"I didn't do it for money, I did it all for free/I did it all to fill the f---ing hole inside of me" - "So Far"
Don't call it a comeback. For Buckcherry founders, lead singer Josh Todd and his co-writer, guitarist Keith Nelson, the band has never really been away, and that urgency comes through loud and clear on FIFTEEN, their first album in four years.
"My desire never left," says tattooed front man Todd, a whirling dervish on-stage with a classic rock & roll yowl that places the band in a unique space at the crossroads of punk energy and metal power. "I'm a musician, a performer and a songwriter, and I'm still really passionate about entertaining and making records."
You can hear that intensity on the opening salvo of "So Far" and the first single, the lasciviously leering "Next 2 You," a collaboration between Todd, Nelson and songwriter Marti Fredrickson (Aerosmith) reminiscent of the band's smash, "Lit Up."
"We had to take a break and assess what was important, and that's creating music that fills what we see as a current void for classic rock with a modern edge," says Nelson, a self-dubbed "East Coast blues-rock guitar guy" from Beaver Falls, PA. "We were just pulled by so many outside forces from what we set out to do."
Recruiting guitarist Steve D, drummer Xavier Muriel and bassist Jimmy Ashhurst after an exhaustive search, Buckcherry was energized enough to record their new album in 15 days (hence the title), with Nelson co-producing alongside Mike Plotnikoff and Paul DeCarli. It's a throwback to an era in which classic discs like Led Zeppelin I were made in a week with a barely contained rush of inspiration and spontaneity.
"We're very fortunate to have guys playing with us now who are true believers is what we want to do," says Keith. "I never realized how much fun and creatively inspiring this could be. It's been a f---in' blast."
"Buckcherry is a rock & roll band. We wanted to get that vibe back which made us so explosive," agrees Josh. "We went out to find the right guys who had that same mentality. These guys are in for the long haul."
"Think about what you know/Forget about what you're told/See how your story grows and let it come from your own mind/Do all your favorite things/Cover it with all your dreams/Breathe it, and smoke it, and f--- it and make it something" "So Far"
The L.A.-based band broke onto the national scene in 1999 with their self-titled debut album, produced by Terry Date and Sex Pistol Steve Jones, for DreamWorks Records. They scored with such hit Modern Rock singles as "Lit Up," "Check Your Head" and "For The Movies," prompting Entertainment Weekly to rave, "Coming on like the Black Crowes by way of AC/DC, this L.A.-based band is at its best blasting its way through hard-hitting riff rockers." Melody Maker boasted, "A band who kick arse cos that's why God gave us shoes." Q said "The rumpty-tumpty groove of AC/DC and songs which recall such long-forgotten Sunset Strip bands as Junkyard and Little Caesar... a hugely entertaining record." Mojo opined: "Establishes itself in adult Beavis & Butthead country... It's Riffs R Us."
Buckcherry went on to release the follow-up, Time Bomb, in summer 2000, followed by a successful stint opening for one of their heroes AC/DC. When DreamWorks effectively disappeared within the corporate monolith shortly afterward, though, the group's momentum stalled, band members split, and Todd and Nelson were left trying to right the sinking ship. It placed a tremendous amount of financial and emotional pressure on the band, which forced them to take a break to reassess its future direction.
While trying to recover from Buckcherry, the duo were recruited by Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum to play a benefit for the late drummer Randy Castillo which turned into the infamous "G&R Project" and eventually evolved into Velvet Revolver.
"It made us realize how much fun it was to be in a band again," says Josh. "We began to focus on what mattered-the music-and what Buckcherry represented and believed in. And we were able to turn our disappointment at the label's demise into a new direction."
"By the end, I was just so spent dealing with all the egos, I needed to take some time off," explains Keith, who ended up with a co-writing credit on "Dirty Little Thing" from Velvet Revolver's hit debut.
The experience recommitted the pair to working together and reforming the band.
"I missed him as a friend," says Josh. "And it came back together so quickly and effortlessly, we felt, 'This is the way it's supposed to be.' The time away ended up working in our favor."
The pairing favorably compares to several prominent lead singer/guitarist duos who have fueled some of the band's major inspirations, a torch that has been handed down from the dawn of rock and Josh and Keith have willingly accepted.
FIFTEEN sports some of the all-out rockers that Buckcherry is known for, like the aggro fury of "Out of Line," the salacious, Stonesy swagger of "Crazy Bitch," the balls-to-the-wall "Onset," the full-tilt Faces rock of "Sunshine" and the anti-war, AC/DC-influenced "Broken Glass." But there's also the Bic-flicking, Marti Frederickson co-written power ballad, "Sorry," the minor key Anglo-rock of "Everything" and the bluesy acoustic ode to "Brooklyn."
"We went into the studio and vowed not to come out until we had a successful, a---kicking, career-defining album," says Josh.
"We entered this process without an A&R guy or a label behind us," agrees Keith. "There wasn't a huge payday waiting for us. It was about making a record we were happy with and believed in. At this point, I don't give a f--- about selling records if I'm not getting off on the music and the people I'm making it with. We learned that we can succeed creatively being self-contained and self-directed if we allowed ourselves to follow our instincts."
"I've been trying all night long cause I want to get next to you." "Next 2 You"
With FIFTEEN, Buckcherry hasn't just returned to the scene, they've grabbed it by the throat and are back in your face with renewed vengeance.
"I have a lot of pride in the album, a lot of years of experience and knowledge riding on the fact this is an opportunity to do what I do, have a band that's awesome and I enjoy playing with," explains Keith. "Once you learn where the potholes in the road are, you can go around them. We're really fortunate in being able to get back together, absorb those lessons and move forward."
"That's the best thing about America," adds Todd. "You can get a second chance... and I'm very grateful for it."
On FIFTEEN, Buckcherry have survived the industry to show the world what they've always strived to become-a world-class rock band.
--- from the official Buckcherry website