Interview conducted October 24 2017
Interview published November 2 2017
"Sometimes I just laugh and if somebody comes
up with a really good diss, it's like 'Wow! That's fucking funny.'."
American metal/rap-rock outfit Papa
Roach put out their new record Crooked Teeth in May and as they made a
stop in Stockholm, Sweden on one of their many European tours, Metal Covenant
got an opportunity to talk to drummer Tony Palermo.
Tobbe: At this point you can look at Crooked
Teeth with some perspective of course, and what was it like to kind of
revisit some of the older melodies and put them on this record?
Tony: I mean, it just felt like the right time
to do that and it totally felt deliberate and, you know, we didn't force
it. Jacoby [Shaddix] really wanted to start rapping again, 'cause, you
know, on the past few records he wanted to develop himself as more of
a rock singer and prove to himself that he can do that and definitely
we all think that he did a great job with that.
it was definitely a conscious decision to go in and, like, kind of revisit
some of that stuff, and especially working with our producers, Nick
[Furlong] and Colin [Brittain]. They were like "Man!". You
know, they're younger guys and they were like reliving some of their
teenage years with, like, Infest days. You know, Last Resort and all
that, so they kind of like spearheaded that as well. And also, no disrespect
to some of the last producers that we've worked with, they're great
in their own rights, but we wanted to kind of like break away from that.
You know, the typical rock producer vibe, and we met Nick and Colin,
and they were not that.
What's funny about using them is they hadn't
done a full-length record ever and they just did tracks with different
bands, so we heard a lot of shit from our management and the label and
they were like "What are you doing? You can't use these guys. They
don't know what they're doing. They're totally inexperienced.".
And we just felt it was time to break away from that typical rock producer
and that machine that happens in the studio.
Like I said, with no disrespect, 'cause those
guys are great as well. But we felt we needed to, like, inject some
youthfulness into the sound and the writing and then they helped us
You know, we're always pushing the boundaries, with songs
like None Of The Above and Periscope. Periscope is a little poppier,
obviously, so not a lot of big guitars. So that was cool and we found
a place to go to where it's still Papa Roach. And we're always looking
to do that. Even if it's a song that doesn't make the record, we're
always trying to expand, and it might not fit on one record, and, you
know, we'll save it and it might fit with the next body of work. So
there's always that mindset as well.
Tobbe: I remember mentioning to Tobin [Esperance,
bass] in May how diverse you actually are and
[Jacoby storms the
room and is starting to show some pictures and then leaves just as quickly
as he entered.]
Tony: I think, you know, having songs like Periscope
now, people are starting to take notice of where we can go as a band
and still be true to ourselves and still be relevant. That's a huge
thing for a band, to actually stay relevant for this long. Some people
are like "I'm gonna see Papa Roach." and "Wait. They're
still a band?". So there's that too. So we're constantly trying
to, like, reinvigorate people's mindset. A lot of people think "Oh,
Last Resort. That's Papa Roach.", but we've come a long way since
then, you know. And even people in the industry were finding that this
record is changing a lot of their perception as well.
streaming; obviously getting songs on different playlists, at Spotify,
and everywhere else, it's helping. We got a lot of e-mails back from
people in the industry, like "They're doing some cool shit.",
you know. Older people in the industry, that kind of like wrote us off,
you know. So you always encounter that, and it's like "Man, give
us a chance. We're still here, and trying to be relevant.". And
we've seen a lot of younger fans in the crowd now, which is amazing.
It feels good to, like, look out and you see fresh faces. 'Cause we've
played so much in the last, you know, 8 years. We've toured a lot.
Tobbe: It's very easy today for you to read
on social media what your fans would like and does that in any way affect
your choice of direction for an album?
Tony: I would say that: We don't sit there and
look at the charts or whatever. You know, on iTunes there is, like,
favorite songs, you know, for each record. We'll look on that initially,
but writing the next record I don't think we dwell on that. We just
feel things coming out and we'll write a bunch of songs and then pick
out the really good ones that are album material and then kind of take
a step back after we have, like, 6 or 7 of 'em and just go "Okay.
We already have that style of songs, so we need to write something in
this tempo, or something in this key.", or whatever. So we don't
dwell on that.
And the funny thing now is we're trying to get
used to all these, like, algorithms, which we don't really care about,
but our management is like, you know, "This algorithm says this."
and first we were like "What? We write music; we don't write algorithms.".
Like "We create your algorithms with our music.". So it's
been kind of a weird process with the initial release of the record
as it's sort of like taking on a new time, you know, and with all the
streaming, and the fact that bands are just making money on the road
now. We love touring, but it would be nice, 'cause we all have families
and kids, to not tour as much.
