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Interview: A Chat With Papa Roach Lead Singer Jacoby Shaddix

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As Papa Roach gears up for the release of their latest album, Time For Annihilation.. On the Record, and On The Road, on August 31st, and the first single from that album, “Kick in the Teeth”, blasts its way up the charts, I had the opportunity to talk with the band’s lead singer, Jacoby Shaddix.

jacoby_shaddix_papa_roach_interviewJust the name, Jacoby Shaddix, is enough to strike fear into the heart of most journalists, Papa Roach wasn’t invited to join the Anger Management tour for nothing, you know? He’s well-known, actually quite notorious, for being a difficult interview– mainly due to his explosive strings of expletives, and his lack of tolerance for pop music fluff writers. Jacoby has knocked more than one veteran interviewer into early retirement. I’d fancy him a heavy metal Batman, saving Gotham from the grips of banal, journalistic feculence.

Journalists who have barely escaped his excoriation tend to warn others not to take a trip into the Bat Cave with him. But what I found in talking to Jacoby Shaddix is a person who immediately won my respect with his candor and his humor–a gallows humor, very much like my own. Jacoby is an extremely intelligent guy with little patience for BS and a commitment to being true to himself, his band, and to his fans; a man who is over the hype and just wants to tell his own story, in his own way–and that’s what gave my conversation with him its charm, expletives and all.

Papa Roach’s latest video release, “Kick in the Teeth”, from the soon to be released album, Time For Annihilation.. On the Record, and On The Road:


I’ve long admired Jacoby’s bad attitude towards crap journalists. After four attempts to give me a good phone connection and opening up, baring his inner thoughts with me the way he did, I can only say that I’m honored. Truly. And that he gave me such a long interview time, along with time for off-the-record personal talk in between interview questions, touched me deeply. Our private conversation actually took up more time than our interview, and for that I’m grateful–and very much looking forward to speaking with him face to face when he hits Atlanta with Papa Roach in the coming weeks.

For now, you can listen to a bit of Papa Roach’s latest single, “Kick in the Teeth” and also Jacoby, himself, talking about the cause, and what fans can do, personally, to support WhyHunger. He called me from Poland where Papa Roach was performing at “Polish Woodstock”, another charity event for children, and during our interview he explained that event as well. We talked about the past and future plans for Papa Roach. And he also left special messages for you, his fans, both veteran Papa Roach fans and for the band’s new fans also.

Jacoby is very open about himself and his feelings, sometimes to the detriment of his own reputation, but as you’ll hear in our interview, he is always going to be honest. Always. Take it or leave it, this a man who will not compromise his integrity to get on anyone’s good side.

I’ll be speaking with Jacoby again when the new album, Time For Annihilation, is released, but for now our conversation revolved around the band’s, and his own, personal commitment to the cause WhyHunger. As he explained in our interview, his family had been homeless when he was little and now, in light of Papa Roach’s success, he feels a strong sense of obligation to help other families in need.

We talked only briefly about the band’s new album Time For Annihilation because we had agreed to save the more in-depth song writing and production discussion for the album’s release. We did however discuss Papa Roach’s past hits like “Scars” and “Last Resort”. We talked about the band’s up-coming tour schedule and agreed to do a live interview when they hit Atlanta upon their return home from Europe later this month.

There was a moment during our interview when I was telling him how the song “Scars” affected me personally and you can hear him just say “Wow” in the background. A poignant moment for me to express my appreciation to someone who helped to bring about an epiphanous turning point in my life, an opportunity that rarely comes along in a life time, and one that should be seized whenever possible. His response let me know that he understood the depth of that effect, and I think, judging by our off-record talk, that it means a lot to him to hear that from a fan.

papa_roach_jacoby_shaddix_interviewJacoby Shaddix is a man who will never get tired of hearing his fans talk about their connection with him, with his music. They are the reason he continues to lay his soul bare; a modern day Prometheus, bound to the rocks for handing his flame over to mere mortals. A man for whom the words raw, vulnerable, powerful and mis-understood are all equally significant, and accurate, as descriptors.

