Interview with Josh Todd of Buckcherry
ALSO: See Red's review of Buckcherry's new album, 15.
After years of fighting, drugging, breaking up, making up, getting dropped by their label, and all kinds of other shit, frontman Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson have endured each other and the changing times to create the third Buckcherry record in seven years. 15 is, by all accounts, a sonic glam-rock masterpiece that sports every cliché in the business and delivers it with a raging hard-on of attitude. The same night the new record hit stores, Buckcherry sold out Irving Plaza in New York and drove a stake right through the chest of a few thousand, as if to say, “Don’t call it a comeback, motherfucker!”
Bullz-Eye caught up with Josh Todd aboard the band’s tour bus the following morning, understandably a bit groggy.
Bullz-Eye: So where am I waking you up from this morning?
Josh Todd: Uh, I’m on a bus…en route to Baltimore.
BE: You guys did New York City last night, right?
JT: Yeah, it was fucking nuts, man.
BE: Irving Plaza?
JT: Irving Plaza, sold out, man.
BE: Was the crowd into it last night?
JT: Fuck yeah, man! Irving Plaza, New York, sold out, Buckcherry…c’mon, man.
BE: Babies knocking down your door afterwards?
JT: Hungry Sarahs.
BE: (giggling at the ‘06 terminology for groupies) So who you got playing with you now? You and Keith are the only original members left, correct?
JT: Yeah, we’re the core. I mean, we started the band, we write the majority of the material. It wouldn’t really be Buckcherry without Keith and I.
BE: So who else is in the band these days?
JT: We’ve got the guys we’ve always wanted for our band, it just happened to come later in our career. Jimmy Ashhurst on the bass, we’ve got Xavier Muriel on drums, and Stevie D on guitar.
BE: Now, did these guys play on 15 or have they just been with you on the road?
JT: They played on 15, they wrote with us, we collaborated as a band. It’s a band.
BE: Cool. And the live performances are tight? You’re feeling good up there?
JT: Fuck, yeah. Better than it ever was.
BE: Take us back to 1999 for a bit. That debut was fantastic, groundbreaking at the time since nothing had hit the hard rock category like that in years. What transpired back then as the band was just breaking?
JT: Well, the first record was great. Everything was new. It was all our first time for everything, so it was awesome. We really had a lot of success on that record. Then Time Bomb came out and right when we were releasing the record our A&R guys just quit on us. It screwed up our whole record cycle. We really believed in that record, we were very passionate about it, and uh, it was a real drag. Internally as a band, you know, Keith and I remained connected but the other three guys were just kinda out for themselves. They weren’t really out for Buckcherry, there wasn’t a real band situation any more, you know. It wasn’t fun.
BE: Then what?
JT: Well, about the Time Bomb tour all three of those guys at separate times just quit. We did 11 months of touring with Time Bomb without a record label behind us, and with bad management, and we came home and three of the guys quit, so it was just Keith and I.
BE: We’re now up to 2003, right?
JT: Yeah. We started writing for the third record, and stayed together for about seven months. In that seven months, we met up with the G n’ R guys and did a show and it became the G n’ R thing. We wrote about nine songs and then we were a band there for a second, you know, me and Keith and Slash, Duff (McKagen) and Matt (Sorum). But Slash just came in abruptly and pulled the plug on that. So after that I just said, “You know what? I’m fucking over this. I need to get happy again in music.” I told Keith I was done.
JT: We broke up at that point, went our separate ways. Keith went off and started co-producing records and working in the studio. I went and did a record on my own and came back from that tour and hooked up with Keith again and we started rekindling our friendship. Before you know it, Buckcherry started coming up in conversation and we were now in a place where we were open to it. The time away was good for us, made us appreciate what we had and our chemistry.
BE: And where, then, did the lineup for 15 start to come together?
JT: We had these guys in mind that were old friends that were really great players and were available. Guys we’d always envisioned being in a band with, so we didn’t audition anybody. We talked to these guys, got in a studio and started rehearsing. Then we got really excited and started working five days a week on this.
BE: So is radio picking up this new record?
JT: (in a very annoyed tone) You don’t know what’s going on in radio?
BE: (ashamed to admit and clearly embarrassed) Well, in the small market I’m in, modern rock radio is practically non-existent, so…
JT: (interrupting) “Crazy Bitch” entered at #76 on Free Radio and it’s up to #5 this week. It’s kickin’ ass.
BE: I love the video. Is the all-out orgy everything it appeared in the “Crazy Bitch” video?
JT: It wasn’t an orgy, we just did an open casting on our My Space page and told everybody, “Hey, if you wanna be in the “Crazy Bitch” video c’mon down!” And all these girls showed up and they were cool. We didn’t have any money to pay ‘em, just said it’d be an open bar. So we opened the bar at 10am, turned the song up really loud, and made a strip club out of the basement of a club in L.A.
BE: What club was it?
JT: The Key Club.
BE: So can MTV and VH-1 even air that thing?
JT: No, we’ve submitted it a bunch of times and they keep coming back with edits and stuff. ‘Course in a rock video you can’t show anything, but in a rap video you can show anything…
BE: The band’s image, the over-the-top sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, go all night, sleep all day…how accurate is that image for you guys?
