JOSH TODD Of BUCKCHERRY On New Album “Hellbound:” “We Want To Be Unforgettable!”

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“Hellbound” will be released on June 25th via Round Hill Records in North America, Earache Records in the UK, Europe, and Australia, and Sony Japan in Japan. The 10-track record was produced by Marti Frederiksen, who previously produced the “Black Butterfly and co-wrote one of their biggest hits, “Sorry.”

Buckcherry‘s stellar new release is packed with tremendous songs that offer big riffs and even bigger grooves like on “Gun,” “So Hott,” and “54321” that rivals their 2015 record, “15,” and their 2018 record, ‘Black Butterfly.” The title track, “Hellbound,” is a rousing anthem with a large dose of swagger. The band’s sound is tight and melodic, with some punk ethos thrown in for good measure. 

Buckcherry have spent their career establishing themselves as an outstanding live band who lives on the road, sells out major venues, and has appeared on bills with countless legendary bands. After canceling over 100 shows in 2020 due to COVID-19, the band is planning an extensive tour, starting in June and will continuing through 2021 and well into 2022. “Hellbound” and this tour will continue to fuel Buckcherry‘s reputation as a premier rock band. Pre-orders for “Hellbound” are available here. 

Correspondent Robert Cavuoto spoke with Josh Todd about the creation of “Hellbound,” what inspires him when writing impactful songs, what fans can expect at a live show, and what it was like to open for AC/DC! Check out their conversation transcript below, and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and  subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new content we publish on a daily basis.

[INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT]

“Hellbound” is such an incredible album; congratulations!

Thank you, that’s so great to hear; we worked really hard on it. We have been sitting on it since October of 2020. It’s great to have people outside our camp finally get to listen to it.

“Hellbound” is a return to form for Buckcherry, and I feel on equal par to “15” and “Black Butterfly.” Would you agree?

I think it is the right record at the right time. I love that response because it is resonating with you to some of our biggest records. We don’t really look back as we like to look forward all the time. America was going through so much stuff in 2020 that it was great to have this record to focus on.

Marti Frederiksen produced the record and co-wrote with you and Stevie D. What was the decision to bring him back into the fold, and also tell me about the writing chemistry that the three of you share?

That’s exactly why we are a really good writing team. He hasn’t worked with us in a few records. We did a lot of stuff with him in the past, but because of the politics in the band at the time, he wasn’t in the fold. With that being said, it’s really great to have him back. He is like the sixth member of the band! He co-wrote five of the ten songs on “Hellbound.” We had a lot of fun, and the record sounds great; he is such an amazing producer.

“Gun” is a perfect song on so many levels between the groove, the catchy hook, and great lyrics. How did it come about, and what was the inspiration for it?

Gun” has an interesting story. Stevie and I wrote “Gun” a long time ago; it was a sleeper song. When we first recorded it, Stevie didn’t think it was that great. I kept telling him that it was a cool song and we have to put it on the list! Our team just kept coming back to that song because they liked it so much. Around the time I was writing the lyrics for it, my daughter, who loves to act, was doing a Bonnie and Clyde play at her school. After seeing it, I thought it was such a crazy story and wrote the lyrics from that perspective, plus guns were also such a big part of America last year. I put it all together, and “Gun” is what came out. I was thinking about B-Real and his approaches. I love the song “Rock Superstar” by Cypress Hill, so I was influenced by them when I was scatting out my melody and writing the chorus. A lot of people thought it sounded like Aerosmith, but I had B-Real in mind.

You could have sold that song to Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for a million dollars!

[laughing]

Something I never noticed with the band that struck me on “54321” was the punk vibe. I never realized it, but in many of your songs, like “Onset” off of 15 and “Fallout” off “Black Butterfly,” are grounded in punk. Does Buckcherry have influences in punk music?

Oh yeah, that my whole foundation. I grew up in Orange County, California, and all my first records were independent punk rock records. I was listening to bands like Minor Threat, Toy Doll, Black Flag, and Subhumans. I had such a huge punk rock record collection. I loved those records because they were super honest. Many of the bands didn’t have record labels to tell they had to write hits. Because they didn’t have that pressure, they wrote songs with big chanting choruses. They had to because being an independent artist it was the only way they could get an audience to remember them. That’s what I loved about them. All my early rock shows were at a place called Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach, California, and that is where it all started for me. You named two songs, and there is one or two on every record with those punk rock flavors. Also, “Here I Come” off of “Hellbound” is another, which is a great song too.

What inspired you lyrically when you first started Buckcherry, and what inspires you now?

Everything inspires me. I tend to make a lot of notes when I’m not writing for a record. I’ll be on tour and use notes on my iPhone to create title lists with words or phrases that catch me. Sometimes I’ll come up with a melody out of the blue, and I’ll scat it into voice notes. I tend to log in a lot of stuff along the way. I pay attention to the lives around me, stories that are going on, and I pay attention during the meet and greets to hear what fans like about Buckcherry. I log all that stuff in sometimes unconsciously. I’m always studying music and structures, particularly in Pop music, because the best songwriters in the world write those songs. I like to listen to those songs because they are vocal and melody-driven. I also read many books on the road, which helps me with storytelling and writing. All those things contribute to the songwriting process when I finally get down to it.

How did the writing process for “Hellbound” differ from “Warpaint?”