When I said to him that “Last Resort” was huge, just a monster, was it difficult to get out from under the shadow of a hit like that, he responded “I think for us that “Scars” was the song that helped us get out of that shadow, you know? And kick open a whole new door for us. And now we’ve had, since then, number one songs on the radio, which has been fucking, a blessing. Yeah, but for a while it was like… that was the monster, you know? We were like fuck dude! But then you look at it and you go, you know what? FUCK! We got a classic rock song. I mean, we have a song that’s a classic. It’ll be around forever.”

When the band started their sound check Jacoby ducked into a dressing room saying, “Fuck! I can’t do a Fucking interview for the life of me right now. Fuck!” Then he said to me, “I just told them to keep it down–I thought I’d never say that. heheh”

But, even with his colorful language, he kept his humor. I had a hard time believing that this was the same guy that people fear to interview and, like him, I couldn’t believe he actually said the words “Keep it down” either. I have a feeling that may never happen again.

Jacoby is definitely a rocker committed to louder. Harder. Stronger. And Papa Roach’s latest album, Time For Annihilation…On the Record, and On The Road, is truly a reflection of that commitment. It promises to be one of Papa Roach’s most powerful albums to date; a reconciliation of the past and present, Time For Annihilation brings Papa Roach, finally, full circle.

papa_roach_interviewHere’s a bit of my discussion with Jacoby Shaddix about WhyHunger and Polish Woodstock. You can listen to the full conversation in the audio clip.

The new album is special in a couple of ways, right? The one that’s coming out in August. It’s got live performances, it’s also got new cuts, and it’s also supporting a very special cause, WhyHunger, can you tell me a little bit about the cause? What kind of activities they’re involved in?

WhyHunger is an organization that we’ve been working for for the last year. Raising money to put food on the tables of different homeless shelters across the United States. Started working with a group called Loaves and Fishes back in Sacramento, going down there, serving lunch, working on the food line, myself… me. And, you know, just getting involved in that and going “How do we do this on a national level? How do we do this every day? Instead of just trying to raise money once, and then, okay cool, we’re going to do a food can drive and that’s it.”

So we got in touch with Why, and they’re nation wide, and obviously world wide. And for us it’s just an opportunity to raise money and raise awareness for the homeless folks out there. We know a lot of people are going through a lot of struggle and strife out there right now, at this time in the world, especially with the economy… with the way that it is. And, you know, homeless shelters overflowing and families just trying to make ends meet, and you know, feed their kids.

We feel that it’s a good opportunity for us, as a rock and roll band, to give back to our communities directly. And 33 cents? That’ll put a meal on the table. So, when I found that out I was like, man… when you go raise a thousand dollars that’s almost three thousand meals, right there, on tables directly. And for us to become involved in that–I think it’s just a good way, you know? Because I think, coming up, and being where I’m at, and being able to provide for my family and do that. I think it’s, you know–especially where I come from, you know–the first year of my families life, of my life, my family was homeless. So, to come from not having anything, to coming to where I’m at now, it’s like… I feel like… obliged and responsible to do this. And be part of this.

I talked to Stephen Christian from Anberlin. He supports Faceless International. And the one thing that I learned from him, and one of the reasons why I try to talk to people directly, is because most of the time you just get a website… it’s like okay, well, go to the website and you can find out what you can do to help but, a lot of times, what people want to know is specifically what kind of help does the organization need? Now, what he told me with Faceless, they need donations, they need prayers, but more than that they need bodies.

Oh yeah, well like I said earlier. Primarily, we encourage our fans, cause kids ask me, “what can I do if I don’t have money”‘ I’m like, well, go to your local homeless shelter and just clean up. Work on the food line. And volunteer your time there and if you have money to donate, then donate it to Why.

