Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Despite existing as a band since 1993 Papa Roach have never previously played in N.Ireland until last Saturday..From their ground breaking debut “Infest”the band have continued to evolve and develop their unique musical style.Their albums from that debut until latest release F.E.A.R have illustrated a myriad of influences and genres well outside their commonly media labelled” nu-metal “sound Ahead of their debut Belfast show,I had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with bassist Tobin Esperance.
Mgm “Regarding your new album just released I have seen several reviews which have referred to it as a “new sound/style for Papa Roach. How do you view it-as a natural progression from previous albums or a conscious decision by the band to take a different approach to the album process?”
Tobin”Its always a natural progression, for us. We never sit down and think”oh we have got to change our style. We are going to do this and that. We just get in a room and we are making music like”hey lets try this”you know. There is no rules”
Mgm”The bands sound has really been evolving since “Metalmorphosis” though?”
Tobin”There is no boundaries, and I think that people are crazy to think that we are supposed to sound like the same band that we were fifteen years ago when I was 19 years old and I am like fucking 35 now its like….”
Mgm”Its what people do-they like to generalise, put things into boxes-and label them. That label Papa Roach were given at the time of the debut release “Nu -metal” How do you view that?”
Tobin”At the time I think being labelled, it was annoying at first you know. We just looked at ourselves as a band that were influenced by all different kinds of music. Whether it was hip-hop, punk rock or metal, hard rock, pop or whatever. We perform everything in the context of a rock n roll band. You call it what you want, people are always going to come up with their own names. Now its like “I get it”people are always going to create a genre in order to classify a certain period of time. Not necessarily certain types of bands but a period of time. If you look at “nu-metal” bands from say late nineties or early 2000’s its like none of us sound the same. We don’t sound like The Deftones, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Incubus. None of the bands even sound the same, it’s just a period of time so I get it. ”
Mgm “Since the band began in the late nineties there have been many changes in the music industry /business with record companies/the internet and social media etc…Have these been positive or negative for the band?”
Tobin”It is just an inevitable thing that happens you know-along with people, musicians and music. The business is going to change and evolve and we had to transition, roll with the punches and just adapt to what was going on. I think that is one of the strengths and the reason why we have had the longevity is because we have just continued to grow and adapt with everything else. You cant fight it or change it-you just have to work your way into it. As long as you stay focused on the most important things which is making real music that you are passionate about your fans will stick with you. ”
Mgm”If you could look back over the bands career and pick out a couple of songs which to you sum up the band what would those be?
Tobin” I would say”Between Angels and Insects”. From the middle point it would be “Scars”, and from where we are at now probably be like “Face Everything and Rise”.
Mgm”Do you find that as the bands sound has changed your audience has also changed?”
Tobin”Yeah our audience has definitely grown broader than ever before. We have a lot of new fans, that are younger. We have a lot of female fans,we have older fans. We have fans that have stuck with us from the beginning. I see a huge diverse crowd. ”
Mgm”Outside of Papa Roach and music do you have any spare time interests or hobbies? Maybe something which would surprise fans of the band?
Tobin”I mean I am always doing music so outside of the band I am always working on other things musically and I have a studio. I just spend a lot of time learning how to be better engineer, producer, songwriter..”
Mgm”Do you produce other bands?
Tobin” I have worked with other bands but I haven’t produced any records as yet. That is something that I just haven’t had the time to do because I also have a family. I tour so much that when I go home its like I am trying to be the best dad and the best husband that I can. Other than that it is really just living a simple life, and enjoying that .It is tough on the road, and you are travelling every day.”
Mgm”That part doesn’t become any easier?
Tobin”Yeah other than that I am always trying to just be healthier-just working out and eating right, getting outside and just enjoy nature and people and…”
Mgm”Do you get much opportunity to check out cities? As I said this is your first time in Belfast?
Tobin”I always go on a walk when I get into a city. I like to do it by myself too so it is. The first thing that I do as soon as I have a couple of hours of freedom as I walk. I just like the walk round the city centre its the best way to absorb.”
As you have done many interviews over the years who would you personally like to sit down and interview with the roles reversed?
Tobin” That’s a good question,….shit I don’t know. I am not that interested in other people.”
