Interviewed: August 12, 2013
By: Joseph Suto
Buckcherry are one of the hardest working bands out on the live circuit today. Their relentless touring schedule along with their ability to never play the same show twice has earned them praise from both critics and fans alike. They also managed to put out some very good records and their latest release Confessions is no exception. We recently sat down with guitarist Keith Nelson and asked him about a variety of things.
Rock Show Critique: Confessions is the latest album, how do you compare it to the rest of the Buckcherry catalog?
Keith Nelson: Well its the first time we’ve ever tackled a theme on a record. As far as the seven deadly sins and also using it as a vehicle to tell the story about some events early on in Josh’s life that he had written a screenplay for. I think we stopped short of calling it a concept record but it’s definitely got a theme to it and it’s definitely got a story behind it.
RSC: You guys are road warriors in the truest sense as it seems you are always out on the road, what do you do to wind down once you are home?
KN: Really simple stuff. Our lives can get really, really chaotic so being home is really a time to relax and unwind, enjoy our families, work on new music. We all have our hobbies that we do. Josh is into boxing. Stevie’s into photography. Jimmy’s into all kinds of stuff cars, boats and things of that nature. Xavier and I do a lot of motorcycle stuff. So we all have our thing that we do.
RSC: When choosing a set list how do you guys agree on it with six albums worth of material now?
KN: Ya you know what we do, we talk about everything, certain songs we want to play and then we kind of throw them all in a bag and leave it up to Josh to kind of assemble a set list. Josh has been really, really good with putting songs in order when we make a record, putting together set lists and if you’ve seen multiple shows from us you’ll know we play different songs every night. He’s really good about taking our suggestions and putting them into a set list.
RSC: Take us back when you finished Time Bomb. You went on hiatus, Josh did a solo disc. Did you know at that point you would eventually resurrect the band and what did you actually do during the down time?
KN: I think we knew that it would resurrect. I didn’t necessarily close the door on it. We’ve been through so much at that point that a break was definitely in order. I worked at recording studios in L.A. doing grunt work, renting my collection of gear out to studios. Doing whatever I had to do to keep the lights on and pay the bills. We didn’t make any kind of real money to speak of on that first run for the first two records. That was a chance for me to figure out some priorities in my life and get some really invaluable experience working in a recording studio with different producers and different bands and just learning everything I could. Which I feel ultimately put me in a kind of place where I was ready to start producing records and do that on my own.
RSC: Did you feel that it helped when you got back together for 15?
KN: Yeah it’s funny you don’t really think about it at the time like this is gonna help me later, whether its high school algebra or taking your lumps by having your band fall apart. But looking back now all those things were really important because there was a lesson to be learned there and skills to be learned there and people to meet that way. So I wouldn’t really trade the experience for anything even though at the time it kind of sucked.
RSC: Did you know once you were done recording 15 did you know you had a winner there?
KN: I knew we had really fuckin’ great songs. I knew that the band really made that record on its own terms. And that’s really all I knew. Nobody could predict the success of that band. I remember going into that process, well we couldn’t get a record deal based on our demos in the States. So we got a record deal in Japan. And I remember thinking maybe this record will come out in Japan and we’ll go over there twice a year and tour and I’ll go back to doing what I was doing. I had no expectations, no delusions of grandeur there whatsoever. We finished that record and we got in a van just like we did in 1996. We got in a van in 2005 and started all over again.
RSC: The album took right off.
KN: Yeah it was a twelve year overnight sensation. It was great.
RSC: You guys were successful with the first two albums maybe the change in music hurt you?
KN: I don’t know if it hurts us. I think that when it shifts away from rock n’ roll, this is survival of the fittest. We managed to stick around through relentless touring, by consistently turning out records that people like. The changes in the music business and the changes in what’s popular at this point, I don’t know if it matters to us. It has not affected what we do or how we do it.
RSC: Is there one show that kind of stands out that you look fondly back on?
KN: There’s been so many of them. We’ve been so fortunate in that we’ve been asked to support so many bands that we grew up listening to and idolizing. Whether it be Kiss, Aerosmith, Motley Crue or ZZ Top, so many great bands have asked us to go out with them on tour. In turn we actually struck up friendships with a lot of those guys. Playing Woodstock 99’ was really memorable it was quite a festive event. Playing with Aerosmith on New Year’s Eve at the Millennium in Osaka Japan for 60,000 people that was a very memorable evening and the list goes on and on and on. Opening for AC/DC at Madison Square Garden, I mean that doesn’t suck, ya know?
RSC: Is that the only time you played the Garden?
KN: We played with Lenny Kravitz and Kiss.
RSC: Are there any famous venues you look forward to playing that you haven’t?
KN: We haven’t played Red Rocks yet, we’d love to do that. We’re gonna do Rock In Rio this year which is incredible, something that we’ve always wanted to do. We’re gonna play Monsters of Rock this year in South America which is gonna be great. We got to play the Download Festival which used to be called Donington we got to do that twice, three times. So a lot of those dreams are coming true. There’s still a few left though, Saturday Night Live is something I always wanted to do.
RSC: Give me one band you listen to that may surprise Buckcherry fans?
KN: Well anyone that knows me knows my taste is pretty eclectic. There’s a band out of St. Louis that know one knows about and the world should know about their called The Bottle Rockets and their fronted by a guy name Brian Henneman. Brian’s one of my favorite songwriters I know that band has a revolving door and he keeps that band going. If you haven’t heard of the Bottle Rockets you should check them out.
Special thanks to Paul Gargano from Century Media Records for setting us up with the interview