Bryson Roatch

Riff Banks, Pyrotechnics, Friends, & Papa Roach

Evolving, changing, but still Papa Roach.

Papa Roach will aways be Papa Roach.

Although we caught them in concert just last year, our last conversation with Papa Roach was in 2012. Despite our extremely long running history with the band, so much as happened in those last 11 years. Fresh off Ego Trip, their 2022 LP, the band is embarking on the Revolution’s Live Tour with Shinedown and Spiritbox. 

A night with just Papa Roach would leave you amazed by their energy. Whenever we see them live, it’s evident that the band brought everything they had out on that stage. They really did spend the last 20 years adding to – and perfecting – their live show. Papa Roach was born for the stage. 

Now add two other legendary modern rock acts to the bill. What do you get? Arguably one of the best lineups we have seen this summer from any genre of music. The Revolution’s Live Tour rolls into town this Sunday and the following one. We got to hop on a call with Jerry Horton, the band’s lead guitarist, to discuss this massive tour and every other thing Papa Roach has filed under their latest of happenings.

How are you feeling while gearing up for tour with Shinedown and Spiritbox?

Feeling really great, actually! The first night was last night in St. Louis and tonight we’re in Kansas City. The first show was incredible. It was completely packed and the crowd was just louder than can be.  

That’s phenomenal to hear! I know Papa Roach’s history goes way back with Shinedown. You guys have been partners as bands for so long. Do you remember how that partnership started and began?

We’ve just been a part of the same scene, coming up together and doing shows. There are some bands you really develop friendships with. There are other bands that you may like but you just don’t really connect. We’re the same kind of people. We love to hang out, we love to joke around. We just really get along great with those guys. 

You are both very hardworking bands. Papa Roach and Shinedown are always touring. You have the same ethos, same values–


I actually went to that Papa Roach/Shinedown show in March of 2019 and I remember during that show, Jacoby ran through the crowd and ran all through the amphitheater. When you are playing these shows, do you scout out the venue ahead of time to see a path to interact with the crowd?

Sometimes he does that, sometimes it’s a surprise. It’s funny for me to watch because sometimes it’s a surprise for our crew guys who have to follow him out there! I’ll watch him go and I’ll watch our crew guys. If they don’t see him right away I’ll have to say, “Hey! There he goes,” and then they just scramble to find him and catch up with him. People love it. He likes to take it out there, but I just think the really cool thing is to watch the people’s reaction. It just strengthens that whole connection. It’s a lot of fun. 

You’re so right. For a few seconds they have a front row seat; it’s amazing. Have you ever been playing your guitar, look over, and he’s just gone?

Yeah! It’s funny because maybe the first couple of times you get worried or freaked out but it’s just normal now. There could be something really going on and it would take me a minute to realize it. It’s just become one of those things, “I don’t see him anymore. Let me scan the crowd and see where there’s a cluster. Oh, yeah! There he is.” Sometimes we don’t have a spotlight and it is what it is. Like you said, it’s become a normal thing. It’s almost become part of the show! 

That makes sense. From your perspective, shredding on the guitar, Papa Roach is notorious for having that energetic live scene. Is it tough to do those solos and shred as you do, while also jumping, moving, bouncing?

Yeah, I have a certain amount of concentration to the going crazy ratio. You just find the balance, you know what I mean?

Yeah! Talking about your guitar work, Papa Roach has so many iconic riffs throughout the rock music scene. I feel like you guys are known for having the riffs where, the second it starts, you know what song it is. When you’re writing, can you tell this is an iconic track or does that happen years later?

That’s one of the goals for the songs. If it’s a part where there are vocals, obviously there’s not as much need for a crazy riff or something that’s memorable, but if it’s an intro or just a part without vocals, you’ve got to make it a melody that is not only recognizable, but preferably singable. It just has to fit within the context of everything. It’s something that we’re pretty – at this point – good at knowing what a memorable riff is going to be off the bat. 

