Buckcherry - We Discuss The New Album Hellbound With Lead Singer Josh Todd, Summer 2021
Hellbound is the latest album from stellar American rockers Buckcherry – and it’s absolutely incredible! Working again with producer and co-writer Marti Frederiksen, the band’s ninth studio record delivers 10 tracks of the very best in hard rock. Filled with so many infectious riffs, the overall quality of Hellbound could easily be described as ‘the album that 70s Aerosmith would make today’. Whilst we may make comparisons to one of the best bands the world has ever seen, it’s important to recognise that Buckcherry have also continued to bring something entirely unique: hard rock that you can actually dance to. Hellbound will have you doing more than simply banging your head or tapping your foot. The supporting tour is already underway and we catch up with lead singer Josh Todd as the tour bus reaches Kansasville. It’s a beautiful day and Todd is in fine spirits. Brimming with optimism and casually sporting a camo hoodie, he is an absolute picture of health. As the stage is being set up our conversation begins...
Well we need to start with the new music. Buckcherry have just released your new and wholly outstanding album, Hellbound. It’s no exaggeration to say that every single track could be a single – that’s how strong this album is. So it’s Buckcherry’s 9th studio album and it’s been created of course during a time of crazy world events. Before we talk about specific tracks, the first question I would therefore like to ask is given lockdowns and other restrictions how did you approach the making of this album this time? Did you need to do anything differently?
That’s exactly what the Hellbound track is about! It’s about the first show I did when I was 15 in Orange County California at a house party. That whole song is about that night and how it changed the course of my life and my destiny. That was a big moment! I had to ask myself when I got the Hellbound music, I’m like ‘When did it all change for me?’ – and that was the moment. I was too young to play clubs so we could only play live at house parties. We got an older brother of one of the friends we knew, we pooled our money together and bought a keg of beer and we charged 3 bucks at the door. It was packed and people were drunk and there were fights! We did a few covers. The first song I sang life was Rock ‘n’ Roll by Led Zeppelin. But that was it – I just knew that this was all I wanted to do.
That sounds like an incredible first show! When you mention opening with a Led Zeppelin track, people being drunk, there being fights and the fact that you actually made money, even though you were only 15 the memories are clearly really fresh!
I remember it like it was yesterday! It was quite a night and something I’ll never forget. It’s something I’ll cherish, you know?
You’ve created the most beautiful and heartfelt ballad in the track The Way. I actually felt there was modern Beatles, and especially a John Lennon quality to this song – it’s a song I think The Beatles could have written if they were still together in 2021 - and it’s grows into something quite epic. Would you agree that this is a fair analogy to make?
Yeah, it’s our Hey Jude, for sure! That’s even what Stevie said to me. I had that song, just a verse and chorus written, all the melodies with nothing and I came into Stevie’s house and said “I’ve got this song, man, and we’ve got to find a tempo.” And so we just found a click, a tempo that was good with it and then I was singing it to him. We then found a key on the piano that was really good with my voice and I sad “I want this to be an epic!”. I wanted it to start in one place bombastically and move to a big rock crescendo, and Stevie was like “I hear it! I’ve got it!”. I wanted there to be piano in it so I just kind of gave him all my ideas and then I left. Stevie was going through a lot of the time, he had just lost his father so it was the perfect time to write a song like this. It’s a very emotional track. I came back and he goes “I want this to be like our Hey Jude” and I was like “Great!” and I asked him to play me the song. So he plays me the musical composition and he added this bridge music and then he had this whole outro bit where he came in with a guitar. The outro was a real departure from the chorus and I loved it! I was like “This is amazing man! You hit it out of the park!”. And so I went home and I finished the melodies to the bridge and the outro bit, and then I came in and recorded it and it’s like a really amazing BC track for sure! And it’s such a great moment live!
Oh, I can imagine! When the solo comes, it just stands out as the most amazing, most beautifully written, perfect solo. It’s just 100% captures the listener on an emotional level. Lyrically, with words such as ‘Regret the past and fear tomorrow’ the song The Way shows a huge vulnerability and you are really opening your soul. Do you have insecurities, either personally or as a band?
