Buckcherry Brings Back 15 and Rock ‘N’ Roll: An Interview With Josh Todd

Emerging at a time when rock music began to feel homogenized and bands were resigning to the pressures of pop culture, Buckcherry said f*ck all that and did their own thing. The punk-rooted band from Los Angeles, fronted by Josh Todd, started writing songs that were visceral and, ultimately, sustaining. Their self-titled album released in 1999 featured the hit “Lit Up,” which went to number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Meanwhile, the energetic, cocaine-inspired song fired up audiences and earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2000. The artfully-tattooed bad boys from L.A. served up unapologetic lyrics with in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll winning over fans and critics.

Buckcherry then experienced personal and professional struggles that led to a four-year hiatus. Some wondered if resurgence was possible after their 2001 effort Time Bomb wasn’t as well received. Todd reignited the band along with founding member and guitarist Keith Nelson. Buckcherry arrived onto the scene refreshed and reignited. In 2005, they unleashed new material with Jimmy Ashurst on bass, Stevie Dacanay on rhythm guitar and Xavier Muriel on drums that included the singles “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry” on their third album 15. Once again, Buckcherry was aligned with another Grammy nomination for their performance of “Crazy Bitch”, and “Sorry” became the band’s first Billboard’s Top 10 hit. Since then, the infamous L.A. rockers have produced studio albums such as Confessions in 2013 and the EP released on their own F-Bomb Records entitled F*ck in 2014, which features all tracks containing the word—you guessed it—“F*ck” in the title.

In addition to starting a record label, Todd has merged skate culture and hip-hop with his side project, Spraygun War, launched with Dacanay this year. Not one for remaining stagnant, the singer had also appeared on Escape The Fate’s album 10 Miles Wide, and was slated to front what would become Velvet Revolver with Slash, though it eventually fell through. Beyond carving his name into the music scene, Todd has expanded his aesthetic onto the screen in Hollywood as well and acted in such films as The Banger Sisters. Evolving and expanding has served the band well, which is reflected in their dedicated fan base.

Buckcherry is currently touring in celebration of the 10th anniversary of 15 as well as promoting Rock ‘N’ Roll, their seventh studio album released last year on F-Bomb Records. Proving that a market for hard rock still exists, crowds embrace the matured, yet, still kick ass, rock tunes, while relishing in the nostalgia of those infectious tracks from a decade ago. And, speaking of nostalgia, the band is re-releasing 15 on vinyl in October (fans may pre-order the vinyl at PledgeMusic.com). So, between the memories and records, Buckcherry is proving that rock ‘n’ roll will always provide you with something to hold onto.

In an interview from the road, Josh Todd reflects here on his roots and where he derives his influences on and off the stage:

So you’re on the road for the 10th anniversary of 15. How is the tour going so far?

The tour has been going great. We’ll be touring nationally for a good part of the year. It started in like March, and we released our new record, Rock ‘N’ Roll. It’s been going great. It’s been well-received, and the shows have been fantastic.

You’re touring with Candlebox along with others, and you’ll be playing 15 in its entirety…
Yeah, we love Candlebox, and it was a great package tour. The Sons of Texas are on it, too, and they’re amazing. We’ve played with both of these bands, and they’re just good people. We like to align ourselves with good people and bands that are really playing live music and are not playing tracks, you know, I mean—not that it’s a bad thing—it’s just nice to have a live rock band.
Can you describe the dynamic or mindset you experience being in the studio with Rock ‘N’ Roll versus being on the road since you guys are touring veterans at this point?

It’s really two different animals. Being in the studio you aren’t in front of people so you get to do a take and do another take and do another take if you don’t like it. Being in a live experience you really have to just improvise and do whatever you’ve got to do to get through that particular night whatever that may be, and that’s what makes this fun. And, also, there’s nothing like the live experience of being in front of an audience. That’s what you dream about, that’s what you worked hard for, that’s what you spent all those hours writing and rewriting songs for in a dark, nasty rehearsal room for.

I like to see it come full circle. I love seeing a song start from nothing and become something and then record it and have it get to the public and see it blow up…you get to the stage, you play it live, and then you get to see somebody get so fired up because they heard their favorite song, and they’re just screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs. That’s really fulfilling.

Some of your songs are profanity-laced and considered risqué or controversial to certain people. Although you handle the material in an entertaining and artful way, are you ever concerned about it? Or do you not put much thought into that aspect while in the studio?

