Ruth Eckerd Hall

Josh Todd Keeps on Fighting – Buckcherry Releases ‘Vol. 10,’ Tours with ‘The Gang’

A Buckcherry and Aquarian reunion that arrives right in the knick of time!

Buckcherry will make their way through New Jersey on September 8 at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair. This time, they’re bringing some friends along. Currently on tour with Jersey favorites Skid Row, Buckcherry’s down and dirty West Coast rock crew – accompanied by their gritty East Coast counterparts – is putting on quite an explosive show. “The Gang’s All Here” is the tour’s title, and they sure are. In fact, they never left. Both bands have been rockin’ for decades and selling out shows by not merely just leaning on nostalgia, as their new music kicks ass, too.

Josh Todd, Buckcherry frontman, spoke with us on the making of the new album, Vol. 10, and how the band has managed to stay relevant over the years. He also shared what is considered ‘most important’ to a touring rock band of their stature. 

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I know you’re busy making the rounds these days with the new album.

Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of setup for the record. It’s going great. Our new record dropped on June 2, as you know, Vol. 10 – the 10th record – and it’s kind of a big deal for us. It’s a really good record on top of it. We’re excited. 

It is an excellent record. Coming off from Hellbound, how was the experience of going into studio with Vol. 10? What was different about it for you? 

Well, just the world is in a different place. The pandemic was crazy and it was a kind of a doom and gloom situation back then, you know? Now everybody’s kind of breaking out ready to live again – excited to go to rock shows – so we wanted to make a feel-good rock and roll record, for sure. That’s what’s changed. 

As far as our process and how we get together, for the songwriting and the songs for a record, we went with the same formula that we did on Hellbound, which was so good. Just me, Stevie, and Marti Fredericksen – the producer and songwriter – we wrote the majority of this record, again, and it just turned out so good.

This album is certainly fun and feels like a harken back to the eighties with a David Lee Roth vibe in the “Good Time” video. In the video, there seems to be an infusion of the zombie pop culture that’s hot today. How intentional was that to mix a bit of contemporary with nostalgia?

I think that was the director’s idea as far as that is concerned, but it kind of reminded us about how a lot of us started when we were kids. We started playing house parties because we were too young to be in clubs; at least I did, in Southern California, when you go to a party [as] a kid in high school and maybe you were slipped something from your friend. You take a pill, a tab of LSD, or whatever, and suddenly… the night got weird. I feel like it kind of reflected that with those guys who came in (in the video), they start partying and, suddenly, they start seeing people’s faces kind of contorting. I thought that was something fun and cool, and kind of reminded me of my high school years. I like that part of the treatment.

It really did bring in the past and show your relevancy to today. As someone who has been around for decades in this business, do you feel that some artists are taking themselves seriously? 

I don’t pay attention to any of that. I don’t pay attention to what all these other people are doing. I only pay attention to good songs and good music. A lot of it isn’t even in the genre of rock music, for me. I listen to all kinds of music because I want to be inspired; that’s what I really pay attention to. As far as Buckcherry, we’re always going to be a traditional rock and roll band. We dropped our first record in 1999, but we weren’t part of the mainstream of rock then, and we still haven’t been for 24 years. We’ve kind of been on our own little island and based our reputation on our live show, we created this amazing fan base. We tour all the time and put out quality records – in my opinion – and I think people love that about us. That’s what we continue to do.

Your band toured for so many years. Looking back, is there anything you would’ve done differently?

Oh my God! If I could be my 52-year-old self right now in my 20-something-year-old body there are so many things I would’ve done differently, but life is a journey. You’ve got to just learn as you go. I’m just grateful for all those years and the work we put in and the catalog of music that we’ve created. Not a lot of bands get to this point in their careers, so, for that, I’m super happy and pleased with it. Are there things I could’ve done differently over the course of my life? Of course. You’ve got to just learn from all of it and elevate to a new level.

Buckcherry has gone through a few incarnations as bands sometimes do. Are there any takeaways from certain time periods of the band’s evolution that stayed with you?

Yeah. Listen, I set out to be in one band for my whole career and I wanted it to be everybody together for the whole time, but it’s just that once the money comes in, and success, and all the things that come along with having a professional music career… people change, things change, circumstances change. The road does funny things to people. All different aspects of this business really affect people. All I know is that from all of the changing of hands that we’ve had, the revolving door of musicians, it’s only taught me that when you have a bad apple you’ve got to handle it right away because it can spoil the rest of the apples. You have to be careful, but that’s with anything. A band is a business once you start touring; you’re a professional outfit, you’re making records, money is coming in, so it is a business at that point and you have to learn how to take off your artist hat and put on your business hat. There were a lot of growing pains for me learning how to do that, but every time we got a new lineup change, you could feel the energy shift, and it was better. We would make a better record and we would get along better. Everything would change. So, once you do that, then you know you will never go back into a situation where a person is just bringing everybody down. 

