Buckcherry: 'I Think Critics Are Fools'

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.

Buckcherry: 'I Think Critics Are Fools'
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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, AC/DC and Kiss. 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? Keith Nelson: 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.

"If you want to be successful, you really need to educate yourself on the business."

Is producing something you'd like to pursue further in future in a full-time capacity? 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.

"One of the things I was very conscious off on this record was making sure that the sounds were really good."

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? 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 Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2010

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    Ashland112
    Too Drunk is a pretty catchy song I'll admit. Lyrically they are pretty cliche but they know what they do best and they do it well.
    emphaticleech
    Regression wrote: emphaticleech wrote: MaxtheMetalhead wrote: Though I don't like their music, I'm glad their true to their music, that they're not in it for the money or fame. LOLWUT?! Didn't hear about the torrent shit they got into, didja? Publicity stunt to sell more records. Of course they're in it for the money. Any band SIGNED to a MAJOR LABEL is lying if they say otherwise. Nobody is in music for the money. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard and people always insist on saying it. If you want money you go be a doctor or a lawyer or a pilot, you don't become a musician.
    You're so naive. Even KISS has said they're in it for the "money and chicks". If musicians didn't want money, they wouldn't sign to a major label or take any of the money they make off albums and tours and buy extravagant cars, houses, etc.
    Rick_Diculous
    mr gOiD wrote: Let me know when they release a song that isnt one 100% cliche and ego-flaunting.
    +1
    DoteStudios
    Although I agree that critics are pretty useless sometimes, especially with movies, but Buckcherry was never that good anyways. "Lit Up" is alright ...
    limpidgreen345
    It is always about doing what you do and sticking to your guns and not letting critics bring you down if they dont like what youre 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 dont think theyre the fools, I think the critics are the fools.
    I thought from the title that he was whining about how everyone who doesn't like his music is a dumbass or something moronic like that... but instead it seems he's just trying to say that you shouldn't get all worked up when some guy doesn't like your music as long as your fans like it. Here's a fantastic example of that principle at work: I hate Buckcherry's music because I think it's garbage. They don't care. They don't need me, I don't need them, their fans still like them regardless, and we're all happy. See, that wasn't so hard.
    DayTauntRocks
    Criticism is justified with a group like this in my opinion and here's why... Buckcherry is unoriginal, uninspiring, mindless music in my opinion. They are clones, simply mirroring the success of bands that preceeded them and riding the coat tails of those bands to the top. Are they talented musicians? Possibly, I've never heard anything from them that would suggest they are anything more than mediocre at best. My biggest beef with them though is Josh Todd. Just an absolutely pathetic lyricist in my opinion. Time and time again he just takes the path of least resistance and churns out one sex rock tune after another. Why? Probably because it's damn hard to write a meaningful, insightful, passionate song that still rocks. Maybe he has nothing to say (idiot), or maybe he doesn't even try. Either way, his lyrics are ridiculously poor. Back in the 70's and 80's things were different, but now, I demand more from my music than the mindless drivel Todd cranks out. I wish so badly these copy cat clones would just go away. What bothers me even more than the band is how many people actually like this stuff. That says bad things about our culture in my opinion.
    emphaticleech
    Critics aren't fools, they just cater to a large group of people (such as myself) who is tired of all the boring generic crap coming out. That's why bands such as the Flaming Lips, Wilco, the Reverend Horton Heat, many many more bands that ARE mainstream, just not overly-popular... get great reviews almost every album. They push the envelope, try something new. Not just cater to the status quo of music, which now, seems to either be metalcore or crappy generic Aerosmith/Zeppelin knock offs.
    Lion_Slicer
    Don't really like Buckcherry, just seems like your typical pure testosterone-fueled rock n roll... perfect for some but not why I listen to music. But respect for doing what they love, and **** the critics. Best "rock" band today... Queens of the Stone Age.
    Regression
    emphaticleech wrote: MaxtheMetalhead wrote: Though I don't like their music, I'm glad their true to their music, that they're not in it for the money or fame. LOLWUT?! Didn't hear about the torrent shit they got into, didja? Publicity stunt to sell more records. Of course they're in it for the money. Any band SIGNED to a MAJOR LABEL is lying if they say otherwise.
    Nobody is in music for the money. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard and people always insist on saying it. If you want money you go be a doctor or a lawyer or a pilot, you don't become a musician.
    lutfish
    They are what's wrong with the musicindustry today. And they do suck big time.
    cooljew
    RetroGunslinger wrote: Axim Bassist wrote: No wonder I hate these guys...look who their heros are... I hate kiss I hate AC/DC and I hate Aerosmith. I hate YOU!