Mgm”No personal heroes..?
Tobin”Yeah I mean I just cant think of one that’s totally,…blown me away you know..”
Mgm”Moving on then Papa Roach’s new album title “Face Everything and Rise”- sounds like a rallying call against adversity. Do you feel that the band have triumphed in that they are still around and existing as a band are still evolving and have released nine albums? I am sure that there has been cynicism and a backlash experienced against the band.
Tobin”Yeah that’s totally what it is, I feel like that is exactly what it is. People can connect with that because they have to deal with that all the time. Its just about pulling yourself out from that deep dark, desperate place and trying to find light and hope at the end of the tunnel. Finding a better version of yourself essentially.”
Mgm”Has the song righting process changed for the band since those early days and the debut release?
Tobin”I mean not really the music always comes first like instrumentation. I will write and demo songs …”
Mgm”What about the lyrics is that solely 1 persons personal perspective?
Tobin”Sometimes Jacoby will collaborate with a producer or something like that on the lyrics and then we will come in and listen to what the first sketch of the lyrics are and then we will make our comments and our notes and then we leave. He kind of does the same thing with me when it comes to the music. With the instrumentation I gave him a bunch of demos. He sits and listens to them over and over again and writes the lyrics. Sometimes I will change the music to fit the lyrics a bit more. Pretty much that’s always just how its been.”
Mgm”Was there any point in the bands career that proved particularly difficult and you contemplated splitting up? Perhaps the departure of Dave Buckner for example?
Tobin”No, I mean that was a difficult time but I don’t think that we had the desire to give up at that point in time. It’s always difficult-being in a band is you have to be crazy, insane to fucking want to do this all the time.(laughs)”
Mgm”What was your biggest waste of money at the peak of the bands success? Or indeed is that time still to come for Papa Roach?
Tobin”No I feel that has definitely come and gone. We wasted a lot of money in I would say three or four years of our career just spending a lot of money on alcohol and wrecking hotel rooms.
Mgm”Just because you could?
Tobin”Buying buses, having champagne-and having a million bottles of …Because you thought that you could. I mean it was retarded. Just living outside of your means and not really paying attention to your business.”
Mgm”Is it more difficult for a band to survive an make even a basic living these days from music?
Tobin”Yeah absolutely because the cost of touring has gone up. Bands don’t make money from record sales anymore because its all touring. The cost of touring has gone up because of cost of gas fluctuates. Just things like that,its just challenging to make things work sometimes. Sometimes you have to go and put in the leg work. You have to be willing to go and not make money in order to get your music out there to gain fans. In the hope that they will support you and follow you and in return that is the reward. Do you know what I mean?
Mgm”How do you view the bands musical legacy? Is it something that you regard with pride?Especially given that “Infest” in particular has been regarded as a landmark release and groundbreaking.”
Tobin”Yeah definitely, I am super proud of this band, the longevity and evolution and all that. I think that’s why we are still doing it, and why we find so much importance and meaning in what we do.It keeps us going.”
Mgm”Ok as I said earlier this is the bands first time in Belfast what can fans tonight expect from seeing the band for the first time live|?
Tobin”The new songs have been going down well on the first dates that we have played.We always like to mix it up, we are playing about four brand new songs”
Mgm”The new album is a grower “
Tobin”What was your initial question again?
Mgm”How do you personally view your musical legacy?
Tobin”Oh yeah….totally proud of it. Even all the ups and downs, I wouldn’t change anything. I don’t like to look back and regret things. We have done shit that we have regretted for sure but it is part of the growing and learning process. Where we are at now is a good place.”
Is the UK a place particularly close to the bands heart thinking back to the early gigs here?
Tobin” I think so, absolutely.From the first time that we set foot. All the festivals, all the headlining shows…Everything from 2000 when we first came over here its always just had that energy and that passion.We have always had memorable shows here. Our fans have always come out and supported us so we will always come back…”
Mgm”Well tonight’s show is I believe totally sold out so should be great. I’m personally really looking forward to seeing the band play live on a Belfast stage. Have fun and enjoy it. Cheers Tobin for taking time to chat to me today before your sound-check.
Tobin “Cant wait to play finally for you guys over here, thanks.