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There aren't too many people who can say they have a friend in a big rock band, but I can! This past summer I got a chance to meet Papa Roach.

Papa Roach is Coby Dick's vocals, Jerry Horton on guitar, Tobin Esperance on bass and David Buckner on drums. They formed the band back in high school in Vacaville, Calif. The name Papa Roach was taken from Coby's grandfather, the original "Papa" Roach. Their music, people say, is a mix of hip-hop, punk and rock. The lyrics, written by Coby, are very deep. Basically, through his lyrics Coby talks about his experiences since early childhood and throughout adolescence. The lyrics deal with common problems such as divorce, alcohol and suicidal thoughts.

The summer of 2000 was immense for the band. Its hit single, "Last Resort," was played on radio stations everywhere and its video was on MTV's "Total Request Live" countdown until it had to be retired. (On "TRL," a video has to be "retired" when it has been played 65 times on the countdown.) In a recent exchange of e-mails I asked Jerry how it feels to have Papa Roach's music played on the radio. He replied: "Incredible! Just having one song on the radio is cool, but to have it be number two on countdowns everywhere is surreal."

Papa Roach was on last summer's Vans Warped Tour, toured Europe and performed on the Anger Management Tour with Limp Bizkit and Eminem. I asked Jerry to describe life on tour. "It's a hard, fast life," he replied. "At first it's hard getting used to, but all the fun times you have outweigh the bad things."

I first met the band last August when I went to Edgefest with my friend Tim Redmond of the band Snapcase. (Redmond had met Papa Roach when both bands were on the Warped Tour.) Papa Roach members are big fans of Snapcase, so I knew they would be looking for Tim. We met up with Papa Roach later that day. Tim introduced me to the band, and we hit it off right from the start. I told them how big a fan I was and how their music gave me a drive to get past problems I was facing at that time with friends and family. After talking for a while, they invited me and Tim on their tour bus to watch their music video for "Broken Home." We also watched from backstage as they performed for 17,000 fans.

They had time to hang out after the show so Tim and I decided to show them around our hometown. We first took them to Mighty Taco. They loved it, especially the apple empanadas! We then took them to Niagara Falls. After walking around the falls and Clifton Hill, it was time to head back because they had to leave for New York City to appear on David Letterman's show.

The whole experience felt like a dream. I thought I was the luckiest kid on earth to be able to hang out with a well-known rock band. They made me feel like a brother and gave me advice on how to deal with the problems I was having. They also gave me their e-mail addresses so I could keep in touch. I relived that night a million times by telling that story to everyone I knew.

Fast forward to Oct. 21, when Papa Roach came to Buffalo for the Anger Management Tour headlined by Limp Bizkit. I met Coby in the security office where he gave me backstage passes for my sister and me. It was weird, here I was walking down a hallway to the stage, passing by Fred Durst and Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit. I thought I was dreaming, but it was an amazing reality. Papa Roach performed a great set, full of energy and excitement as always. After watching Eminem's set, I met up with Jerry. We stayed around and watched most of Limp Bizkit, then headed to see the rest of the band in its hospitality room. It was amazing when I walked into that room and everybody knew who I was.

Jerry introduced my sister to everyone. After spending some time talking to David and Coby, Jerry, my sister and I headed to the tour bus so Jerry could show us a tape of the band's appearance on MTV's "TRL" the day before. We talked and joked on the bus until about 2 a.m. They shared beverages and food with us and even introduced my sister and me to some new bands, "At the Drive-in" and "Taproot," by showing us their latest CDs.

The four guys in Papa Roach are just great guys all around. They are down-to-earth, funny and very talented musicians.

Their debut CD from Dreamworks is titled "Infest." They have been touring Europe and will kick off their Raid tour March 17 with Alien Ant Farm and Orgy.

Andy Musial is a sophomore at West Seneca East High School.

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