August 23, 2021 Interview – Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach
Over the past 20 years in Rock-n-Roll history, Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix has solidified himself as a star. Not a label to be tossed around casually, Shaddix’s unpredictable stage presence, wildly diverse vocal styling, matched with a Punk Rock attitude, make him a force like no other.
First striking it big at the turn of the century with the massive anthem “Last Resort,” Papa Roach has kept the train of progress moving forward with each album since. Now going strong all these years later, they recently celebrated the last decade with the release of Greatest Hits Vol. 2: The Better Noise Years.
Their second overall greatest hits compilation, it is a historic moment for a band who still eye further progress with their most recent single “Swerve.” Proving nothing can hold them back, Mr. Jacoby Shaddix recently took the time to reflect on the wild history of Papa Roach, taking nothing for granted, his undying love for music, plus a whole lot more.
Cryptic Rock – Papa Roach has a very long history that goes back over 20 years. In that time you have grown as a band and continue to find success. With all that said, how would you describe your career in music to this point?
Jacoby Shaddix – Oh man, it’s been a roller coaster. I’m super grateful to be where we’re at today. I guess as far as the career, this is the thing that we’ve always set out to do; this was the dream when I was a 15-year-old, this was the thing that I was dreaming of. I was crazy enough when I was a kid to think that I was going to be a rock star, and then here we are, 20 plus years later, and we’re doing it.
It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice for all of us individually. It’s just worth the hard work, to be honest. I just couldn’t see what my life would look like without this band, creating music, and without being part of this positive flow of life. We’re living a dream, literally. (Laughs) It sounds corny to say it, but it’s for real!
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely, and it shows you have worked hard to be where you are today. You have overcome personal issues and struggles along the way, too. How redeeming is it to have overcome as much as you have and continue to find success in life?
Jacoby Shaddix – Everybody’s got their struggles, woes, and their issues. It’s not like I’m incredibly unique, but to be able to face the things that I’ve struggled with, such as addiction, walking through them, and finding some peace in my life is fucking incredible! Because I’ve had friends that have died being drug addicts and alcoholics; it’s a terrible fate. I got a lot to live for. That’s the reality: I really do have a lot to live for. I’ve got a fucking band full of brothers who love me, we’ve got a bunch of fans that are essentially like an extension of who we are in a way; it’s like a family.
If my story can inspire somebody else to face their demons, tackle what they’re afraid of, or face their fears, then that’s amazing. And, honestly, this wasn’t the path I was trying to take as a young visionary of Rock music back in the day. I was like – I just want to fucking be in a band and make noise! And then we did that, and we spoke to a generation of people that just felt what I was going through.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. And it is the sincerity in the music which connects. People can tell when you are faking it and they can tell when you are real.
Jacoby Shaddix – Oh absolutely. People aren’t dumb. That’s the reality and especially when it comes to art. People want something authentic, real, and something that they could believe in. That’s the music that always spoke to me so deeply when I was growing up. It was the music that just made me feel an emotion, feel part of something, and made me want to get up and jump and freak the fuck out!
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were authentic nuttiness and I just loved that as a young kid. Then I got into dudes like Johnny Cash later in my life that were just great storytellers. It was just always real and authentic. That’s something that we’ve strived for as writers and as a creative entity with Papa Roach.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, and you have accomplished that. As mentioned earlier, the band has grown through the years with your sound. You have always been a Rock band through and through, but you have also always experimented with different sounds. How would you describe the progression of Papa Roach?
Jacoby Shaddix – It was a very natural progression. Since the day we started the band we all loved different music, came from different spaces, different families, different musical backgrounds, and different inspiration; because of that we all brought something unique to the table. We didn’t really see music eye to eye when we first started out. There were common bands that we liked, though. Jerry (Horton) was was more of a metalhead. I was into Experimental Noisecore, Freak Punk, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Mr. Bungle. Then Dave (Buckner), our drummer, was into Suicidal Tendencies and Alice in Chains. Everybody just brought something unique to the table. From that day on, it was let’s just experiment, let’s try to mash these styles up and see where it takes us.
