by Jeff Niesel
Ever since its sixth studio album, Confessions, dropped earlier this year, Buckcherry has been on the road playing to capacity crowds. Not bad for a band that many critics left for dead after it dissolved in 2002. But after that short hiatus, band founders Josh Todd and Keith Nelson reformed the group in 2005 and got a good second wind when the song “Crazy Bitch” went viral thanks to a racy music video. Confessions a strong effort that recalls the golden years of ‘90s metal when acts such as Guns N Roses were sitting atop the charts. The band performs at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the Rock Factory in Akron, and Todd phoned in from a Buffalo tour stop to talk about the band’s history.
You guys have been on the road all year. What’s that been like?
I’ve been on the road since April of last year. We just did our 200th show since we recorded Confessions. It’s great if you love what you do. We love what we do. The traveling gets to be a little much but it all comes together when you walk on the stage.
Confessions is your sixth album. Talk a little about what it was like to make the album.
It’s a theme record for us. The foundation is the seven sins. We have matured so much as a band and as songwriters. I feel like it’s our best record. We worked really hard on it. It’s our sixth record. We’re loving it.
What made you want to make a record about the seven deadly sins?
They’re interesting and something we are all familiar with. I have struggled with moderation my whole life so it was a fun subject to tackle and turn into good Buckcherry songs.
At the moment, folk-rock bands like Mumford & Sons are popular. Do you think there aren’t enough hard rock bands these days?
I just don’t think there are enough bands being original. Whether they’re rock or pop or whatever. I welcome bands that want to work on their craft and be a gang and go out there and make their mark and work on their game. There’s plenty of room at the top. I like all kinds of genres. I just like good songs. If you dig deep, there’s a lot of great music you can get into. That’s the one great thing about having so much music. There’s no controlled market. You can find anything you like.
When you started in the mid-’90s, you played the Strip in L.A. What was that like?
I’m glad I got a chance to witness that. When Buckcherry started, that was gone. But when I first moved to L.A., it was alive and kicking and I was in another band at that time. It was madness and a lot of fun to be a part of it before it ended. I’m happy I got to see it all before it ended.
Why did it end?
Everything has to end at some point. That’s what happens. Technology came into the picture. First, there was the grunge movement. You can’t have movements any more. It’s not possible. At that time, you didn’t get to hear a record until the band released it on the radio. There was a big build-up and it was more interesting for the consumer. Now, there’s no mystery about anything or anybody. I think that kind of sucks.
It’s the same with live music. You can just watch a band play live on YouTube.
But you’re not even hearing or feeling it or seeing it. It’s terrible audio. These days, you don’t have to get off your ass to do anything. You can explore the world from your computer.
Who was your musical idol when you were growing up?
My foundation is punk rock. My mom would play Linda Ronstadt and Rod Stewart. My dad was into the Cagles. That’s the first kind of music I heard. When I was a teenager, I got into punk rock. I grew up in Orange County. That’s what was going on at the time. I was into Minor Threat and Black Flag and GBH and the Toy Dolls. I really liked Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat. I got into Bon Scott and Brian Johnson. I loved Ian Astbury from the Cult.
Was it hard to find shows to go to in Orange County?
I went to Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach. My first show was the Ramones. I was in bands in high school. I was too young to play clubs. We would play house parties and get a keg of beer and charge $3 at the door and set up in someone’s living room and that would be it. We would play until the cops came.
What caused the band to split up?
After the Time Bomb tour, three of the band members had quit. It was just Keith and I. It started as Keith and I and we just got on with it. We had a drummer friend who would come in. We would make demos. I would write the lyrics and we started demoing songs for the next record. We were auditioning guys at the time. They had a warped sense of what was going on. They thought we had all this money to pay them. We had no money. We couldn’t find the right people. In L.A. unless you’re paying people, no one will play with you. The guys in GNR came in and we did that for a month and then that fell apart. I told Keith I couldn’t handle being in a band. I needed to step out for a second, and he was tired too. We didn’t have a falling out. It was nothing like that. Eventually, we started talking again.
Why do you think the band was more successful the second time around?
The band was never right when we first got into it. It wasn’t five guys that were all focused on what was the best for Buckcherry and being Buckcherry. We finally found the right guys and they went through the same hard knocks we’ve been through. They’re friends of ours. We had a lot of communication and we didn’t let anything get too far out of control. We set up a rehearsal and gave them a few songs to learn. We walked out of there with smiles on our face and it was really easy. Keith and I said, “O.k. Come next Wednesday and bring studio rent.” And they did. We started working five days. It all took off on its own. “Crazy Bitch” took off the Internet. We weren’t going to go with that song because we didn’t think it would get played on the radio.
Any regrets regarding Velvet Revolver, the band you could have fronted before Slash pulled the plug?
That all came about before Velvet Revolver. Keith was involved in it, too. We had done a show for a Randy Castillo benefit. It was fun. We started rehearsing and we had something. It didn’t work out. It became Velvet Revolver, but only long after that.
Sounds like it worked out for the best.
I always tell Keith this band now is like Buckcherry with really great players.