Buckcherry Exclusive Interview

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Krown catches up with Buckcherry’s Josh Todd in the moments before the band’s return performance at Canes, chatting with the lead singer about Buckcherry’s new lease on life, the making of their most recent album 15, and how they can endure hostile, hateful crowds.Stepping out of the mania of a full-on rock show at Canes to find Buckcherry singer Josh Todd backstage is like entering the eye of a hurricane, as we find him quietly sitting, bent over in thought, reading, maybe doing a crossword puzzle, oblivious to the noise and activity going on around him. This is a guy who’s been backstage plenty of times, and a pro who knows how to block out the white noise before a show to get in touch with his inner Lead Singer.

Grabbing a few drafty seats on Canes’ empty rooftop with the sound of the Pacific over our shoulders and the roar of Buckcherry’s fans growing more rowdy inside as the opening act pummels through it’s set, it takes Josh a few minutes of introductions and small talk to realize the guys from Krown aren’t your ordinary twits from the local rag out to pass judgment. Leaning back in his seat and reflecting on the band’s recent success, Buckcherry’s lead singer begins to momentarily relax and unwind from a tour that’s beginning to look more and more like it will never end.406754_265689026819769_2031825663_n

I ask if there any hatchets from the old days of Buckcherry that had to be buried before the new version of the band could move on? “It wasn’t like we were pissed off at each other or anything, we just needed some time apart,” says Josh, referring to his and Buckcherry lead guitarist Keith Nelson’s split a few years ago. “Three of the guys had quit during the Time Bomb tour, and then it was just Keith and I, holding it together. We were the guys who started the band, tried to keep it together for six or seven months. It was difficult trying to find members and I got sick of not being in a band, so I told Keith and cut my separate way.

402023_265689003486438_1210228729_n“He started producing, I got a band together and did a record and tour, and when I got back into town we started talking about sewing up some B.C. business. We were always close as far as our personal lives would go, so we just started rekindling our relationship, and pretty soon, Buckcherry came up.”

According to Josh, about 20 songs were written for the 15 album before Buckcherry first split. “We write a lot of songs, and we eventually wrote about 30 for an 11-track record, but you gotta write a lot of songs in order to get to the good ones. A lot of bands make the mistake when they get signed to a major label, they think they’ve arrived, and they stop working. They stop writing songs, and they’re like ‘okay, we got in,’ but that’s when the real work begins. You have to really come out with an amazing record or you’re never going to put another record out.”

I ask about the band’s early days when Buckcherry was going up against the alleged market fashion of the era, taking a basic, no-frills approach to their rock and roll while punks, straight-edgers, and MTV-addled scenesters wouldn’t cut the band a break. “I remember the first show we did was at Al’s Bar in Long Beach. It was like a punk rock club, and people there were laughing at us. The other bands, the opening bands, were standing there, totally hating on us, laughing at us, ‘cause we were playing straight-up rock and roll. I kind of fed off of it, but eventually it just started blowing up.”

“You know, when our first record was released, nobody knew us, and we did a residency tour on the east coast. We would play these giant Southern bars in North Carolina, Georgia, and after every song some dude in the back would pipe up with ‘y’all suck,’ stuff like that. But over the next night we would come into, say, Atlanta, and it would be f—ing amazing, you know? Then we would roll out the next day to a new spot, and nobody knew us, and everybody was hating on us again. So between the nonsense at our first shows in L.A. and then those first tours, we had to overcome so much, a tough crowd doesn’t even faze us anymore.”

What about Buckcherry’s original name: Sparrow. “Yeah, right before we got signed, that was our name. There was a Christian rock label called Sparrow Records, and it was a problem with them. We had to change our name while we were recording our first record. Our label guy came in and told us about it, and we were kind of upset about it at the time, but it happens. It happens a lot in this business, and that’s when we decided on Buckcherry.”

384790_265689010153104_1046371375_nThe inverted name of Chuck Berry? “Yeah, while we were recording the first record Keith was reading this biography of Chuck Berry. There was a quote in there where Chuck Berry said record labels try and make you do all these things you don’t want to do, and they tried to change his name from Chuck Berry to Buck Cherry. We all thought it was cool he didn’t change his name. I mean, what’s wrong with ‘Chuck Berry?’ So we figured we’d take the name they tried to give him. By that time we had gone through so many names after the whole Sparrow thing everyone agreed, we were like ‘f— it, let’s call it that,’ and move on, you know? Okay, we’re Buckcherry, how are you?”

I ask Josh if he still has moments where he’s amazed he’s getting paid to rock. “We’re grateful, really,” he says. “I still have those out-of-body experiences. We’ll be playing a gig for a while, you’re on stage, and every now and again I’ll be singing but in my head I’ll be going ‘this is incredible, I can’t believe I’m doing this for a living.’”Josh adds, “We did really well on that first record, for a debut record, but some balls got dropped and s— happened after our second record where we had to step back and reassess the plan. I always wanted to be in one band, make a lot of records, and have a catalogue of music. So when I got back with Keith and we started talking, we just wanted to stick with the plan. And it’s a good plan.” A few minutes later Josh was on stage, aggressively taking charge of the show with his tailor-made rock singer bellow, as Buckcherry put it’s plan into kickass practice.

© 2007 Tommy Hough