The arc of our style really is a reflection of the music that we are loving at that period of time. Early on it was Wu-Tang Clan, Faith No More, Helmet, and Tupac; we love Hip Hop and Rock. Beastie Boys was another group we loved, because they were fusing those Rock and Hip Hop styles together. Then over the years, we wanted to prove ourselves as a Rock-n-Roll band. I fell in love with ’70s Rock and bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin and The Who. That was later in my life, too, because I wasn’t really a big fan of those bands when I was younger. Then my father-in-law gave me his vinyl collection and I just kind of bugged out on it.
We want to prove ourselves as a valid Rock-n-Roll band. And so the melody became a massive part of what we were doing and that storytelling. Then, after that, it’s like, alright, now that we’ve proved we’re a valid Rock-n-Roll band, now what? That was when we came to our album Crooked Teeth (2017). It was time for a reinvention and to flip this motherfucker inside out, shake it out, and see what we got. That was essentially kind of the beginning of a new era of the band; it’s just a mass of stylings and experimentation. As long as it makes us feel, it’s authentic, and it’s 100% Papa Roach, then we’re in.
Cryptic Rock – And you put out really great music over the past 20 years. The band actually have a greatest hits album that came out back in March of this year. It marks your second greatest hits album, which is really cool. It is a landmark to release two greatest hits album.
Jacoby Shaddix – (Laughs) It’s ridiculous. I laugh and I’m like, “What the fuck?” But like I said earlier, it’s that thing that I was dreaming as a kid, and now I’m doing it. I finally had to realize sometimes I take this thing for granted. In reflecting upon that, I just am really fucking blown away, straight up.
Cryptic Rock – Sometimes, no matter how far you come, you have to stop and pinch yourself once in a while. It might sound corny, but it is true.
Jacoby Shaddix – Yeah, absolutely.
Cryptic Rock – So, this latest greatest hits album is a compilation of the last 10 years of Papa Roach of remastered tracks. It includes a cool track with Danny (Worsnop) from Asking Alexandria that you redid, along with plenty of remixes. What inspired you to go this route with the second greatest hits album?
Jacoby Shaddix – We wanted to take this last 10 years and have a way to celebrate it, and what better way than with a greatest hits. When it came down to the track listing, most of them are singles then there are a few other cuts. For instance, “Broken is Me,” that wasn’t a single, but we looked to the streaming and saw that it was a song that fans really gravitated towards naturally. They were listening to it on the regular and so we said, “Let’s pull this thing up” and get Danny from Asking Alexandria to feature on it; just to give it a little bit of new life.
Also, the remixes were something that’s been special for us. Throughout the last five years we really started to dip our toes into that EDM space and collaborate with people in that world. We recently put out “Core (That’s Who We Are)” with German EDM Artist Vize. We are such big fans of all genres that we wanted to flex on it, with having some EDM remixes. Our friends Aelonia just fucking ripped it with their remix for “Top of the World,” it is one of my favorites. And then this cat Cymek, he just murdered it on “Born for Greatness.” It’s cool to hear our music filtered through somebody else, what they would do, and how they would flip things or the tempos. I love that type of collaboration.
We also put some of that acoustic stuff on there, because I think it shows that side of our band, the versatility of who we are and what we can do. Taking a song like “Face Everything and Rise,” which is normally just a rip-roaring banger, flip it up acoustic and still be able to rock it… it proves it’s a good song. You could strip away all the production and all the big parts, and you’ve still got some great chords, a good melody, a good lyric, and it connects.
Cryptic Rock – It all definitely works. You could have just released an album of singles and have the original recordings, but what good would that do honestly? At least this is something fresh. These are songs everyone knows, but these are a fresh take on everything.
Jacoby Shaddix – Oh, yeah, absolutely. We took a lot of time and care in the packaging of this piece, too. I’m a big fan of vinyl and we know this is a collector’s piece; this is for the hardcore Papa Roach fans. We wanted to make this thing special. So when you open this thing up, it’s just like, “Ahhh!” I love it. I get juiced on picking out the type of vinyl that we’re going to print.
Also, with the artwork, we took it and made it look like it’s like distressed, because it’s a celebration of the last 10 years. So it looks like it’s been on your shelf for the last 10 years and you’ve been playing the shit out of it. It’s got a vibe, so it’s a really special piece. It’s really cool to be able to have it in my hand, too. I’m kind of a dork like that.
