–by Jon Jackson
Hello Friends! A few weeks into the release of the new album Warpaint, Buckcherry makes a stop at Pop’s Night Club and Concert Venue Monday April 22nd, 2019. I have to tell you I was excited about this show. I have been following Buckcherry since 1999 when they released their self-titled debut. The first time I saw the video for “Lit Up”, I knew this would be a band I would love. From that moment on I would attend every show they played in this area, most of which were at this very same venue. This time it was different. This time I am not only a fan of the band, I get to share my thoughts on the night. Not only that, but I got to sit down with Josh Todd before the show.
Jon Jackson: To break the ice a bit, if you could be a super hero who would it be?
Josh Todd: Wow! I never really thought of that. I don’t know, let’s say Superman. He’s cool. He can fly. He’s pretty strong. Has two identities, that’s cool.
Jon Jackson: Very Cool! So, Warpaint: I was a little concerned when “Head Like a Hole” (Nine Inch Nails cover) was the lead off. Just as being a fan, but I am a huge fan of that song. When I heard you were doing it, I was like wow, because I can hear you doing it very well. When I heard it for the first time I was like, oh, that’s super cool. I started getting some excitement for the album.
Josh Todd: Yeah, that was the whole point. Kind of just to get a ground swell going and to be an internet track. Something kind of off the beaten path for us. You know, as far as, what we would cover. It’s like, it happened very organically. That song. I just came in, we were all set up to start recording the Warpaint record. The cover discussion comes up literally every record making cycle. Happens to every band. I wanted to find something in my wheelhouse vocally and lyrics I could get behind. I’ve got to believe in it or I can’t really do it. The “Pretty Hate Machine” record was always a record that I thought was really unique. Trent (Reznor, Nine Inch Nails) had this style that was one of a kind and he’s stuck to his guns his whole career. I said let’s jam this song out and see what happens. We jammed it out and Mike Plotnikoff, our producer, was recording us and we didn’t know it. He threw up a rough mix and we went in to listen to it. Just sounded like a Buckcherry song after we had kind of jammed it out. It was sitting around and we played it for our manager and label. Everybody loved it. So we’re like, let’s put it on the record. That’s really how it came about. We didn’t premeditate it or think it out too much.
JJ: Very cool, because I dig it! It totally suits you very well.
JT: Thank you! Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun performing it live too.
JJ: I am very interested in seeing that later.
JT: It’s the first song, so make sure you get there.
JJ: No, I am staying and sticking around for sure. My favorite songs on the album are Back Down, Closer, Radio Song, Right Now, Warpaint and The Alarm. I have listened to this album.
JT: That’s great, I love that. Those are really good choices actually.
JJ: One of my favorite things about seeing you guys live is when you got a record, I know I will hear half of it.
JJ: I want to hear half of it. In fact! I want to hear probably more than half of it. I’m a weirdo like that!
JT: Yeah, that’s the trouble. We got so many songs we don’t ever get to play live. With eight records and one EP, just the history. It’s 20 years now. At one point I was like, let’s do a set of all of our video songs. I’m like, how many videos do we have? Somebody was like, 31! I’m like, Whoa, f**k! That’s too many. I didn’t even know we had that many videos. So you know, really grateful for the body of work. I never really look back. When you’re self-employed, which I’ve been for 20 years now, you are always thinking of the next thing and how can I make it better. What can we do better? When is the next song coming that’s going to change my life? I got to find that song and so I am always thinking ahead. When you are at home, you’ve got so much shit that you’ve got to tend to. It’s like, you get off the plane, you haven’t done any of your doctors appointments for the year. You’ve got to squeeze all of them in, you got your family, squeeze all that in and you got to maintain your voice, stay sharp. All those things and you never really stop to think, look at all I accomplished. All these records. All the tours. Until you put out a record and your manager says “OK, your first record was in 99. It’s been 20 years and we’re going to do this and that”. I’m like, Wow! You know.
JJ: Yeah, when I realized that this is your 20 year mark, that’s freaking awesome, because a lot of bands don’t make it that long.
JT: They don’t make it past 2.
