Like the insect they take their namesake from, the members of Papa Roach are survivors. It’s been 17 years since the Nu-Metal explosion of the early 2000’s and the release of their angst-drenched rap rock masterpiece “Last Resort” - an icon and landmark of a song to anyone who had their teenage years in the Hot Topic-hay day of suburban America. Alongside a small pack of bands, Papa Roach has maintained a massive and loyal fan base past the rap rock boom, going on to sell 20 million albums worldwide. Their earnest anthems dedicated to agony and perseverance have evolved over their 8 studio albums, slowly defining the sound of active rock radio. Papa Roach is returning to the sound of their triple-platinum debut Infest and to celebrate the upcoming release of their upcoming 9th album Crooked Teeth on May 19th (pre-order on iTunes), the band performed a set at the iHeartRadio Theater New York City on May 16th full of new songs and fan favorites.
In the packed Tribeca theater, a wide demographic of diehard fans anxiously waited to see the group in such an intimate setting and to hear frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s return to his rap-heavy lyrical output on the new material. After opening with 2004’s ode to self-acceptance, “Scars,” Shaddix told Q104.3’s Jonathan Clarke the meaning behind the title of the new album Crooked Teeth. “It’s being proud of your flaws,” Shaddix explained. “It’s about being alright with your brokenness and knowing that with our crooked teeth, whatever is broken about us individually, we can still survive, we can still trudge on. That’s been a Papa Roach theme for years.”
The frontman also talked about the genesis of the first single off the album, “Help”, which has already skyrocketed to number one on the active rock charts. “We go back and listen and ask, 'is there a hole or something missing?' There was nothing in a major key on the record and so we went back in the studio and started writing a track in a major key that was upbeat and I was not feeling it at all,” he said. “'Why are you guys writing this happy, joyous, and free music and I’m like in this super dark place,' and they were like 'no, that’s what we want, we want you to throw your truth on this track.” Shaddix’s lyrics reflect that contrast and his cries for help on the song counter the feel-good instrumental. He continued, “they were like, 'remember what we did with scars? The juxtaposition of uplifting but broken and vulnerable?'”
The group worked with two young, hungry producers on Crooked Teeth who grew up on their debut and wanted them to return to that rap heavy sound. When asked if he had any dream collaborations, Shaddix first cited his admiration for Ed Sheeran ("Ed Sheeran is dope") and listed underground hip-hop duo Run The Jewels and Alabama’s Yelawolf as people he wants to one day work with. Closing their radio broadcast with “Last Resort,” the band performed an extensive encore of “Crooked Teeth,” “She Loves Me Not,” “Forever,” “Kick in the Teeth,” and “Between Angels and Insects.”
The longevity of the group is well deserved and their energy throughout their performance is a testament to that. When asked by Jonathan Clarke if they have aspirations to tour and record as long as the Rolling Stone, Shaddix agreed. “Mick Jagger is park cockroach, let’s be real. So is Keith Richards. We are cockroaches, we will be around for a long time.”
Crooked Teeth is available May 19th. Pre-order on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Andrew Swartz for iHeartRadio