    my thoughts exactly
    MaxtheMetalhead
    Though I don't like their music, I'm glad their true to their music, that they're not in it for the money or fame.
    pwninator123
    I like that he actually gives Ray Toro a respectful shout out, that guy gets a lot more crap than he deserves. Besides that, they're a pretty normal band...and nothing else.
    Say Goodnight
    Pretty nice interview. I seent these guys live once, and the singer went on an almost 30 minute rant about cocaine. I was just like "srsly?"
    emphaticleech
    MaxtheMetalhead wrote: Though I don't like their music, I'm glad their true to their music, that they're not in it for the money or fame.
    LOLWUT?! Didn't hear about the torrent shit they got into, didja? Publicity stunt to sell more records. Of course they're in it for the money. Any band SIGNED to a MAJOR LABEL is lying if they say otherwise.
    emphaticleech
    slaveskinJACKET wrote: Also, when they came out, the whole rock thing was pretty stale. They were a shining light of hope that decent rock n' roll could still be written, even if that light kind of fizzled out after their first album. But then, by the time they re-grouped and wrote their third album, they had to earn their success again, and they put out a pretty damn good album, by today's standards. Sure, if you compare them to classics like Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, and the like, they don't seem like much, but in today's rock-free environment, it really doesn't get very much better than Buckcherry.
    Say, what? You're telling me rock was stale in the 90s just because the mainstream wasn't littered with generic garbage like this, GnR and Aerosmith? Paw. Even if that were true, we still had bands like Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, Green Day had just released Nimrod in '97 which was an incredible album in their own right... But underneath the drab of radio we still had bands like Flaming Lips, Wilco, The Living End, and many many many more bringing great rock music (and even a bunch of experimental, county, alternative, noise, etc) to the world. Saying that rock was 'stale' then or that rock is 'just coming back' now is ignorant.
    shred_wizzard
    Tag43 wrote: ifc69 wrote: Buckcherry: 'I Think Critics Are Fools' I think you suck. Aw, someones feelings hurt. Good for them. They put on a hell of a show.
    no they don't. I saw them with Avenged Sevenfold a while back, the highlight of the show was their singer trying to titty-bang his microphone...and that was a pretty awful highlight. he can't sing and one of their guitarists (whichever does less soloing) was just...off. Pretty awesome to see this article and the review of their album on the otherside of the site
    BwareDWare94
    The only FOOLS here are the people still buying Buckcherry's albums. You want to find a good edgy rock and roll album? Try Endeverafter's 'Kiss or Kill.' Ten times better than anything this laughingstock of a band will ever release.
    Chasepw133
    Regression wrote: emphaticleech wrote: MaxtheMetalhead wrote: Though I don't like their music, I'm glad their true to their music, that they're not in it for the money or fame. LOLWUT?! Didn't hear about the torrent shit they got into, didja? Publicity stunt to sell more records. Of course they're in it for the money. Any band SIGNED to a MAJOR LABEL is lying if they say otherwise. Nobody is in music for the money. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard and people always insist on saying it. If you want money you go be a doctor or a lawyer or a pilot, you don't become a musician.
    Naw that was a whole new level of stupid what you just said; they are obviously sell outs and obviously they only want to make money. People who want to make money make shitty radio records and sign to big labels just like this band.
    M†LMKR
    i think he's criticizing critics, pretty contradictory. maybe he's just heard too many people say his band sucks. boo-f-ing-hoo. why is his opinion on critics even considered interesting, they're here to stay like it or not, and there will be a critic for everything and everyone. keep doin what you do if you like it so much. critics shouldn't bother you. this guy sounds like a whiner, and i hate buckcherry. they don't make music for the sake of music, but make trendy catchy music to get money.
    hamlin1333
    Whats wrong with this guy that causes him to talk about buckcherry like theyre an "old school rock n roll band"? Maybe theres some things I havent heard or something because Ive never heard anything from them sounded like rock. I do like some of thier stuff. But old school rock? Give me a break.
    Deathlock257
    Wow, "critics are fools" HAHA Thats quite a strong comment coming from a talentless douche. Buckcherry is just like hinder, and nickleback and all those bands that sound the EXACT same. Buckcherry needs to get out of the music business most of all.
    JimBonJovi
    bonekrusha27 wrote: "let's snort some coke and f let's f and snort some coke" ---lyrics for your next three albums guys. you're welcome. send royalties.
    Made a bit of my day. Can't stand this band.
    bonekrusha27
    "let's snort some coke and f let's f and snort some coke" ---lyrics for your next three albums guys. you're welcome. send royalties.
    Rock.Domination
    Regression wrote: If you want money you go be a doctor or a lawyer or a pilot, you don't become a musician.
    Oh yeah, I forgot, everyone can become a doctor or lawyer easily. People with low education level can become doctors any time they want.
    NoInnerKind
    deathnote29 wrote: Mainer wrote: Buckcherry is a pretty good band, their music has that kinda Sex, Drugs, & Rock 'N Roll feel to it. Which is EXACTLY why I hate them.
