Interview: Papa Roach’s Tobin Esperance Talks Greatest Hits Vol. 2 + Memories Of Touring Australia

Tobin Esperance

Words: Tracey Moyle Music Maven

Papa Roach have been a mainstay in the punk/rock/nu metal world since their iconic album ‘Infest’ rocketed into the world back in 2001 with their smash hit Last Resort. Twenty years on, confirming the impact the band had on the music world, they are just about to release their second greatest hits album ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 2 – The Better Noise Years’ due to drop on March 18. 

To be in the game long enough to have two greatest hits albums speaks volumes. The reason for their longevity goes beyond just producing good music, it’s a combination of a few things. It’s easy to write and release new songs but Papa Roach are constantly raising the barre producing new and exciting albums that give fans something fresh while keeping true to the Papa Roach sound. The band have an amazing connection with their fanbase and have always known that they are the very reason they are where they are. They aren’t afraid to put on extra shows when they are asking loudly for it and stay connected in every way they can.

The upcoming ‘Greatest Hits vol 2. – The Better Noise Years’ covers the last decade pulling songs from albums ‘The Connection’, ‘F.E.A.R’, ‘Crooked Teeth’ and ‘Who Do You Trust?’, not just replicating what has already been played continuously on our devices, be that streaming, CD or turntables, they band are giving us 21 tracks which includes remixes, remasters, acoustics and more.

This week our Music Maven and massive Papa Roach fan, Tracey Moyle had a candid Zoom chat with the bands bassist Tobin Esperance talking about, not just the latest album, but the fans, new music and memories of previous trips to Australia.

Hey Tobin, thanks for talking to Brisbane Australia for Good Call Live.

Yeah, you’re in Australia that’s right. Did you know there is a place in Australia called Esperance. I would love to go there one day. It’s my last name. It’s not a common last name.”  

I lived in WA for a few years and Esperance is such a beautiful part of the the world. It’s such an untouched part of the country. It’s stunning.

“I’ve seen the pictures. I came across it on google by accident, I was looking for the meaning and background of my last name and I came across it and I was like ‘oh I want to go there one day’”.

Bands do miss Perth a bit when they head to Australia and it’s a shame. It’s a bit of a flight but worth it. If you love surfing and beaches and wineries and beautiful forests it’s the best place.

“I love all that. Maybe we could rent a house and make a record there. A studio or a beach house there. That would be so cool. I was watching something about Kevin Parker from Tame Impala and he bought the beach house he recorded a lot of their records at. He was finally able to purchase it. I thought that was cool.

One of my most memorable touring stories of experiences in Australia was the tour we did with the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in I think 2002. Something happened and we didn’t even get to go to Perth, I think for some reason. So we just stayed on the East coast of Australia. So we haven’t gotten around yet that would be a dream.”

I know last time you guys played here you announced the tour with the intention to go to Melbourne and Sydney only. I follow your page on Facebook and a lot of people from Brisbane, including me, complained that you weren’t coming here. Within a week you actually changed it and came to Brisbane it was brilliant. I think the same happened with Adelaide as well.

“Yes we listen to the people when they speak. We try to. The last tour we did there was awesome. We ended up putting the shows on ourselves with the help of our resources and managers reaching out to local promotors and making those things happen. Because it just seemed people didn’t think that if we came to Australia that anybody would care, so they didn’t want to take care of us. So we just banked on ourselves. We come over there and it was so much fun I can’t wait till I’m back.”

I don’t know why anyone would think that. I remember seeing you guys at the 2015 Soundwave Festival you guys went off. I’ll never forget it.

“Yeah I remember it. I brought my wife with me and she was on the side of the stage with me as we’re watching Marilyn Manson and Manson made eye contact with my wife and my wife was so scared she’s like ‘he’s looking at me like he wants to eat me or something’ and I said ‘he does that, don’t worry about it, he’s just like that’. She was so scared and I explain the whole Manson mentality you know, his presence and things that happened during his shows.” 