The reason we got involved with Why is they’re reputable and the money actually goes to where they say it’s gonna go. It doesn’t get lost in the lining in someone’s pocket. And so yes… money definitely is the key factor to it because, like I said, 33 cents puts a meal on the table of a homeless shelter. You go into these places and they’re serving 1,500 meals a day.

It just goes to show you what these places are like… they gotta cut off the line and go “Okay. Cool. That’s all the food we got.” You know? So, there are people that are going hungry. So, the more money, the merrier, because that just puts more food on the table. And, like I said, this isn’t an organization where some CEO guy’s getting his pocket lined.

Last year you guys auctioned off V.I.P passes at each show, right? To raise money. And you got to meet those folks, right?

Yep.

Did a lot of those people have stories too? Because I would imagine they were probably purchasing those tickets for more than they would have if they had gotten them straight off the website.

Oh yeah. We’ve gotten like, anywhere from $500 to $1,500 for the V.IP. packages, and some of them are just huge Papa Roach fans and they see the cause that it’s going to and they’re like, “We have no problem paying this much money to come see the show.” Because they know that the money is going towards a good cause. And so… some of the people have interesting stories and some people just got sh** piles of money to waste on rock and roll tickets. Heheh
You know what I’m saying?

So, as we said, it’s kind of like using some our status to help raise the money. Cause if I was just some Joe on the street going “Hey, give me money so I can give it to the homeless people, they might look at me like I’m some kind of jackass. I don’t know.
That’s kind of sad.

Well, it is a very good use for your international platform, that’s for sure. And I’m sure that there are a lot of families out there right now that appreciate it, because the economy is so bad. You’d be surprised how much people appreciate it when people go out of their way for them.

Yeah.

papa_roach_time_for_annihilation_interviewI wanna go over just a couple of questions, okay? About the band, and the music. You guys are on tour right now. Where are you calling from?

I’m actually in Poland. We’re doing Polish Woodstock and it’s another… it’s actually a charity event. It’s the biggest festival in Europe. 500,000 people. All the proceeds go to the children’s group here in Poland, and the kids that are in need, like in the first months of their lives. Kids that need surgeries and such like that. Or hospital care. All of the money from this goes to that. And so, we’re doing that show here today.

Then we’re headed off to the rest of our European tour. And we’re getting ready to release a new album August 31st and so we’re really excited about that. We’re just gearing up, playing some of the new material and the new material’s going over really well.

So, there’s a general level of excitement around PaPa Roach and what we’re doing right now. It feels good.

It’s a fact, when we step on the stage, people are really receptive to what we have to offer as a rock and roll band. And I think that just seeing the smiles on people’s faces, in the front row singing along, going crazy, is all worth it.

Photos, Music and Video courtesy of Papa Roach and Eleven Seven Music

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  • the real bob

    Darn! There must be something wrong with my new computer. Isn’t that always the way? I wanted to hear the audio clip you referred to on page three, but I went through the whole article and couldn’t find one. Great interview, though! I would’ve liked to have seen it even longer!!!

  • p-roachfan

    Jacoby rocks. Can’t wait to hear the new album.

  • p-roachfan

    I heard the audio clip on page 2.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/kevin-gustafson/ Kevin Gustafson

    Dude, he looks more hardcore than when Papa Roach was on MTV.

  • JD

    Great interview. Love Papa Roach. Cannot wait to hear ‘Time For Annihilation’ . Kick In The Teeth is epic.

  • Lisa Carney

    Great interview. Papa Roach is great…They just came and did a USO tour in Italy it was so great!! My kids were rocking out too. My 11, 7 and 3 yr daughters absolutely love them. So do I.

  • Beth

    This is my all time favorite band ever! I’ve seen them live twice and they totally rock. Scars live is the greatest rock song ever written. I loved hearing Jacoby. Great interview.

  • nick

    i love your music i am 10 years old my name is Nick but my favorite song is life line an burn i went to one of your conserdes in new york your awsam