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Papa Roach: Guitarist Wanted To 'Focus On Riffs' For New Record

2. august 2009 at 2:11 | ewelyn-best |  PR
When the single "Last Resort" earned the coveted #1 spot on Billboard's Modern Rock Charts in 2000, Papa Roach was not only a household name in the music industry, it had also become a figurehead of the nu-metal scene. Rather than repeating themselves with every album since that time, the musicians in Papa Roach haven't been afraid to alter their sound and discard the rapping that played a significant part in launching their career.
The band's latest album, aptly titled Metamorphosis (available in stores on March 24), not only signals a musical evolution within the band, it also hints at the addition of new drummer Tony Palermo.
When Papa Roach guitarist Jerry Horton talked with Ultimate-Guitar recently, he discussed how much easier the recording process has become since Palermo joined the group. It certainly is an important aspect for Papa Roach considering that former drummer Dave Buckner left more than a few things unsettled (Back in December Buckner filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates regarding royalties). Horton told UG writer Amy Kelly that his band has moved forward despite those issues, however, and the riff-driven Metamorphosis is a product of that creative growth.
UG: I've recently read quotes from Jacoby (Shaddix, vocals) stating that the rock side of the band has been intensified. When you went into making the record, had you planned on taking the sound up a notch? Or did the songs just evolve naturally during jam sessions?
Jerry: We have plans usually when we go into write a record, but the plans become secondary to what happens naturally. I think this record is the most diverse record I think that we've ever done. There are a lot of different styles on the record, but I think there's a common thread that goes through all of them, especially with the lyrics. They are different, but they all fit together nicely. There is kind of the band guy cliché to say that our "heavier stuff is heavier" and "our mellow stuff is mellower." It really kind of applies with this record!
"I think this record is the most diverse record that we've ever done."
You once again worked with producer Jay Baumgardner, who was behind your Dreamworks' debut Infest. Given the fact that Howard Benson produced your last 2 albums, how much of an influence did Jay have upon your sound this time around?
We did our first record with him, so we kind of knew how it was going to be. We wanted to have a co-producer on this album. We did some stuff on our own, but we also consulted with him. We're trying to set ourselves up to be able to do all of our own records, and we wanted someone to co-produce with us. Jay was obviously willing to do that, so it came like a natural thing.
The title Metamorphosis has plenty of connotations, particularly in regards to the songwriting. Would you say that it carried over to your work as a guitarist?
Yeah. We, as a band and musicians, have kind of been growing and evolving ever since we started. The title Metamorphosis mostly applies to the fact that we have a new drummer and we are constantly changing. The lyrical content has a little bit different perspective on this record, but I did try and stretch out. Tobin (Esperance, bass), he writes a good portion of the material. What he doesn't do, we all kind of do together. We did quite a few jam sessions on the record. It's just feeling the song out and finding the best thing. Where there are vocals, it's letting the vocals have their space. When there are no vocals, it's finding either a cool riff or cool sound or beat or whatever. It's letting everything breathe and having its own space.
I did want to briefly touch upon some fairly recent news involving your former drummer Dave Buckner, who filed a lawsuit in December against the band and alleged that he had been cheated out of royalties. You may not even be able to discuss the matter given the pending legalities, but I know that your fans are probably curious about the status of that situation.
I can't really talk about what's going on, but I can say that we are remaining friends. We haven't really been able to talk to each other much because of the whole lawsuit that's being settled. We don't wish any ill will for Dave. I think that the decision that is made is made for the best - where both parties are concerned. That's basically it.
When Dave left the band in 2008, was Tony Palermo the obvious choice as his replacement? Since joining, has Tony participated in the songwriting process?
To start out with, Tony had filled in a couple of times when Dave had to go off of the road. So by the time that we went in to write the record, we were already sort of familiar with Tony. More importantly, he was familiar with us. Our personalities meshed very well with each other. Because he comes from a punk rock school, we had to put him on a click and told him to lay back a little bit. For the writing of the record we told him, "Yeah, you're crazy and have chops. Now go and listen to Led Zeppelin, Rage Against The Machine, and learn the pocket." And he did.
In the writing, he did contribute little production things here and there with the arrangements and stuff like that. It was a breath of fresh air for us. He was there every day, willing to work. We got a lot done in a month. We were up at that house, The Paramour, for a month and we got probably more done at that time than we did in 2-and-half-months previously.
