"This fucking guy!" Josh Todd mutters to himself as veteran trainer Jerry 'The Jewish Bomber' (his business card logo is a pair of boxing gloves hanging from the Star of David) orders an extra set of push-ups during an exhaustive workout your average rock star isn’t likely to endure. Josh Todd, however, isn’t quite the norm. Here at the Ten Goose Boxing Gym in the Southern California city of Van Nuys, Josh pays regular visits for the kind of punishment that pays off with the stamina and physique a rock vocalist needs. During sessions of fast-paced mitt work in the ring, Jerry directs Josh’s fists to his open-gloved hands while relentlessly moving, keeping Josh quick on his feet. All the while, the impact of the punches sounds loudly. Then it’s on to the speed bags, followed by calisthenics...
Buckcherry: Get In The Ring
Buckcherry frontman Josh Todd takes us through his days as an addict, the fall and rise of his band, his love of boxing, and the unfortunate connection between alcohol and bad tattoos.
“I started to learn the workout and I just became obsessed with it,” Josh enthuses. “The cardio is great for my singing. It’s incredible. I put a lot out live, and it keeps me in shape so I can hit all my notes and keep my wind going.”
His interest is not entirely health-related, though, he’s a boxing fan too. “I go to a lot of pro fights. I know a lot of the boxing trainers, like Freddie Roach – he loves our band. We always get him records and T-shirts. He trains Manny Pacquiao, who’s the biggest fighter in the world right now. He’s got titles in like six weight divisions, and he’s cool. Professional boxers are the nicest guys you’d ever meet. I’ve hung out with a lot of musicians, that’s my whole life, so I like to go and spend some time away from all that, keep it fresh, y’know?”
Josh admits that his celebrity status does little to protect him in actual ring fights. “The last time I sparred was with this little young kid, and he got the best of me that day.” And of taking a beating he says: “It’s not fun! It doesn’t feel good. But all the training doesn’t mean a thing until you get into the ring when you actually have punches thrown at you with intent. It’s good in that regard to work on your skills, but it’s not fun getting hit. The point is to hit and not get hit.”
The singer and his band have dodged and taken many punches, in fact. Fifteen years sober, Josh recalls his life as an out-of-control addict.
“I was heavy into drug addiction and alcoholism,” he admits. “I smoked weed like cigarettes when I was getting high. I did a lot of coke, of course. At my worst I was passing out twice a day. I had alcohol poisoning, I was into crystal meth. It was a bad deal. I got arrested and had a DUI [Driving Under the Influence charge], so I had to take a drug and alcohol programme. I had this court-appointed figure, I guess she was like a probation officer. She and I had a lot of stuff in common in our personal lives, and she gave me 30 AA meetings on top of the ones I already had to do. That’s when I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this.’ My goal was to try to not drink or do drugs for a month. Then fuckin’ 15 years later... It was the best thing that happened to me. I still go to meetings, I sponsor people. When I’m home I go three times a week, at least.”
Another major factor in his decision to get clean was the birth of his first child. Now married with three, Josh is proud to be "a great father. I love my kids. When I'm not on stage I spend a lot of time with my family. That's really important. I got my three kids' names tattooed on me - my daughters Willow and Sutherland, and my son Jack, who I just got on my neck."
Todd's body is a flesh canvas for tattoo art, which is continuously being added. The first piece of the dramatic body montage, started years ago on his left forearm, is surprising. “It was a fucking stupid decision. I was all fucked up and I just picked something off-the-wall. It was Betty Boop. Later I got it covered up with just some waves and water and shit.”
With Buckcherry’s latest record, All Night Long, the band’s tradition of catchy, anthemic rock continues undiminished. Not bad for a band that had been defunct just a few years before. As Josh reveals, in 2001 “three of the original line-up band members had quit and it was just [guitarist] Keith Nelson and I holding up the fort. Then the GN’R band [the original inception of ‘the Project’, later to become Velvet Revolver] came along, and Keith and I were in that for about a month and then that kinda dissolved. I think Slash had an idea of who he wanted in the band and it wasn’t me. Then we just couldn’t get a band goin’. After that, Dreamworks dropped us.”
Being dropped from a major label is the kiss of death for most bands. When Buckcherry went on to find even greater success on an indie, it was a case of the phoenix rising from the ashes. “It’s one of the best rock’n’roll stories in the last 10 years!” Josh says, “and nobody’s talking about it. Are you kidding me? We sold one-and-a-half million, and no one saw that happen to a band that no one cared about and no one would sign? The best form of revenge is success, and everybody had written us off. ”
Delivering blows in the form of strong songs, Buckcherry kept jabbing, always looking for the knockout. “I don’t really understand the mentality of not wanting to have a really huge fan base. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I figure the best way to do that is to write hits, and they’re not easy to come by. We just try our best.”
Even in the unlikely case that All Night Long fails to yield any hits, Buckcherry’s trademark lyrical gimmickry on such tracks as It’s A Party seem perfect for an array of possible licensing opportunities. When you’ve been down and out, success is sweet no matter how it’s earned.
“We always had a philosophy: hard work and perseverance pays off; believe in what you do. When we started, everybody was laughing at us. There’s a lot of people laughing at us now, but we still keep selling records and touring the world and having a career. That’s all that matters. With Buckcherry you either love us or hate us. So we got that mentality going out every night that we’re one against the world – the same way I look at getting in the ring.”
DID YOU KNOW...
Buckcherry is a play on the name Chuck Berry.
The band were sued by a girl who appeared in the video for Crazy Bitch. It was claimed she was under age, and not only had alcohol, but also participated in some lewd activities. The video was removed from circulation.
The Buckcherry song Wherever I Go is on the soundtrack to the movie Avengers Assemble.
Current bassist Kelly LeMieux is on the Dave Mustaine solo project MD.45.
The band's original name was... Sparrow.