Believe in Rock ‘n’ Roll
Buckcherry was formed after Josh Todd met guitarist Keith Nelson through their tattoo artist after discovering a common love of AC/DC. The duo made a few demos before being joined by bassist Jonathan Brightman and drummer Devon Glenn. Buckcherry began performing the Hollywood club scene, receiving a strong, local following due to their old school Rock N' Roll vibe. Coming out during a time when rock music was dominated by post-grunge, nu-metal, and alternative rock, Buckcherry performed a sleazy Rock N' Roll that was more inspired by AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, and Black Crowes than Nirvana and Pearl Jam. On their debut record, they successfully trod heavy metal territory while managing to stay hard rock, while on Time Bomb, the band took their sleaze to an extreme with an excess of profanity and attitude.
HMA: Have you ever had any criticism from your lyrics?
Keith Nelson: Not that I'm aware of. I think that we have songs that definitely are sexual in nature. I think probably the one song you're referring to most specifically would be a song called ‘Crazy Bitch’. ‘Crazy Bitch’ really is not ... I mean, we've never had anybody accuse us of it being some sort of anti feminine song. It's really just entertainment. It's funny. It's ironic. So many women, I would say the majority of women, I would say all of the fans and this band are certainly in on the joke, and get it, embrace it, and have a good time with it. It's really meant to be light-hearted and not a statement of anything other than just something that's funny and entertaining. We are sons of amazing mothers. We have amazing women in our lives. We have daughters. It's not misogynist. If you watch our daily lives and the people that we are, there's nothing misogynist about it. It's very pro-equality, pro-woman. It's pretty simple. We're men, and we have our natural desires. Those desires are... Some men like men. We happen to like women. That's what we're attracted to. It creeps up in our songs.
HMA: When you're writing music, what inspires you?
KN: Anything can inspire. Current events of the day, memories of relationships gone past or people from our past, or our current situation, traveling none stop in a rock and roll band. All of that goes in there to inspire different things.
HMA: You latest released is titled “Rock n’ Roll”, I believe it was last year. Can you tell me a little bit about the album?
KN: Yeah, we had just come off of doing the EP, which is our first release on our own label. We really just wanted to get back to the bare bones, rock and rolled ness of what we were doing. There are so many people in the press talking about how rock and roll are dead, and rock is over. I think that we're all well aware of the fact that rock isn't the most commercially successful genre of music at the current time, especially in the United States. We're a rock and roll band, and it was just kind of our statement of we're here and we're not going anywhere. Rock 'n' Roll is alive and well.
HMA: Are there any songs in the album you feel particularly proud?
KN: I'm proud of everything on the record. There's some really... I think there's the what I think you would refer to as the typical Buckcherry songs. Loud, fast, loud guitars. Then I think there are some other moments on the record that are us pushing the envelope songs, like ‘The Feeling Never Dies’, and ‘Rain's Falling’, that show other sides of we're about and what our influences are.
HMA: ‘Rock 'n' Roll’ is full of love songs, strong love songs. What is your strongest love songs you've ever written?
KN: I mean, the most successful song… ‘Sorry’, but the one I think that means the most to me is a song called ‘Everything’. It's a different sounding song for us. It happened very organically, you know. I came up with the music and Josh came up with the lyrics pretty quickly. To me, it's the perfect mixture of everything that we're about. It has incredible lyrics, great melodies, really catchy music. It's the one that is most satisfying to me.
HMA: I just want to know from someone that is there for the music, that writes songs. That faces the world every day with your music, with your lyrics, when you do concerts. I just want to know what kind of relationship you have, or fans have perhaps... There are discussions about love, gender, music. All of that. How does that come together?
KN: This band I think really stays out of the political arena. We certainly stay out of judgment. We accept all people of all genders. Even if it's multiple genders in the same human body. All religions, all colors. We're really just about having a good time and hosting the party for people without judgment and without any kind of preconceived notion about what anybody should be doing. We all make our personal choices how to live our lives, but we don't judge anyone for their choices. They're all welcomed. Everyone's welcome.
HMA: That's what Rock 'n' Roll is about at the end of the day.
KN: I think so, but rock 'n' roll from its inception, has been about rebellion, has been about youth, and has been about the marriage of sex and music. The term rock 'n' roll, if you go back into your history books was actually a term for, in the 40s and 50s, was actually a term that referred to teenagers having sex in a vehicle, in an automobile. Then a DJ in the United States, named Alan Freed, termed the new music that was coming out rock 'n' roll. Since that time, it's always been about youth and rebellion. Some people call it punk, some people call it alternative, some people call it heavy metal, but it's all rock 'n' roll.
HMA: Where do you think Rock 'n' Roll is going?
KN: I think it's still there. I think it's still alive and well. I think it's really becoming a specialty now. There was a time in the 80s and 90s, well even going back to the 70s, when Rock 'n' Roll was everything. It was the biggest art form of music. Certainly commercially. I think that pop and hip hop is kind of commercially overtaking it, but I think that there's still a very, very vital core audience of people that are into rock, and love rock, and make rock. It's definitely alive and kicking. I don't know what the future is. I can tell you that our audience still runs the gamut of the age range. From people that were around for our first record, to teenagers that are just hearing it for the first time. Young kids showing up in their Led Zeppelin and AC/DC t-shirts that go out and buy guitars and start bands, and go into their garages and learn their instruments. That's really refreshing. That wasn't really going on a lot in the 90s. It felt like there was a definite shift towards electronic. We were definitely wondering are kids going to be buying guitars and playing drums? But, I think it's alive and well.
HMA: For me, it never went away. Yes, in the 90s it was a bit odd. I mean, living in London, it seems like London offers all sorts of things. To me, rock 'n' roll and metal never really went away.
KN: I'm a believer.
HMA: How's the tour with Steel Panther?
KN: We have toured with those guys before, and we know them. They're great guys, great band. Their show and what they do is really something unique. It's completely entertaining. It's going to be a lot of fun. People are coming out. People are buying the records. People are streaming songs. People are buying t-shirts. They're buying tickets.
HMA: Like the other genres that you mentioned, like electronic and hip hop. I'm not expert of hip hop, but I know electronic music quite well. The feelings that you have at a rock concert, at a metal concert, is no way near what you get in a rave or in a hip hop concert. The emotions are far more strong in my opinion, and from my experience as well.
KN: Well, I think that you make more of an emotional connection to the people actually making the music when it comes to something like a rock band. I think there's room for all those genres of music. I'm actually a fan of people in all those genres. The music I choose to make, the music that moves me, is Rock 'n' Roll.
Interview by Alex Milazzo - Copyright 2017 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.