I have many insecurities, of course! I’ve had to do a lot of work on myself. I’ve had a lot of childhood trauma and I’ve had a lot of stuff. I’ve been sober from drugs and alcohol for going on 27 years now. So I’ve had to go back and… I’m a flawed individual! I’ve made mistakes in my life and I have to learn from my mistakes and it’s painful, you know? It’s painful to have to look at your past and become a better person. But at the end of the day it’s powerful and it makes you a better person and you get to new levels and feel great, you know! So 2020 was a very challenging and painful year at times, but it always makes for great songs. Now we are in 2021 and things are just amazing! You’ve got to just face your stuff and get through it and do whatever you can. Sometimes kicking and screaming!
It’s also a track that closes with you saying sorry for doing wrong, for fussing and fighting, and for not doing more. Just reflecting on your earlier comments, was this a difficult but perhaps important song you you to write?
Yeah, I mean it’s very personal to me and my relationship with my wife. We’ve been together 18 years and there’s a lot of stuff there, so there was definitely a lot of it personal. And also I take from the lives around me and I feel what they feel, you know? I try and write from that perspective. The challenge of songwriting and lyric writing is incorporating your personal life into a song in a way where you can really embrace it and want to sing it every night, and then also write in a way that a large group of people can relate to it. That’s the challenge. It’s something that I’ve worked on for years and years and years, And sometimes you’ve got to write a lot of bad songs to get to those songs where it’s just always working.
Before the album was released we were treated to the lead track So Hott, the video to which has already had nearly half a million views on You Tube which is incredible. Was there anyone in particular you were thinking about when you wrote that song?
No, I was just paying attention to what’s going on in the world and social media is just insane. It’s made our whole world a small town now. You don’t have to migrate to a big city to be a big superstar anymore. You could be a superstar sitting right in your living room or your bedroom and that’s kind of what the video is about. It’s about this girl who is going on social media and she sees all these other people having a crazy amount of followers and she’s like ‘I can do this!’, and she starts kind of putting on these sexy outfits and doing her thing with the camera and all of a sudden her followers are just going through the roof! And that’s what’s happening in society now! People are becoming their own type of celebrities just online. I took my youngest daughter, she wanted to see her favourite You Tubers perform at The Roxy in LA, and I’m like ‘Okay! If that’s where you wanna go we’ll go!’. We went there and it was sold out – it was nuts! And I was like ‘What is going on here? I don’t know any of these people!’. There’s like all these movements happening online that we don’t even know about. It’s pretty crazy! It’s definitely changed a lot.
Hellbound sees you working again with producer Marti Frederiksen. His incredible work with bands and artists such as Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Micky Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne and countless others suggests he is absolutely the man with the Midas touch. As you said, Marti did actually co-write some of the tracks but what did it mean to work with Marti again and how did he specifically influence the sound of Hellbound?
Marti, we really enjoyed him as a person, we get on with him really well and the best thing about Marti is that he really understands what is special about Buckcherry and he doesn’t want to mess with that. He just wants to make it better and to make it as great as it can be! That’s what we all want – we all want to make the best Buckcherry songs that we can make. It’s a real team effort and whenever we get in a room with him we are always bringing our ‘A’ game because we love him. He is super talented and he brings out the best in us as well. There’s always great songs that come out of those sessions and I told him “I don’t think I’m ever going to do another record without you!” and he was like “That’s fine with me!”. We get along really well!
They can expect their money’s worth really! We’re hitting on all cylinders right now and by the time we get there in November we will have a lot more shows under our belt. We are just very passionate about what we do and still to this day I get very nervous before I walk on stage because I care! I care about it a lot and I want to be as great as I can be, and everybody in this band has the same mentality. That being said, it’s always going to be an exciting rock show, I think. So we are looking forward to coming there - we always do. It’s going to be something to remember, for sure!