Like this tour is, like, 7 weeks. But with Jacoby's
voice, and he had to have some surgery, we had to shift some stuff around,
so it extended the tour. We don't normally do 7 weeks, but, you know.
We're very fortunate and appreciative that we actually can come out
and that people are gonna come out with us and see the show. We're pretty
crusty right now, but I don't think the shows are suffering at all.
We still leave it all on the stage and from the beginning to the end
you just get us full force, you know.
And just like any well-known band Papa Roach gets its share of negativity
on the websites and do you ever read what people in general write about
the band or yourselves personally?
Tony: Yeah, I do. I mean, if there's articles
that come out, then I'll scroll down to some comments and what people
, you know. It's interesting, and especially it's funny when
you read stuff on, like, a metal site or something. You know, just people
like "This band is not fucking metal. What are they doing on here?"
and it's like "All right. Whatever. I get that, you know.".
Sometimes I just laugh and if somebody comes up with a really good diss,
it's like "Wow! That's fucking funny.". I can't think of one
right now, but I know I've read those. At first you're like "Fuck
You!" and then you're like "Whatever.". Not everybody
is gonna like your band. We don't like every band, so.
I don't ever let that get to me and I don't think
any of us really do, 'cause we're smarter than that. The internet is
just a fucking worldwide shitshow. It's so easy for people to sit back
and write whatever they want. So yeah, we can't dwell on that shit,
'cause we'd be a mess. Especially, like, Jacoby; he's pretty emotional
already, so. I mean, he's like "Whatever. Fuck it! Like what you
like.", you know.
Tobbe: Without coming out super cliché,
is it possible to claim that a band's latest record is also their best
Tony: [Laughs] That's funny, we get asked "What's
your favorite Papa Roach record?" and yeah, 9 times out of 10 it
usually is the one that you just created, 'cause you feel so close to
it and, you know, it's exciting, it's fresh, it's new, and I would definitely
say the same for Crooked Teeth. I mean, it's not only because it's fresh
and new; it's just the direction some of the songs have taken us. There's
always a lot of meaning, truth, honesty and darkness in our lyrics,
so there is always gonna be that. That's just a given for us, but the
way that we present the music and the songs
This new record; I think we're playing 7 new
songs live and each one of them gets a great reaction. Normally we wouldn't
play that many. I think we usually play maybe 3 or 4. But, you know,
we're like "Fuck it!". We're having such a good time and we
had such a good time making the record. It's gotten such a great response
from people, our peers, as well as new fans, so we're like "Let's
just throw some more songs in the set.". We play for an hour and
a half, which is the longest we've ever played, and we can take people
on a ride. We play something from every record now and it feels really
good to look out and see the fans really getting into it.
dude, we're playing shit, people are crying; it's all over the place.
When people leave our shows now they're just like spanked. You know,
I'll read shit online and like "I'm so worn out. I've got bruises
and cuts and scrapes and it's so worth it.", so people are wholeheartedly
feeling it, you know.
Tobbe: If we would look at a coming record
at this early point, will you perhaps keep the older attributes in your
music just like you did this time, or will you kind of visit unknown musical
Tony: Well, I think all of the above. We've actually
already started. We have 5 or 6 tracks that are demoed already. Yeah,
'cause we were supposed to do a tour with Of Mice & Men in, like,
February and then their singer Austin [Carlile] had to go and get a
bunch of treatment for his disease, and then he ended up quitting the
band. So that tour wasn't announced, but it was about to be announced
and tickets were gonna be on sale. So we had to, like, cancel that whole
thing and that threw our initial push for Crooked Teeth off a little
So we now had that time off, so we went in the
studio, back with Nick and Colin, and just kind of like capitalized
on some of that creativity that we had flowing from Crooked Teeth. Yeah,
we've got some pretty interesting shit coming. You know, we don't know
what songs are gonna make the record yet, but I think, yeah, all of
the above, what you said. I think we'll revisit some of the old stuff
again and just continue trying to push and evolve the band as we do.
Tobbe: Are you guys ever worried about that
some day there won't be a market for Papa Roach's type of music anymore?
Tony: I don't think we're worried about that.
I don't even know what would have to happen for that to be. I think
we've set a path for ourselves in the rock scene and I think as long
we stick to that... I mean, the path is always changing a little bit,
but we still sound like Papa Roach. Yeah, if we can maintain that whole
mindset and just kind of keep using different influences, I think it'll
always find its place in the scene, you know.
