Don Broco drop new single Fingernails, announce arena shows with Papa Roach and Dance Gavin Dance
Listen to Don Broco’s new single Fingernails, and catch the band with Papa Roach and Dance Gavin Dance on the Amazing Things tour next year…
‘Cut my life into pieces, this is my last resort...’
With one of the catchiest hooks of the millennial rap-rock revolution, a band of musical misfits from Vacaville, CA, grappled their way into mainstream consciousness. An empathetic anthem to small town repression packed with street-beaten authenticity and potent anti-suicide sentiment, the track felt -- from the very first listen –- like the explosive statement to sky-rocket Papa Roach to superstardom.
An iconic song, of course, deserves an iconic video. And, after working with uber-producer Jay Baumgardner in the studio, the opportunity to get music video director extraordinaire Marcos Siega (blink-182’s All The Small Things, Weezer’s Hash Pipe) on board for the accompanying cut was seized with both hands.
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Where so many nu-metal outfits cack-handedly attempted to tap into some corporate notion of the ‘teenage mindset’, Papa Roach bypassed all artifice, literally catapulting us into the chaos of their live show via the bedrooms of some of their closest friends and biggest fans.
Almost 20 years down the line, the song -– and its video -– resonate timelessly, still pulsating with all the heartbreak and angsty attitude of internal teenage tumult. Time, however, waits for no fan. We thought it’d be a trip to catch up with a few of the faces in the crowd to re-live their memories of a definitive musical experience and find out where life has taken them all the years down the line...
Hey Matthew! So, what were you like as a teen back in the year 2000?
“Was I a bummed-out teenager? Yeah! I 100% was not the typical rap-rock kid portrayed in the video, though. I was actually more of a hardcore kid, playing in a band with a UK ‘82 vibe, but we managed to become friends with Papa Roach through the local music community. Our town had like 90,000 people, but it was very small-town minded. We had very little resource. Vacaville does not really support art. If you like sports, you’re fine, but if you liked the alternative you’d walk down the street and get called all sorts of inappropriate names. There was our band, the emo band, that one straight-edge hardcore band, and Papa Roach. We all had to stick together. They were friends and avid supporters of all things underground music –- including us!”
So, tell us about your band…
“We’re called Monster Squad -– like the '80s movie, but in no way associated with it. We started in January 1997, when I was 15. June that year, we played our first show -– and it was with Papa Roach. We were a proper hardcore punk band: Mohawks, leather jackets, big boots, plaid pants. In the punk community, it was considered kind of funny that I was featured in the video because we from are such different worlds. I understood why people thought like that, but those guys treated us like family and really took us under their wing when they didn’t need to. Monster Squad is actually still together -– although we don’t get to tour so much nowadays as a bunch of us have kids...”
How did you end up in the Last Resort video?
“In the video, there’s a female who [segues] from laying down in her bedroom to a crowdsurf. That’s my friend Megan, who I’ve known since sixth grade and who’s still one of my best friends. I didn’t really have access to the internet back then, but she did, so she ended up signing both of us up to be in the video. The big hoorah -– the main shoot –- happened over at the Cal Expo centre, but my main memory is of the crew rolling up to my mom’s house at like 7am to shoot me in my room. My friend (now a renowned tattooist) Gustavo Martinez was supposed to be there, but he didn’t make it. My other friend Jason, from a band called Die Trying did, though, even though I don’t know whether he was actually invited! People always joke about how sad I look in the video -– but what 17-year-old is going to look happy being awake at 7am on Saturday morning?!”
What have you been up to between then and 2019?
“I’m 37 now. From that local band, we went from being that high school band hustling our own demo tapes to eventually releasing our own records. I played in other bands called West At Seven, Great Apes, Build Us Airplanes. After Papa Roach got signed, it feels like every band around the entire Bay felt like they could too. They taught us work ethic: busting your ass for your band. And they taught us about treating other bands kindly. Outside music, I worked in music retail for a long time, then Apple retail. But I worked on photography that whole time, too! After Papa Roach got signed, MTV called me up to ask me if they could use some of my pictures. That gave me a lot of confidence. Eventually, it led me to my current job where I get to interview graphic designers, record the video, edit it and share it! And I still shoot concerts all the time and have photography shows here and there, too, where I’ll hopefully sell a few prints.”