When I was a kid—I think that music’s most influential when you’re young, when you’re in your late teens into early adulthood, that’s when it really defines who you are if you’re into music—I always listened to independent records. I grew up in Orange County, California, so there was a lot of punk rock when I was growing up. I had a lot of stuff going on at home, and I would listen to these records. They didn’t have a major label chaining them down telling them what they could and couldn’t say. They were on independent labels, so they just, basically, made these really honest records and, love ‘em or hate ‘em, that’s what it was.

So, I got used to hearing everything unfiltered, and thank god for that, because it really kind of saved me and kind of spoke to me. Those were the records that I could find security in. I could go listen to them in my room and sit down with the lyrics. That was like my oasis. So, when we make records, I don’t even think about it. I just want to use the words I’ve heard my whole life, their meanings and how they describe things. If I feel a certain way about a particular subject I’m writing about, I just want to express it in a way that feels right…and that’s it. I don’t think anything of it, and then if people like it, great, and if not…I want to just be honest with what I’m doing.

I think that the integrity and honesty are what people connect to, and the celebration of 15 is happening at a crucial time when some of that is missing these days. Do you agree?

Yes, especially now when we’re inundated with information. Now people have so much information, they’re bored out of their minds. There’s no shock value…I think people really appreciate finding something that is honest, and they like that. It’s worked against us and worked for us throughout our career, so we just do what we love and what feels right for us.

Following the EP Rock ‘N’ Roll and the tour, what is the next project you’re working on?

Right now we’re working on the 15 tour, and then we’re going to go home. We’ve already started writing, so we’ve got a few songs already for the full-length record that we’re going to be putting out next year. It’s going to be a great rock record. There’s no—like we don’t have any kind of—concept going in like we did with Confessions. We’re just going to go in there and make the best record we can make. We write all the time. We bring our small little studio to record in the hotel room. We do whatever we’ve gotta do.

How do the L.A. shows feel, going back and playing where your roots are?

I always have really great shows in L.A., and it’s really stressful. You want to have your best shows in L.A. because it’s the entertainment capital of the world, all your friends and family are there, it’s where you live, you’ve got all the industry people there, so you want to do the best show. I moved to Hollywood when I was 19, and I just remember—I’m a very competitive guy—I just wanted to conquer Hollywood, which was not easy to do at the time. So when I go there I get this energy inside of me, like this fire that kicks off as soon as I get on the strip, so that’s a lot fun.

Is there a different vibe you feel from the festival environment?

I like the festival, because I like that there’s lots of people and lots of bands, and you always want to be the best band of the day. So there’s that competitive element that kind of gets you up more for the show, because when you tour like we do sometimes you need a little punch, you know? (Laughs) Something extra to get you to that place you need to be in to really give people their money’s worth, so I like it…that’s why I like festivals.

How much of your experience during the early years in punk bands informs your work with Buckcherry now?

All of it is experience. When I started in a band, I was underage. I couldn’t play clubs because I didn’t have an ID, so we would play house parties. We’d get somebody’s older brother or sister to buy a keg of beer, we’d charge three bucks at the door, and we’d play in somebody’s living room. So, I did all that, then I got out to L.A., and it was a whole different thing, you know? It doesn’t really matter if you’re on a floor in a living room or on stage at the Whiskey or an [arena] stage somewhere. It’s really the same mentality, you just want to go up there and be the best you can be that, you know? That’s what I think about.

You’re bringing the tour east soon…

Yes, it’s fantastic. When we put out our first record we would get reports on where the records were selling the most, and the most amount of records were selling in New York and Minneapolis. So, at that time, we always thought that was really interesting. When you get over to the East Coast you can get to a lot of different markets in a short mileage area. A lot of bands go over there, and they do residencies. We did a residency over there when we first started, and it was amazing. It was all new, and we really felt the power of radio at the time. It was just so exciting to go into a club and have it packed when you’d never been there before.

How is it as a band that has been around for decades to evolve through the digital age of music, iTunes, etc.?

I don’t really dwell on the past…It is what it is. This is today. This is what we’re dealing with. Yeah, there were a lot of fun things about being a musician years ago—you could make a lot more money, you know? It was good for us because there’s a lot of sacrifice. Now, a lot of our revenue is taken away, and I don’t like that part of it, but I still love what I do. You just have to kind of bend with the times and figure out new ways to make sure you’re being taken care of so that you can go out there, stay away from your families, be on the road for a long time…do all that and make it worth your while.


Buckcherry will be coming to the PlayStation Theater in New York, NY on Sept. 20, The Paramount in Huntington, NY on Sept. 21, and the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Nov. 23. More information on Buckcherry and PledgeMusic at Buckcherry.com.