Well, it's hard to predict the future. Like grunge took over, or when
you first started out it was a little bit different and some people assert
or claim that rock is dead, you know, but I guess it's not.
Tony: Yeah, and then you see reports like "Oh,
rap music is selling more than rock." and it's like "Well,
fuck.", but we still have these huge festivals, so there's people
that wanna hear rock music. I was watching that Foo Fighters documentary
and Dave Grohl was talking about, you know, in the Nirvana days, that
the first they noticed when they started hitting it with Nevermind was
like "Oh, there's jocks coming to our shows now. Those fuckers
beat us up at school and now they're coming to the shows. What?".
You know, he was, like, perplexed.
So yeah, you can never tell what's gonna hit
next. It's really hard to say. There probably won't be another [The]
Beatles, 'cause they just came out of
I mean, there was a blank
canvas and they just explored and created all these new musical endeavors.
And I mean, it seems like everything has been done nowadays, but you
never know, like I'd love to see the next breakout.
We've already been around long enough to not
be that band, and we accept that and we just continue to do our thing.
We were talking about that the other day, that we're kind of excited
to see what that next huge thing will be. I mean, Twenty One Pilots
kind of like took that a little bit, I guess, but I don't know how many
older people know about them. I think they just took that to the younger
Tobbe: But the competition is huge nowadays
Tony: It's so huge, yeah. You can't really think
about that too much, as a band. Just do your thing, you know. But we
always like to see who's coming out with what, and we're pretty proud
that we have our own thing going. And even like meeting a lot of younger
bands and bands that we like
You know, we'll meet them and they'll
just be like "Man! Fuck. You guys are just
always a story, like, you know "When Last Resort came out we were,
like, 10.", or whatever. So there's that impression that's been
locked into people's brains and that means a lot. That's huge, you know.
Tobbe: When you first started out you looked
up to certain musicians too of course.
Tony: Yeah, and it's cool to even be playing
with those bands. You know, like older bands and have them show their
gratitude towards you, and you're like [Whispers] "Oh, man!".
First of all, meeting, like, some older people, some older bands; you
know, that's cool. 'Cause when you're young you don't think that's gonna
happen. When you're young you don't think it's gonna happen like that;
you just think "I wanna be in a band." and then you start
touring and playing and you start meeting all these other bands.
mean, this is a perfect example: Like, I joined the band, it's almost
10 years now, and I came from more of, like, the punk rock scene, Southern
California punk rock scene, and yeah, we weren't playing with big rock
bands; we were playing little punk clubs. But I always grew up listening
to rock music, like, you know, Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Slayer,
all these bands. And when I joined Papa Roach we would play all these
festivals with all those bands and I finally met, like, all these people
that I just fucking looked up to and I was freaking out, like "This
And still to this day I'm friends with a lot
of those people. You know, I was playing in Sixx:A.M., which is Nikki
Sixx's side band, and I remember joining and the first couple of rehearsals
I was just like [Whispers] "Holy fuck! That's Nikki Sixx.".
You know, I went back to my teenage years, 'cause I used to see Mötley
Crüe all the time. That was just surreal. You know, after a while
it's like "All right. Cool. Yes, I'm over it.". Not over it,
but the initial shock was gone. That was a proud moment for me too and
playing with these guys allowed me to meet a lot of my idols and stuff.
It's been really awesome in that sense.
Tobbe: As a musician, could you ever consider
retirement, or is this something you will do until you drop?
Tony: It just gets tiring by the end of a long
tour. You're just ready to take a break. But I'm never thinking "This
is my last tour.". I can't. You know, I don't think that way, plus
also: with the music industry there's no retirement fund, so you gotta
keep working or you better figure some other shit out, you know. But
I mean, look, this is what I've wanted to do for my whole life, since
I remember being a kid and being exposed to music from my mom and my
cousins. It's just ingrained in my blood; it's in my DNA. I love playing
drums, I love being out on stage and creating that power and that emotion
that people feel. I feel like, I know it's cliché, but I feel
like I was born to do that, and it never feels forced, you know.
Tobbe: You can always go back to a day-time
job if you would prefer that.
Tony: Fuck yeah. [Laughs] And I've had plenty
of those dumbass
like, just weird day-jobs that I just
I just remember being miserable at most of them, knowing that I just
wanted to play music. I was playing music; it was just at night, you
know, 'cause I had to work during the day, which is fine, but
And that's another thing too that makes me appreciate doing this now;
it's like I can honestly say that I've earned my stripes; I've done
my time, you know. And touring, and fans; you know, just doing the whole
ground up thing and building it to this
it feels good, it feels