JJ: Yeah, I have been in plenty of those.
JT: We’ve seen so many bands. You know, one, two and out.
JJ: I think that 3rd album is one of the hardest ones to make. The first one is what you you’ve been working on for so long. Then the second one is what do we do now, because those songs took this much time to do. Now I got to go this direction. Then all the good fun band stuff starts happening and the third album is like whoooo.
JT: It’s a lot of peaks and valleys. You’ve got to just stay the course and just know that, OK its coming and you’ve got to keep moving towards the beacon.
JJ: When you go into record, do you have a bunch of songs ready to go, or ideas? How do you approach making an album?
JT: Well, I don’t like to waste money. You know. So, we don’t go to record a record until it’s ready. All the songs, all the songwriting and everything is flushed out. The only thing left to do is capture the performances. We worked really hard on the songwriting. Stevie and I started writing in November 2017. We wrote 30 songs for an 11 song record. I just goes to show you how much goes into just making one record. We narrow down those 30 songs to 10 that we thought were undeniable and that we could listen from beginning to end. That’s what you always want to accomplish. A record like that. At least for me that is the bar we set for ourselves. I don’t want any filler. There is no reason to put songs on a record just to get your twelve songs. I don’t think I sit down to listen to one record from beginning to end anymore. Unless it’s like 9 songs. You know what I mean and it’s got to be great to do that. That’s like a Prince record or an AC/DC record.
JJ: I’ve been able to do that with quite a few of your records.
JT: That’s good. That’s the goal and that’s awesome. That’s what we want. Because you know what, especially in America it is so single driven. People don’t ever get a record and sit down and listen from beginning to end. That was the kid I was. I was the kid that went to the record store, got the record, went straight home and broke out the lyrics, put on the record and sat there and read the lyrics. Song, song, song… Studied it! I do that today. I study song arrangements and lyrics. When I get obsessed about a song I pick it apart. Tear it apart. Listen to every aspect of the song and why it’s so great. That’s where the passion is, you know.
JJ: Yeah, I do a lot of the same myself. I’ll even switch it from one stereo to another. Just to see if I am hearing something different here vs here and see if I pick up what I missed. What got you into music to begin with?
JT: It was, Man! A bunch of circumstances in my life. I had a lot of stuff going on as a kid. A lot of challenges. A lot of dysfunction at home and just needed to make sense of it all. Really it was the records and music that really was my place to go. It just, it just made me happy. Consistently, you know what I mean. All my first records were independent records. These were bands that weren’t making records to please the record company. They were making records to talk about what was going on inside of them. Thank God for those bands. I listen to bands like 7Seconds, GBH, The Replacements, Black Flag, The Toy Dolls, Subhumans. So those are like the records I went out and bought. Then I would go bootleg records off friends who had Rudimentary Peni, SNFU, all these weird bands and Doggy Style. I grew up in Orange County CA and there was a huge punk rock movement. So, I really like those records because they were aggressive, there was a lot of pain and stuff that they were talking about. You know I’d sneak into my sister’s room and listen to her Prince and Billy Idol records and Yazoo, Apollonia 6 and Sheila E. Then my mother would put on records and clean the house once a week with Willie Nelson, Rod Stewart and the Eagles. I just had all this music and I liked everything you know. If it was a good song then I’m listening to it.
JJ: You can hear a lot of different influences in your own music. You’ve got the songs that are completely aggressive. Then you’ve got songs like “Sorry”.
JT: Listen, all the great records back then had all that. They had dynamics. They had rockers and mid tempos and they had ballads. Songs are just emotions and short stories. I have all these emotions. There’s times where I’m just exhausted and I need, I want a sad song. I want to hear an Elton John song. I want to hear something slow that speaks to that emotion. So, I want that on my record as well.
JJ: As a fan, I enjoy that.
JT: The audience needs that! I see it. You beat an audience up with two or three rockers and then you come down to a ballad or mid-tempo song. They love it!
JJ: It is a great break up in a set as well. Especially when you have a wide variety in your audience.
JT: Yes and now it’s like a family affair at Buckcherry shows.
