In the small Northern California town of Vacaville, four high school friends, Jacoby Shaddix, Jerry Horton, Dave Buckner, and Will James, decided to start a band. In 1993, they became Papa Roach, a band whose influences included prominent Bay Area acts such as Faith No More and Primus. Papa Roach quickly rose to the top of the Vacaville music scene with their blending of hip-hop, groove-funk, and hardcore.
After a couple of years of playing coffeehouses, pizza joints, and keg-parties, they were headlining such places as the Cactus Club in San Jose, the Cattle Club in Sacramento, and the Berkeley Square in Berkeley. Due to the antics of unpredictable Shaddix, and the raw power supplied by the band in live performances, Papa Roach captured the attention of younger audiences. In turn, kids showed their appreciation for the band by faithfully attending all the band’s shows. In these early years, Papa Roach was able to support the Deftones on two shows, and have bands such as Incubus, Snot, Far, Human Waste Project, Downset and Fu Manchu open for them.
In the summer of 1996, while realizing athat they had something special, Papa Roach decided to make changes necessary to reach the next level. First, the band replaced bass player Will James because his commitment to church summer camp that would have prevented the band from practicing and playing any shows over the summer. Papa Roach did not have to go far to find their new bass player. Tobin Esperance, who was only 16 years old and who had been a roadie for Papa Roach since age 13, readily became the new bass player. Second, the band hired a manager, Bret Bair, to help them with bookings, promotions, and merchandising. With a new bass player and management in place, Papa Roach decided to enter the studio to record a full-length CD.
“Old Friends From Young Years” was recorded for $700 at E.S.P. Studios in Pittsburg, California, and was subsequently released in February of 1997. The CD contains 13 tracks, including the songs “Orange Drive Palms”, and “Liquid Diet”. Without any push from the band or management, many smaller independent and college radio stations in Chico, Davis, San Jose, Sacramento, and the Bay Area added Papa Roach to their playlists. To the bands’ surprise, Papa Roach charted number one as Cal-State Sacramento’s most requested band for five consecutive weeks. Papa Roach celebrated the release of their first album with several CD release shows. The Vacaville CD release show was attended by 700 kids, while CD release shows in Berkeley and Sacramento were attended by 400 and 300 kids, respectively.
Papa Roach‘s emerging popularity did not escape the eyes and ears of promoters, who started booking the band as a support act on many larger national shows. In March of 1997, Papa Roach played main support to Suicidal Tendencies in front of 1,000 people in Sacramento. They also either headlined or supported many of today’s up and coming acts in the aggressive rock genre, including Incubus, Snot, Far, Human Waste Project, (hed) p.e., Sevendust, WIll Haven and Powerman 5000. Papa Roach has also played Southern California on a frequent basis, and is now becoming a regular at such reknowned clubs as the Troubador in Hollywood, and Soma in San Diego.
In April 1998, Papa Roach released “5 Tracks Deep”, and E.P. containing five songs which sold 1,000 copies within the first month after its release. This CD exemplifies the natural growth in musicianship and song-writing ability within band since “Old Friends From Young Years” was recorded 18 months earlier. The songs “Revenge in Japanese” is a perfect example of the Papa Roach trademark sound where hip-hop verses lead to a catchy radio-friendly chorus. This results in a song with both energy and emotion that will attract diverse crowds of people.