When we start a new record, we start with a clean slate or foundation that has nothing on it. I like to think the process is similar to building a house.  Typically, we are all in different mindsets and are always growing as songwriters and people. I feel like our career is a journey, as we try to document that journey through song. I’m pretty relentless at finishing the record, and Stevie and I will work around the clock building this house. I don’t stop until it’s done. I think that is the key to making a record; if you come up the wall on a song you can’t get or can’t get something to pop, you have to move along to the next song. We didn’t take any leftover songs from the “Warpaint sessions for this record. When a song doesn’t make a Buckcherry record, it’s for a reason; they just weren’t good enough to be on a record. We have revisited songs, and they sometimes feel like they have old energy. We move forward and write another song. With that said, there are three songs from the “Hellbound” session that could be good enough to make it to the next Buckcherry CD. We will probably revisit those when it’s time. The songs on “Hellbound” are deep, and we will be out on the road for a while touring in support of it.

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

I really enjoyed listening to this album over and over from beginning to end. I thought all the songs fit together perfectly.

That what we want to hear; that is what we strive for. We wrote 28 songs for “Hellbound” to get to that place of having ten songs for the record that you just want to leave on.

I think Stevie was under-utilized in the past as he has shown he is a tremendous writer on “Warpaint” and “Hellbound.”

You are absolutely correct; he was underutilized. He is really talented not only as a guitarist but all around. When we produce demos, it’s all him. He does the drums, bass, guitar and handles all the programming; he does everything. He also did the keyboards and the harmonica on “Gun.” He sings well and handles all the background vocals. He and I made our first record together, “Josh Todd and the Conflict,” which was a great record and a labor of love. Then again, with “Warpaint” as we are now hitting full stride with “Hellbound.” Stevie and I have known each other since I was 19 years old. We were good friends before we did Buckcherry. We call him the “Filipino Nightmare” [laughing]!

What are one or two key attributes that you feel have carried Buckcherry through all the ups and downs of the music business and challenges the band faces on a daily basis?

It all comes down to passion! When we are faced with a lot of adversity, it makes us step back and get down to basics. I have to ask myself the same questions; Why did I start this? Why did I get into this? It’s the only thing that makes me consistently happy. The songs and music and always interesting to me. They always bring me joy. Whatever sacrifices come with it, I’m ready.

Buckcherry achieved some major success and have had some hard times. What would you say is the band’s darkest moment?

I won’t say the darkest moment. I would say the most challenging time was the hiatus between “Time Bomb” and “15.” Of course, this time has been the most challenging during the pandemic. We never experienced anything like this before. Our livelihood was completely stripped out from underneath us. Not only us but so many bands as well. We had a whole year of touring booked, and when you are in the rock game, most of the money comes from touring and merchandise. There is not a lot of other income, and that’s fucked us up. That part of it was really brutal. Having to figure out what we were going to focus on, not knowing how long this was going to play out. All that uncertainly was challenging. I think those two points in time and peaks and valleys of Buckcherry were definitely the hardest.

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

It’s good to see America being vaccinated and restrictions slowly being lifted. I’ve been vaccinated and look forward to getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

I have been vaccinated as well, along with the band and crew. We are ready to go. It’s important to do your part even if you fucking don’t believe in it; it’s more about the overall greater good. I wish everyone would get a line on that front.

When the band first started, you did more shows opening for a big-name artist like AC/DC, lately, you have been mainly doing headlining shows in clubs and theaters. Which do you prefer?

We opened for AC/DC for four shows. We would go from an arena stage to clubs, then big festival stages to theaters. That’s just the way it has been for this band year after year. You have to make adjustments for different territories. You may go to Europe and not be as big as you are in the UK, so the stages in Europe get smaller or vice versa. We have the same philosophy when we get on stage. We want to give people their money’s worth; that’s it! We want to be unforgettable! It doesn’t matter if it is 100 or 100,000 people. It’s all the same; we are going to come out and fucking destroy! That’s the mentality you have to have. Sometimes those smaller shows are harder compared to when you play to 20,000 people who are drunk, primed, and ready to fucking party; that’s a no-brainer. When you are playing to a 500 capacity show, the PA kind of sucks; you have to tell yourself, let’s not worry about it and to go out there and kill it. 

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

What was it like opening up for AC/DC?

That was total Rock & Roll fantasy come true for us. We have been out with so many big bands, and not all of them treat you well, but that’s alright because this rock game is very strange sometimes. Sometimes you meet your heroes only to find out they are just not the people you think they are. AC/DC were a bunch of super humble, sweet guys. They allowed us full capacity of their PA, which doesn’t happen with headliners when you are in the arena setting; they squash the opening band by not allowing you to have so many decibels. They want to sound bigger and better when they come out. That’s standard “Arena Rock 101,” but AC/DC was like, do whatever you want, have a good time, and rock! The whole crew was super supportive to us as well. After the last show, we really wanted to meet the guys in the band; they knew that was coming [laughing]. They had us come to Angus‘s dressing room, and all five of them showed up. We were sitting on the couch, Angus‘s wife made us hot tea, I’m sitting next to Angus shooting the shit about this rock game. Brian Johnson is walking around telling jokes; they were fine with us getting some photos too. We were like, “Oh my God, I can die now; this is amazing!” That was a special moment for us, and I hope we get to play with them again in the future.

When you were working with Velvet Revolver at the very beginning, were you involved in writing lyrics for the songs that appeared on the first record?

I was there way early, pre-Velvet Revolver. We were like a band for a month, and it just fizzled out. Velvet Revolver came way after my involvement. We did write a few songs together, but they never materialized.

Do you still have those demos? I bet they are really good.

I don’t have them. I like to write a lot of songs for a record, so this was only a handful of songs where we were just feeling each other out. I don’t expect them to be that great. I haven’t thought about that for a long time.

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