Thanks to the kind folk at Soundwave Touring, we had the chance to have a chat with Tobin Esperance from California alt rock/nu/rap metal artists, Papa Roach. The band has just released its eighth studio album, F.E.A.R, which we highly recommend you get your hands on A.S.A.P.
Read on to find out what makes this talented bassist/songwriter tick, where he finds his inspiration, and what goes into creating the sometimes indefinable, unique sound of Papa Roach.
SR. Hi Tobin, it’s Nikki from The Spotlight Report. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today.
TE. Yeah, my pleasure.
SR. Are you okay? Is the Australian weather wearing you down?
TE. No, it’s actually beautiful. I’m loving it. I actually put the phone on speaker, and then I jumped on the bed, and then the phone flew in the air and we just got disconnected.
SR. Oh, we all have technical difficulties sometimes. So, first of all, I’d like to ask you how you got the nickname “Sexy Bitch”.
TE. Oh, that’s funny. I didn’t know I had that nickname, but, uh I think maybe one of my endearing fans probably gave me that, for some crazy, weird reason. It’s funny, ‘cause I’ll always hear stories about people saying that there’s somebody on Instagram or somebody on, like, you know, Twitter, or Faceboook, and they have these sites with names like Tober Lover, or…
I know – it’s so cool. It’s really flattering, but, I don’t know, it cracks me up.
SR. Okay, so it’s just a fan’s nickname for you?
SR. Okay, well what is your nickname?
TE. Oh, well they call me Tobinstyle…. Um, I don’t know. I’m sure the guys have lots of nicknames. I think they call me Good Talk, ‘cause sometimes I’ll leave in the middle of a conversation, or when people have just kinda like been hanging out, and I’ll just kinda wander off… And they’ll like go, Hey – good talk!
TE. Yeah, my dad was a musician. Um, I just come from a kind of a musical family. My mom was in the entertainment business. All my brothers are all musicians. My grandfather was a musician. Uh, I wasn’t, like, super-close with all of my family, but it seems to be something that just seems to be, you know, in our blood.
SR. Well, that’s fantastic. I come from an artistic background, too, so, a lot of my family like to paint. It’s good to know that you’ve got people around you who see the same things as you.
TE. Yeah, it really is. Like, I’m really super-close with my brothers, even though I didn’t grow up with them. You know, sharing the same father, you know, it’s weird how all of that, you know, influence is handed down, you know. And my brother and I are really close now and we’ve actually worked really close together on a lot of the music that, um, we made with Papa Roach as well. So he’s out on tour with us, you know, helping us out as a personal assistant; but, he’s also an amazing musician in his own right. And he was a big part of the creative process for the last couple of records, ‘cause he’s been in the studio with us.
SR. Fantastic. What were your early influences, musically?
TE. Well, when I was a young kid, you know, I was just pretty much listening to what my parents were listening to. And I think that’s how I got such an early love for a lot of, like, funk, soul, motown…. Um, you know, the Zeppelin, the Beatles, you know? All the classic stuff. You know, a lot of the pop music that was around at that time, like Michael Jackson and Phil Collins…and, you know, stuff like Hall and Oates… Prince… The first time I saw Purple Rain, I was way too young to watch that movie, but I used to steal the VHS and I would watch it all the time. Maybe ‘cause there was, like, a nude scene in it.
“…My mom was in the entertainment business. All my brothers are all musicians. My grandfather was a musician…”
Mostly because I was into the whole idea that there was, like, this guy who was, like, you know, so flamboyant and cool, you know what I mean? And, um, so that was early on. And then, when I became, like, a teenager, I was like 12 or 13… Um, I started hanging out with these young little punks. You know – guys with the mohawks and the chains, and the safety pins through their ears and, you know, would wear the leather jackets and stuff. And I just got really heavily into punk rock and hard core music, and alternative music…the whole…. What they might call the grunge era, you know?
I was just into all of that, and, you know, bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction, you know?
SR. Oh, you gotta love Jane’s.
TE. Yeah. So, pretty much a little bit of everything. So, I just have a love for all kinds of music.
SR. That’s fantastic. Well, we’ve had Fear on repeat all week and it’s brilliant.
TE. Oh, thank you.
SR. Can you tell us a bit about the process of making the album and whether it differed much from your previous experiences?