Cryptic Rock – There is something to be said about the excitement of the tangible, of having the piece of music in your hands. Yes, we are in 2021 now and physical format is not really that popular anymore; it is not convenient anymore but there is still something special about it. You remember going to the store as a kid with the money you saved up to buy that tape, vinyl, or CD. That was a big thing.
Jacoby Shaddix – Yes, there’s definitely a sort of romanticism to it. And then, also, what’s really cool is now that the digital age is here, vinyl is kind of making a bit of a comeback. That has been really cool for us because we’ve always wanted to, since the beginning of our career, release vinyl, but our labels and the record companies were never into it. The last five, seven years, we’ve been releasing stuff on vinyl, and we find that the fans really like that format of the music. It is just put it on the fucking record player and let it play. It’s a nice way to experience music. Set it, forget it, and just rock it!
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. And it requires you to listen to the entire record in full and that is a great thing. You also have a film called The Retaliators that you are a part of that is out this fall. So what can you tell us about this film?
Jacoby Shaddix – I had a great opportunity in acting in this film, The Retaliators. It was something that I’ve never really actively pursued, but the opportunity kind of fell in my lap. I was at a place in my life where I was willing to challenge myself with something new, get out of my comfort zone, and took the opportunity. I said “yes,” got on the phone with the directors and said, “Alright, guys, listen, I’m not an actor.” (Laughs) They said, “Yeah, but you’re a natural on camera. They said, “We’ve seen your music videos, and we see you can emote and you have a good sensibility in front of a camera. We can just help you dial this in and really nail the part.” So, I said, “Alright, cool, let’s go.”
The character I play is just a deplorable, disgusting, dark, sick, fucked up individual… nothing like who I am in real life. It was cool to be able to put myself in a different headspace in the creative world. And, thank god, I had great direction, directors, and actors around me that really coached me through it. To be honest, I didn’t know if I was doing good or bad or what. The directors were just like, “Dude, you’re doing a great job. You’re doing a great job.” I’m like, “Are you sure?” They said, “Get over here and watch the playback.” And I said, “Okay, cool. It’s translating.”
What I learned about acting is it’s in the subtleties and not overdoing it. It’s very different than being on stage because everything is so big and dramatic when you’re on stage. With acting, it is about pulling it all back and letting the subtleties be the thing that tells the story. It was a great challenge. I definitely think that I would like to try something like that again.
Cryptic Rock – That’s pretty cool and it will be exciting to see when it comes out. This is just another thing to add to your repertoire because you have done so much. Last question. What are some of your favorite Horror and/or Sci-Fi related films?
Jacoby Shaddix – The Abyss (1989) is amazing. Leviathan (1989) is also another great one. American Werewolf in London (1981) is a classic. Prometheus (2012) is another one that’s fucking great.
Then there are the classic Freddy Krueger films. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is a film from my younger years that really grasped me. I also like The Ring (2002). Then there’s another one that’s kind of not necessarily a Horror film, but kind of a Thriller suspense-ish is Parasite (2019). That thing’s fucking kooky.
Cryptic Rock – That’s a good mix of old and new films right there. It seems like you like a lot of Sci-Fi.
Jacoby Shaddix – Yeah, I like that Sci-Fi stuff. It’s fascinating to me and I love the other worldly. I’ve always just had that “imagine what the world would look like in an alternate reality or in the future.” I’ve just got that imaginative brain, so it’s cool to see that stuff laid out in front of me.
Cryptic Rock – And some Sci-Fi actually becomes reality eventually, which is kind of scary. (Laughs)
Jacoby Shaddix – (Laughs) Right? You ever watch that show Black Mirror?
Cryptic Rock – Yes. It’s a little creepy, but now more than ever with everything that has transpired over the last year and a half.
Jacoby Shaddix – Well, that’s what I’m saying! Where does the line blur? It’s just about 5% to 10% off of where we’re at right now and that’s what bugs me out. I’m like, “Oh God, is this where we’re headed? Oh, shit, I need to go meditate and pray.” (Laughs)