Hard-hitting rock band Buckcherry is back with their latest release Confessions. In speaking with lead singer Josh Todd, he said Confessions is much more than just notes or words on a CD, but a journey that takes the listener from childhood through adulthood. The one thing that fans of Buckcherry can agree with is that they have consistently brought their best to each release. Starting in 1999, and then coming back in 2005, Buckcherry has toured the world and continue to be one of the hardest working bands of today. Knowing that the music industry is so much more than just the music, Todd understands the business aspect and what it takes to continue to stay on top of his game. Their last release was 14 months ago, which seems quick in today’s music scene.
“Back in the 70s, bands used to make records every year. I think the business has gone back to that, because you can’t sell a lot of records anymore, especially in rock music, since a lot of rock radio has gone away,” Todd said.
Since the music scene has changed so much, it is very difficult for today’s rock bands to find venues to play to larger crowds. The business aspect for a rock band has gone through changes they must keep up with in order for them to make money and keep on being a band. “All money is now on live shows and merchandising. You can’t really sit back and take a year off, surviving because you sold millions of albums. That just doesn’t happen anymore,” Todd said.
Fans will quickly notice the song lineup on Confessions, since seven of the thirteen songs on the album are all named after the seven deadly sins: Gluttony, Pride, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Greed and Lust. The first thought that will come to you would be that this is a theme or concept album. If you thought that, you would be half right, but Confessions is more of a soundtrack to a script that Todd wrote and is getting together to make into a movie.
“This is our coolest album to date,” Todd said. “I came up with the sequence, and I worked really, really hard at it. And that is actually the second sequence, because I had some time to think it and rethink it. And it’s really important with a sequence to manage the tempos of the record so you don’t get bored when you listen.
Keith and I wanted to do an album with the seven deadly sins, but you can’t just do an album with seven songs.
“Keith [Nelson] and I wanted to do an album with the seven deadly sins, but you can’t just do an album with seven songs. So we tossed around the idea of doing the seven sins with the four elements, which is where the songs Water and Air come in. Then I wrote this short film to go along with it, but we have had a hard time getting the funding for the film, so the film won’t come until later. And the idea was to have the record be the soundtrack to the film, and that’s where it all started,” Todd continued.
Touring last year with over 300 shows, Buckcherry is definitely one of the hardest working bands in rock music today. Staying on the road for so long can and will take a toll on the body, and no better will you hear the road mileage than on the lead singer if you catch a show on the last leg of a tour. However, Todd takes great care to make sure that he trains his body like an athlete, so each and every show that Buckcherry puts on is just as good as the last one.
Consistency has long been a motto for Buckcherry, and they’ve kept it up with every album, starting back in 1999 with Buckcherry, which includes their first hit, Lit Up. The band followed up their debut album with Time Bomb, which released in 2001. That album didn’t fare as well on the charts or with critics, so the band took some time off and separated for some years until Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson added the new members Stevie D., Jimmy Ashurst and Xavier Muriel, who now make up the current lineup. Todd and Nelson are the only two members that have been with the band since the beginning. Then in 2006 the band released arguably their best release, 15, which included the widely popular song, Crazy Bitch. It was this album that began the journey up the charts and into a whole new fan base. Black Butterfly came out in 2008 and then All Night Long was released in 2010.
Confessions in name alone means emotion. Basically being able to pour out what has been haunting you for years and being able to extend that emotion into your music for fans, gives the fans a deep inside look into the personal lives of the band members. “For a guy that struggles with moderation, it was a fun subject for me to tackle. It was very emotional and it takes me back to when I was being shaped into a young man. And as an artist I was struggling with addiction and all that kind of stuff. That is what I had to access how my personal life went, and then I tried to make it into those great melodies that everyone can relate to, and into a song that people remember. Our goal is always to create a compelling listening experience from top to bottom and I think we achieved it. And I’m very excited about this record and can’t wait until it hits the streets,” Todd said.
Most readers remember the hair metal days of the 80s and then back into the 70s with the creation of heavy metal. We long for the days when albums really took us places and let us know that other people were on the same journey. To embrace this concept in music means that the artist realizes that the music and not the band is what is really important. Too many times when you get new rock and listen, you don’t get that sense of connection to the band like we used to have, which is why we continue to play our older, classic bands. However, Buckcherry understands this and really takes the time to relate their experiences to the audience in a way where fans can take a step back and say this is how it is supposed to be.
“Buckcherry is always working, even when we put in the work for the 250 and 300 shows we do for a record cycle,” Todd said. “We take two weeks off and then go right back and start writing songs. It’s a pretty crazy pace, but honestly, I don’t know what I would do if I was just sitting at home doing nothing. I don’t know how bands can do that unless you are super rich, so we are constantly improving our craft, constantly working on our craft, constantly working on our song writing, because we are always looking into making a better album than the last album. That is what we are always trying to achieve.”
The album starts with the sin Gluttony and ends with Dreamin’ of You. Todd said earlier that he was challenged in creating the lineup for the songs on the record, but Dreamin’ of You is a perfect way to end the album. The album is a combination of peaks and valleys, which is result of the mixture of ballads and harder songs. Older bands had this combination of songs on their albums, which is again something lost in newer music. Too many bands just throw songs out there, hoping to make some quick money and do some touring, but they don’t look at the bigger picture and try and create some art that will live on for generations to come and have fans talking about them in 10 or 20 years. Even with rock radio declining, bands continue to just try and write songs for the radio, putting nothing substantial behind the songs and not enjoying the creations they have put together.
