song was inspired by Barry Glassner's The Culture of Fear and Shaddix explains, "The chorus is saying 'Hold onto your dreams because your nightmares might become your reality.'"

This isn't the first time an author has influenced Shaddix. Perhaps most obvious is Infest's "Between Angels and Insects," an anti-consumerism song inspired by Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club.

"Art and film and painters and books are a great influence on what I do in music," Shaddix declares.

He considers himself a dreamer and he's well aware that his status as a rock & roll singer affords him certain luxuries. "Being in a band really gives me the opportunity to be a free thinker," he says. "That's what the cover of this album represents. There's a heart with wings and the heart is like, we put our heart into our music, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and the wings represent freedom. The freedom that this music gives us."

Papa Roach had plenty of freedom in the studio. Its label, DreamWorks, was being sold to the Universal Music Group and folded in with its Geffen/Interscope/A&M unit while Papa Roach was working on its new record. The lack of security during that uncertain interim might have sent some bands into a tailspin, but Papa Roach stayed its course with seemingly unflagging confidence and conviction.

"It was nice not to have steadfast deadlines and people tripping out," Shaddix says. "A lot of people in the industry are always like 'Oh, the sky is falling! The sky is falling! Nobody's selling records! Oh shit! What are we gonna do?' and I'm like 'What am I gonna do? I'm gonna fuckin' make records and make music; what I did before; what I do.' It's like all they're thinking about is lining their pockets and all we're thinking about is making music."

The album was produced by Howard Benson (P.O.D., Blindside), and Shaddix says Benson's focus on vocals and lyrics appealed to the band. Shaddix recorded his parts in an 8-by-8 room with no windows and no light: "Just a microphone, headphones, my lyric book and a candle, and I would just go up there and go fuckin' crazy for as long as I could sing," he relates.

Live, the band's been playing a balanced set complete with favorites from Infest and lovehatetragedy and new songs "Done With You," "Not Listening," "Getting Away With Murder," "Tyranny of Normality" and "Take Me," a song that's designed to get the floor jumping wit the lyrics, "Does anybody out there feel the same?/ Put your fist up and vent your pain."

"It's a pretty good mix of songs," Shaddix assures. "We didn't abandon all the old stuff."

In the past four years, Papa Roach has played on big tours like Anger Management and Ozzfest and concert festivals like Rock in Rio. While the band can work a big crowd into a frenzy, there's nothing quite like the rush of seeing Papa Roach in a club.

"Reconnecting with that vibe has been fuckin' important for us," Shaddix stresses. "We've been going around to these places, and people are like, 'I've never seen you in a club before. This is insane!' It's good stories for the street, you know. Get the kids buzzing on the underground level."

Papa Roach plays the Catalyst Friday, Aug. 6; Dead Poetic opens at 9:30pm. Tickets are $15 in advance, $19 at the door; 831.4423.1336.

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From the August 4-11, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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