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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Buckcherry-Keith-Nelson-Interview-2015

 

KEITH NELSON - BUCKCHERRY INTERVIEW

BUCKCHERRY'S GUITAR HERO AND CO-FOUNDER TALKS TO THE ROCKPIT

JULY 2015

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Few bands have, over the last twenty years, so consistently kept the fires of real Rock and Roll burning as brightly as Buckcherry. Part Hard Rock, part Punk, and brimming with attitude; the band has survived seismic shifts in the music industry, loss of band members, a hiatus that lasted three years and not only managed to come through it all unscathed they’ve risen like a phoenix, seemingly capable reinvigorating themselves at will. This year we’ve already had the notorious ‘F**K EP’ and are now about to receive what sounds like the best Buckcherry album in years – ‘Rock N Roll’ – an album that takes it all back to basics and then expands the sound – throwing in all we love about the band and taking us to a few new destinations along the way.


Essentially you see Buckcherry is right – label it how you like, this is all just Rock N Roll, and Buckcherry’s brand of magic comes from where Josh Todd’s punk met the Hard Rock cool of guitarist Keith Nelson. Few bands get it this right for this long and few manage to keep it sounding so essential. If you like real Rock and Roll this is as good as it gets. We caught up with Keith in LA during short break before touring resumes again in August…

 


Mark: Hey Keith how are you today?


Keith: I’m good man, how are you doing?


Mark: Very good thank you, Thanks so much for talking to The Rockpit today Keith, we are absolutely loving the new album Rock N Roll, which is out here on August 21st As a long tome fan of the band it’s certainly up there with my favourites . How are you and the guys feeling about it?


Keith: We feel great about it man. We’ve been done with the record a little while now; and we’re really stoked on it, just waiting for the release date now. We just started to play a song or two from the new record (on tour) over here in the States, and they’re going over really well, so we’re excited.


Mark: I got to see you guys live in April at the Earthday Birthday Festival in Florida, I guess I just missed you road-testing those songs!


Keith: Yeah, we started to play them right after that show really!   


Mark: Me and my bad timing! It’s always great to see Buckcherry live and see those songs really come alive, and you’ve actually been over to see us in Australia a few times now: back in 1999 when we caught your first show in Sydney; then 2013 when you came over for the Stone Music Festival and we caught your warm up show at ‘The Standard’ again in Sydney; then later that year as part of the Steel Panther bill with Fozzy. Is there any chance we’ll get to see you bring ‘Rock N Roll’ out to see us anytime soon?


Keith: Yeah we’re looking forward to it man. Right now to the end of the year we are pretty busy in The States, Canada and Europe but starting in 2016 we’re looking to getting over to see our incredible Australian fans and doing what we do.


Mark: That’s great we’re looking forward to seeing you again.

 


Mark: The new album starts with the storming single ‘Bring It on Back’ which is just the sort of Buckcherry we love – glorious crazy rock and roll! But that’s not the whole story of the album there’s a few left-field moment son there too, as well as a lot of really direct Rock N Roll  – I mean new single ‘The Madness’ just sounds like it was a song written to get everyone jumping up and down!? It’s great!


Keith: I mean those two songs were written very simply. ‘The Madness’ started out with just some guitar riffs, and we did a little work on the music and Josh came up right away with what you hear as the vocal. A song like that is really spontaneous, it’s written in five fucking minutes you know!  When the band gets together and starts playing with an idea it comes together really quickly and that ‘live’ feel really comes across. Then the challenge is to capture that ‘live’ feel on the tape.  So that’s pretty organic shit that you’re hearing!


Mark: There’s so much variety on the record too, so many directions to take us! Even horns on a song like ‘Tight Pants’!


Keith:  That’s right, when we make a record we like to consider it as a complete body of work so doing stuff like ‘Rain’s Feeling’ and ‘Tight Pants’ have a place on the record I think.


Mark: That’s right and songs like ‘Sex Appeal’ which was one of our favourites on there is different again, and it all goes great with the sing along standards like ‘Get With It’!