“Keith writes most of the music and I write the lyrics, and that is how it has been since the beginning. Then we got Stevie, Xavier and Jimmy and we realized this is the band we have always wanted to have. We are all around the same age, we’ve all been through the same hard knocks, so by the time we all found each other we said that this is the way we always wanted it to be,” Todd said.
Todd doesn’t even look back to 1999 when Buckcherry first hit the scene, since this current lineup has made the most successful and the most Buckcherry albums. Looking back at that first half seems almost weird to him, since the five guys now are so tight together, it makes for better music. But while taking that little break between 2002 and 2005, the music industry changed so quickly that Buckcherry had to change with the times. Digital downloads and album sales went in opposite directions, with sales falling tremendously. Bands today have to look at the future with uncertain eyes, because of how the times are changing seemingly on an everyday basis.
Todd explains how Buckcherry is looking into the future and what fans can expect to see from the band. “While albums are less to make today, which is something that the digital age has afforded to us, bands also sell less albums, so things even out. Social media is so huge, that our biggest struggle is having that online presence, that I have a hard time with it and a hard time with artists being so accessible to the public that it doesn’t become interesting anymore.”
His point is well taken, seeing as how Twitter, Facebook and hundreds of other sites have artists and bands sharing their every thought on an everyday basis; there is no mystery as to what the band is up to. While rumors are not typically a good thing, it was always great to hear them 20 years ago, before the Internet, because it gave so much more depth to the bands. Heck, who didn’t get excited when KISS took off the makeup for the first time? Or when you first heard the story of Ozzy biting the head off a bat? Now those stories are followed by YouTube videos and Instagram photos.
“We find that the mystery is so difficult that you can’t control the market anymore,” Todd said. “If you don’t interact with your fans in that way, they will simply move on to a band that will and there are a lot them that do it. We have to find that balance in the mystery, but keep the interaction with our fans, and it’s a struggle. Other than that the band is doing really well and continue to work on our live performances, because this band was built on the live show and I’m glad we did that, because that is really important.”
The live performances have always been the backbone of any good rock band. For a rock fan there is nothing more exciting than concert night. Getting ready to see your favorite band perform live is one of the greatest experiences any rock fan has. All of us have our favorite moments at a rock concert, whether meeting your girlfriend, laying your girlfriend — or, hell, another girl in the bathroom — to the buzz before, during and after the show, leaves us all wanting more. When you leave a live show with it ringing in your ears, it takes about a week for the whole experience to sink in, as you play over and over the band’s albums, remembering what the show was like when you hear each song.
Buckcherry spends a lot of time thinking of each tour and giving fans that experience that they had growing up watching their bands live on stage. Todd talks about the preparation that the band has to go through before a tour. “I start to get the concept for the songs, and there are some usual suspects that we have to get to like Lit Up, Crazy Bitch and Everything. Those are all songs that the fans want to hear. So I will shift around on a headlining tour about five or six songs a night to give some variety. It’s challenging, because you want to get each flavor of a record in there, but you only have so many songs you can sing. Then you have to pace it so I don’t get exhausted out there, so yeah, it’s challenging. But as a singer I always want to open with the same song every night, until we have a second to pause and change it up for a new tour. Because as the lead singer I want to make sure that I’m on point with that first song, and if you keep changing it up it comes harder. We’ve learned from the veteran bands and done everything wrong to get it right, so I don’t want to blow my load too early, so I like to ease into it and get more aggressive as the set goes on,” Todd said.
Fans should be excited to see the songs from Confessions performed live. The album itself is not only the most mature album musically, but should be considered their best album to date. The first song, Gluttony, is under three minutes and gets going right from the start. It is fast paced and is a great way to lead into the rest of the album. Wrath is the next song, and keeps the pace high, leading into Nothing Left but Tears, which has many peaks and valleys. The Truth is the first ballad on the album, followed by Greed and Water. The flow of the album seems to change directions with Seven Ways to Die and Air, and continues until the end with the ballad, Dreamin’ of You. All the songs work well with each other and when it is over, the listener can feel the emotional journey that Buckcherry just took them on. Fans will quickly be replaying the album over and over, waiting patiently for Buckcherry to finally come to their hometown so they can catch them live.
Even with priorties changing because what was important at 20 is no longer important, because when artists get older things do change, but as Josh says, it never changes the art. In having three children now, he still puts in the same emotion and words, even if that means having profanity or being abrasive at times to make sure the point is coming across the correct way. “Since this record was so personal, I don’t know what the next album holds, except that it will be pure Buckcherry,” Todd said.
Plain and simple, the point is that musical talent always comes to the top. Bands that simply use smoke and mirrors will never last, but bands that like Buckcherry, that put all of their blood and sweat into each album and each performance, will continue to live on for as long as the band can stand on the stage and play. Buckcherry has shows lined up for Confessions all over the world, balancing out each part of the world to make sure that everyone gets a chance to check out the band. Just remember that when you decide to spend your hard earned money on a concert or a CD, make sure the band really takes it seriously and brings their absolute best to everything they do. Buckcherry is one of those bands.
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