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Recently, I received an advanced release for Josh Todd & The Conflict’s debut album, “Year Of The Tiger”. Most of you probably know Josh and guitarist Stevie D from the band Buckcherry. Buckcherry is still alive and well, but I’ve got to tell you, Josh Todd & The Conflict are the real deal. This band stretches the boundaries of rock and have created a sound that’s aggressive, energetic, and fresh sounding. I spoke with Josh about the new band, his thoughts on the current state of rock n’ roll and of course, Buckcherry. I had a lot of fun doing this interview. For someone who’s been in the music business for twenty plus years, he was incredibly humble, genuinely honest and really passionate about creating music as an art form.
XS ROCK: How did Josh Todd & The Conflict come about?
Josh: It kind of came about last year. Stevie D, who is my songwriting partner in The Conflict, longtime friend. He’s known me since I was 19. He also plays guitar in Buckcherry. Anyways, we were out on the road with Buckcherry last year and at first I wanted to find someone who could make me beats. Anyway, he said I can make beats. So we started putting this electronic project together called Spray Gun War. We made an EP. We did it all on a laptop out on the road and had a lot of fun creating it. It was really inspiring for us because we had been out there on the road for so long. Cut to coming off of the road with Buckcherry and I said “Hey listen, Buckcherry hadn’t put a record out in 2 years and I really wanted to make a new record. But, I really wanted to make a rock record”. I wanted it to be more along the lines of what I’m about and where I’ve come from and Stevie knows all of that. I grew up in Southern California and I was always in four piece bands. All of my first records were independent, punk rock records. The heavy side of me is really my roots. So we started writing in November of last year and we were just writing and writing and re-writing, eventually we got the record together and it was such a labor of love. It was so much fun. We laid it down at the end of February, early March. Eric Kretch from Stone temple Pilots and Stevie D. co-produced it. We did it at Eric’s house. He has a great studio there and it was a lot of fun.
XS ROCK: I’ve had a chance to hear it and I absolutely love it. I like it because it’s not safe. I know that might sound a little weird, but what I mean is… that you can tell that you did what you wanted to do. You didn’t follow any musical trends or anything.
Josh: That’s exactly what happened. We didn’t even have a record label when we first went in. We got a record label after. I’m really glad that you brought that up, Bobby. I really feel like that’s why rock music is in such a bad spot. I don’t want to talk shit on any particular band or anything, there’s some bands out there that sounds just like a bunch of guys writing songs to please their record label. And, that’s not inspiring. That’s not how you create movement, that’s not how you fuckin’ get an army of people who would like, kill for you. I started DJ’ing and I started listening to hip-hop and I realized, Fuck! This is where all of the outlaws are. There’s no more outlaws in rock n’ roll. All of the outlaws are in hip-hop now. I mean, the shit that they’re saying in hip-hop now is fucking amazing. I love it. There’s just no rules, it’s nasty and it’s just fuckin’ fun. I feel, rock has got to get back to that place. I always want to make honest art. I don’t want to have any of the restraints that record labels put on you sometimes. It’s really worked against me a lot in my career, but when I stuck to my guns and we did the things we wanted to do, we got songs like Crazy Bitch, where people said it would never get played on radio and became a phenomenon.
XS ROCK: Is Buckcherry still you’re first priority when comes to a band?
Josh: Both of these bands are my priority. Rock has gotten to a place where you can’t just do one thing and tour, tour and tour. It just doesn’t happen anymore. Your average concert goer goes to just two shows a year. I’ve been doing this for twenty years now. This what I do. I have a family now and I want to work. When you don’t get a return on your record anymore…That’s where it’s got to with rock records. There are very few artists that are getting returns on their records now in rock music. So when that whole part of your income is cut out, you only have tours and merchandise. So, when you go out and tour too much, they say “You’re over-touring, you’ve got to go home”. And then, it’s like okay, so now what do I do. Go home and sit around? Go get a day job? What do I do? I’m an artist. I want to make music. I want to be able to do this, tour with Josh Todd and The Conflict, come back and make a Buckcherry record and go tour on it. That’s the plan. Right now, Buckcherry is in the best spot it’s been in three years. We’ve got a great line-up now. I just came back from doing two shows and I’m getting ready to go back and two more shows in Canada. I’m doing a Conflict show with Bush coming up. Another conflict show with Frankie Perez in Vegas and then we’re starting up a full tour in the fall. With Conflict, I want to build it worldwide, so it’s going to take some time to get there.
XS ROCK: I really like the aggression and energy on this album. Did that occur naturally or were there real conflicts in your life that spurned the material?
