Outcast Interview: Tony Palermo of Papa Roach

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2015 is going to be a great year for Papa Roach, from the release of their new albumF.E.A.R (Face Everything and Rise) in January, to their world tour, things are going to be pretty busy. The band propelled into fame in 2000 when they released their first album ‘Infest’ (it’s nearly 15 years old!!). Things died down a bit over the past few years for the band, but it’s all building back up again. We managed to grab some phone time with drummer extraordinaire Tony Palermo, from their New York label Eleven Seven Music.

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O.C: First off, are you guys looking forward to coming back to Dublin in March?

T.P: Absolutely! We discussed it with our agent and told them we can’t avoid going there, we can’t not go there. So it’s one of the places now that is pretty set on our tour schedule for us.

Good, well, we’re glad! We saw you here last December, but it was quite a while before that that you guys were in Dublin, have you found the crowds have changed over the years?

I think it’s changing, I mean it’s definitely building again, especially in the UK for us, and obviously the size and the demographic of people coming to the shows too, so it’s great man. We just always look forward to coming over and seeing how much bigger it’s getting.

Do you find that specific songs are more popular in certain places?

We’ve been kind of dipping back into the ‘Infest’ record. For shows that we’re headlining we’ve noticed that the crowds have been going off, because you know we haven’t really played any of those songs since I was in the band. But with songs like Infest or the secret track, Tightrope, people have always been requesting them and we’ve just sort of done our thing. But we decided to throw them in to the set last year and they’ve been going off pretty much everywhere, it’s kind of crazy.

Bringing back the old tracks?

Yeah, it’s crazy how you can play a song like Where Did The Angels Go with heavy drum and guitar riffs and then you can burst into Tightrope which is more of a reggae thing, and people are very accepting of that. I think that we’re one of the few lucky bands that can get away with playing such diverse songs where people aren’t going “what the fuck are they playing?!” It’s pretty cool to know that you can just come out and play something like that and it’s accepted.

Congratulations on the new album, from what we heard so far it’s amazing! What are you most excited about with the album and the new tour coming up?

I’m looking forward to the release obviously and people to get it and to live with it. You can really tell how much we’ve matured and the production is just sick and in your face and everything sounds so good. A friend of mine was actually listening to it with me and he used the term ‘deliberate’, everything on the record is deliberate and it has to be there because it means something and that’s a cool feeling knowing that everything has a purpose. So yeah, I’m looking forward to the release and for us, playing live is the big payoff. To see kid’s faces in the crowd is electrifying.

Do you have a personal favourite track on the new record?

I do, I really like the first single, Face Everything and Rise, because it was the right track for us to come with first. I know you guys actually probably heard warriors first? So yeah Face Everything and Rise and then the second track, Skeletons is another favourite of mine. But that could change day by day.

Reading up on your experience recording the album, it seems to be more of an organic approach than the previous ones, do you think working with Kevin Churko influenced that?

With the last record ‘The Connection’, we took way more time to do it, and what we did more of that time was jam. We got in our studio and just got behind our gear and instruments and just played a ton. But this time around we only did a very limited amount of jamming together, so a lot of it was done on the computer because we went into the recording process with nothing previously written. So we were coming up with everything in the studio and we rented a house together so we could go back and work on stuff there, which is something I was actually bummed about because I love getting together with the guys and just playing. When you’re jamming it’s so raw and organic and you stumble across something and everyone looks at each other while you’re playing and it’s like; “What’s that? That sounds cool lets go with that.” You’re in the moment and it’s like, we just came up with that, there’s a song now, and it’s just such a cool feeling. When you write that way and then go perform it, it’s been in your blood and your soul since the conception of it. You know you came up with this part while playing and it just means a lot more, I think, to me when it’s done that way.

Both Kevin and Kane (Churko) split the production of the album between them, did you find they had different approaches?

Well it’s funny because with them being father and son, Kane learnt a lot from his Dad, and that being said, he also takes his own approach to things. In The Moment were booked to come in after we had started, so we were kind of bummed out that we were gonna hire this producer and he’s going to step away half way through, because we hadn’t really worked with either of them before so we were pretty concerned about that. But then In The Moment came in and everything kind of shifted over to Kane and it became a kind of “Well I’m going to help write better songs than Dad did”. So he wanted to get his mark on the record and I think it was a cool creative environment, and everybody was just trying to outdo the other person. The whole family runs it, the daughter’s there too, she runs the studio and it’s just such a good vibe. They’re such cool people with a vast knowledge of producing and engineering and song writing and it’s really cool.

You also did a couple of collaborations like with Maria Brink from In The Moment and weirdly enough Royce Da 5’9. How was it working with them, especially with people from such different musical backgrounds?