I tell the story of you guys at that show a lot. There was a sign on stage that said ‘no stage diving, moshing or crowd surfing’ and Jacoby (Shaddix) kept saying ‘this is bullshit, you’re at a punk show do what you want’. He kept throwing the sign on the ground and the security guard kept picking it up and putting git back. It happened the whole time and became a part of the show. It was so much fun. Everyone was having fun with it. Even the security guard. One of my favourite Soundwave memories.

“Yeah, I remember that afternoon. It’s crazy the rules, how they just can change randomly depending on the venue or the place. For me not being able to play live shows has been really hard. I feel like a live concert or festival, it’s just like the last tribal like experience that we have. Everyone just forgets and puts like politics aside, religion, anything and just you just lose yourself and just jump it out while the event is going on. You should be able to jump and crowd surf and it just sucks that we haven’t had that in over a year.” 

I can imagine how it feels for bands. Music runs through my blood and I imagine it does with you. Even just doing this job and reviews, as soon as we shut down I didn’t know what to do with myself. 

“Yeah, we are all in the same boat. Everyone’s trying to figure out how to deal with it. I mean we want to come back. We even talked about doing a small show where it was spaced out or like people in their cars, something like that, and I’m like ‘I want to but no I don’t actually’. I don’t because I just don’t think it’s the same. It’s not enjoyable, and I don’t want people to watch us and feel like it’s something fake or whatever, or feeling not inspired so I’d rather just wait it out.”

So let’s talk about the new album coming out. You have your second greatest hits album ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 2 – The Better Noise Years’ out March 19th. That just proves you’ve really  gone the distance and for good reason. You’re constantly producing music that is still current and not repeating the same old formula. But it’s still very much Papa Roach. Is there something you’ve stuck to over the years when you write songs or do you feel inspired and it just come naturally?

“Definitely comes naturally. Ever since we met and we became friends, the band have always been music lovers and we use to sit around and jam you know. We would have reggae jams, we would hang out with the punk rockers, we would listen to James Brown and we would play funk music or we would play Ravi Shankar records or take psychedelics and jam to a drone for an hour and a half. Our music never had any barriers and we gravitated towards this, what they call the nu metal scene, I guess, in the late 90s. But our music has always just been a smorgasbord of styles. Punk or hip hop, you know, just whatever, like electronic music and ambient music, we just keep every phase that we go through individually and as a band we’re always trying to incorporate it. We’re not ashamed of it. Some people are like oh you’re a trend, they don’t like the idea of people going through phases, but I feel like it’s kind of normal and healthy to go through phases you know. You’re just trying different things and into this and into that, and sometimes I only listen to jazz music and I don’t know why. Sometimes I want to listen to the popular stuff, pop music. I want to know what’s current what’s going on. All of that way of thinking is kind of like how we make music and produce music.” 

That’s exactly how I listen. I love all types of music, different music for different moods. I agree with you, you need to listen to different music to appreciate all music. 

“We love it. We have the most fun especially when we make music. Sometimes if you’re not sure about it, you know if you’re a little scared or sceptical, if any fans will like it. But there’s something to be said for bands like AC/DC, where they have their sound and it’s classic. You know what you’re getting I love that too. We just have to be honest and authentic to who we are and we’re just like blahh, all over the place.”

Well, whatever you’re doing keep doing it. It’s working. I even still buy CD’s and vinyl. I love grabbing a new album when a favourite comes out.

“Yeah that’s right. They say that vinyl records sales have gone up 40 or 50%. They’ve outsold CDs which is wild. I’m too reckless for vinyl. I’m too impatient. I’m a bad DJ I guess. I’m always all over the place and switching things up, but one good thing about a record or a CD, it’s when you sit down and actually listen to the whole body of work in its entirety from beginning to end. People will be able to do with our greatest hits which is cool and even this new record that were finishing up right now. The intention wasn’t to make a full record but it seems like we’re going to be putting it out and we’re really, really excited about it. But right now we’re celebrating the last 10 years of our career which has been great. The greatest hits ‘part 2’ which is crazy.”

You’ve got 21 new tracks on the new Greatest Hits album including, 2 acoustic, 14 remastered, 4 remixes and one of those remixes is Broken As Me from ‘F.E.A.R’ featuring Danny Worsnop from Asking Alexandria. What a great remix. I guess you guys were friends before all this came out.

