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[whitespace] Papa Roach Vacaville's finest: Papa Roach heads for the studio after signing a deal with DreamWorks.

P-Roach Takes Over

Local favorite Papa Roach vows to survive with its passion intact

By Sarah Quelland

AFTER SPENDING the last four years relentlessly touring up and down California, promoting its shows and winning over fans (including an extremely dedicated following in San Jose), Papa Roach has finally won the support of a major label. The four-piece from Vacaville recently signed a deal with DreamWorks Records, home of Powerman 5000 and Buckcherry, and will head into the studio to work on its first album for two months starting in November.

Papa Roach started small at pizza joints and community centers before graduating to places like the Cactus Club, where it performs regularly. The band jumped on gigs like the Vans Warped Tour and SFMX5 at the Cactus last April. On Sept. 24, P-Roach headlined the Crest, a 1,000-seat theater located just miles from the band's hometown. P-Roach sold out the extravagantly decorated old hall with lush carpeting, antique light fixtures and golden wall sculptures. When the band hit the stage, the lobby emptied as a crowd of kids flooded to the front of the venerable theater.

Vocalist Coby Dick, guitarist Jerry Horton, drummer Dave b. and bassist Tobin make up Papa Roach, which is managed by Bret Bair and Gary Avila. With a mixture of awe and excitement, Bair says that headlining the Crest was "like a culmination. It was like 'Wow!' We sold it out. It was perfect timing. It showed the loyalty of the fans."

P-Roach attracts some of the most loyal followers of any grass-roots band. One San Jose fan had the P-Roach logo tattooed on both his arms. Another girl drove 10 hours from out of state to catch a show in Riverside.

Go to any Korn, Deftones or Limp Bizkit concert, and you'll see more than one person sporting a P-Roach shirt. At the Crest, I spotted at least seven kids wearing the band's shirts. If what kids wear indicates what's cool, then P-Roach is definitely on the way up.

THE BAND'S infectious sound mixes hip-hop, metal, hard-core and groove a la Limp Bizkit and Korn. Dick's quick to point out, however, that "we're in that realm, but we have our own style," emphasizing the depth and emotion of the band's songs. People respond to P-Roach's lyrics (written by Dick), which often tell dark tales spun from painful real-life situations and which he describes as "deep and to the point."

That night at the Crest, Dick paused between songs to make a declaration: "What Papa Roach does comes straight from the heart. Music needs passion. That's why I wear black, so you cannot see through me. I am too dense. I have too much passion."

If there's one thing that's made P-Roach an underground favorite, it's the band's dynamic live performance. With looks, charisma, talent and boundless energy, this band exudes star quality. At first glance, Dick's all boyish charm with rosy cheeks and spiky hair, but onstage, his wild, frenzied madness and spontaneous unpredictability--what he calls his fire--are unleashed. Add in the high-powered intensity and overall skill of Dave, Jerry and Tobin, and P-Roach seems unstoppable.

The term "rock star" gets thrown around the San Jose scene with disdain, but that just seems like sour grapes. P-Roach has what it takes to be rock stars: the ability to entertain large crowds, write catchy, meaningful songs and stay focused in an increasingly fickle music industry.

Being a rock star is not synonymous with selling out. Dick assures me that P-Roach will continue to do what it's been doing, just on a larger scale. "We always want to push ourselves to the next level," he stresses.

I can't imagine this dedicated band losing its ambition or sinking quickly into obscurity. Dick is emphatic when he says he's proud of the band's achievements but realistic when he says getting signed is only an opportunity. "We'll take advantage of it to our fullest," he states. "We're going to maintain our work ethic."

Going into NRG Recording Services in North Hollywood with producer Jay Baumgardner (Coal Chamber, System of a Down), P-Roach will record material for its DreamWorks debut, tentatively titled Infest and set for a spring 2000 release. The songs planned for the album include "Revenge in Japanese," "Walking Thru Barbed Wire," "Legacy" and "Binge," as well as "Last Resort," "Dead Cell" and some new material.

The band was named after Dick's grandfather, and Dick says the name has become symbolic through the years. He explains that a cockroach can live with its head cut off until it starves to death. "A cockroach can survive anything: earthquake, nuclear holocaust. They come in small numbers, and then they infest. We want to infest the world."

In uncertain times filled with anxiety about the turn of the millennium, Y2K, school shootings, earthquakes, floods, fires and more, taking on the cockroach as a symbol of personal strength may not be such a bad idea. If nothing else, it's a fitting motto for a band hell-bent on longevity as well as creativity.

Papa Roach makes its last local performance for a while Thursday (Oct. 14) at the Edge in Palo Alto as part of the free Ultravibe.com launch party. Insolence and others are also scheduled to perform.

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From the October 7-13, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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