An Interview with Josh Todd from Buckcherry - July 29th 2008
Interview by Laurie Lonsdale
California hard-rocker Josh Todd met guitarist Keith Nelson in 1995, via their mutual tattoo artist. The duo made a few demos together before adopting the band name Sparrow with bassist Jonathan Brightman and drummer Devon Glenn. After receiving a cease-and-desist order from a record label of the same name, they changed their moniker to Buckcherry and subsequently released their self-titled debut LP in 1999.
Produced by Terry Date, who had worked with the likes of Soundgarden and Pantera, the album went gold and spawned the hit “Lit Up”, as well as much in the way of critical acclaim. On the heels of the success, the band then opted for dual guitar power by adding Yogi to their line-up, and went on to release their 2001 offering, titled Time Bomb. Though fans saw the album as another hit, critics considered it a disappointment.
It was around this time that Brightman left the band, followed by Glenn and Yogi. And, though, Josh Todd originally vowed to move forward and began writing for a third release, he too unexpectedly left in 2002, ultimately causing Buckcherry to collapse.
For a while Todd worked as a vocalist for the band “Project”, with ex Guns ‘n’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. But Slash unexpectedly pulled the plug on the set-up by replacing Todd with Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots, and then re-introduced the band as Velvet Revolver.
In 2003, Josh Todd aligned with Todd Meagher to create his own label, aptly named Todd Entertainment, and shortly thereafter released the album You Made Me to a myriad of mixed reviews. By 2005 Buckcherry was reivived with Todd on vocals, Keith Nelson on guitar, and this time around, with second guitarist Stevie D, Jimmy Ashhurst on bass, and Xavier Muriel on drums.
That line-up remains today, and has produced the mega-successful 2006 release Fifteen, which spawned a series of hits, including the ever-popular “Crazy Bitch”, “Sorry”, and “Everything”. As well, they look forward to the upcoming debut of Black Butterfly, which will drop on September 16th.
This summer they’re on the road with Cruefest, with fellow Eleven Seven labelmates Motley Crue, Sixx AM, and Trapt, as well as Papa Roach. The assemblage is true blue California bad boys, collectively with more ink than all of my five novels.
I had the extreme pleasure of speaking with Josh on July 29th, and though I did my best to play the role of an unbiased journalist, but the fact is, as an ardent and longtime fan, I couldn’t help but gush a little.
LL: Hi, so glad you could speak with me. I’ve got to tell you, right off the top, Josh, that I’ve worked with and interviewed a lot of bands, and for the most part I’m able to approach it from an impartial position. But this isn’t one of those times. The truth is, I’m an avid fan, and without a word of a lie, Fifteen has gotten more play in my house in the past year and a half than any other CD.
Josh: That’s nice of you to say. I’m glad you’re a true Buckcherry fan.
LL: I am. So, you’re in Salt Lake City tonight?
JT: Yeah, we’re in Salt Lake City tonight and we’re about half-way through. This is our twentieth show on Cruefest. We’ve got twenty more to go, then we start with Avenged Sevenfold.
LL: Yeah, I read about that; you jump right from one to the other. So, how are the fans treating you so far?
JT: Everyone’s great, you know. The turnouts are amazing – anywhere from 10,000 – 15,000 people a night, in areas. We’ve done extensive touring with Papa Roach and we did a whole tour with Motley Crue, so everybody knows each other. So, it’s been a lot of fun and effortless, and the shows have just been rockin’!
LL: Excellent! Well, actually that was my next question. A few years back you toured Japan with Motley; is being on the road with them different for Cruefest, or are things pretty much the same?
JT: Well, it’s a little different being out on the stage, as far as the crowds are concerned, but everything else is the same, because it’s the same guys and we all get along really well. Their production is really amazing, and they’ve got so many fans. It’s really just great to be a part of it. They’re going to try to keep doing this. This is the first one and it’s just going to keep going every year.
LL: That’s great to hear, and it sounds like you’re enjoying yourself.
JT: Yeah, I’m really enjoying myself.
LL: That’s good that you’re still into it, because you’ve toured extensively in support of Fifteen over the past two years. But despite being on the road so much, your voice is still holding up. Do you still box and do a lot of cardio to keep in shape?
JT: Yeah, I do. I’m a boxing fanatic. I do a boxing workout, I jump rope, shadow box, push-ups, sit-ups, you know. I’m very active, and I take care of myself really well.
LL: With Kat Von D present so much as she visits with Nikki, have you been tempted to get any new ink lately?
JT: Yeah, I got a lot of new ink when I was home. I don’t really like getting tattooed on the road, because it totally wears me out; it’s hard on the body. But I got tattooed a lot when I was home.
LL: Anything in particular, anything special?
JT: I just got my chest and my ribs done more. I got a black panther; I got a big Koi fish; it’s a beautiful one.
LL: You’ve got to be the most tattooed ensemble of bands out there on tour. Any bizarre stories from the road that you might be willing to share?
JT: What goes on on the road, stays on the road. But I can tell you that there’s been some great after-show parties, and we’re having way more fun than humans should have.
