All Night Long
- the fifth album from Buckcherry
- is the vital sound of rock and roll endurance at its very best. It's not just rock, it is rock and roll. More than a decade after first establishing its good name with the popular eponymous 1999 debut effort, Buckcherry has created the band's most eclectic and impressive effort yet. All Night Long is a thoroughly rocking song cycle in the grand tradition of classic albums by the group's forefathers and now friends Aerosmith
As Buckcherry co-founder and guitarist Keith Nelson
comments, "I think we endure and evolve because we genuinely do this for the love of the music,
" he says, before adding, "all the by-products of loving the music - being rock stars, having nice cars and lots of toys - are pretty cool too, but that's not the motivating factor for us. The motivating factor for Buckcherry is that we all truly love being in a rock and roll band - specifically, in this rock and roll band - and that's the passion that drives everything else that we do.
While the band were having a few days off on their most recent leg of their current tour, Joe Matera
spoke to Keith Nelson
about the new album, flying the flag for old school rock and the importance of being business savvy rock stars in the 21st century.
UG: The creative process for the new album, All Night Long, endured a much lengthier time frame than on previous efforts, why was that?
Normally on previous records we would write a bunch of songs, and we would write for months until we felt we had a record. We'd write around 30 songs for a record. But this time, we just wrote a handful of songs, less than a whole record and then we went into the studio and just took our time with it all. We did just one song at a time, and if we didn't like what we were getting, then we would stop and change it up a little bit. Then when we had finished a song, we would go on and write some more. So all around, it was a totally different vibe for us. We had never worked like that before. We also did it at my home studio which gave us the luxury of doing it that way.
Do you normally write songs on an acoustic guitar or do they come from a band jam' perspective?
They come in all different ways. Sometimes Josh [Todd, vocalist] will have something simple on acoustic guitar that he'll pick out. Sometimes it could be a riff that the drummer and I have put together and sometimes I will write something to a drum machine. There is no set way that they come out.
All Night Long was produced by you and Marti Frederiksen. Does it help having Marti along side producing, especially when it comes to being objective during recording?
Yes it is nice to have that outside influence and as much as I like to think that I could do it all, it is nice to have somebody else to bounce stuff off and rely on. Marti is great with vocals and with lyrics and great with the whole band actually. So it was good having him around.
Is producing something you'd like to pursue further in future in a full-time capacity?
"If you want to be successful, you really need to educate yourself on the business."
Yes, I have actually bought a home in Los Angeles that has a studio in it and the whole idea is to eventually make records with other people. I am so happy to have been able to produce the last three records with this band. But I'll love working with other artists too.
Listening to the album, one thing I noticed, which was out of the norm, was the lack of profanities. Was that a result of Josh maturing as a lyricist and as a songwriter or was that an outcome from the publicized drama that occurred from the Crazy Bitch video shoot?
I would have to say it was neither of those reasons. I think Josh just really wanted to push himself and go beyond what he has already done. We have heard him say f-ck' a couple hundred times already, you know, so I think he wanted to find a different way to say something while retaining his edge and his anger and to communicate it that way.
I love the guitar tones on this album, so what guitars did use?
Over the last few years I have become the proud owner of a real 1959 Sunburst Les Paul which got a lot of use all over this record. Also when you're listening to the record, my rhythm guitar is on the left speaker and Stevie's on the right speaker. I like to have those two panned personality guitars coming out at you. And for guitar solos and other bits and pieces, they're more from the center. That is the template I like to work off within this two guitar band. I also used a 1957 Stratocaster for the cleaner kind of stuff and a handful of old Les Paul Juniors, a 1957 and a 1956 Tobacco Sunburst Junior which I used for slide on Liberty. For all the open tuned songs I used an original 1978 Zemaitis guitar.
To go back to your comment about panning guitars in the mix, that is a very old school approach to making records. Obviously the band are influenced by everything old school, so is that something you make sure you adhere to each time you make a record?