JJ: Well, around for twenty years! I brought my kid to his first Buckcherry show. I brought my nephew to his first Buckcherry show.
JT: We love that! That’s what you dream about. One catalog of music, an audience that grows up with you, it’s awesome.
JJ: So, what are you listening to these days?
JT: You know, I listen to a lot of hip hop actually and I’ll tell you why. Because, it’s interesting to me. I like how they’re writing songs and coming up with hooks. It has a lot to do with the voice. They are really taking one beat and three chords or whatever is going on and it’s looping through the whole song. They are building the song dynamically with their voices and it’s dangerous. I feel that’s where the rock stars are now. Dudes are like, tattooing their faces, Cardi B is making videos with chicks with their tops off. I’m like, this is f**king awesome! This is what rock is lacking right now. There is no dynamics from artist to artist in rock that I can see now. Like you listen to rock radio and its forty-five minutes of the same song. You go to f**king hip hop there’s all these characters. They are creating their own languages. Their putting records out and don’t even need record labels. They’re doing shit that’s just f**king crazy. I love it! Look at Chance the Rapper. He won three Grammys and sold out the f**king Hollywood Bowl with no record label. And I’m like WOW! I got to pay attention to that. They’re actually selling the most records and most singles are happening in hip hop. So, I’m like studying that right now and just really like it because it’s dangerous. I don’t like my television edited. I don’t like my movies edited. I don’t like, I want it raw and real or I just can’t feel it. I feel like at some point rock took this turn where its’s like really kind of PG-13. I don’t like it. I want the f**king, I want to be intimidated when I hear a song sometimes. When I was a kid “Straight Outa Compton” came out. When NWA dropped that record, I was like, everybody in Orange County was like, this is scary! We love this. They are talking about killing f**kers and even if they are not doing it, it sounds like they are doing it and I like this.
JJ: My buddy in high school actually went away to join the Marines and was stationed in San Diego. He came back after boot camp with that cassette along with a bunch of other hip hop. That was the first time I had heard any of that. I was hooked on it and had to scoop it all up at that point.
JT: I never listened to mainstream rock until I was like 17. It was like, that’s when “Back in Black” dropped. This is amazing! You could dance to it. You can f**k to it. You can party to it. It’s f**king great. Then I really got into AC/DC. That was the band for me. Plus I was one of those guys that had to be kind of intimidated by a guy. I like the singers that girls want to f**k but guys wanted be. You know what I mean? If you were too much on the one side that you were too feminine, I was like eh, I could not get into it. There was a lot of that hair rock that I just didn’t get. I didn’t get the Wingers of the world and Poisons of the world. I didn’t understand it. It seemed contrived and just silly to me.
JJ: How do you select your songs for a set when you have 8 albums to pick from?
JT: It’s really hard you know.
JJ: Do you look back at previous sets and say it’s been so long since we’ve played this one…
JT: I do. Some songs we’ve hammered into the ground and we retire them for a bit. It’s hard. Sometimes I have to just wake up in the morning and see how I’m feeling vocally and then construct a set around what I’m feeling vocally at the time. What I feel I can accomplish and make great you know.
JJ: So, do you switch your sets up from show to show?
JT: We do, but we have the usual suspects. The singles like “Crazy Bitch”, “Lit Up” and “Sorry”. You’ve got to put those in and people want to hear them. It’s fun for us because we get a great crowd reaction. You work your whole life to have songs that become hits. That’s a big deal! It’s not easy to get a hit. So when you get one, you need to tend to it.
JJ: I’ve got to see a bunch of awesome bands sharing the bill with you. Like, “Black Stone Cherry”. I’ve seen them twice with you guys and I go see them play every time. “The Biters”. They were very fun.
JT: We’ve got a lot of rock bands that have, you know Joyous Wolf is out with us now. They are all real rock bands too. No samples, no f**king bullshit, just straight up rock.
JJ: You’ve got to enjoy that. Do you for stuff like that for an opening band when you’re out there?