JT: It’s not accurate, I can tell you that. I don’t think any of the bands can do that; you can’t keep that up for very long and maintain a career.
BE: Pretty tough to sustain that, huh?
JT: Unless you’ve got tons of money to get blood transfusions and shit like that.
BE: What about the industry right now, if anything, is getting you excited? Any new bands out there you like?
JT: Well, you had Silvertide a while back, and there’s a band out right now called Wolfmother…very Led Zeppelin-ish.
BE: Yeah, they’re getting a ton of press.
JT: On the heavier side, I think the band Flyleaf. I haven’t heard the record, but I like the single a lot.
BE: I love that Silvertide record from a couple years ago. I hope those guys survive a follow-up, you know?
JT: Yeah, that record really grew on me. I hope they stay the course and do what they love and keep doing it…
BE: So I saw where you brought (frequent Aerosmith collaborator) Marti Fredrickson in for the making of 15. Did he do some writing?
JT: No, we had two songs finished, “Sorry” and “Next 2 You,” when we brought him in. He just polished up some melodies, added some things, fucked with the arrangement, and that was it.
BE: If you had your way, what else are we going to hear on radio besides “Crazy Bitch”?
JT: This record’s got long legs, man. You’re gonna hear “Next 2 You,” “Everything,” and “Sorry.” And then if we keep going after that, probably “Carousel” or something like that.
BE: I love “Onset”. For some reason that one’s really sticking with me.
JT: Yep. That’s one of my favorite songs.
BE: Now, in the live shows are you playing the new record, you going back and doing the whole catalog?
JT: We play the best from all three records, you know. Great show.
BE: Anybody of note out on the road with you?
JT: Uuhh…fuck, I forget the band’s name…
(long, awkward silence)
JT: (yelling elsewhere on the tour bus) Hey, Steve….what’s that band on the road with us right now? (longer pause) Yeah, Rock n’ Roll Soldiers are out with us right now, good little rock band. And we’ll be joining up with Nonpoint here pretty soon, which I’m really excited about.
BE: So what were you listening to in high school that made you want to paint your body in ink and go out on stage to rock every night?
JT: Well, I needed a business suit…everybody needs a business suit (laughs). So, uuhh, what was the question again, I’m sorry?
BE: What were you listening to growing up?
JT: I grew up in Orange County, born and raised. So I was part of the Orange County punk rock movement, and bands like Heavy Dirt and Doggystyle was what I was into. But the stuff that really influenced me as a kid was Minor Threat and Black Flag, Seven Seconds, those bands.
BE: And speaking of the tattoos, how long has it taken to cover that entire torso, arms, the whole body? That’s a pretty big commitment.
JT: It’s taken me years, man, it’s an ongoing process…a little here, little there.
BE: And the playing card on your back, what is that suit?
JT: Suicide King of Hearts.
BE: Still adding to ‘em today?
JT: Of course, just got my hands tattooed…again.
BE: Who in the industry would you like to work with that you haven’t already?
JT: I’d love to write a song with Prince. That’d be rad.
BE: I don’t know what he’s been up to lately…
JT: I don’t know if he’d be into it, but if he was it’d be fantastic.
BE: He definitely has the penchant for the women like you guys do. “The Banger Sisters,” love your cameo in that film. Were you really getting a blowjob in the truck when Goldie Hawn walked up?
JT: I wish.
BE: Goldie looked pretty good in that movie.
JT: Yep, would’ve been great if she were really blowing me. But yeah, she’s looking terrific. She’s really a cool lady.
BE: So, you guys gonna be out on tour right through the summer? Any plans for a big package tour or anything, or just gonna keep doing the clubs yourself?
JT: We’re just gonna keep doing it ourselves, you know. If something comes along, we’ll talk about it, maybe.
BE: You’re feeling a new energy with these (new) guys it seems. Think you’ll be able to carry this momentum for a while?
JT: Just staying my course, man, that’s it. It’s what I do, I’ve been doing it, I haven’t stopped. You know, I’m very happy. I’ve always wanted to be in one band my whole career. We got sidetracked there for a while, but we’re staying the course.
BE: What are you doing when you’re not rock n’ rolling?
JT: I watch boxing and I spend time with my children. One’s 11 and one’s a new-born.
BE: Congratulations. What’s the 11-year-old think of Daddy’s tats?
JT: I don’t think she even thinks about it, she’s oblivious to it. She’s seen ‘em since she could open her eyes. We don’t ever talk about it, you know. We go snowboarding or go to the beach or the zoo, fun stuff like that. We do talk about music, though.
BE: What’s she listening to?
JT: She likes a lot of pop, most girls like pop music when they’re starting out. I think she’ll gravitate towards rock n’ roll once she’s older, I don’t know.
BE: I’ve got an 11-year-old niece and all she ever wants me to make her is mixes with Kelly Clarkson or Britney Spears.
JT: (My daughter) likes Green Day. She’s over Britney Spears and that whole thing. She’s got good taste, knows a good song when she hears it.
BE: She watch “American Idol”?
JT: No, it’s totally lame. I think Kelly Clarkson is a really talented singer, but the whole “American Idol” thing is played out. It needs to go away.
BE: So “Rock Star: INXS”?
BE: Let’s hope if anything were to ever happen to you the guys wouldn’t go on a TV show to find your replacement.
JT: Keith would never do that.