Western News Arts and Entertainment editor Dale Boyd recently caught up with Papa Roach bassist Tobin Esperance prior to their show at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Sept. 10.
DB: You guys have a PledgeMusic drive going on, is it true you’ve got props and the studio fridge up for pledges?
TE: Yeah, we’ve got a lot to offer for whoever wants to grab it up. I mean, just over 20 years of doing this we’ve collected a lot of really rad stuff. We wanted to give our fans the opportunity to grab it first, so it’s pretty cool.
DB: Is the baby prop that was used on the album cover for Lovehatetragedy in there as well?
TE: Yeah it is. There were so many times we wanted to blow that thing up, but didn’t want to chance anything happening to it. That thing is humongous, it’s probably like two storeys high.
TE: Yeah, it was designed that way on purpose to get people’s attention. It’s an attention-getter for sure.
DB: Hanging on to it for as long as you guys have is it sad to see it go?
TE: No. I let go of that thing over 10 years ago.
DB: You guys were well established heading into a time when the whole industry turned on his head and changed. What was that experience like for you personally and as a band?
TE: I think we just had to learn to kind of shift with the times. I’ve seen so many trends come and go, the whole entire music business was flipped upside down. We were doing our thing before Napster, before 360 deals with labels, before YouTube and it was just a completely different kind of hustle. I think it’s cool to be a band that’s had that longevity and been able to just learn what the new model is and embrace it. Finding new ways to keep your fans engaged, but at the core, for us it’s always been about pushing ourselves creatively. Having an undeniable energy that’s different from what other bands do and just making good songs and having [expletive] fun while we’re doing it. We’ll continue to do that no matter what changes.
DB: I see you guys are active on YouTube and social media, was that ever a conscious decision or something you picked up with rest of the world?
TE: Over time you realize how important it is to keep your fans engaged and give them a sneak peek into the world of what Papa Roach is about, not just when we’re on stage or doing meet and greets and stuff like that, but what’s going on the 22 other hours of the day. I think some people really embrace it because they really get off on that kind of stuff and that’s one of the things I’ve always struggled with personally. I’m not so much a social media type of person, you know, I’m not “hey look at me, look at me,” 24/7. But some people who are really good at it, they kill it, people love it.
DB: You’ve been the major songwriter for quite a while now right?
TE: I would say that I’ve always been the one to kickstart a lot of the ideas musically, the creative driving force if you will, but really I’m a catalyst for just getting [expletive] started and the rest of the guys come in and put their, you know, put their stank on it and at the end of the day, whomever’s in the room, if the producers are there to inspire good music too. It’s a collaborative effort, always. This band isn’t about one person in any way, or two people or anything like that.
Especially with where we’re at on our new record we’ve been making for the past couple months. It’s like all of us are in the room the whole time. Supporting each other when we’re playing and offering ideas and suggestions, and the producers that we’re working with are some of the most inspiring people than I’ve ever been in a room with. It’s a lot more collaborative, this record is, than anything we’ve done in the past.
DB: Which producers are you working with?
TE: These two guys named Colin, also known as Doc Britain, and a fella by the name of Nick Furlong, also known as RAS. They’re kind of unknown. They’re not really notorious for doing rock records or anything like that. We’re basically making a record with two guys who look at music the exact same way we did when we were teenage kids starting a band. You know, with that energy, that ferociousness, it’s that vibe. It’s amazing to have that feeling in the studio. Where in the past, you go with some big name producer and they think they know it all and they want you to follow suit. This is way different, we’re doing this [expletive] on our own terms.
DB: What is it like making this new album, compared to when you were just starting out as a band?
TE: I just gotta say the chemistry and camaraderie in the band — we’ve just got that something that it’s like a brotherhood where we all get along and we consistently want to make music, tour and just continue to do what we love to do. I think that’s kind of unsaid for a lot of bands, so we’re lucky in that aspect. We just have this drive and the will to push ourselves creatively. You know, it’s like the message is always there in the music. We’re determined and just focused on making badass [expletive] rock music and pushing the limits, pushing the boundaries. Hooking up with Colin and Nick, the producers on this last record, they are the perfect match for us and it’s been the best time I’ve ever had making a record that’s for damn sure.
DB: I wanted to fact check some of your origin story, as it were, from Wikipedia. Is it true you were 13 and a roadie for the band when you initially joined?
TE: Well, I joined the band as a bass player. The bass player that they had at the time, he wasn’t always available to play shows, or parties if you will at that time — we were playing small, small clubs and cafés and stuff like that. Anytime he wasn’t available I would step in. When he would come back I would hang around and drink all the beer and run around like an idiot. I don’t think I ever actually lifted a finger or picked up anything. I just hung around. Then when the time came, I think it was two years after all that, he just kind of lost interest in the band and I just naturally took over. I’ve been with the guys from a really young age.
DB: You were 13?
TE: Yeah, 13 years old.
DB: How old was everyone else at that time?
TE: The other guys were about three years older than me, three or four.
DB: Were you kind of the resident badass around the 13 year olds in town?
TE: At the time I think I thought I was pretty badass. I was staying out late. Probably getting into some stuff that I probably would not want my 13 year old getting into. But I had to grow up real fast. I had a lot of fun in my younger years, but I don’t know, I’m just glad I made it out alive [laughs].
Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, SIXX:A.M. and From Ashes to New come to the South Okanagan Events Centre Sept. 10. Tickets available in person at the Valley First Box Office (at the SOEC), by phone at 1-877-SOEC-TIX or online at www.ValleyFirstTix.com
Be sure to check out the interview with Jason Hook of Five Finger Death Punch talking about his film and the four-band show coming to Canada in Friday’s edition of the Western News.