Interview with Keith Nelson of Buckcherry - January 19, 2013

Backstage at The Phoenix

By Vickie Young
Photo by Scott McAlpine (from 2011)

Buckcherry is set to release their sixth studio album titled Confessions, due in stores on February 19, 2013. The new working contains two very interesting components; one being that the concept is based on the seven deadly sins and the other that front man Josh Todd has written a screenplay of the same name. As if that weren’t enough, they are also scheduled to join Kid Rock for his Rebel Soul tour commencing this spring. Buckcherry seemingly appears to be stronger than ever, and lucky for us the band is hitting the road hard so we can all enjoy their efforts.

In the midst of their gruelling tour schedule, I was able to join Keith Nelson for a sit-down session in Toronto and unfortunately interrupted his tofu dinner. We were able to chat about the new album and some fun facts about his rock n’ roll lifestyle. 

Vickie: Can you tell me how the band came up with the concept for the new album, Confessions?

Keith: Initially, Josh and I had spoken over the last several years about doing a seven song EP with each song being one of the sins. Obviously, we weren’t going to make an EP, we were going to make a full-length record. As we started to write the first couple songs, Sloth, Pride, Gluttony; Josh’s lyrics started to take on a really cinematic quality. I encouraged Josh to write from his view almost from a character's point of view. The realization happened that we’ve been doing this long enough; I trust our artistic instincts on levels other than musical. So we start writing these songs and Stevie says to Josh, “You should write a screenplay". Josh started to write the screenplay which started to dictate where he was going lyrically. This whole thing started to grow very organically, sonically - concepts, for the record and the artwork. I know this is a roundabout way of answering your question, but that’s how the whole concept came together. Now we have a record that stands on its own and a phenomenal screenplay, but they don’t need each other to actually work. The story is fucking awesome, and the songs stand on their own. 

Vickie: Speaking of which, how do you visualize the screenplay coming to fruition? Will it be a short film or movie?

Keith: It’s a film that I think right now comes in around under an hour. We still haven’t shot it yet, but we’ve got so many things in place to do it. We’re just waiting on the final business things to get in line so we can complete it.

Vickie: Now that the video for “Gluttony” has been released, are you receiving any type of backlash for including such religious content?

Keith: No, we haven’t got any of that yet. I think so many people have overdone that kind of thing we haven’t hit anyone’s radar. I’m sure at some point somebody will protest a show or whatever the fuck. I think certainly people like Marilyn Manson and other bands have taken it to much darker ways. I think we’re conveying what the song is about and pushing the envelope for ourselves a little.

Vickie: Since you’ve crossed over to screenplays, any possibility we might see a tell-all book with stories from the road?

Keith: (huge laugh) No. I think that when the “15” record was made; we thought it was a cool comeback story. We’ve gotten to a point now where, to tell the story would almost be premature. I’m not for that just yet. In retrospect, doing a live record was a nice way to bring all the records to date. Now we’re on our sixth record, and I know we’ve made the best to date. I don’t know though if we’ve made our best record. When I think about the bands I admire that have been around for a long time, sometimes they are seven or eight records in before they make an album that actually defines them. I’m just along for the ride and happy to be here.

Vickie: On top of everything, you’re joining Kid Rock for his Rebel Soul tour? How did this opportunity come about?

Keith: Well, we have the same coke dealer…(laughter) Kidding! It’s a joke. Bobby’s been a friend of ours for a long time. We actually met in the late 90’s for the first time. We’ve been friendly and we’ve toured with him before. We were looking for the right thing to do over the spring and he offered us the slot, so it was a no brainer. He’s always been a really cool guy, very supportive, and fun to go out with.

Vickie: I would imagine. Now that would be a great book!

Keith: (laughs) Yeah.

Vickie: Tell me something that fans would be surprised to learn about Buckcherry?

Keith: Wow...there’s a lot of things as individuals. I think people would be surprised how normal our lives are. You never know how people perceive you or what they think when they see a show or read these interviews. I mean, look where I’m hanging out tonight. In a dressing room eating Tofu out of a Styrofoam container. It’s not as exciting as it looks from the outside. I mean, I was at the airport today in lines like everyone else.

Vickie: What is your favourite song to listen to right now?

Keith: I’ve been listening to a lot of Zeppelin. I just watched Celebration Day. I’m hooked on the song “In My Time of Dying”; that’s the song that pops into my head right now.

Vickie: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Keith: Ohhh...I just got out of the airport with a bunch of weird motherfuckers; basically, people that aren’t mindful of others. That stands for not being mindful of yourself. That’s one of the things I’ve really been working on for myself. Now I guess I have to work on my judgement (laughter). I’m noticing it now and getting a little resentful when people are rude in public and inconsiderate. So, that’s a pretty big pet peeve of mine. We’re all trying to get somewhere; everyone is important. 

Vickie: What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

Keith: I used to work for a roofing company right after I graduated from high school. I was the young kid on the work crew and I had to be in at six in the morning. It was industrial roofs, so they were flat and all about gravel and tar. I was the first guy up the ladder with a rope around his waist and when I got to the top, all the guys on the crew sat around drinking coffee and smoking. I would pull all the tools on the roof while they sat and did whatever. That was the worst job, but we all have to do it.

Vickie: Have you ever had any desire to play or master any instrument outside of the guitar?

Keith: Yeah, my foray into playing music actually started as a drummer. Since I was the drummer, all the kids in the neighbourhood would come and drop off their gear at my house. They would ride skateboards and bicycles to my house on weekends and we would jam. I always had a full reign of all the instruments there and started playing on the guitar and bass. I would love to learn to play the piano. I have no skills whatsoever.

Vickie: How would you describe Buckcherry’s sound to someone that’s never listened?

Keith: It’s a melting pot of a lot of different things. It’s definitely a rock and roll band. There are elements of punk, funk, classic rock, blues, and country. We’ve done so many different kinds of songs. I like to think of it as a template of the Stones. They could do country, reggae, straight-up rock. I really love that about that band. That’s what has always given us the ok to lean one way.

Vickie: What do you believe is the secret ingredient in the band's longevity?

Keith: Camaraderie. I think it all starts there. When you have five guys in the same space that all get along together it trumps any senior talent in the band. I think that’s the secret sauce that makes it really work. I’ve been in some situations where there’s some really talented motherfuckers that didn’t get along or couldn’t, just really weird.

Vickie: With such a gruelling tour schedule, how does Keith like to kick back?

Keith: I enjoy listening to and collecting vinyl. I enjoy motorcycles, fixing and riding them. I started bowling on the road last year because we’re in a different city every day and I had time to kill. I just started fucking bowling, which is crazy.

Vickie: Wow, Keith Nelson bowling…(laughs).

Keith: I know, it’s wild, right? (laughs) I also enjoy reading, shooting guns, and collecting them. I do metal sculptures and some fabrication with welding. It’s been fun for me.

Vickie: What is left if anything on the Buckcherry bucket list?

Keith: There are a few things. We’ve been to the Grammys twice and never walked away with anything. I would love to do Saturday Night Live because all my heroes have done it. Going to all those counties we hear about but never get to. We haven’t been to Russia or China; we’ve only been to South America once, so we really want to get to those places. Australia we’ve only been to once in the 90’s, getting completely global, that’s definitely on the bucket list.

Vickie: Great!  Thanks so much for your time, Keith.  Looking forward to the show.

Keith: Thank you for the questions.