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BUCKCHERRY – A Confessional
Anthony Morgan
February 2013

Buckcherry (l-r): Keith Nelson, Jimmy Ashhurst, Josh Todd, Xavier Muriel and
Stevie D.

Los Angeles, California-based hard rock outfit Buckcherry – had discussed the notion of authoring a full-length revolving around the seven sins for several years. Albeit a concept previously explored by other artists as well as movies, Buckcherry wished to present their own specific take on the subject. This would form the basis of February 2013 record Confessions, though the effort isn’t a concept album.

“It turned out to be a lot of fun,” Josh shares. “Originally we wanted to write seven songs for seven sins, like an EP. We needed an LP though, so we came up with the idea of doing seven sins and four elements. That’s where songs like ‘Air’ and ‘Water’ came from. At the time, I was writing a screenplay about my own life. Stevie (D) came into the studio one day – our other guitar player – and he said ‘Why don’t you write a short story film to go with the record?’ I condensed my life story down to a 30-minute film, and there’s a love interest in the film. That’s where songs like ‘The Truth’ and ‘Nothing Left But Tears’ came from. The record is just the soundtrack for the movie.

“It’s based on a teenage boy’s life. He comes home from school one day, and finds that his dad has committed suicide. That actually happened to me when I was ten years old. One of the songs on the album is about the day that it happened; it’s called ‘Sloth’, and it’s on the record. It was a pretty heavy piece that was really hard for me to get through. I think it was a turning point for me, because I blocked a lot of it out at the time. That was even though it never really affected me until later on when I became an adult – I was looking at my behaviour and stuff, and doing some internal work. I definitely started gravitating towards aggressive music after that point. I grew up in Orange County, California, so I was really into the punk rock movement at that time. It affected me, because I was very angry.

“The record’s awesome. This guy in the movie is an adolescent though; he’s a 17-year-old kid, and that’s where the film starts. Throughout the film he acts out the seven sins, and during that time he meets a girl who’s the polar opposite of him. He becomes infatuated with her. He learns how to forgive his father eventually, and then he gets the girl. All the actors involved aren’t known. I actually have a role in it as well; I play a Catholic priest. The director Billy Jayne is the same guy who directed the ‘Gluttony’ video, and the lead character is Gilby Stretcher. The ‘Gluttony’ video definitely gives you an insight into the character, but it’s not a scene in the movie.

“We’ve got a director, we have a cast, and we have locations, but we’re having a hard time with funding. When we started this whole thing, we didn’t know how much it’d cost to make a movie. It’s gonna cost $100,000. We’ve got lots of people we employ. We also have five guys in the band who have to live, so yeah, it’s a lot of money. It’s all new territory for us, so we’re still working on it. We’re gonna try to compliment it with a live performance DVD, maybe a five-camera shoot of a live show. We’ll package it up, and maybe release it towards the end of 2013.”

The frontman has come to terms with the untimely passing of his father. “I’m 40 years old,” he explains. “I’ve come to terms with it, yeah. That’s the reason I can talk about it. It’s my story, and everybody has a story. I just wanted to tell the story in a song, but the album isn’t all about that. There’s a lot of different kinds of moments on the record, but that’s one of them. I write all the lyrics on Buckcherry records. They’re all very personal to me, but the challenge for a songwriter is to take a little bit of everybody’s life and put it into a song, and your experiences and everything you go through. You can create something that a lot of different people relate to, and that’s the challenge. That’s why we picked the seven sins, because I think they affect everybody and everybody’s life. At some point everybody struggles with them, so I think a lot of people can relate to them. That’s why it was such a cool subject to tackle. I had a lot of fun as a lyric writer going through it, and trying to write the best melodies as well on top of it.

“It’s a beautiful journey this record, and it’s one of our best. The album is a great Buckcherry rock ’n’ roll record. It’s definitely a deeper subject. We’ve never had a theme for a record before going in like this, so it was out of the box for us. That’s why we had a lot of fun making it, and worked really hard on it. We wanted to make sure we made a record where even if you don’t want to invest in the storyline, you can still go out, get the record, and be happy with it. That was the goal, and I think we achieved it.

Josh identifies lust as the sin he has been the most guilty of through the years. “I’m male, and I’ve been playing in bands since I was 15,” he reasons. “There’s a lot of temptation, ladies and women around. You can get caught up in it, but it’s part of the gig. I had my fun with it at one time, but I’m married now. I’ve been settled down for awhile. I have three kids, so they keep me busy. The most important thing about being a father is showing up, and being there.”

Production duties once again fell to Keith as well as prolific songwriter Marti Frederiksen, as was the case for Black Butterfly (September 2008) and All Night Long (August 2010). “It’s just the way we’ve been doing it for awhile now,” the singer muses. “We have a good chemistry and it works, so we keep doing it. Marti oversees the arrangements and stuff, and Keith gets all the performances and gets the sounds. Marti’s very good with singers, so he works with me when I go in and record my vocals. We go through the arrangements together as well. We also co-write songs together with Marti.

“He’s very musically inclined; he’s co-written a ton of songs with a lot of artists. He really understands us and gets us, and we’re really comfortable writing with him. He’s cool, and I like the way he approaches stuff. He’s very subtle in his approach, but the changes that he makes really make a difference. Songs like ‘The Truth’ he had a big part in as far as melodies and stuff. ‘Lust’ was a big one. I can’t remember all the other ones he was involved with. He didn’t co-write very much on Confessions, just a few songs here on there like he did on 15 (October 2005), Black Butterfly, and All Night Long. Marti’s a good piece to the puzzle though.”

Graffiti artist Ewok designed Confessions’ front cover artwork. “Ewok’s this really good graffiti artist out of New York,” Josh compliments. “He did a great job. We wanted somebody who had never done any prior work in rock music to approach the artwork. He really hit it out of the park. We wanted something that would be cool, that you could get tattooed on you if you wanted. When you open up the record there’s this cool little piece with a seven and a cross, so it’s a really good symbol.”

Confessions was released in Europe on February 19th, 2013 via Eleven Seven Music, and on the same date in North America through Century Media Records.

Interview published in February 2013.