That being said, this lineup has been incredible. Stevie’s been with me since 2004, and Francis, our drummer, has been with us for years now. Kelly’s been with us a long time. Billy’s our newest guy and he’s been with us already for over two years. We get along so well, and we’re already old dogs. It’s going really great.

It’s a complex relationship, a band…

It is. I think what a lot of people don’t understand about bands is when you get somebody new in your band, you have to live with them… like immediately. Being out on the road – when you go to work – it isn’t like normal people who have their work people and then they have their personal life, you know? When you’re in a band, you have to be in a bus together, in very tight quarters, and live together… it’s tough. There are a lot of aspects you have to manage, and that’s where it becomes challenging. You really want to get well-rounded individuals in your band, not just guys who can play their instrument well. 

What made you choose to add the cover song on the album, “Summer of ‘69”? It’s cool. You guys even sped up the tempo a bit.

First and foremost, it’s undeniably a tremendous hit song. It’s just one of those songs that always reminded me of my youth – summertime, crushes, bands, all of that stuff you go through as a young musician in high school. It’s just so well-written. We’ve done it live a lot over the years just to pull it out and have fun. Our manager caught it one night, and he said, “You guys have got to record this song.” We were like, “Ok, we’ll do it sometime.” We didn’t think much of it. Cut to the making of Vol. 10 – he was hammering us, and he’s the reason why we got it over the finish line. It was the last song we recorded. Like you were saying, we speed it up a little bit and put our little Buckcherry flavor on it. It just turned out so well. Everybody loved it. Originally, it was just going to be a bonus track, but we threw it on right at the end because we liked it so much. It turned out well.

Has Bryan Adams heard it that you know of?

I don’t know. I mean, I hope it hits his radar at some point. He’s a huge talent and star. If it ever gets on his radar… that would be icing on the cake. That’d be cool for us.

Do you foresee sharing the stage with the guys from Skid Row when you’re on tour?

We haven’t talked about that. We both just kind of do our thing. They’re a great band. They’ve got great songs. The shows have been selling so well. We’re about to start the second leg with Skid Row here, we have a third leg already booked, and there’s talk of a fourth leg… we’re riding that wave – both bands. We’re like, “This is working. Let’s just keep going.” We all get along well. It’s great. We both have a good show and the people are coming out. It’s been a lot of fun.

The song, “Keep on Fighting” has this rebellious attitude. Do you feel it’s a bit harder to maintain that ‘edge’ as you get a bit older? 

No. I have a lot of turbulence inside my head so I can write lots of “Keep on Fighting” songs. Those songs come very easy for me because I can access all of that shit. It’s just easy for me. “Keep on Fighting” is about all of the people who tried to discourage me along the way, the bullies in school, all of that kind of shit, you know? I put it all together and I just keep forging ahead and keep focused on the beacon. Success in the best revenge… all that kind of stuff. Those songs are easy for me to write. It’s the good-time rock and roll songs that are sometimes a bit more challenging to get to pop. I love songs like “Keep on Fighting.”

The balance on the album with “Feels Like Love” and “With You” slows it down in places adding sentiment and vulnerability in those songs. Do you have this romantic inside of you aside the rockstar persona? 

It really goes back to all of the great rock and roll records of back in the day. They had rockers, they had mid-tempos, they had ballads, and those are all expressions of our human emotions. As a songwriter, a lyric writer, I want to express all of that. I have felt love. I have felt anger. I have felt happiness. All of the feelings are what you get on Buckcherry records throughout the history of our records. We’ve always had ballads; I think it’s important. I really enjoy singing them. As a singer, you want to have those songs where you can come down in the set and play something like “Feels Like Love” and then bring it back up to a song like “Good Time.” It’s good to have dynamics, and people enjoy that in a live setting, for sure.

I agree. It’s the full spectrum of emotion, which becomes a catharsis of sorts.

Yeah, because then you have an audience filled with guys and girls [Laughs]. It’s awesome.

How have you seen your audience change over the years?

Oh, man. There are so many aspects. We dropped our first record in ’99. Those people who got into it as adults, they’ve had kids, so they bring their teenage kids to the shows. It’s a family affair in that regard, and then we have all these new young people who are discovering us for the first time on playlists like Spotify. They come down and they’re like… popping their cherries. (That’s what I always say when they come to their first Buckcherry show.) Then, all of a sudden, they become frequent fliers. They start coming to multiple shows, telling their friends… it’s just crazy. 
It seems like our demographic now is like 15 to 65 [Laughs].

Is there anything else besides rockin’ out on stage you’d like to check off the bucket list, so to say? 

It’s tough because the rock genre has taken such a hit in the last two decades. You have to go out on tour if you want to have a career in rock music. We have a great situation so long as we service it [Laughs]. We have to be out there and putting out records. I don’t know where it’s all going as far as how long I can do this. I am still just very passionate about performing, making records, and all that. We’ll see. I take it one day at a time. Right now, we are in a great situation.