"The title Metamorphosis mostly applies to the fact that we have a new drummer and we are constantly changing."
You mentioned that you asked him to broaden his musical scope by listening to bands like Led Zeppelin. Was he pretty much a punk guy all of the way?
His musical knowledge and his musical tastes are a lot broader than most people think. I don't think he necessarily played all that stuff. It's the same with any kind of musician. They like a lot of different stuff, but they only play a few different styles. He was a fan of those kinds of bands, but he didn't really play it much. He had to adjust to our style. He learned it, and he does it really well.
You are Schecter player who has been called "the guitarist who put the Diamond Series on the map." Did you stick with a Schecter and Marshall studio setup for Metamorphosis?
I am still a Schecter guy. I use their stuff pretty much exclusively on tour. Most guys in the studio like vintage Fender stuff - and I do - but I did use Schecter here and there on the record. With Marshall, I used a rack setup with preamps and power amps. In the studio, we use a modified JCM 800 for the main sound. We went for a couple Plexi Handwired amps. For some reason, I blew the amp! I don't think they were getting that hot.
It's mostly Marshall. We threw in a couple of combos here and there, like a 6120 and an AC30 head. That's pretty much it. We went really basic on this record and were really focused on trying to put as little into the way of tracking, overdubs, overlays, and that kind of stuff. We wanted it to be, not necessarily raw, but we didn't want to muddy things up. We kept it pretty basic as far as that goes.
What tuning styles will we hear on the new album?
Mostly it's Drop D, but we kind of tailor the tuning to Jacoby's vocal range. If there is a song where the highest note is a little bit out of his reach, we'll just take it down a half-step.
Talk briefly about the songwriting behind the single "Hollywood Whore," which features quite an infectious, memorable riff. Was that the first piece of the song that was written?
That was kind of a jam session. We had the verse written, and we wanted to really kind of focus on riffs this record. Instead of having vocals all the time, we would do more riffs just to keep things interesting. We were like, "All right. We need something for the intro. We need a riff." We just kind of jammed it out a little bit, and that's what we came up with.
"We, as a band and musicians, have kind of been growing and evolving ever since we started."
Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars appeared as a guest musician on the track "Into The Light." How did he get involved with the project?
We had recorded the basic track, and we knew that we were going to be going on tour with Mötley Crüe. We actually didn't finish the record before we went on tour. There was a section in there that needed a lead. Jacoby suggested having Mick Mars do it, and the song kind of fit his style. We were on tour and Jacoby asked him if he wanted to do it. He said, "Really? Like for real?" Jacoby said, "For real? Like you're 'for-realing' me?" He was stoked that we asked him, and we were stoked that he wanted to do it.
I sat down with him and played him the song. It tripped me out because I obviously grew up listening to Mötley Crüe. In my head I was saying, "I'm sitting here with Mick Mars!" I told him, "We're really honored to have you do it." He said, "Well, I don't know about all that, but I'm excited to do it." It just so happens that not only is he a great guitar player, he's one of the coolest, wackiest dudes I've ever met. We actually ended up recording it on the road. We just jumped into a studio in Tampa, and he did a few masters. We picked out the good stuff and threw it on there.
Will that experience open up the door to other future collaborations? Are there any guitar gods that you'd consider asking to play on your next record?
I wouldn't say that we would never do anything, but I think this was just one of those opportunities that presented itself. I don't know that we would necessarily go out of our way to ask somebody to be on the record. But if it happens that somebody wanted to do it or we felt there was a song that suited another player, I would never say never. I wouldn't actually go out and ask somebody, though.
Is it safe to assume that the rapping aspect of Papa Roach is pretty much history at this point?
Yeah. It's been gone for about 7 years now. We did that on the major label ones, and before we even got signed we've been evolving. We don't really look back very much. There may be certain things that we would want to redo as far as styles go, but it's just one of those things. We happened to write one of the classic nu-metal songs of that era. For us to keep doing that, not only would we pigeonhole ourselves, we wouldn't be moving forward.
When you think back to the days when you were first beginning to play the guitar, can you recall any specific methods or techniques that helped you advance? What tricks of the trade would you recommend that a new guitarist try out?
There are different ways for different people. I just learned by learning other people's music by ear. Other people learn better with lessons. I definitely wouldn't discount lessons, that's for sure. Playing by ear just came naturally to me, so that's how I did it.

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