“Oh yeah. The first time we played with Danny and all the guys in Asking Alexandria we hit it off immediately. Danny is such a presence and such a rock star and a goofball and I love him. He’s got an amazing voice and we’ve been friends for a while and it was great to have him on a song like that. That was our way of making that song special. I don’t think that song was ever a single but it was always a fan favourite from that record, so we thought it’d be cool to spice it up with the little Danny Worsnop. I call him Danny Van Halen I don’t know why. He just feels like someone that should be from the 80’s.” *laughs*

The other amazing remix you’ve done is with TikTok star Jeris Johnson. It’s an amazing version of Last Resort. I actually really love it. How did you find Jeris?

“Yeah Jeris is such a talented kid, it’s crazy because you know, we’re not from that generation of the whole TikTok world.  It’s funny because we were trying to find a way to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of ‘Infest’ and we were trying to figure out different ways and have guests come in and flip up Last Resort and it just so happened, while we were talking about that, this short clip of Jeris on TikTok doing his little remix on that song, started to go viral. I went and pretty much listened to everything that he had done because I wanted to check him out, like who is this kid. I went on YouTube and he’s been doing covers for years. He’s super talented he plays all these different instruments and he’s got a great voice and he can sing anything. He’s building up his own record as an artist and it was just the timing was just it ,was just meant to be. We hit him up, like let’s get in the studio, let’s get to know each other and see what happens. And right away we felt like we had made a new best friend and he was part of the family. So we were just like let’s finish this song and let’s just make it big and we’ll do a video we’ll go all out with it and put it out.Since then the reaction’s been really cool. I love it. I think it came out great and I really am proud of that. I’m really excited to see where he goes next with his own stuff because he’s the real deal man.”

You’ve got a couple of acoustic tracks listed on the greatest hits album coming, is one of them Periscope? I’m just asking because I love that song.

“I don’t think so. OK I don’t even know all of the acoustic songs on it. *laughs*

I was just thinking about which one would I like to hear acoustically and that one was the first I thought of.

“You know what, that’s funny you said that because we just did an interview yesterday, the whole band, and Jacoby said that he would like to do Periscope acoustic because we haven’t done it yet. But I do remember hearing one of the songs that was on the greatest hits and I believe it was Face Everything And Rise and it was acoustic and that’s weird because that song, it’s hard to emulate with acoustic. You literally have to change the arrangement almost to fit acoustic guitars, which is what we did. That’s a part of the fun and challenge of doing acoustic stuff sometimes, you get to have fun with it you know, change it up, do a reinterpretation if you will, and it gives the songs new life.”

Rise Against did an acoustic album a couple of years ago called ‘Ghost Note Syphonies Vol 1’ and they put ten of their songs on the album all reimagined as acoustic songs. It really touched me, when I first heard it I just I couldn’t stop listening to it. It gives those songs a whole new life. It’s like the yin and yang of the song.

“Yeah I know what you’re saying. Even though the song might take a little bit to restructure, it’s a good thing to do. I think too, you always know that you have a good song when you can break it down to its core. Just like three chords and the truth you know, that’s what they always say, if you can take a song and break it down to just acoustic guitar and vocals and it still sounds like it, still hits you, then you know you’re doing something right.”

Have you got any plans to tour? I know it’s probably looking far ahead but is anything booked in?

“No not this year. We have a lot of music dropping this year though. We’re going to be dropping new music like every month. We have a plan and there’s like little nuggets that are going to be tasty little presents. They are going to be dropping throughout the rest of the year until the whole touring thing really gets figured out. As soon as it does we can’t wait.”

Make sure you come to Australia as soon as you can because we’re pretty much fully open. We even have Festivals booking in for the end of the year.

“That’s a place that I wouldn’t be mad if they said ‘hey you can’t leave’. If once you get there you can’t leave for you know, whatever, two weeks, a month even better. I’d be like ‘cool I’m gonna go down to Esperance’.”

You can pre-order Papa Roach ‘The Greatest Hits Vol. 2 – The Better Noise Years’ right HERE.

greatest hits vol 2

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With thanks to Maric Media

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