An Interview with Dave Buckner of Papa Roach

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LA’s Paramour Mansion, better know these days as home base for the Rock Star reality series, has a long and mysterious history dating back to the silent film era. Rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of the original owners, Papa Roach drummer Dave Buckner admits having firsthand experiences with “the other side” when his band spent three months at the mansion to record its latest album, appropriately titled, The Paramour Sessions. But Dave also confesses that his recorded performance had less to do with the supernatural than with his deeply emotional relationship to the music.

“When people first hear a song,” Dave explains, “they relate to the vocal, the lyrics or the feeling they get. Our songs have very straightforward, easily understood lyrics. Whether we’re writing the music around a lyric or a thought that Coby (singer Jacoby Shaddix) comes up with, or the band writes music that he’s supplying the lyrics to, my job – and the rest of the band feels this way as well – is to ultimately be an emotional extension of what he’s singing. That’s our purpose and that’s where my approach to the drums comes from.” Dave talked drums with Metal Edge as Papa Roach prepared for their final show on the Guns ‘N’ Roses tour at NYC’s Madison Square Garden.

Metal Edge: The Paramour Sessions is your second record working with producer Howard Benson. How has he influenced your drum parts?

Dave Buckner: Over the last two records, Howard has influenced me a great deal. He made a major impact on Getting Away With Murder (2004), as far as getting me to really focus on when to simplify and when to be tastefully busy. On that record, we used drum loops to fill in and help move parts. We let the drums simplify and anchor the beat more than letting the loop play around the beat – or even the other way around. From that experience, my mind was already in tune [with Howard’s methods] when we were ready to record The Paramour Sessions. When Howard got to the studio he said, ‘Dave, you’re playing great on this record; just keep doing what you’re doing.’

Metal Edge: I noticed there are additional percussive elements on this CD as well.

Dave Buckner: With this new record, instead of using drum loops, we actually brought in world-renowned percussionist Lenny Castro. Lenny is a total legend and it’s amazing to watch him play. The parts he added are so great and tasteful. It’s funny, because sometimes you barely know they’re there, but you feel it more. Then other times his contribution is really blatant. It was really cool to work with him.

Metal Edge: It sounds like you sometimes change up your groove a couple of times within a song. How are your drum parts recorded on these types of songs?

Dave Buckner: I’m fortunate that I can play very naturally to a click track, as far as knowing when to ignore and when to pay attention to it. A lot of drummers, when they have a click track, tend to get really boxy or robotic with it. But I let my ear ignore the click and just let it fade into the background of what I’m playing. Every now and then, I’ll tune in to the click when I need to, and it keeps me going. The way I play, I don’t do a lot of crazy fills, but I will change up the feel of the song to add spice, or what I feel the song needs. With the click as a guideline in the background, I can go wherever I want and feel free to just put snares and kicks in different places.

Metal Edge: Tell me about your interaction with Coby, your singer.

Dave Buckner: Coby and I feed off each other a lot. His lyrics and vocal melodies really influence me as far as beat placement and fills. You may hear places on the record where we’ll lock up: then there will be a drum or a vocal accent that happens. It used to occur a lot more when he was rapping, but now that he’s singing, it doesn’t happen as much. Back in the day, when we were in our rap/metal phase, my playing was really keyed in on that. If you come see us play live I do a lot of flourishes or vamps off Coby’s vocals.

Dave’s Gear:
Drums: Pearl Custom Lucite kit
Sizes: 24”x20” Kick, 14”x10” Rack Tom, 16”x14” and 18”x16” Floor Toms, 6”x14” Pearl Master Custom Snare or 6”x14” 1972 Ludwig Black Beauty Snare
Cymbals: Zildjian
Heads: Remo
Sticks: Vater, El Chingon custom stick

Official Website:

Dave Buckner Papa Roach

This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.

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