Mark: One of the best things about Buckcherry these days is that you seem to be in great flow as far as song-writing is concerned. The new album coming so soon after the (‘F**k’) EP. Are there more EP’s on the way?
Keith:  Yeah absolutely, we’re really focused on doing more records more frequently right now. The fans keep wanting something new and don’t want to wait two years between records, and quite honestly at the moment we don’t want to wait two years between records!  And it’s kind of fun to throw and EP in there in the middle of making records!


Mark: There’s so much action at the moment in the Buckcherry camp, and hard to believe it’s been twenty years since the band started out and we’re getting albums, EPs and plenty of touring – there’s seems to be so much energy in the band right now – is 2015 a great place for the band?


Keith:  Yeah, it’s a really great time at the moment, everyone gets on great; we love playing shows , we love being on tour, we love making records and so there’s always something to look forward to. You’re right – it’s a really great time for this band.

 


Mark: One of the best things for me about Buckcherry is catching you live and I noticed that in recent years there’s a lot of variation in the set-list, there’s nights when you’ll throw in old songs and it always seems to change. How do you put your set-lists together (it must be harder and harder to choose) is there a lot of pre-planning involved as it seems very spontaneous?


Keith: We pre-plan about half an hour before we go out there! (laughs) but we always love to change it up, we’re always dragging out old songs - we like to make it interesting for the fans that see multiple shows and it makes it interesting for us on stage too.


Mark: Taking it all the way back we understand that you and Todd originally bonded over a mutual love of AC/DC? 


Keith: Yeah I mean we both have very different musical backgrounds, and that was the one band that we both loved! (laughs) And that’s where it all started.


Mark: I know Todd growing up in LA had a decidedly punk background, but you grew up with music in the house and I think took to the drums first before taking up guitar, you seem to have a decidedly more traditional rock background. As a guitarist who do you think has been your most enduring influence, and opened it all up for you, helped create your own style?


Keith:  I did start off as a drummer. My favourite guitar-players:  I love Malcolm and Angus (Young) and I love Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, and I also love Keith Richards and Mick Taylor, I always love those guitar teams and the way that those guys work together. And I love songwriters too, I started to play the drums because I wanted to write songs, and I took up guitar for the same reason, not because I wanted to become a ‘shred-master’. So I look at bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, their guitarist Mike Campbell is a great player, now that stuff to me, you probably don’t hear it in our music, but that stuff to me means so much, and was so influential. So that’s really where all that started.

 

Mark: So was there a defining moment for you – what was it that first made you decide you needed to be in a Rock and Roll band, that there was no other way of life?


Keith: I guess for me there wasn’t just the one defining moment, there have been I few. I mean I can remember being a little kid and getting the ‘Back in Black’ album and putting it on my parent’s turntable… I remember listening to the music coming out of the speakers and having the clear thought “I wonder how they do that?” How do they make that music and get it on a record and get it to come out of the speakers. It mystified me and I’ve been chasing that ever since.


Mark: Just time for a couple more questions before our time is up. If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you? Would it have been “Back in Black’?

 

Keith: Probably ‘Highway to Hell’ would be the one I would want to be a fly on the wall for, it’s such an interesting record for me; but of course ‘Back in Black’ I wouldn’t turn that down ever!  But there’s so many records that mean so much to me – I mean I would have loved to have seen what it was like to make ‘Some Girls’ just to be there see them working on the songs in New York City in the seventies must have been something; I mean everyone talks about ‘Exile on Main Street’ but ‘Some Girls’ that’s an interesting record and it doesn’t really sound like anything they’d done before, but it still sounds like The Rolling Stones… Then there’s ‘Led Zeppelin II’ Fuck! Who wouldn’t want to be around for that!    

 

Mark: And finally easy question to end with Keith: what is the meaning of life?

 

Keith: Have a good time all the time! (laughs)

 

Mark: Ah, Spinal Tap! A sentiment and band we cherish here! Thank you so much for talking the time to talk to us today Keith, good luck with the album ‘Rock N Roll’ which is out here on August 21st and we can’t wait to see you back over to give us another dose of ‘Rock N Roll’!

 

Keith:  We’re really looking forward to it thank you for your time today.

 

 

Keith Nelson spoke to Mark Rockpit - July 2015  

 


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