Interview and Live Photos: Robert Cavuoto
Buckcherry released their eighth studio CD, Warpaint on March 8th via Century Media Records.
Warpaint shows Buckcherry returning to form with a stellar release that rivals their 2015 CD, 15 and their 2018 CD, Black Butterfly. The CD is packed with songs that offer big riffs and even bigger grooves like on “Bent” and “Devil in the Details.” The title track, “Warpaint” is a rousing anthem with a large dose of swagger. The band’s sound is tight and like every CD has songs built around Josh Todd’s unique vocals.
Earlier this year Buckcherry finished a six-week tour of the UK and Europe and started their North American in March. They have spent their entire career establishing themselves as an outstanding live band who is carrying the torch for Rock & Roll – living on the road, selling out major venues, and appearing on bills with some legendary bands. Warpaint and this tour will continue to fuel their reputation as a premier rock band. Buckcherry consists of vocalist John Todd, guitarists Stevie D and Kevin Roentgen, bassist Kelly LeMieux, and drummer Francis Ruiz.
I caught up with Stevie D. to talk about the creation of Warpaint, if the band feels re-energized with the long-awaited release, and the importance of being resilient in the Rock & Roll business.
Robert Cavuoto: Does the band feel re-energized with the release of Warpaint as it’s every bit as good as 15 and Black Butterfly?
Stevie D: Josh and I worked long and hard on this CD. We spent the better part of two years putting together 40 songs. We whittled down to 20 and down to the 11 that are on the CD. It’s the same Buckcherry but it does feel new, and that is in part to the new material which is connecting with audiences more than some of our previous CDs and the energy of the new members. The dynamic on a daily basis is different.
Robert Cavuoto: I took the title of the CD to be a battle cry; like a big FU to all the people who wrote the band off and didn’t think you guys would be able to deliver on this new CD?
Stevie D: It’s really up the listener to decide from their own interpretation. We have gone through some personal and professional stuff, so it was a way of suiting up, showing up, and facing some of the things we don’t want to face. It’s about courage even though you might have some level of fear on what to do next or what the outcome might be. It’s about showing up anywhere in any way.
Robert Cavuoto: You guys are so resilient to deal with so many obstacles like losing Keith, Xavier, Jimmy, and label changes. I have to believe it was overwhelming at times; how did you cope?
Stevie D: That’s very observant; we have gone through a lot of changes! It’s about wanting success a little more than we are willing to fail. People can settle for something they want, but there is a certain place we want to be. We want to be able to make music for a living and support our families. I’m not going to lie; it’s not easy being in a Rock & Roll band in this active rock band environment. We are resilient because there is no choice for us. This is what we want to do, and this is what we will do!
Robert Cavuoto: It was great to see you getting more songwriting credits, was it a challenge in the past getting your ideas heard?
Stevie D: [Laughing] Buckcherry is Josh and Keith’s baby. They started in 1996, and I didn’t join until 2005. I contributed when I could, and then later it became something different. It’s a welcome change, and I love to be a part of the songwriting process. I have worked my entire career at songwriting, guitar playing, and even singing. A lot of the guitar work fell into my lap on Warpaint. It’s good to be useful if you know what I mean.
Robert Cavuoto: Most Buckcherry riffs have a signature sound and style, something that tells you right away it’s Buckcherry even before you hear Josh’s voice. In your opinion what is that unique sound that you guys have?
Stevie D: It’s something that we are conscious of. We are direct descendants of AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, and even the Sex Pistols. If you keep that in mind while you are writing it’s something that comes naturally. Having played in Buckcherry for almost 20 years and growing up playing similar styles of music as the guys in the band; our musical histories are the same. When you sit down to write songs you can’t help but write that way. When you put Josh’s voice on it, it’s the signature Buckcherry sound. When he sings on something, you can’t help but think of Buckcherry.
Robert Cavuoto: You not only write great riffs, but the songs have infectious grooves. For example songs like “Bent” and “Devil in the Details.” How do you balance the riffs with the grooves yet giving Josh the space he needs to deliver the lyrical melody?
Stevie D: I think grooves are inherently natural to us. Josh and I love different styles of music besides rock, like R&B, soul, and funk. We were also influenced by many of the artists that came before us. That is where it all comes from. It’s our default.
Robert Cavuoto: What inspires you to keep such a heavy tour schedule?
Stevie D: It’s not easy. There was a time about three years ago when it was told to us we toured too much. The reality was that we built a great touring business when rock music was on the downslide and CD’s weren’t selling. What rock bands did was to tour more to make their money vs. rely on CD sales. We toured to the point where they felt we burnt out a lot of markets and it was suggested to us that we take a break. The last two years before Warpaint came out you didn’t see a lot of Buckcherry or Josh Todd and the Conflict touring. We were just fulfilling obligations. Josh and I started another band to keep working. When Warpaint came out, the response was overwhelming, and that allowed us to go out and tour like we are now. We are hitting it pretty hard. We hit the UK and Europe for six weeks now touring the states non-stop. We are striking while the iron is hot. We are working because we have been gone for a while and taking it while we can.
Robert Cavuoto: I’ve often wondered about the simplicity of many of band’s song titles as most are just one or two words?
Stevie D: That’s an astute observation, [laughing]. Josh likes the one-word song titles. I remember him saying that the songs of his favorite bands were always one word. That is why he does it.
Robert Cavuoto: You guys are really carrying the torch for Rock & Roll, and the fans know it. Are you content with the public’s perception of the band?
Stevie D: I’m not satisfied with it. Big business and radio put a lock on what rock music is. There are a lot of different styles on the radio and a lot more not on the radio. A handful of bands seem to get the lion’s share of the airwaves. That’s what ends up as the public’s perception of being on the fringe of rock music in America. In Europe and other places in the world, it is not like that; we’re a big rock band. But it is what is it; I show up and play for 500 or 50,000 people. I still love what I do, and I still believe in what we do. We are going to keep doing it as long as people show up and what to hear it.