JT: It’s weird, if you would have told me that rock was going to turn into a Brittany Spears concert, like that’s kind of what rock is now. There is lots of backing vocals, through the PA. There is prerecorded instrumental tracks. I won’t name names, but there are some singers out there lip syncing their own vocals.
JJ: My favorite right now is doing that on their end tour.
JT: It’s incomprehensible to me. Some of the audiences don’t even know and don’t even give a shit. That’s like a bummer because, you know, I just want an even playing field when I go out there. I want everybody to have to deal with the circumstances that are going on with themselves. The voice is the only thing you can’t go to Guitar Center and say “I’m tired today, I want some new vocal folds to do the show tonight”. That gets discouraging and I feel like going on stage when you are not 100% is really where you find a new realm, a new part of your voice. A part of your being. You become great because of that. You have to learn other things to entertain. You can’t just rely on your full vocal range. Those are the nights I really had to go out there and just have faith. You know, you find something that I’m like, I’m so glad I did that. I thought it was going to suck and it turned out to be one of the best shows of the tour. I hope at some point we get back to that. There are some bands doing that like Joyous Wolf and some of the bands you mentioned. Which are still going out there and really playing for real.
JJ: Do you get to select them or do you get suggestions?
JT: There’s a lot of things. Sometimes you get bands on a bill because of the politics that are going to suit the overall situation. That means, hey if we take this managers band out then maybe we can get on that tour later on with that bigger band. You know what, if we scratch your back then you scratch ours when we’re over here in Europe. Sometimes you do those things and sometimes you’re like, I like these guys. It makes sense. Let’s get them on and see if we can help them out a little bit and get them exposed to our audience. Then maybe they’ll return the favor later on down the road.
JJ: So, who are some of your favorite frontmen when you started to notice that?
JT: Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat was one of my favorites. The first guy where I was like, man, this dude is bad ass. I just thought he was great. He was great live. He was one of the first frontmen I was in to. Like I said, I got a fake ID when I was seventeen. I had an older sister and she liked dance music. I’d go to dance clubs when I was seventeen and get in. I was into Prince. I f**king loved Prince. So, I was into him and because I got into Prince, I got into James Brown. James Brown influenced Prince and Michael Jackson. I was into James Brown. Then cut to all the punk rock guys I like. Ian MacKaye, Olga from the Toy Dolls, Chi Pig from SNFU. He was dope. My rock ones I like are Brian Johnson, Bon Scott (both from AC/DC). I loved Ian from the Cult. Then I gotta say, like, I didn’t really get “Guns N Roses” because I saw the jungle (Welcome to the Jungle) video and his hair was teased up and I didn’t get it. Until I saw the “Sweet Child o Mine” video. This dude is bad ass. I just believed him. Believed what he was saying. I believed he was who he was. I just thought he was like, he had enough of that masculine energy and all the chicks liked him. I was like, this dude’s bad ass. I was really into Axl.
JJ: Nice. You are one of my favorites.
JT: Thank you!
JJ: You don’t stop. You’re always dancing. Always keeping the crowd going. This is probably my 10th or so show I’ve seen.
JT: Oh really, Cool! I love our frequent flyers.
JJ: It’s always entertaining, because you just don’t stop.
JT: Yes, Yes sir! That’s just the way I’ve been. I’ve always been a pretty hyperactive high energy kid. It’s just who I am. I’m either completely on or I’m totally off. Totally asleep.
JJ: If you could put a huge festival together where you are one of five bands playing who would the other four bands be?
JT: This is a tough question. Buckcherry, James Brown, Prince, Rage Against the Machine and AC/DC.
JJ: That would be bad ass.
JT: We did 5 shows with AC/DC on the “Timebomb” (Buckcherry album #2) tour. It was a rock n roll dream come true. It was amazing.
JJ: I would imagine that was the best band you’ve opened for.
JT: Best band, hands down. You know, when we finally got to meet them, they were totally down to earth, sweet and approachable. Just like regular dudes. I was like, this is f**king amazing.
JJ: Well, I think I will let you get back to your routine. I appreciate you taking the time, for sure.
JT: Yeah Yeah, it was a good interview.