TE. Yeah, well this time was the first time we worked with Kevin and Kane Churko, and they have a studio in Las Vegas. We decided to approach this record, you know, working with them, you know, in their studio. And coming in with nothing pre-written, you know? No preconceived notions of what the record should sound like, or what it’s gonna be like. The first day we met up and went, ‘hey, let’s write a song, and let’s record it, you know, all in the same day.’ It was just take this day out to just be creative and capture whatever feelings, emotions, riffs, melodies, and ideas that we have going on in the moment. And we did that and it worked out great, you know. And that’s pretty much how we wrote the whole record. So, we would have one room where, you know, I would be working on music with the guys, and Jacoby would be in another room, you know, writing lyrics to the music that we had just created. Um, and we’d just kinda go back and forth. And we did that for about 2 to 3 months and that’s how Fear was born.
SR. It is a brilliant album, that’s for sure. The band has evolved, over the years. I know that you also do some song writing – quite a lot of it. How has your writing influenced the change of musical genres and all of that sort of stuff?
TE. Well, I’m sure it’s influenced quite a bit, ‘cause I’m not like a typical rock or metal fan… I am, of course, a fan of rock and metal, but I’m not just stuck listening to that type of music, you know? I’m always influenced by, like, ambient music, or, you know, electronic music. It could be African rhythms, it could be reggae music. There are so many ways that you can be inspired. And, if you put it in the context of a rock band, it creates a whole new feeling and emotion. And so, I’m sure that a lot of times – because, I’m like a student; I’m always studying music and trying to take influence from different genres of music – that it always kind of makes it interesting for what Papa Roach is capable of doing next, you know? And I’m sure there’s people that love our band because of that, and there’s probably people that hate our band because of that. But, you know, that’s alright. But, what we do is…that’s just how we are, you know? We’ve always had a love for different kinds of music and, you know, melting it all together and making the sound called Papa Roach.
SR. Oh, we’re looking forward to the next sound that comes from you guys, ‘cause it seems to change all the time; and it makes it so much more interesting than going and listening to the same punk bands who put out the same albums, over and over. And you feel like you look at all their albums and go, ‘Which one do I feel like?’ and they’re all the same. But with you guys, it’s definitely a new experience every time you put an album out. It’s fantastic.
TE. Yeah, thank you. That means a lot. That’s what we get off on, creatively. And we don’t put up any walls or boundaries when we get into the studio. And, luckily, the whole band has an adventurous side to creating music and, you know, experimenting. And we’re trying to do it that way where we’re not trying to walk that line where… Like, we’re not going off on some musical tangent, you know, just because. ‘Cause we know what our fans like and we know what sounds good when we play live and we always try to put ourselves in that mindframe of, ‘I think the fans would really like it if we did this, and if we were playing it live, it’d be super-fun, because, you know, the crowd’ll be doing this. I mean, those are the things that we think about. Everything else is just, you know, second nature.
SR. That’s great. Well, you’ve kicked Soundwave off in Melbourne. How do you find the crowds in Australia compare to the ones in the U.S?
TE. Pretty much any crowd, other than the U.S, just has more energy and it’s a much better experience for me, personally. And there’s a couple of cities that we have and whatnot, in the States, and they always seem to consistently, you know, bring a ton of energy and go off, you know? But, for the most part, the United States can be rather lazy at times.
“…I’m like a student; I’m always studying music and trying to take influence from different genres of music…”
Maybe they’re just over consumed with, you know, the entertainment value is pretty high, you know? There are a lot of bands and whatnot. But, um, I think it’s really special when you get to a place that we don’t get to go to too often; because, it just builds up, you know, that, um, the anxiety and the excitement levels are really high. And we had an amazing show on the first day in Melbourne, and it was awesome: like, from beginning to end, the crowd was just going crazy.
And when we go to Adelaide, man, it was so hot and I felt so bad for that crowd. I don’t know how they were doing it. They were troupers, like, they were still going off in 102-degree weather.
SR. Oh, wow. Well, you’re probably going to have rain in Brisbane this weekend for us.
TE. Oh, that’s cool with me. We always have our best shows when it starts to rain, and the thunderclouds roll in and a storm’s coming. It just creates this eeriness that I love. So, you know, hopefully something crazy like that happens.