When Tobin wrote the intro riff for “Help” on an acoustic and everybody in the room immediately just went, “Yes! That’s it!” Sometimes you think about it and it comes out. Sometimes you pick up a guitar and it comes out. I think that not only people that do this for a living, but also fans of music, when they hear something like that, they just go, “Yeah!” and it becomes a thing. That’s the goal for anybody who writes music. It’s reinforced when we’re playing shows and I start the intro to “Between Angels and Insects. Like you said, within the first couple of notes, everyone’s like, “Oh, yeah!” It’s a great feeling. 

Even the same thing with bass – that opening riff to “Who Do You Trust” gets fans ready and they know it. Papa Roach has a distinct identity. You are constantly evolving your sound. Do you ever write a guitar riff that’s sick and amazing, but isn’t quite Papa Roach? It doesn’t fit the aesthetic? 

Sometimes, yeah! I wouldn’t call it a graveyard because sometimes we’ll go back to it, but we could call it the riff bank! Sometimes we’ll write stuff and it’s just not ready yet. Then, for the next album after that, we’ll go in and listen to stuff we’ve already demoed and if there’s something that’s catching our ear… we’ll start working on it again. Case in point, the song “She Loves Me Not” – that was on LoveHateTragedy in 2002, but was actually written for the Infest in the 2001 sessions, It just didn’t seem to fit at that time. We just put it in the vault and brought it back out for the next album. Sometimes it takes us a minute to catch up. Sometimes it takes fans a minute to catch up to it. A lot of times we’ll eventually find homes for these riffs. 

I love that mindset. You’re waiting for it to fit the vibe. You’re not going to force it, but you’re not going to throw it away. 

Exactly! We’ve learned that, because there have been a few times where we have been a few times where we go, “Man! What was that riff you had?” It’s because we didn’t put it down or save it, then it’s gone forever and we could have had a great song; that kind of thing. Once we have it, we just don’t throw it away. We save it for the next one.

You look at a track like “None of the Above” which is amazing. I don’t think it could have fit on Metamorphosis or LoveHateTragedy. It would be out of place there. But on Crooked Teeth… it’s a perfect closer.

It’s funny how they say time is not real. Sometimes that isn’t the right time for it, you know? It’s whatever is just catching us in a certain way at the moment. Even when you look at Crooked Teeth, the album… it’s kind of all over the place. Our mindset at that time was to write an album that felt like a playlist that someone would put together. In that respect, we achieved it. I think that obviously not every song is going to be everybody’s favorite, but I think some of those songs that aren’t quite as popular as other ones, a lot of those are our favorites just because they’re different or there’s a story behind it. There’s a certain feeling on the stage. 

In a weird way there’s almost consistency through the chaos. The fact that it’s all different makes it consistent as a record. Now I want to talk about the new record that came out last year and the new deluxe that came out this year, Ego Trip. How are you feeling about the reception? 

For us, our favorite album is usually the newest one. I think that goes for a lot of bands and artists just because you put so much work into it and it’s the fresh new thing. I think on the whole… the response for this album has been really amazing. This is our first release on our own record label. There’s that sort of satisfaction we get off it – doing a lot of it on our own. I love all the songs. Normally we put 10 or 11, maybe 12 songs, on a record. We had 14 and we just couldn’t decide on which 11. It was just like, “Nah, let’s do all of it! Let’s put all of them on there!” We like to keep things concise and pick the best out of the best. We just fell in love with each and every song on the record. 

There will always be the people who just really like Infest and want us to keep doing that over and over again. On the whole, I think a lot of people really connect with this record and appreciate it. From the beginning our goal was to evolve and change. We looked up to bands that did that in their career like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, and Metallica… and there’s tons of bands that do it. We appreciate that because there are very few bands that can do the same thing over and over again and succeed, make it sound new. We would get bored. I feel like we would get to a certain point where we’re a parody of ourselves – that kind of thing. Like I said, there’s always going to be people that fell in love with the first thing and want you to keep doing it, but I think a larger percentage of our fanbase is along for the ride. 