Hi Jay, so when did Papa Roach first become a part of your life?
“I heard about Papa Roach when I was a junior in high school. Someone had a two-song sampler and I was blown away. It was around that time that the rap-rock thing was getting big, but I’d never heard a band do it like they were doing it. It was around then that I started getting involved with the local scene and bands like Far, Deftones and a bunch of others. I discovered Korn through Far. I started doing street team promotion for More Records back then. I started doing street team for a lot of other bands, too, and eventually started running street teams –- promotion for bands like The Juliana Theory and Dredge. When I found Papa Roach, I realised that they weren’t getting any of that type of attention, but they deserved it. Their manager promoted a lot of the concerts in the area and asked me if I’d do some of the same street team stuff I’d be doing for them. Being already involved in music, it felt like a no-brainer that I’d get involved. It was actually either my friend Wade or me who sent their 5 Tracks Deep EP over to Kerrang! for review! I was involved with them just as things were building, before they even got signed."
What do you remember about getting to be in the video?
“I don’t actually remember that much. I had been helping recruit people to come along to the shoot, calling radio stations and things like that. I remember leaving right after we were done to go see Dillinger Escape Plan in the Bay Area. I do remember walking into Cal-Expo, where they hold the California State Fair. They have these indoor auditoriums where they display a bunch of farm equipment and fishing stuff. Inside, I saw a lot of people there who were already coming out to the shows and felt a lot of that energy. The thing was kind of a long day, but there was so much energy. I don’t want to use the word surreal, but it felt crazy. I remember going down to LA with Papa Roach for ‘showcases’ a few times sort of like a tour manager. After that, just seeing how they had a goal and were able to achieve it was incredible. Everyone said they were like an overnight success, but it took about ten years to become that overnight success.”
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What have you been up to since then?
“I’m 41 now. I own a custom aquarium maintenance business. I’m married with two kids and I live in Sacramento, CA. I worked with Papa Roach until 2001 or 2002 -– a little after Lovehatetragedy. That was the time when people were stealing music from the internet with Napster and all that. The albums were already in peoples’ hands. And the labels were not into spending money on promoting something that people already had. It started getting weird, so I had to go get a real job –- or four! I worked at UPS, in grocery delivery, aquarium maintenance and real-estate photography. That gave me enough leeway to do what I wanted to do and not get caught up the full eight hours a day. Once I learned how to build my business up, that’s what I’ve done ever since.”
Hey Chris, how does it feel looking back to the turn of the millennium?
“Man, I was a wild kid back then. I’ve known Jerry [Horton, guitar] since I was about five years old. I was best friends with his brother Chad. I’ve known him almost my whole life. It was only when I got kicked out of school and ended up going to a different school where I met a guy called Ryan Brown -– their drummer at the time -– that I got reconnected with those guys and started hanging out with Jacoby and Tobin. I was in a group myself, too. We would always be at shows together doing stuff together.”
Tell us about your band…
“I was in a group at the time called Absolute On End. I ended up being in another group called Dank Alumni. We put out a couple of records and played the Warped Tour. I’ve been on a soundtrack or two -– including that movie Lockdown with Kimbo Slice. I tried my hand at the rap career. I got to do a bunch of cool stuff for being a nobody.”
So, what happened after that?
“I got older and more mature and started having kids! I had to quit that aspect and get a blue-collar job. I ended up being a train conductor for Amtrak for a really long time. I’m now 41. I work for Golden Voice and Live Nation in production and staging.”
What do you remember about the Last Resort shoot?
“I don’t really remember how I was approached about the whole thing, but I was definitely one of their closer friends doing music at the time. Chad might’ve invited me, too. What I really remember was being around all that production for the first time as like a 19-year-old kid and watching the director Marcos do his thing.”
Do you feel much nostalgia, looking back?
