116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Buckcherry went into 2020 ready to tour throughout the year, promoting the band’s 2019 release, “Warpaint.” The pandemic saw to it that the year was not going to go as planned.
Rather than just sitting around and watching one tour after another get pushed back and ultimately canceled, Buckcherry put the unexpected down time to work by making “Hell Bound,” the new studio album that arrived on June 25.
And the hard-rock band is headlining Buck Fest, on Aug. 5, 2021, at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque. The lineup also features Core, Not Quite Brothers and Jabber Box.
The decision to work on new music was just business as usual for frontman Josh Todd and the other members of Buckcherry. In Todd’s view, the group has never had the luxury to slack off on its work habits.
“When you’re in a band it’s like it’s your business. So if you just sit around and wait for people to tell you what to do, then you’re not running a good business,” Todd said in a recent phone interview.
“We’ve always created opportunities within ourselves. We have to make schedules, we have to stick to them. We have to show up and work hard. We’re so used to doing that because people have written this band off many times and we have many peaks and valleys in the Buckcherry career.
“We have come back from a lot of adversity and had a lot of success. And we only did that by believing in ourselves and working hard because no one else is going to do that except us.”
Todd is correct when he says his band has had plenty of ups and downs and probably wasn’t expected to still be around two-plus decades after Todd formed the group.
The first major obstacle came not long after the original edition of Buckcherry made a quick impact on the rock scene.
Formed in 1995 in Anaheim, Calif., the group hit big with its 1999 self-titled debut album, which went gold and generated a trio of hits: "Lit Up," "Check Your Head" and "For the Movies." But the 2001 follow-up, "Time Bomb," stiffed, and with internal issues worsening, Buckcherry broke up in 2002.
Todd then attempted a solo career before he and guitarist Keith Nelson reunited in 2005 and brought in three new musicians — guitarist Steve “Stevie D” Dacanay, bassist Jimmy Ashhurst (later replaced by current bassist Kelly Lemieux) and drummer Xavier Muriel — to form the second edition of Buckcherry.
This lineup made an emphatic debut with the 2006 album, "15." It featured the hit single "Crazy Bitch," which sold more than 1.2 million digital copies. Another single, "Sorry," then became Buckcherry's first Top 10 hit on Billboard magazine’s all-genre Hot 100 chart.
This second version of the group had a good run, releasing four more albums before running out of juice after the 2015 album, “Rock & Roll.”
Once again, Todd took a musical detour before refocusing on Buckcherry. He formed a new side group, Josh Todd & the Conflict, and released a debut album, “Year of the Tiger,” in fall 2017.
It was shortly after Todd’s album was released that Buckcherry parted ways with drummer Muriel and perhaps more significantly, guitarist Nelson — considering he was an original band member and Todd’s main songwriting collaborator. Those two musicians were replaced by guitarist Kevin Roentgen (who left the band last year to spend more time with family and was replaced by Jetboy guitarist Billy Rowe) and drummer Francis Ruiz.
Todd and Stevie D. got to work writing songs for “Hell Bound” once it became clear that tours would not happen in 2020. The duo amassed 22 tunes before deciding to reconnect and write with Marti Frederiksen, who produced Buckcherry’s fourth album, “Black Butterfly,” and co-wrote “Sorry,” among other songs. Things began with a writing session with Frederiksen.
“I thought we had a lot of great songs,’’ Todd said of the initial group of 22 tunes. “But we felt like we needed to really leave no stone unturned, and I’m really glad we did because the songs we wrote with Marti were really the cream of the crop.”
Todd is justifiably proud of “Hell Bound.” The album opens with three of the catchiest and hardest rocking songs Buckcherry has released — the punkish “54321,” the equally energetic, but more rock oriented “So Hott” and the title song, which has some AC/DC in its sound. The rest of the album is strong, as well. “No More Lies,” a rocker with some pop and funk accents, the swaggering rock of “Gun” and Junk” and the slow burning rocker “Wasting No More Time” provide additional high points.
Fans can expect Buckcherry to include a few new songs in their shows, but the band’s deep catalog means the group won’t go overboard in showcasing the new album.
“‘Hell Bound’ is so good that we all want to play every song,” Todd said. “But there are the usual suspects we always have got to play, like ‘Crazy Bitch,’ ‘Lit Up’ and ‘Sorry.’ Then we have eight other records, so it is challenging, but we do a pretty good job and we rotate songs every night. We have a lot of what I call frequent flyers, that come to multiple shows, so I think that’s nice for them as well.”
What also gave Todd reason for optimism going into the “Warpaint” project is he had already found his new songwriting partner in Buckcherry guitarist Stevie D. The two wrote the songs for the Josh Todd & the Conflict album and found they had a good chemistry.
Having a more stable lineup over the years would have been nice, Todd said, but he’s learned to roll with the punches.
“It’s certainly not the way I planned it. But it’s like the lineup changes were out of our control,” he said, noting that the latest lineup has a strong chemistry. “If people don’t want to work and they don’t want to be in a band, then that’s it. What are you going to do? You’re just going to go find somebody new and keep carrying on.”