How does a New Year party with Buckcherry sound? That sounds like one Lit Up party. The California hard rockers are getting ready to play a New Year’s Eve gig at 2-In-Tents New Years Eve Bash at Gables In The Bend under a giant tent with Our Lady Peace, The Sam Roberts Band, Eric Ethridge, Honeymoon Suite and Monster Truck among others.
It’s a great time to check out Buckcherry who are wrapping up a highly productive year that saw the band tour their eighth studio album Warpaint and the hit single Bent.
We had a chat with founder and frontman Josh Todd from the road as the band tours its way to Grand Bend.
How are things going for you today?
Everything’s good. I’m in L.A. right now, where I live. We’ve got a few shows left before the end of the year. It’s been a crazy year though, with the “Warpaint” record. We’ve done about 140 shows this year, so it was a quite a ride.
This album is number eight and it’s been a few years in the making. So is there something specific you wanted to say with this album?
Yeah, it marks 20 years in the game for us, our first record was in ‘99 and we worked really hard on it. It had been three years since our last record and spent a lot of time on the song writing and it really paid off, I feel like it’s one of our best and we’re having so much fun playing these songs live.
What’s the story behind the title of the album?
I love one-word titles. I think it’s big and bold, and you also want something that you can work with. You can tie in artwork and that’s always something that’s on our mind. “Warpaint” was an actual song before it was the title of the record and we just kept coming back to it. We threw around a few names and I just thought we could do some really cool imagery and that’s what we did on the cover, with the girl actually, it’s kind of like a unisex face, you don’t know if it’s a girl or a boy and they have warpaint on their face and people use warpaint for all kinds of things, to celebrate life, to mark periods of time in their life and also to go to war, to go to battle and for victories. So it’s very symbolic for us.
Do some of the songs date back to a little earlier or did you write them all fresh for this album?
No, we like to start fresh when we start songwriting cycles because I feel like I’m always growing as a human and growing as a songwriter and I like to create something from nothing all the time, it’s very exciting for me. I’m that guy, I love puzzles and I love to create stuff from the ground up because it’s just more interesting for me. So we started with nothing, we wrote over 30 songs for an 11 song record and it really paid off.
You did a cover of “Head Like A Hole”. Now, that’s a cool choice to cover and it fits you guys really well, and the song kind of amps things up. What does that song mean to you?
I was always a fan of the “Pretty Hate Machine” record and when Nine Inch Nails dropped their first record I thought it was unique and original and I like Trent because he’s really stuck to his guns his whole career, he’s been on his own planet and that’s cool. And for me to do a cover song, I’ve got to be invested in the lyrics because I write all my lyrics and I love the lyrics of that song and it’s got to be in my vocal wheelhouse and that was as well. So we did it as an experiment, we were all set up to start tracking to record “Warpaint” and I said, hey, I got this song, we should try and see if we can kind of make it our own.
And we started jamming it and we didn’t know our producer was recording us at the time, and he threw up a rough mix of it and he goes, “Hey, you guys, you’ve got to hear this, come in here.” And we’re like, what? And we went in there and we were listening to it back and wow, this sounds great, it sounds like a Buckcherry song, and that’s always the goal. It’s always boring to me when a rock band covers an old rock song, I just don’t understand that. We like to take songs that are out of our genre and kind of make it our own and we did that with “Say Fuck It” on the “Fuck” record and a lot of songs actually, and we did it with “Head Like A Hole”.
There’s also a cover of “Jungle Love” on your imported version. That one may needs a little more explaining.
(Josh Laughs) Steve and I are just huge fans of all those Prince era bands and The Time was one of them and we like to get funky. It was a fun song to do and we sat around, I don’t think everybody was as into it as we were until we were looking for songs for bonus tracks and everybody thought that was a good one.
You went back to using Mike Plotnikoff as your producer after 5 albums, why did you bring him back?
Well, we wanted to use him again after “15” but the politics of the band didn’t lend that to happen, so it was just the right time and I wanted to have fun making a record again and he’s just a lovely guy and he’s done so many great records and we wanted that sonic value that we had with “15” and he brought it. It was as if we had just done a record with him, when we got back with him, it was just fun, and like I said, we get along really well and it was a good time.
You guys have produced your own albums, so what does a producer bring to the table that producing on your own can’t?
Well, the last records were always co-produced with Keith and another producer, and we wanted to get away from that. And so it was good to have somebody that wasn’t in the band producing the record, I think that’s really important, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the other way around.