SR. Well, we’ve had some wicked storms lately. So, obviously, something that gets you pumped for a show is feeling the intensity of your surroundings?
TE. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s really what it is. That’s what’s cool about the festivals, you know? That makes it better from your own headlining show – also having that camaraderie with the other bands. You know, you have your friends from other bands that are watching you, you know? Your peers, you know, on the side of the stage. And it just makes you overwhelmed with excitement. You know, you really want to prove yourself and put on the best show you can for everybody.
SR. Have there been any particular bands, or artists, that you’ve been looking forward to catching up with, or have been hanging out with during the Soundwave tour?
TE. Um, yeah. Like, I’ve met a lot of the guys. I know we’re touring with a Japanese band called Cold Rain and Cross Faith – I met those guys… Of Mice and Men, you know? Some of the newer, younger bands. You know, I’ve known all of the Slipknot guys for a long time, so, you know, it wasn’t nothin’ new seeing them. I mean, Godsmack – we go way back. You know, Manson, all those bands. You know, it was really about catching up and meeting the newer breed of bands that are out there. I mean, I’m even looking forward to seeing the Smashing Pumpkins – I haven’t seen them yet.
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SR. Oh, me too!
TE. I can’t even think. I’m going blank. Pretty much those two bands – I haven’t checked them out yet, so that’s what I’m going to do on the next Soundwave.
SR. Excellent. Well, I’m lucky enough to be catching you on your Sidewave gig, as well, with Godsmack. Have you had much association with those guys over the years? Is that set likely to differ much from your Soundwave show?
TE. Um, you know what? Godsmack has just always been…every couple of years we might end up on, like, a festival together. But that’s pretty much the extent of it. We’ve never toured together.
“…You know, people get really excited when our music does that to them, and that’s all we could ask for…”
SR. Oh, okay.
TE. But yeah, we’re from different worlds, that’s for sure. And they’re East Coast guys from, you know, Boston; and, we’re California kids from… you know… totally different styles… Totally different vibe. But I think that’s what makes it cool for us to be doing these shows together.
SR. Do you have any fan stories that you could share with us?
TE. Fan stories? Oh, so many.
SR. What’s the craziest?
TE. Well, the craziest? I mean, every day something crazy happens. We have fans that get our names tattooed on them, and I’ve seen that numerous times. I’ve seen fans roll up with the exact same tattoos that we have. You know, I’ve seen guys in wheelchairs, with no arms or legs, like, flying through the air in a mosh pit. So, how does that happen? That’s crazy, you know? I’ve seen a lot of craziness. You know, people get really excited when our music does that to them, and that’s all we could ask for, is just having that passion about something, you know?
SR. You really do.
TE. Yeah, some stories might get a little X-rated, so…
SR. Okay, well we’ll leave them. Do you have any message for your Brisbane and Sydney fans, ahead of the upcoming shows?
TE. Yeah, I’d say stretch out, you know. Drink lots of water. You know, maybe if you wanna start doing some jumping jacks, jump rope, some push ups… Something that can build up your stamina, ‘cause we’re really gonna expect a lot from you. We’re gonna bring it when we get on that stage, you know? We really want you to be on fire out in the crowd. So make sure you drink lots of water and stay hydrated. Get lots of rest, you know, ‘cause we’re gonna bring it, and we need you to be right there with us.
SR. Oh, we will be.
TE. And, if you have a chance to check out our new record, it’s called F.E.A.R.
SR. It’s an amazing album. Okay, thanks for talking with us today, Tobin, and we look forward to seeing you at the show during the week and then on the weekend.
TE. Awesome. Thank you so much.
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Papa Roach Is Performing Tonight
with Godsmack in Brisbane!
THURSDAY 26 FEBRUARY: BRISBANE, THE TIVOLI (18+)
www.ticketmaster.com.au (Papa Roach to close)
Also Performing at Soundwave 2015
SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY & SUNDAY 22 FEBRUARY, 2015 BONYTHON PARK, ADELAIDE SATURDAY 21 FEBRUARY & SUNDAY 22 FEBRUARY, 2015 FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE, MELBOURNE
SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY & SUNDAY 1 MARCH, 2015
OLYMPIC PARK, SYDNEY
SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY & SUNDAY 1 MARCH, 2015
BRISBANE SHOWGROUNDS, BRISBANE