At this point I needed a break as I was still shaking with excitement and processing this incredible moment. As I walk into the venue from the back stage room, I see the other bands setting up merch, some meet and greet fans were getting their turn with Buckcherry and I was all smiles ear to ear.
The show started with 2 local bands. After Alberta and Sixes High. They were able to warm the crowd up and brought some of their fans to share in this experience. People were slow to get to the venue and it really started to fill up. Perfect timing as Joyous Wolf was next.
Wow and I mean WOW! Nick Reese singer of Joyous Wolf is undeniable. He commands the stage with such swagger and charisma that you are starving for more as he is delivering everything he has to give. He did a flip into splits and never stopped dancing. I could not stop watching. While singing “I’m a man”, he flexed for the people and then grabbed his crotch to prove it. Nick is not the only bad ass in this band. Blake Allard is a mighty fine guitar player. So much so, Nick opens the front of the stage for him to shine in the spotlight.
For an opening band, rarely do you get this much of a show. These guys are good. Before they finished. Singer Nick Reese parted the crowd like Moses and the Red Sea. They moved without thought and he did a back flip onto the floor to say hello to the fans. I was quite impressed with this band and cannot wait until they come back to town. Later this year according to Nick. They just released their first album “Place in Time” 4/19/19. Look these guys up. You will not be disappointed. Josh Todd said earlier that this band was the real deal and I agree. The line at the merch booth for Joyous Wolf was a sign that everyone in attendance would also agree.
Knowing already how they are starting the show, I was ready. “Head like a Hole!” The band took the stage and as per usual Josh Todd was dancing from one side of the stage to the other. Delivering this song with the same energy that made me smile when I heard it for the first time. When the chorus hit, it was huge. Everyone was singing. Stevie D long time guitarist, usually chipped in on vocals, but he had some help. Bass player Kelly LeMieux and guitarist Kevin Roentgen added in quite nicely. This was new for me to hear in their live show. It was powerful. At this point I could not wait to hear what was to come.
“It’s a Party” kept the momentum going and lead right into the new single “Bent”. Another banger, from the album “Warpaint”. Once again Josh brings up Prince, as he was introducing his new song “Radio Song”. The Monday crowd was enjoying the new songs as much as I do.
“Who loves the cocaine” screams through the PA and the crowd lets out a roar. The band kicked into “Lit Up”. Their first single from the self-titled debut album. Turning his mic into a straw is always funny when Josh is dancing while Stevie D rips through the guitar solo. This is a fun song and always a crowd favorite.
Two songs from “Time Bomb” sandwiched another cut from the new album “Right Now”. The flow of this show has been great to this point and did not stop when they went into “Too Drunk”. A song off the first pressing of the album “Black Butterfly”. This mid tempo number was the perfect transition to slow things down. No better way than with one of the bands biggest hits “Sorry”. Everyone in the whole place was singing along. It was great!
However, we are at a Buckcherry show and slowing down is not something they stick with. Drummer Francis Ruiz had me excited when they jumped into “Gluttony”. That kick drum was beating through my chest. Another fun one to sing along with: “I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it.”
After playing one from the “F**k” EP, they announced they had one more song. Asked what people wanted to hear. Everyone around me was screaming “CRAZY BITCH”. Josh Todd then says “Eddie Money?” “Two Tickets to Paradise?” Then the band continued to play this song through to the chorus. It was awesome! They did not make anyone wait any longer and started “Crazy Bitch”. Anyone that has seen this band knows that they always throw a cover or two into the middle of this song. I have heard Prince, The Ohio Players amongst others. This time it was “Jungle Boogie” and “Proud Mary”. Quite a nice surprise.
The band said their goodbyes and left the stage. This is always my least favorite part of any show. The encore. I am not a fan of this in general, but I won’t waste any more time crabbing about it. Buckcherry came back to finish the night with another one from the “F**k” EP, “Say F**k It”, the Icona Pop cover. Good way to end the show.
Great show and an experience I will never forget. Josh was great to talk to and loved getting some insight into Buckcherry. I hope you enjoy this and until next time,