Buckcherry’s Josh Todd Reflects on 10 Years of ’15’ Album, Talks Anniversary Tour + Reissue
After breaking big with 1999's self-titled debut and holding serve with 2001's Time Bomb album, big changes were in store for Buckcherry. Three of the band's members exited the group, leaving singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson in a state of transition. The two rockers joined Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum for what would eventually go on to become Velvet Revolver at a Randy Castillo tribute show and while there was a brief dalliance with that future band, they eventually returned to Buckcherry, filling out the lineup and recording new music after some time away and without a label in place. That disc would be the 15 album, the most successful release of their career.
To mark the 10-year anniversary of the album's release, Buckcherry are playing the disc from front-to-back at shows and they've launched a special PledgeMusic campaign to support the expanded reissue of the album. We recently spoke with singer Josh Todd about the 15 album and everything planned around its 10-year anniversary. Check out the chat below:
I know it was a transitional time for you in the band. No record deal, no money, a couple of new guys in the band. Can you talk about your thoughts about where the band was at going into the 15 album?
Well as you said we had a hiatus there, and what a lot of people don't know is that after the Time Bomb record, which was our second record, three of the guys had quit, so it was Keith and I just kind of holding fort, you know we're trying to find some guys but everybody thought we had a lot of money to pay them, but we had nothing. So, Keith and I kinda rekindled our relationship and we had these three guys in line that we knew and they were longtime friends of ours and I just said hey. I gave them a list of some Buckcherry songs, then I just set up a rehearsal and we went there and we all got together and jammed and it was like, I don't think any of us left there without a smile on our face. We were like, we just had a really good time. I think all of us at that point in time, we had all been in bands and then through a lot of stuff in the music business and so, we were all collectively in the same place so it was just a lot of fun, again, you know and, and so I just said, "Hey, you know, you guys want to start working? Come here on Wednesday," or something, I forget what day, and we brought the studio in. Everybody showed up and we just started writing, you know, like five days a week for the 15 record.
Do you remember a track that kicked this off and got the ball rolling, in terms of the writing?
I think one of the songs we wrote, I want to say was like, "Sunshine." It was something really easy, and a four on the floor rock song. We wrote something like that but then we just start writing and you know, writing and rewriting, and writing and rewriting, we wrote the record pretty fast.
You can obviously look back in hindsight now and say, "Wow that was a huge album and it had lots of success." But at the time, did you sense that you had something special on your hands with 15?
You know what, there are so many separate great stories about the record. So, no. We didn't know what we had because everybody had kind of written us off from the industry. No one would sign the record in the United States. We got a small deal from Japan and we made the record with the money that we got from Japan. That's why we titled it 15 because we literally recorded it in 15 days. We had a very small budget. So then we had the finished record and no one would sign it in the United States. They all said we couldn't sell rock records, that we were "has beens," all this bulls--t right. So my manager at the time said, "F--k it, I'll start an independent label, and put this out on the independent label. Let's just get it out." And so Eleven Seven was basically just started on the first, on the Buckcherry 15 record, and then we had this upstreaming clause with Atlantic, and as soon as "Crazy Bitch" took off of course Atlantic wanted the record at that point. But it's just so funny how backwards it kind of rolled out.
We were all in a place where we were just kind of like, you know, having this blind faith that it was going to work out. We just really believed in ourselves and we had to because, we all had families and stuff that we had to show up for financially and we had to kinda give up our day jobs to roll the dice on Buckcherry again, you know. So, it was pretty crazy.
In a sense, this album was bookended with one huge song at the beginning and one huge song at the end of the run. I'll start with "Crazy Bitch." Did you ever expect the response for that?
There's such a great history with "Crazy Bitch." Because, go back to like, the Time Bomb tour is over, three of the band members had quit. It's just Keith and I. It was Keith and I at the beginning before we formed the first Buckcherry lineup, so we started writing on a 4 track in my apartment, in my bedroom we just we wrote to like a drum machine and that's when we found out we had some songwriting chemistry and then we started the band. So, here goes, it comes full circle, after Time Bomb was just sitting there and Keith was like, "Well what do we do now?" and I'm like, "Let's just start writing for the third Buckcherry record. We don't need the other band members. You can play bass and guitar and we'll write the songs and then we'll just have, you know, find some drummer friends of ours to come down and lay down tracks and so that's what we did, and we created these demos and one of the songs in these demos was "Crazy Bitch."
So that song has been sitting around for a little over three years before it got on the 15 record and it was kind of an afterthought. After we'd written a bunch of songs for 15, Keith's like, "We should really revisit 'Crazy Bitch' and do something with it." And I said okay. But at the time you know, "Crazy Bitch" was so chorus heavy. It's still chorus heavy, the finished product, but it had more choruses before that, and I said we gotta come up with a great midsection and we gotta kinda tie the song together a little better. And so we did that and we just thought it would be like a great record song for our fans and it would be fun to play live.
The funny part is back when we had the demo, we played it for a pretty well known producer, who I won't say the name, and he listened to it, and he was like, "It's a good song, but you're going to have to change the lyrics." And, I said, "Change the lyrics? That would ruin the whole song." I go, "We're not doing that," so, that was it. I just didn't ever think about the song again, you know.
