A clean and sober singer has done wonders for the band Papa Roach, who have a new album called "F.E.A.R" and tour with Five Finger Death Punch.


This year marks the 15th anniversary as a recording act for Papa Roach. Looking back, vocalist Jacoby Shaddix can say it's been quite an adventure.

"The long and short of it is it's been a roller coaster," he said in a recent phone interview. "There have been moments where we felt like the wheels were going to fall off. There were some great high points and some extreme low points."

For Shaddix in particular, the past three years have been a microcosm of the extremes that have characterized the band's entire career. But today he's excited about where his life is at and what Papa Roach can accomplish moving forward. The band is currently opening for hard rock act Five Finger Death Punch, whose tour stops in Reno on Sept. 16 at Lawlor Events Center.

"I feel like we're in the middle of the ride and I see 15 more years, 20 more years of doing what we do," he said.

This is a contrast to three years ago. As Papa Roach was working on its 2012 album, "The Connection," its singer was hitting rock bottom.

"Half way through the record I was like 'I've got to get sober again,'" Shaddix said. "My wife left me. I'm just really broken and in the most desperate place in my life. And my confidence as a musician was gone, as a person, everything. I was shattered. That record was really the record that I felt the power of music. That record saved my life, in a literal sense."

Shaddix said he'd been battling his addictions for a decade, moving from periods where he cleaned up and went on the wagon, only to relapse into familiar indulgences. Despite Shaddix's various phases of addiction and sobriety, Papa Roach managed to thrive musically through much of its first 15 years as a band, a career that opened a new chapter this past January with the release of its eighth studio album, "F.E.A.R."

Papa Roach formed in 1993 in Vacaville, Calif. The band blasted into prominence with its 2000 major label debut CD, "Infest," which sold more than three million copies and featured the hit single "Last Resort." Since then, Papa Roach's career had ups and downs, but there were rock radio hits such as "Getting Away With Murder," "Forever" and "Still Swingin'."

Along the way there have been a couple of personnel changes – the most notable being the 2007 dismissal of long-time drummer Dave Buckner --as well as Shaddix's personal ups and downs. It was the tour for "The Connection" album where Shaddix said he decided to make sobriety work once and for all.

"I stayed sober the whole record cycle and really just saw the world a bit clearer and a little more focused and got my confidence back as a songwriter and as just a human being," he said. "I started just making better decisions in my personal life and the relationships around me started to become healthy again."

In recording "F.E.A.R.," (it stands for "Face Everything And Rise") Shaddix gave himself a major test to see if he could resist the behaviors that had at times threatened not only his health, but the existence of Papa Roach.

"I went to Las Vegas, the scene of the crime, to record this (new) record," Shaddix said. "Some of the greatest failures of my life have been in that city. I had to go back there and try to like make things right with myself, and I just threw myself into this record and was on fire from the first note that was written."

Shaddix is clearly proud of the "F.E.A.R." album, and feels that Papa Roach has really hit its stride musically. The band's sound, which originally had a strong rap-rock element has shifted toward more of a melodic hard rock sound on recent albums.

"We definitely picked up where we left off on 'The Connection,' moving into 'F.E.A.R.' stylistically and musically," Shaddix said. "We kind of settled into a place that we thought was just good for the band. There are some old-school sounds in there, bringing back those big riffs."

More than ever, Shaddix came into the "F.E.A.R." project feeling focused and energized, and his state of mind was apparent in the day-to-day process of writing and recording the album.

"I've been struggling with it for the last 10 years," he said. "So there are records where I've been clean and there are records where I haven't been clean, or half way through I got clean. Well, this time I had almost two years clean, and writing the record just with that clear head, it was awesome, man. I just felt like I had been given a gift back, my life."

It's also sparked his songwriting. "I used to never write on the road," Shaddix said. "Today I sat down, we're on a ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, and I started working on some new music. I never did that on the road. So I'm excited to see how it will unfold in my life, but I just want to stay on this path. It works for me."

Papa Roach, which also includes guitarist Jerry Horton, bassist Tobin Esperance and drummer Tony Palermo, has been on tour pretty much all year, debuting new material along the way. Its latest outing with Five Finger Death Punch runs through early October in the States before going to Europe in November.

"We'll probably play three or four new songs on this tour," Shaddix said. "And then we'll just pick and pull the classics from the older records. There are a couple of mandatory tracks we have to play."

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