Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix is the human equivalent of an energy drink. He can't (and doesn't) slow down. He is a firecracker who also happens to be keenly self-aware, candid to a near-fault, and after years of struggling with addiction, he is sober. He also meditates. But he hasn't lost any of the spark that helped propel Papa Roach to multi-platinum status in the early '00s nü-metal era.
For the band's eighth album, F.E.A.R. (Face Everything And Rise), (released Jan. 27 on Eleven Seven Records) Shaddix and Co. cruised into Las Vegas without a lick of music written. While that atmosphere might seem like a breeding ground for disaster and destruction, Shaddix thrived, tapping into new creative veins. He is as motivated as ever—because he has to be. This is all he knows what to do with his life, and Shaddix spoke to Amy Sciarretto about facing his F.E.A.R.
You have taken a beating over the years, from personal issues to critical drubbings. What keeps you doing the band and what haven't you done that still motivates you?
JACOBY SHADDIX: It's just who I am. It's who we are. It's our lives. People ask what I am into, but P-Roach is what I am still passionate about. I'm part of something bigger than just myself. It is a gift and a blessing to do this for a career. We're not fighting wars. We're not breaking people down. Music lifts people up. It's my gang, my lifestyle, my religion and my way to connect with other people and to exorcize my demons. What's around the corner keeps me going, too. You never know how this will change someone or how it will change me.
You have said that you went into recording the new album without lyrics and without everything done in advance. Was that… terrifying?
Oh, totally. 100 percent. I was like, “I don't how the fuck I am going to do this.” My band was like, “You got this. Fuck it. Dive in feet first.” We have been a band for 20 years. We write songs. Let's just do it in studio.
I showed up in Vegas with one chorus. Being in Vegas, given my history of substance abuse issues and getting clean for a few years… it was interesting for me. I focused so much on the music. You can get lost in the muck and the mire of that town. That place can eat you alive. It did quite the opposite: It lifted me up. It inspired me. I thought I'd have a hard time writing and get caught up again. I left going, “Wow, we wrote an ill-ass record I am so proud of.” I went out to Red Rock [Canyon] and meditated. The visuals for the artwork came from the deserts. The visions came out there in my meditation. Gifts were given to me in that crazy-ass city—that I did not know were there.
I can imagine you might have had more than a little apprehension about getting sucked back into the temptations and vices that Sin City readily offers.
Oh man, yes. But it boosted my confidence as a writer and as a human being. I have followed dark temptations and got burnt so many times, and I got tired of it. That last three years have been pretty damn good.
You have always had a hyper-charged personality. Are you Zen now, since you are practicing meditation?
Yes. For me, it is something I have added into my lifestyle the last few years. This world is fucking noisy; I get caught up. When I am meditating, there's the reflection, answers come to me and give me more strength. I have to quiet my mind, since it tells me a million wrong things to do. I have been my own worst enemy in my life.
You are so self-aware. That's not an easy place to get to, especially when you front a rock band.
I had to hit rock bottom a few times. I look back, and I would not change it. I was a knucklehead, drinking, chasing ladies, the whole nine. It was good for a minute, but I had a hole in my soul. That shit was not filling it.
For the recording process, Papa Roach were living under the same roof again. Was that stressful or were lots of bro hangs had?
It was awesome. We had a lot of laughs. It was music 24/7. We'd be in the studio, laying down tracks and ideas. Or we'd go back to the house and demo late night, or I'd get up, and there would be beats written and riffs played. We'd work out, hit lunch, hit the studio. It was a healthy bonding experience. Sometimes, on the road it gets stressful, because there is this, there's that, there's the other, and you miss your family. I missed my band. I can get on my band members’ nerves; I am an intense guy. They let it slide, like “That's 'Cob.” I am grateful they love me through all my faults.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Infest, which was your breakthrough smash and opening salvo. What's been the biggest surprise of your career?
Ultimately, the biggest surprise is that we are still fucking doing this. I would’ve never thought at 16 that when I was 38, I'd still be fucking doing it and it's still successful. A lot of bands throw in the towel when times get tough or they can't get along. That's the give. We got a classic song like “Last Resort.” Bands would kill to have a classic track like that and we've got it.
What else do you do that's not Papa Roach?
I got into mountain biking. I love being outside with Mother Nature. I love to ski. I have a clothing line called Lovers Are Lunatics. It's rock 'n' roll-inspired streetwear. It's DIY, no funding, no crowdfunding, just me investing a couple bucks with a designer from Michigan. It is cool to do something DIY. I can go get an investor, but fuck that. I want to do it how I did Papa Roach, which is ground up, starting from nothing.
I was with my kid and I saw these kids all styled up, so I rolled up on them and gave them stickers, and they were like, “Oh shit! P-Roach.” My kid is like, “Dad, why you trying to hustle those kids?” I was like, “That is how P-Roach became P-Roach.” This shit just didn't happen. I have that hustler spirit.
You have three kids; one is almost a teenager. Do they keep you young with music? What are some of the modern bands that you are into?
Bring Me the Horizon are one of my new favorites. I kept tweeting that shit. The keyboardist [Jordan Fish] reached out to me, saying he was jamming out to Infest. I was like, “Oh man, you guys are fans?” We've done a few festivals. I sang a song on stage with Oli [Sykes]. I was tripping; they were tripping. We were both fanboying a bit. I dig what Ronnie Radke is doing. He is the David Lee Roth of the young pop-punk metalhead dudes. He has a great sense of humor.
Is the P-Roach fanbase getting younger for you? Are the dudes who are now dads still coming to shows?
God bless the children. Our fanbase—I see it on social media and at the shows, and at the front of the crowd—is young and I am like “Fuck, yes.” They are going nuts. Some fans are having kids and listening country music. That fine. We got the kids. Alt