LL: Okay (laughing). Ironically that brings me to my next question. The last 5 years seemingly have been a whirlwind for you, with the creation of Todd Entertainment and release of your solo album, the revival of Buckcherry, the immense success of Fifteen, extensive touring, now Cruefest and the upcoming release of Black Butterfly. It’s great that it’s all gellin’ for you, yet at the same time, it seems all you do is work. At this point, are you able to enjoy the fruits of your efforts, or are you far too busy?
JT: Well, I love to work. I love my job, and also have kids I have to raise. I don’t know if you have kids, but they’re expensive, so I gotta work. But, yeah, I was home for a while to do this new record. It’s the longest writing process we’ve had, and it really shows. Black Butterfly is our best record to date, and I’m not just saying that ‘cuz it’s coming out. I’m very proud of it, and everybody’s going to be really, really happy when they get it.
LL: I know that you decided to try out 'Too Drunk' while on tour to give the fans a taste before the CD actually drops. But, given that Fifteen was such a smash hit, did you or the band feel any pressure while writing it?
JT: I felt a little bit of pressure at the beginning; I can’t lie. But then we sat down to write the songs without really overthinking it. We’ve been doing this long enough to know not to get all caught up in it, you know. So, everything went really well. We stayed in our same rehearsal room. We did the same things. The only thing that’s changed now is that our cars are a little nicer.
LL: I hear that! (Laughs) Did you do some of the writing for Black Butterfly while you were on the road in support of Fifteen?
JT: No, none of it. I make a point not to do that anymore, because we did that before going in to make Time Bomb and we were rushed, so it wasn’t a good thing for us. In the early part of our career I really spent a lot of time looking so far ahead that I wasn’t really enjoying the moment. So, this time I made sure to live day to day, and it was great. By the time we got home, we were so ready to get into writing mode because we hadn’t gotten into anything out on the road. So, it just made for a better writing process.
LL: I can’t wait to hear it. I’ve seen the video for 'Too Drunk' and it’s really good. You’ve said that your younger days of house parties is what inspired it?
JT: Yeah, you know, I really wanted a song on this record about my youth, and music was really the soundtrack of my life. When I first started playing in bands I was too young to play in clubs. So, we’d just play at house parties. We’d get a keg, we’d charge three bucks at the door, and we’d set up in somebody’s living room. That’s how we did it in Orange Country, California, and so that’s what I wanted the video to look like. I was the type of guy that was always the first one to start partying and the first one to pass out. If you’ve seen the video, we got this guy to play that part, and the kid is so funny.
LL: That one that vomits into the tuba?
JT: Yeah, him.
LL: In an interview of two years ago, you listed a few of your longtime goals, one of which was for the band to the receive the recognition it so rightly deserves, another was to eventually be included in the Rock ‘n’ Hall of Fame, etc. Your wish for the band to receive deserved recognition is obviously happening, but have your goals since changed?
JT: They always change. You always get new goals, and that’s what’s fun about life, you know. But, yeah, as for long term goals, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame that’s a really big one, and we’ve just got to keep continuing to build our brand and our catalogue of music, and hopefully we’ll get there. That’s where we want to be. We also want to be an arena act, you know. And now we’ve achieved platinum status – that’s a big one. We’ve already accomplished a lot of the stuff, and we just want to keep growing and getting bigger and bigger.
LL: Then you’re on the right track. But, you haven’t given yourself much time between Cruefest and when you jump back out on the road with Avenged. I believe your first date with Avenged coincides with the date Black Butterfly drops. Is that correct?
JT: It’s actually a little earlier, because we start a couple of radio shows on September 13th and then we meet up with them…I don’t know, maybe it is, ‘cuz the record drops on the 16th.
LL: On the 16th, right, and from what I can see of your tour dates on MySpace, that’s the first date with Avenged. Does it concern you that there’s only a two week lapse between both tours, or are you just raring to keep going?
JT: We’ve got to represent, you know. That’s when you’ve got to be out on the road is when your record is about to come out. The set up is so important. We just go out there and go to places where everybody’s promoting the record, and that’s worldwide, baby!
LL: Exactly. Well, I know we’re working with a time restraint here, and I don’t know how many more questions you have time for. So, what I’ll do is let you decide on the information you want to use to end our chat. Is there anything in particular you want to add, or wish for your fans to know?
JT: I just want everybody to go out and pre-order Black Butterfly. You won’t be disappointed. You can go on our website buckcherry.com and pre-order the record and get a T-shirt along with it, as well. It’s going to be well worth your money. I’m very exicted for this record to drop. I can’t wait. I just saw the artwork for the record, and I can’t wait to play the songs live, ‘cuz it’s really going to elevate the set when you come see us live in your area.
LL: Yep, I’ll be there!! I can’t wait for Cruefest to come to Toronto.
JT: Great. You won’t be disappointed. It’s a great show.
LL: Well, again I want to thank you so very, very much, Josh. It’s been a pleasure.
JT: Thanks. Bye.