Thank God Keith said something about it because, you know, we were all ready to go with "Next Year" as our first single and "Crazy Bitch" started taking off online. Like all these people were listening to it. We had like over almost a million people listen to it, on my MySpace account, as we were doing MySpace back then. And then radio stations started playing the song on their own. They would do these clean edits of it, and started playing it on their own. And we're like, "We better jump on this song because it's taken off virally on its own, you know. So we shifted gears and did a video for "Crazy Bitch" and thank God we did cause that song really changed the course of everything.
Your band up to that point had really been known for the rock songs, the rock anthems and then you get a song like "Sorry," a more straight-ahead rock ballad. Talk about that song and what that meant in terms of laying things out for you.
Yeah you know, we always had ballads on every record, and it happened on the first record with "For the Movies" and "Check Your Head" and so. It's so funny we've had seven records and only two of them have really been promoted right on radio. We had a success with "Crazy Bitch." We had a couple silver singles in there and "Next Year" and everything and then Atlantic was ready to just ... they were happy and they wanted to move on. We had to really push them to give us the budget to put out "Sorry" and I'm so glad we did because I think it surpassed "Crazy Bitch" at that time.
You're getting ready to take this on the road, do the 15 tour. We know "Crazy Bitch" is going to be a favorite, but is there maybe a deeper album track that you are looking forward to see how it goes over live?
Well we've already started doing it, we just did three shows, with the 15 set and the thing that I that I noticed was that like, "Wow this is a really great record." You know, we haven't played it in its entirety for a while and I was like, I was just thinking, as a whole, with all the songs, it's just a really great record. So, the songs that have been fun to play that we haven't played in a long time are "Brooklyn" and "Carousel," you know those type of songs are going over really good.
You're playing shows with Candlebox and Sons of Texas on this run. What is your history with both bands?
I don't know if we did a proper tour with Candlebox, but we did a lot of festivals with them back in the day, and they're all super nice guys and they put on a great live show and they kind of came up around the same time we started so there's a history there. And Sons of Texas are these brothers from Texas that they have this great rock band they're super nice people and, you know, they're a great live band. We always want to align ourselves with great live acts and nice people, most of all, because you know, you have to go out there and around each other day in and day out. It's important to have people who are cool who work with your band and your crew really well. Those guys are awesome.
You've got a Pledgemusic campaign out there for 15. There's going to be new additions with some bonus material. Anything you can clue us in on that we can expect on the 15 edition that's gonna be coming out?
I went in there and recorded a couple of songs acoustically with Keith. Some songs you wouldn't think would be good broken down. We did "Onset" and "Broken Glass" acoustic and it's so cool. So those will be added tracks on that record.
You're getting a chance to release this on vinyl for the first time. Your thoughts on getting a chance to put this down on that format?
It's really cool and it's cool that there's vinyl businesses growing again. People are really into it. I see, sometimes, I see it at Urban Outfitters who are selling little phonographs, vinyl players. I just think that's so rad. It's neat. I'm glad we get an opportunity to do that.
I wanted to ask about Kelly LeMieux. I saw one of the items that's on the PledgeMusic campaign is a "F--k Cancer" t-shirt, raising funds after he was diagnosed with AML. If you can talk about how Kelly is doing these days and the decision to add that into the bundle.
We love Kelly so much and it was very sudden and crazy. We were out on the road, and not to get into too much detail, but he had a really bad month before he got diagnosed. We were like, "Kelly you have to go to the doctor or something." We had no idea it was something like that. The guy has really been touring and doing stuff with this starting in his body and we didn't even know, and he didn't know of course. So thank God he got in there. He has a great doctor. They already told him he's in remission but he had to do two more treatments before he can actually get back out in society. So he's getting really close to coming back and I would say conservatively, maybe a few months.
For the 15 album, one of the things that's always impressed me about your band is the work ethic. You guys haven't slowed down at all since this 15 album came out. You've had this incredible run of shows and live support and barely any breaks between recording. Can you talk about how you approach things?
You know, our dream was to be working musicians -- guys that made their living with music. That was the ultimate goal. Banging it out in your rehearsal room, promoting shows and you're hustling. We had two records out, we had a taste of success and then it went away. So when we got it back, it was like, "We're not stopping. We're gonna keep this house, this structure filled. We're gonna keep building this house until we can't do it anymore." That was our mentality, we just wanted to hold onto it and not let it go.
The last few years you had the F--k EP, the Rock and Roll album. You've taken control of your career and done even more stuff like the subscription covers service. Now you've got this tour and revisiting 15. I know you're always thinking 2 or 3 steps ahead. What's on the horizon, beyond the 15 tour?
We put out a record last year, Rock and Roll and that was a great record. Then the 15 ten year anniversary came up so we're doing that now. We're already starting to write songs for an eighth LP, which is crazy. We'll probably put that out in the new year sometime, we don't have a set date. The material isn't completely together yet but that's what we're thinking now. Right now we're just concentrating on pulling these songs off live really great every night.
Our thanks to Buckcherry's Josh Todd for the interview. Be sure to catch the band on tour at these stops. And check out the variety of incentives you can pick up at the Buckcherry Pledgemusic campaign for the re-release of the '15' album here.
Buckcherry, "Crazy Bitch"
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