“Personally, yes, there is a lot of nostalgia in it for me. It certainly marks a spot in time for me in my life –- adolescence, being a young adult where you’re trying to figure out who you are and what you’re gonna do. I was young and reckless. A lot of us were.”
Hey Chad, tell us about your very personal connection to Papa Roach?
“Jerry, the guitar player, is my brother. It started out when we were all in high school. Me and my brother went to one high school and the other guys went to another on the other side of town. It was cool seeing them build a following. It was even cooler that they played concerts in our home town –- because so few people did. They were packing out our community centre, with several hundred people at a time. Then they started traveling outside Northern California. They started going to LA to play shows. They started playing showcases for record labels. Some of these shows would be crazy: the line-up could be Incubus, Deftones and Papa Roach. This was all while Papa Roach were still unsigned.”
Was it a surreal experience, watching your brother’s band blow up so quickly?
“It was cool to see them go from these punk kids practicing in the garage -– where I’d have to open up the garage to tell them to shut up -– to being a group of guys really going after their dream. They kinda started out as like a quirky, slightly grungy Bay Area-style punk band, influenced by Faith No More and Snot. Eventually, they started to realise that they needed to do some things to differentiate themselves: like wearing all black Dickies. I remember realising that they could be big around the 5 Tracks Deep EP. It was when the nu-metal/rap-rock thing that was happening with Korn, Limp Bizkit and the likes. They grew into that at just the right time. Everyone could see their style and the sound started getting more focused. We could see that they were growing and graduating into the band they were going to be. They paid for 5 Tracks Deep to be pressed themselves and started selling them hand-to-hand to the fans at their shows. Then they got signed by DreamWorks.”
What do you remember from the shoot?
“I would’ve been about 20 at the time when it happened. I had actually recently moved from North California to Indianapolis where my parents had retired and I travelled back to be in the video. I remember it being incredibly exciting. I’d never been part of a music video before. It was the band’s first video, too. They just put a message out and tons of their fans responded. I think pretty much everyone in the music video were fans that they already knew who came out to the shows in Northern California. There’s a video on YouTube about the making of Last Resort. I watched it just today and was reminiscing. You’ve got to remember, back then, music videos were really expensive, too. Camera gear and everything wasn’t as readily available as it is now. Blowing up back then felt different because felt like the whole world knew about it. Nowadays, you can have 500 million Spotify streams but people don’t know who you are in the same way as when MTV were playing videos and everyone was watching.”
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How did that excited kid become the adult you are today?
“Well, I’m 40 now, living in San Diego and running the social media marketing for Tenth Street Entertainment, which is Papa Roach’s management company. When I moved to Indianapolis, I started doing street promotions to get into the music scene over there. I was inspired by the success that Papa Roach had. I didn’t graduate college. Life was my college. I got into promoting local shows, then regional ones and eventually I started to bring national tours through. I didn’t have any help from the band. I wanted to do it on my own so that people wouldn’t say I’d gotten anything through my brother. But I was inspired by Papa Roach’s success. Then when Myspace came out in 2003 I went to them and said that it was this new resource that they needed to utilise. I set up the page for them and from there I started learning digital marketing and co-ordinating it for other people. When I was ready to present my skillset to the band and say that I was on the forefront of this digital marketing thing that was happening, they listened. In 2008, I really started to be part of the team. Then two years ago I met the management company and came on board full time.”
How do you feel looking back on those early days now?
“Man...I think the best word to sum up how I feel would be ‘grateful’. Not just for myself, but for the band. They don’t really know how to do anything else because they’ve been doing this since high school. They’d need to find something else to be passionate about or be miserable in the nine-to-five like so many other people in this world. I know they feel the same way. Papa Roach has always been the scrappy, independent band. Even [after] they were signed. Their whole aura has always been that they’re gonna do whatever it takes and they’re never gonna die –- just like the roaches. Look around and you’ll see that most of the other bands that blew up at that time aren’t around anymore. That Papa Roach are is a testament to their work-ethic and the music that they make!”
Listen to Don Broco’s new single Fingernails, and catch the band with Papa Roach and Dance Gavin Dance on the Amazing Things tour next year…
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