There are some new band members since the previous album “Rock ‘n’ Roll. What does the new line-up offer to the sound and the overall vibe?
Yeah, it’s the best musicians we’ve had in the band since the birth and just great guys. We just added two new guys, Francis on drums, Francis Ruiz and Kevin Roentgen on the guitar. And Kevin is just a really accomplished musician, he’s a great singer, great songwriter, he also produces as well. We’ve known him since we were young, since I moved to L.A. when I was 19. And even Francis, he was kicking around in the hood at that time and that’s when I met Kelly as well. So to be all together in one band is really, really fun for us, we get along really well.
It’s been 20 years since the release of the band’s self-titled album. What does 20 years mean to you?
It means a lot, it’s hard to have longevity in this game, especially the rock game, especially now. And when we came out, it was all rap rock wave of bands. So we’ve always been this black sheep of rock and roll, and to survive 20 years in that climate is something to say. We’re proud of it, and we have great fans, loyal fans that continue to come see us play and we’re always going to show up for that as long as it’s there.
Is there anything you would have changed in the 20 years?
I would have liked to have not had so many different band members, but there’s nothing you can do. What a lot of people don’t know about Buckcherry is that we’ve only actually fired two guys, everybody else left on their own free will. So that’s not something I thought was going to happen, but I also didn’t know what the road and touring. We’ve toured a lot, we put in a lot of shows, and it really wears people out and the road is a challenging place. So, that being said, I was the youngest guy in the band and started the band from the ground up, so as long as I’m around, it’s going to happen.
Are you doing anything to celebrate the occasion of 20 years?
Going out there and playing in front of people with a new record is pretty much what we’re doing for our 20 years. But, anything special? No, not really, not aside from what we usually do.
What do you remember from recording that first album?
Everything was new, so it was a lot of fun. But I think what I remember the most was Steve Jones was co-producing it, he’s the guitar player from the Sex Pistols, and so that was really amazing. Terry Date was co-producing it with him, and Terry Date has done “Badmotorfinger” to name one record, He’s done a lot of great records. And I actually sang all my vocal tracks standing right next to him and Steve Jones was laying on a couch right behind me, so that was really memorable and something I’ll never forget.
After eight albums, the way you approach recording must have changed and with the knowledge you have now, what would you do differently on that first album?
Totally. I’ve grown so much vocally and as a songwriter I would’ve done that whole record differently, but then it wouldn’t have the charm that it has, and you’ve got to capture who you are along the way, and I see that guy as really an unpolished, angsty young kid that was just doing his best to write the best songs he could. And I didn’t know a lot about songwriting at that point, but I had written a lot of songs, but not the traditional way.
Buckcherry has always had a unique sound that combines classic rock sound with a modern aggressive punch. Was that formula tough to master and was that always the vision from the beginning?
It was just the combination of who I was and my background. I grew up in Orange County, California and I grew up on really aggressive punk rock records, independent records. Those records were super honest, they didn’t have major labels taming them down or telling them what to say or do, so it was really important for me because I was going through a lot as a kid and I really connected with those records and I always vowed that I would be true to myself and my art, no matter what.
If it serves me or if it doesn’t serve me, and that’s happened with Buckcherry, we’ve had a lot of peaks and valleys, and I think my background coupled with when I met up with Keith, at the time, and how we put songs together, he had a different type of rock background and it just made for a unique pairing.
Do you think the cross style of the band has ever been a hinderance for opportunities?
Oh, of course. It also served us for opportunities because we’re different than everybody else. That’s a weird thing, when you hear Buckcherry, you know its Buckcherry, and that’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing. But we found our niche, we found our audience and that’s what’s important and we’ve been doing it, like I said, for 20 years.
You’re known for your tattoos. Do you have any new ones in the works?
No, not really. I just got some stuff covered up and touched up on my abdomen and that’s it. I think I’m going to stop getting tattoos here for awhile. I don’t like it, I don’t enjoy it.
Is there one tat that’s more special than the others? I bet that the BC with the lightning bolt on the back of your neck is probably one of them.
Yeah, we all got them when we went platinum and that was a big deal for us, and so that marks a really good milestone. And probably my back piece, the suicide king of hearts is really near and dear to me as well, so I worked hard to earn that one.
You’ll be celebrating New Year’s with your fans in Grand Bend. Are New Years gigs a little more special to you?
Yeah, it’s always fun bringing in the new year, of course. Everybody’s in a festive mode and its crazy, its bananas, and we love that. We love coming to Canada and they raise hell and love Buckcherry for the right reasons.