Latest release: Rock N Roll (F Bomb)Website: www.buckcherry.com
It’s April 20, 2013. Two days of torrential rain has all but washed out Sydney’s Stonefest event inside the cavernous and near-empty ANZ Stadium. Richie Ramone has just stormed off stage after a shambolic performance. Another downpour sends what crowd there is back to the stands. Then Buckcherry come on, and suddenly the rain doesn’t matter. For the next half an hour the tattooed Californians deliver a lesson in old-school ass-kicking rock n roll.
“That was a weird day for us because we had been travelling a lot and I’d just gotten over being sick, too,” says Buckcherry frontman Josh Todd on the line from home, doing a little press after another ball-busting sixty date tour. “So we’re looking forward to getting back down there and doing what we like to do, because our set is a lot of fun when we have the time. It’s weird to do short sets like that. We hardly ever do that anymore. We were grateful for the opportunity though. And we’ve been onstage a lot in lots of different weather conditions, so that was actually kinda fun for us.”
Rock n roll has been Buckcherry’s business since Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson first teamed up in 1995. After twenty years, a break-up, reformation and the usual rollercoaster rides, Rock N Roll is also the name of the band’s latest album, which peaked at #10 on Billboard‘s Hard Rock Albums chart. Since they first hit the stage, Buckcherry has been carrying the flame for the raw and raucous rock acts that sprawled across the musical landscape from the early 70s to the late 1980s.
“We didn’t consciously set out to do that,” Todd says. “We wanted to make honest rock records without a lot of bells and whistles intruding on ourselves and make it raw and real and not overthink it. That’s what Buckcherry is. That’s what we’ve done all these years.”
Being Buckcherry hasn’t always meant plain sailing of course. There was that three-year period where the band didn’t exist after three-fifths of the members left (during which time Todd almost won the vocalist role in Velvet Revolver), law suits involving underage models and other bumps on the road to rock and roll glory. Then of course there has been that constant chatter about the death of rock music. Todd has heard it since Buckcherry began.
“You know, I can’t even say how many times we’ve heard ‘rock n roll is dead’. We heard that on the first record in 1999. We’ve been playing rock music for well over a decade and [we’ve] never been mainstream. There are a lot of rock bands that are reuniting for touring this year, and that’s gonna be fun. Guns N Roses are going to be out there doing a tour and Def Leppard and Kiss are doing some shows.”
He doesn’t have much time for a lot of newer rock bands, however: “But new rock… mainstream rock is boring! All the bands kinda sound the same, there’s not a lotta soul in the music,” he says. “There’s not a lotta frontmen, there’s not any guitar heros. I think that’s why a lot of people go for electronic music.”
Electronics aren’t easy to find in Buckcherry’s music. The current album introduces some brass injections and the occasional nod of the head to country rock influences, but not all that much has changed.
“So many record labels tried to change us,” Josh Todd declares. “So many people tried to change us, and now we’re in the position where we have our own record label and we can do a lot of fun stuff. Like right now, we’re in the middle of writing another EP. We put out an EP last year, we just recorded another song for the re-release of Rock n Roll as well and we just do what we wanna do because we’re in charge, and that’s the best way to be in Buckcherry.”
Albums are important to the band, but Josh Todd promises he stakes their reputation on their abilities as a live band. He believes a lot of what he sees to be lameness in the current rock scene comes from the way music is produced these days.
“I think technology’s had a role to play in that too, because it’s really easy to be a mediocre musician,” he says. “Record it all into a computer and then manipulate your voice and then manipulate your guitar tracks so that it sounds like you’re really sonically great and then you go out and try to play this stuff live and you can’t do it. You’re running tracks through the PA and you’re just not interesting. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about going on feeling and sometimes not having a lot of work with and that’s what separates the men from the boys.“
Rock might not be dead, but bands that can deliver a serious ass-kicking certainly are a dying breed. Buckcherry are proud to be part of it.
“We try to align ourselves with bands that are really playing 100% live. There’s not a lot of them around anymore.”
Catch Buckcherry on tour in March:
14/3: 170 Russell St, Melbourne VIC (+ Palace of the King + Electric Dynamite)
15/3: Max Watts, Brisbane QLD (+The Poor + Electric Dynamite)
18/3: The Metro, Sydney NSW (+ Palace of the King)
19/3: Metropolis, Perth WA (+ Legs Electric)