Papa Roach’s Tony Palermo
Tony gives Modern Drummer associate editor Billy Amendola a drum-centric, song-by-song breakdown of Papa Roach’s new album, Metamorphosis.
The tracking took place in studios A and B at NRG studios in North Hollywood. The drums consisted of a Pearl Masters 18×24 kick drum, DW 9×13 rack and 14×16 floor toms, a 6 1/2×14 Black Beauty snare, a Tama bell brass snare, and my 8×14 Pork Pie snare. I used a variety of Paiste cymbals, including a 22″ 2002 power bell ride, a pair of 15″ 2002 Crunch hats, a 22″ Heavy Full crash, and a 20″ Signature Heavy crash.
Days Of War: The record begins with a threatening stomp as well as my son’s actual cries. I brought him to the studio and we ended up tracking the stomps that day, so I set him on the floor and he was bummed. His cries felt so wrong but were also completely right for the overall vibe. The drums begin with left-hand quarter notes on the hats and a right-hand pattern on the snare. Then the kick drum comes in to match my left-hand quarters. The out is just the snare pattern played with both hands. It’s meant to be bombastic.
Change Or Die: This is my favorite rocker on the record. The song stemmed from an AC/DC–type drum beat and morphed into an in-your-face wakeup call. I used the Pork Pie snare, which we kept open and tuned in the upper range. When the single-stroke rolls come into the bridge, we opened the room mics up a bit more. I love playing this song simply for its energy factor. Advertisement
Hollywood Whore: Another favorite to play. I appreciate how much space there is in the verses, which allows the true drum sounds to be heard. We kept it very organic as far as tones and sound replacements for the whole process. Both tracking rooms were very open and airy, allowing us to use different areas for mic placement.
I Almost Told You: I banged on a 20″ DW kick with an oversized mallet for an added tom effect in the intro and re-intro. The verse is a super-slow ska beat, but getting the full opening and closing of the hats as well as the separation of the kick and snare was challenging. This is the only song where I used a 21″ Dry Signature ride cymbal. What made it different was the fact that it was cracked, which gave it a unique cut-off and made it sound as filthy as the lyrics.
Lifeline: This was the last song written on the last night of our stay during The Paramore Sessions. It was written fairly easily, but when it came time to record the song I must have tracked it around fifty times–not because of my performance but because of us changing the beats so many times. I used the Black Beauty snare again. Advertisement
Had Enough: The sounds on this track have to be my favorite on the record. Again, the room sounds are accurately captured with wide-open space and rich tones. We noticed after the fact that the feel is a bit like a U2 song, which wasn’t intended. The choruses are a big rock groove with the ride being struck for a washy effect.
Live This Down: This track came together during the recording process and I believe was the last one we tracked. Because we didn’t do much rehearsal on this I just tried to play for the song. When you don’t have time for the song to develop you just hope all your parts come out good enough. There is always something different you think you could have done, but that’s what playing live is for.
March Out Of The Darkness: I played a sparse kick pattern in the verses so that the snare and hats drive it more. I used the Tama Bell Brass on this one; it’s one of my favorite snares to record with because it has attack, body, and warmth. We took an alternate approach with the choruses. I just throw in stabs instead of playing an actual beat. Parts like that keep it interesting. Advertisement
Into The Light: This was the first track we recorded. I really like the way I slam on the toms. It’s basically a single-stroke roll starting on the floor, with the left hand landing on the snare. The kick is pedaling through on the 1s to keep a foundation. Then it breaks into half-time for the choruses. For the bridge I kept the first thing I wrote, which was just a big tom-attack pattern. Mick Mars from Mötley Crüe came down and put his stamp on it with the guitar solo.
Carry Me: This beat is the most challenging one on the record. There’s a whole bunch of notes going on here–hi-hat accents on the upbeats and ghost notes during the verses, lots of snare ghost notes as well. It has a slight swing vibe to it until the choruses, which straighten out a bit. I’d like to think I paid homage to Jeff Porcaro on this one. Definitely one of the most emotional and exploratory tracks of the band’s career.
Nights Of Love: This track came out of an improv jam and represents us stretching into new musical territory. When we finished the improv we looked at each other and new it was something cool and different, but we weren’t sure if it was going to fit with the rest of the songs. But we decided we needed to include this one, so when it came time to track everyone agreed that the demo was magical and that I should play along to it. It was easier to follow what I had captured by doing it that way; the beats and fills are a mirror image of what I did on the demo. Advertisement
State Of Emergency: My favorite thing about the drums here is the tribal beat in the bridge. The song actually started with that beat for the verses, but we soon realized it was too busy to sing over and moved it to the bridge. The song goes from your basic half-time feel in the verse to a straight-ahead driving beat in the chorus. During the re-intro we threw some slap-back on the drums to give it a varied sound. Before we even began sequencing the album we knew this track was the closer. Plus we kept a haunting guitar part for the outro, which was recorded at the Paramore during the writing sessions. You can hear a DJ from some radio show being transmitted through the speakers. We think he’s talking in Portuguese; he’s yelling or preaching or something, which gives it a mysterious, ghostly vibe. Or maybe the house was just creating that!
For more on Tony and Papa Roach, visit www.paparoach.com. Live photos by Sayre Berman.