That’s such a good way to look at it. Yes, there’s always going to be a small percentage of fans that just want the same record over and over again, but when you evolve you’re going to get so many new fans that not just love the new stuff, but go back and love the old stuff, as well. Look at “Kill the Noise” – it has almost 50 million streams on Spotify. “Angels and Insects” has almost 100 million, but “Kill the Noise” is almost halfway to a song you wrote 20 years ago and that came out last year. 

Totally! Like you said, we’re bringing new fans in all the time and that’s kind of become the goal. You’re going to have fans that fall off, so to keep things fresh, you keep it going, evolve the music, bring in new fans, and hope they’ll go back and listen to the stuff they haven’t heard yet. The hope is for them to really explore everything and find their favorites. Hopefully that will bring them to become a real fan and stick with you. That’s the goal. We’ve been doing it for 30 years, and we may not be as big as some other bands, but we’re a career band and we still love making music, we still love playing shows. We’re just working as hard as we can and loving every minute of it. 

I do want to ask a little bit about the new record Ego Trip. This is the first record cover to incorporate the roach as a visual focal point since Infest. Was that a conscious choice on your part? Or did it just happen? 

It was conscious. Jacoby kind of had this concept in his mind to make the roach the mascot. In his mind it was something different; I think he called it the instigator or something like that. He would show up here and there, so we took that and ran with it. Now it’s Carl The Roach. He’ll sometimes make appearances at shows, he’s all over the merchandise. People love it. Sometimes he’ll go out into the crowd and just hype people up. It’s been fun! It’s something that, looking back on, we probably could have come up with that a little sooner. I think it’s just something we decided to try and I think Carl’s going to stick around. 

To you guys it might just be an icon or a character. To fans, it symbolizes 10 records, 20+ years of music, lots of live shows. Speaking of, when you perform live, there are a lot of pyrotechnics and a lot of fire. I’m wondering about when you’re playing, do you know certain areas of the stage that you can’t step on? Do you know when it’s going to happen? How does it happen in rehearsal? How does that all work?

Yes, so here’s a funny story: last summertime we did a tour of the European festivals. That was the first time we had pyro. We didn’t actually rehearse with it; we just went straight in. The first show was still during the daytime and it was already pretty warm and the pyro shot on the first song and it was like… I wasn’t prepared. Obviously you know it’s going to be hot, but I was not prepared for how hot it was going to feel. I didn’t mess up the riff, but it really took me out of that sort of mental state where I’m just playing and not even thinking about it. It just shocked me and I’m like, “Oh my God. That is crazy.” There were a couple of times where Jacoby got really close and one time they had to stop the pyro from firing because he was right on top of it. Then another time the wind caught [the fire] and it singed the side of his hair and he smelled burnt for a little while. All those stories you hear… it’s all real! It’s pretty dangerous, but we love getting ourselves into that situation of almost dying and getting the exhilaration from it.

Just look at Joe from Gojira at 2019’s Sonic Temple! He got fire in his face and powered through the set. From a fan it just looks cool, but as an artist… I imagine it’s nerve wracking. 

I was on stage when that happened to him! I was like “Oh my God,” because that wind came out of nowhere. Nobody expected it. 

Again, you guys are coming to New York and New Jersey soon and we can’t wait. Any other final thoughts to share? 

Hopefully we’ll see you at the show, and to everybody reading: this is a spectacular show. For our bit of it, we put a lot of work into the set – the running order, the interludes, the video content, and all of that. It feels amazing. Then, obviously, the other bands are bringing their A game, as well. It’s going to be from top to bottom and everybody’s going to go home loving it. I’m super stoked to be a part of it. If you’re on the fence about it, just go. Just get the tickets and go!