Well Maria and the guys were in the studio, so we would be in one room and they would be in another and the song Gravity was taking shape and we thought it would be great to have somebody on this track and it would be cool to have a female voice. As it’s about love and whatever your gravity is, your wife or your husband or whatever, that male and female dynamic called out to be that way. I remember being in the studio and hearing some of the stuff come out and then the finished product was so spot on, and it was totally what the song needed. With Royce Da 5’9, Jacoby just hit him up and was like “Hey, I don’t know if you know our band or anything but we want to get you on a track” and he immediately responded like “Fuck yeah let’s do this!”. We sent the track to him and he just did the stuff in his area and then just sent it back. Jacoby was pretty much the one to plant that and had the connection there of just hitting him up and planting that seed.

What do you think is the best thing about going on tour and also finishing up on tour?

The best thing about going on tour for me is just playing live. There’s a lot of down time and sometimes it’s just monotonous and things can get kind of boring, so the shows are what sets it all apart. They’re the most exciting thing for me, just getting on stage and playing for that hour twenty minutes that we’re up there is the pay off. The worst thing is being away from our kids because you’re missing things that are happening in their lives, and that’s the roughest part. But thankfully there’s Face Time and Skype and you can stay connected. Having that connection still is super important because there is a lot of kids, especially in military families, where the Dad or Mom are deployed and they’re gone for months and they don’t even get to come back after 4 weeks. We come back after 4 weeks and pick up and life is normal, but they’re gone for months and months and I have to think about that and how it could be a lot worse. I get to come home and when I’m home I’m not working so I’m taking them to school every day and picking them up and I get that quality time with them. But then when I’m gone, I’m gone and that’s the worst part about it.

One of the things we try to do on our site is to create a diverse and safe place for teenagers who feel like they don’t fit in. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom we could pass on to them?

Yeah, listen to the new Papa Roach record!

Haha of course yeah! Well, apart from the obvious?

For me, growing up I just found something that took over in my life, and music is so huge to me and I think more people nowadays need to find that something, whatever it is, it could be listening to music or it could be drawing, painting, anything artistic. There are so many things you can do for a release and I think it’s very important for people to find that because everyone needs that something to take them away from a crappy job or a bad relationship or whatever it is. There’s always going to be positives and negatives in your life and I’ve always chosen to go with the positives, and what I thought was positive is music, so I sort of took it and ran with it. I’m so thankful every day that I get to play music for a living and I get bummed out thinking about other people who are going to their shitty day jobs and are just miserable. It’s a lot of hard work and there’s no guarantee that you’re gonna make it. I think more people need to take the risk and really follow what’s in your heart and what you love to do. It’s just been such a meaningful thing in my life to actually have music and something that is so deep in my soul that I hope that other people have that too, and I know it’s such a hard thing to do just to follow that trust.

So my advice is just to find that thing, even if it’s not going to be what you do for a living, just find that place where you can go and be creative because you will see the benefits for your mind and your soul. That’s so huge to have peace of mind. This gig could end tomorrow, who knows, but I still have that peace of mind that I’m doing what I love to do and I’m very fortunate to be able to support a family with it.

We have a few questions from twitter just before we finish up, Christina (@thehybridthings) wants to know what your next music video is going to be?

Well Christina, I believe we’re going to release the track ‘Gravity’. I don’t even know if I’m supposed to say that?

We’ll keep it on the down low….

I’m sure you will!

Julia (@JuliaPfeiffer16) wants to know your craziest experience ever at a meet and greet?

Ha well it usually has to do with nudity! This one time, this woman comes in and she throws her stuff down and is like ‘’Hey guys, do you mind if I get naked?’’ and we’re like “uhhh……”. You know, we don’t mind but we can’t take a picture like that, our wives would be like “What the fuck?!”. So that was funny. But then on the other side of that we also had a guy come in and say, “H­­ey man, I got this tattoo on my ass. Can I show it to you guys?’’ and we’re all like “Dude, really? Alright…”, so he pulls his pants down and it’s not a tramp stamp above his ass crack, it goes across his butt cheeks and it said ‘’Ozzy fucking Osborne’’ and we were just like “Holy shit dude!’’ and he was like ‘’The only other person I showed it to was Ozzy!” and we were just rolling.

And finally, Himal (@Cheestix777) wants to know what the best show this year was for you?

Oh shit, the best show this year? That’s rough. We just did a show with Slipknot in Japan and we’ve had a lot of great shows this year but this one stands out because the crowd was just big and the way the kids are going off in Japan now, they’re catching up with the rest of the world. They used to be real quiet in between songs, no matter how big the crowd was. We once played in front of 15,000 people there and they used to just cheer real loud and then go silent. It was awkward being up there with not a lot of crowd banter, but this time there was 28,000 people and the kids were crowd surfing and it seems like Japan is loosening up more in the live shows and that was pretty memorable to us. You can just tell that there’s something building there. So, Tokyo yeah.

Go Tokyo! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, it’s been a pleasure. We’ll see you in March!

See you then!

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Papa Roach are playing The Academy Dublin on the 20th of March, tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster. Their new album F.E.A.R (Face Everything and Rise) is out on January 27th via Eleven Seven Music.

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