Yeah, but I do make records where we pile the guitars on and though it has a certain sonic impact it never really breathes enough for me. One of the things I was very conscious off on this record was making sure that the sounds were really good. I didn't want the guitars to be doubled, but to still sound big and huge. And in order to do that, you have to really take your time and dial in the right guitar with the right amp. So when you hear the chorus and it gets big, it is still one guitar in the left speaker and one guitar in the right speaker. And that is really giving it its full weight. I think the tendency now when people make records is to quadruple track guitars and they have all these slabs of guitars on there, like putting a Baritone guitar in there, but to me it sounds all like a thick, dense mass of distortion. I like it to be very tuneful, I want to hear every string ring and I want to be able to hear that we're using really good gear.
And what about amplifiers?
The amp I used the most on this record was a 1970 Hi-Watt GR-100. That was the amp I pretty much cut all the rhythm tracks with for this record.
Buckcherry have toured heavily over the past few years and have also toured with many of their own musical heroes. What is like to go on the road with guys that have played a major role in influencing you and your guitar playing?
It is like going to school every night! We've played with KISS, we've played with Aerosmith and AC/DC. Each night after our set, I quickly get off stage, get out of my gig clothes and go out front and watch them. I am a fan of music and I love it. And being able to see those showsyou know I have probably seen around 70 to 80 KISS shows so far just because we have toured with them twice. So it is just great man.
What has been the best advice some of these bands have imparted to you?
It is always about doing what you do and sticking to your guns and not letting critics bring you down if they don't like what you're doing. The guys in KISS for example, they get turned away from the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame and the critics always love to hate those guys. But they go out every night to a full arena of people and rock them for two hours with songs that they all know. So I don't think they're the fools, I think the critics are the fools. So they are always positive about doing what we're doing and not letting anyone discourage us. That is basically what I walk away from in the majority of those conversations.
You have certainly stuck to your guns, I mean since the success of the 15 album Buckcherry has become a full-time project again, how does that feel considering before 15 the band were non-existent?
"One of the things I was very conscious off on this record was making sure that the sounds were really good."
I feel we're very fortunate and I also feel that we have worked really, really hard at a time when nobody really wanted to know us. We couldn't get a record a deal, agents didn't want to represent us, managers didn't want to manage us, yet we still believed in what we were doing. We found people that believed in what we were doing too, which is how we found our attorney, our manager, our agent and all the people we're still in business with because they believed in what we were doing. And that is the reason why it has been successful coupled with the fact that we work really hard and play well over 200 shows a year. We're not afraid to work for it.
With all these experiences you have gone through in your career, if a young musician was to come to you for advice about working in this industry, what would you tell him or her?
Unfortunately when I got into this business I thought I was just going to play my guitar, write some songs and party all the time. And I quickly found out that if I wanted to be successful, I really needed to educate myself on the business. And when you start thinking that you know everything, then that is a huge mistake. So you really need to educate yourself on how it works and you have to make the best decisions you can for yourself.
Now that you have all matured into family men, and become business savvy, does performing a song such as Lit Up become difficult when trying to convey the song's subject matter with conviction?
It still feels great, but that song is always tongue in cheek. It wasn't like it we were advertising to go out and do cocaine. There is a story in there if you listen closely to what is going on. To me it is a great song and that song provided so many opportunities to us. It entertained so many people and really opened the door to a whole new world for us. I love playing it.
What new generation of guitar players are you currently listening to and who would you recommend to rock music fans and lovers of guitar music to check out?
I love what the guys in Airbourne are doing. They are one of my favorite bands. We actually got to do some shows with those guys in Japan last year and they were great. I also love Ray Toro from My Chemical Romance who I think has a real interesting style. My Chemical Romance kind of comes off as a glam-y kind of band or a Goth band, but if you listen to what Ray's playing, he's a rock and roll guitar player man. And I also love what Jack White does because I think Jack really has done the history lesson. He has assimilated all those old great players' styles, and so he really gets it and really delivers something that is genuine.
Interview by Joe Matera