    This. If these guys sat down and wrote an album with real meaning, they might get more positive reviews.
    Lin
    critics are just people with opinions. the only difference is how many people are listening. on this point i agree with them. buckcherry might too if they were honest with themselves.
    emphaticleech
    DayTauntRocks wrote: Criticism is justified with a group like this in my opinion and here's why... Buckcherry is unoriginal, uninspiring, mindless music in my opinion. They are clones, simply mirroring the success of bands that preceeded them and riding the coat tails of those bands to the top. Are they talented musicians? Possibly, I've never heard anything from them that would suggest they are anything more than mediocre at best. My biggest beef with them though is Josh Todd. Just an absolutely pathetic lyricist in my opinion. Time and time again he just takes the path of least resistance and churns out one sex rock tune after another. Why? Probably because it's damn hard to write a meaningful, insightful, passionate song that still rocks. Maybe he has nothing to say (idiot), or maybe he doesn't even try. Either way, his lyrics are ridiculously poor. Back in the 70's and 80's things were different, but now, I demand more from my music than the mindless drivel Todd cranks out. I wish so badly these copy cat clones would just go away. What bothers me even more than the band is how many people actually like this stuff. That says bad things about our culture in my opinion.
    I agree, and that's basically what I was driving at. They do nothing but play boring, generic rock that's been shoved down our throats since the 60s.
    A Warm Place
    It's pretty obvious the lyricist decided not to curse anymore so they can reach an even wider audience.
    Agent_Shagwell
    Axim Bassist wrote: No wonder I hate these guys...look who their heros are... I hate kiss I hate AC/DC and I hate Aerosmith.
    Bit elitist wouldn't you say?
    Savage Animal
    Shadow_Hawk wrote: Echoplex wrote: It doesn't matter what they say, they aren't Guns N Roses, just a copy. this. I'm ambivalent towards buckcherry, some stuff I like and some stuff I hate. I agree with the message though, 1) the things that critics critique are too subjective and personal to 'rate'. and 2) its a job that completely requires other peoples efforts. if every musician, writer, artist, actor, and chef stopped working the critics would all be ****ed.
    or they could do a better job of it than most of the people they critique.. i.e. Jean Luc Godard
    a drummer
    i really don't like this band, but what i hate are over half the idiots on this website.
    Shadow_Hawk
    Echoplex wrote: It doesn't matter what they say, they aren't Guns N Roses, just a copy.
    this. I'm ambivalent towards buckcherry, some stuff I like and some stuff I hate. I agree with the message though, 1) the things that critics critique are too subjective and personal to 'rate'. and 2) its a job that completely requires other peoples efforts. if every musician, writer, artist, actor, and chef stopped working the critics would all be ****ed.
    Gary.Blizzard
    I saw them live, and I honestly couldn't stand it. Incredibly dull for me, and it seemed like every time he yelled for someone to suck his dick or meet him after the show for a good **** he was looking at dudes in the audience.
    Noremad
    My favorites were always, "Never Can Tell", "Little Queenie", "School Days", and of course "Johnny B. Goode" but he had so many hits it's hard to pin point them all. oh, you said Buckcherry....sorry, I thought you said Chuck Berry....muhbad! Noremad
    Echoplex
    It doesn't matter what they say, they aren't Guns N Roses, just a copy.
    Guano23
    KataklysmDeth wrote: With food, it's much more concrete because a critic can describe tangible items we've all tasted. -- I have to disagree. Food critic isn't a good choice of analogy. Everyone has different tastes in food. I love hamburgers but I know people that don't.
    And everyone has a different taste in music. So yeah I agree critics are retarded. How the hell do you become a professional critic? I mean its like being a professional toilet flusher. Anyones capable of doing it and its just a matter of opinion. I like Buck Cherry, they play cause they love to and do give a rats ass what anyone else has to say. I believe thats what rock is.
    KataklysmDeth
    With food, it's much more concrete because a critic can describe tangible items we've all tasted. -- I have to disagree. Food critic isn't a good choice of analogy. Everyone has different tastes in food. I love hamburgers but I know people that don't.
    Supernaut82
    How in the hell are these guys still getting any press whatsoever? They were one of the worst in the mid-90s! I guess I'll never understand how this happens. One thing is certain though, you can always count on the sheeple to have the worst taste in any form of art. But, they also have the attention span of a mongoloid, so again, how the hell are these guys getting any press? Gee, I wonder what the virtuosos behind "Macarena" are up to? Honestly, I would be more interested in a new Spice Girls album than one single shitty note from these guys. Sad huh?
    Msu_Man04
    How the hell are they a copy of Guns 'N' Roses? They're nothing alike besides the fact that they are both an older, more classic style rock 'n' roll. Guns 'N' Roses was [referring to original lineup days] very lead based, riff-based... etc... Buckcherry isn't really at all. Regardless. I like Buckcherry. I think Josh Todd has an awesome voice. For some reason he reminds me [more by appearance] of a modern Mick Jagger. They're just a good rock-out band.
    Mainer
    Buckcherry is a pretty good band, their music has that kinda Sex, Drugs, & Rock 'N Roll feel to it.