CAN'T KILL THE ‘ROACH

Australian Guitar - - Feature -

Ev­ery­body knows Papa Roach’s “Last Re­sort”, the angsty alt-rock an­them that an­nounced them to an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence, but you’d be sur­prised at just how many other hits you’d know and just how of­ten they’ve been dish­ing them up. They’ve re­leased an­other seven al­bums since “Last Re­sort” hit, the im­pact of which was seen when huge crowds swarmed in for their sets on the 2015 Sound­wave fes­ti­val run. So why has it taken them three years to re­turn to our shores?

“We’ve had a lot of peo­ple say they want us to come back to Aus­tralia,” ex­plains gui­tarist Jerry Horton, gear­ing up for the first of two packed shows at Syd­ney’s Metro Theatre. “It’s ob­vi­ously very ex­pen­sive to come here. I think the big­gest part of it is that we haven’t de­vel­oped a mar­ket in South-East Asia. If we worked with a nor­mal pro­moter, we would be los­ing money just to do it. We just said, ‘We’ve got to fig­ure out how to make it work.’ We talked to pro­mot­ers but no­body wanted to take it. They said, ‘We’re not con­fi­dent that you guys are go­ing to sell tick­ets.’ So we ba­si­cally be­came our own pro­moter and did it our­selves.”

It’s an im­pres­sive turnout, and the in­ter­est­ing thing is that this crowd seems to in­clude a lot of younger fans as well. Is that some­thing you’ve no­ticed across Aus­tralia?

It is ev­ery­where, yeah. I think a lot of it has to do with our evo­lu­tion as a band. In more re­cent years, we’ve tried to re­ally just hone in on what was great about the old-school stuff, but also bring the modern tech­no­log­i­cal el­e­ments in. If there’s a drum loop or a synth back­ground we can fit in the mix, we’ll at least con­sider it. We’re try­ing to mod­ernise the sound of the record­ings. We’ve also tried to sort of af­fil­i­ate our­selves with and po­si­tion our­selves along­side some of the younger bands as well. It’s helped out a lot be­cause of who we’ve been tour­ing with – we’ve done shows with Bring Me The Hori­zon and Of Mice And Men, so we have a lot of those fans com­ing over. A lot of those peo­ple would just think about us be­ing an old-school band, but when they see the show, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence.

Lis­ten­ing to the new al­bum, there’s def­i­nitely a sense of evo­lu­tion, but there’s also a clear pres­ence of that clas­sic Papa Roach sound: big grooves and big gui­tars. For you as a gui­tarist, where did that style of play­ing de­velop?

The in­flu­ences have been so wide. It’s any­where from Me­tal­lica and Nine Inch Nails, Faith No More and Red Hot Chilli Pep­pers, to The Me­tres and James Brown, and then just ev­ery­where in­be­tween. It’s re­ally just about find­ing the groove – that’s ba­si­cally what we’re about. To be hon­est, the big­gest thing that sets us apart from most other bands is our rhythm sec­tion – the bass and drums and the way that they in­ter­act with each other. The way Tobin [Esper­ance, bass] goes be­tween the gui­tar and the drums is re­ally tasty.

For me, it’s just about find­ing a riff. Some­times we’ll talk about it be­fore­hand and we lay down a bit of a check­list or some goal­posts or what­ever – how­ever you want to look at it – and we sort of try to meet those things and throw ideas around. Some­times it works, some­times it doesn’t.

So you’re or­gan­is­ing this tour your­selves – what does that mean for your live rig?

Right now, I’m us­ing the Axe-FX. I used to run cab­i­nets on­stage, but my en­tire rig is just that now.

Is that an eco­nom­i­cal choice or a sound thing? How do you feel about it?

It’s mostly to do with prac­ti­cal­ity and be­ing com­pact and all that. I used to use the Mar­shall JMP one – the preamp and the power amp. I had the MIDI switch­ing sys­tem and a 20-space rack. The thing weighed 200 ki­los, and to ship that around, it gets ex­pen­sive. A few years ago, we started to do a lot more fly dates where we got to go to Rus­sia for a week. To try and save money, we just switched. Like I said, I used to run a cabi­net just so I could have that air – so that the tran­si­tion was a lit­tle more grad­ual, I guess. It’s great for the sep­a­ra­tion be­tween the front of house and the mon­i­tors. And we make sure it’s loud in the fold­back. Things have changed a lit­tle bit over the years in terms of our sound and how I ap­proach those tones. It’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. It used to be a lit­tle more metal.

Ev­ery­one even­tu­ally makes the shift from Me­tal­lica to AC/DC, right?

To­tally. I mean, it’s cool. For some­body that’s learn­ing and play­ing in their bed­room, hav­ing that metal tone is cool and fun. But when you re­ally have to sit down and make a record, those tones don’t work. It’s some­thing that you have to learn ei­ther by do­ing it or lis­ten­ing to peo­ple who have been do­ing it for a long time. They’d say to use a Mar­shall Plexi and a Les Paul, and I’d go, “No, that’s not metal!” They’d say, “Just do it and lis­ten back.” And then I’d get it. It was a very long learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but we fi­nally have it to the point where we know our gear and what we’re do­ing out there.

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