Josh: I’ve got a lot of energy. I wear a lot of people out because of it. It’s definitely a reflection of who I am, in every aspect. We’ve got songs like “Rain” and “Good Enough” that break up the aggressiveness of the record. I wanted this record to be reckless, alternative sounding and heavy. And I got all of that.
XS ROCK: I love this record! I described it to a friend of mine recently, who asked me what it sounds like. I described this way: This is going sound weird, but picture Guns N’ Roses, Rage Against The Machine, The Sex Pistols and little bit of Nine Inch Nails all rolled into one and it sounds like none of that. It has a real freshness. But, you’ve got all of those types of elements in it but yet it’s really unique. And I have to admit if someone described that to me that way, without hearing the record, I’d probably say that sounds like it could never work. But, not only does it work, but it works incredibly well.
XS ROCK: Tell me about the cover of Prince’s Erotic City. I really like the way that came out. Was that a song that you’ve wanted to do for a while or more of a tribute to Prince?
Josh: This is the thing. Stevie and I are very passionate about Prince’s music. We love Prince, like most people in the fucking world do. It was such a fuckin’ surprise when all of it went down and Prince passed away. He was just one of those guys that I thought was going to live to be very old and always be really incredible live, until his dying day. And he was. He just went way too soon. And you know, every fucking artist and their mother were out there doing Prince songs. But, we didn’t want to do anything at that time. But when we were putting this album together, I said “We’ve got to do a Prince song. And the one thing that I really missed was how nasty he used to be. Erotic City was such a cool fuckin’ song. When I heard that song when I was younger and coming up, I thought this mother fucker doesn’t give a shit about anybody! He is doing this for himself. I think it came out great. There’s always a challenge. When rock bands cover rock songs that’s okay, but I think it’s more interesting to kind of re-invent it, so we did it Conflict style.
XS ROCK: The music business can be rough sometimes What are your long-term career goals?
Josh: Wow! Well, I want to be a worldwide arena rock act. That’s something that I haven’t accomplished yet. I’ve started meditating recently and I when I do, I visualize this band on the stage in all of these countries around the world and it’s just fuckin’ mayhem. I want to get to that place and I want Buckcherry to get that same place because we really screwed up our international plan by not going there consistently over the years. With The Conflict, I want to have a top 5 radio hit. I’d like to see that happen with “Rain”. We just did a concept video for it. I just hope it’s the right song at the right time.
XS ROCK: Speaking of “Rain”. It’s a phenomenal song. I have to think if Guns N’ Roses released that as a new single, it would get tons of airplay. Does it bother you at all, that you’re somewhat starting over with this band, as far as having to win over stations that play metal and get airplay, etc?
Josh: You know that part is challenging. And, I’m not going to say that it’s not. But, it was very exciting to me, to build something from the ground up again. It’s been a lot of work. I could go down the list for all of the hurdles that we’ve been through so far and we have a lot more ahead of us. It’s okay though, because I’m really excited about it again. I’m excited about being in a band again. The only way that I can describe it is, the last three years of Buckcherry just wasn’t fun. This has been refreshing and it’s also been this thing where I’ve got to make the record of my career again. That’s how seriously I took the songwriting in to this record. So did Stevie. We were in the same boat. I know it’s a great record, just because of what we’ve put into it. It’s along the same lines of where we were at when we made the Buckcherry “15” record. As far as the state of mind, what we have to do and what we’re up against. I know it’s got a lot of momentum behind it. We have a great record label with Century Media and I have a great manager finally. He’s amazing. There’s a lot of synergy happening. The band is great with Sean Winchester on the drums. He’s been in Everclear, Bow wow wow and a ton of other bands. Gregg Cash was in the band Dorothy for a while. He’s just an animal. When you speak about “Rain” I wrote that A Capella first. I want it to have a lot of space and a “We Will Rock You” kind of beat. And I wanted an iconic kind of solo in it. I left and came back and Stevie had all of the guitars, drums and bass recorded. I was like Damn! It totally wrote itself.
XS ROCK: Crazy Bitch was a huge hit for Buckcherry. If you retired today… Could you live off the royalties of that song alone?
Josh: No. It’s not like that. I’m not going to lie. I make a decent little chunk of change from it every year. It’s nice, but it’s not what you’re thinking. I need like a handful of those and then I could.
XS ROCK: I know you must have some outrageous tour stories from the road. What’s your best one?
Josh: I think the best ones were when Crazy Bitch came about. I can only talk about audience members doing crazy stuff. But, one time we were doing this Harley festival and this guy had his old lady against the front railing. She had a skirt on. And I could just tell something was going on with these two. They were having a good time and they were drinking and dancing through the whole show. But I felt like they were plotting something. And right when we started going into “Crazy Bitch”, he lifted up the back of her skirt and started banging her during the song. Another time, we were doing this biker festival in Indiana. It was on private property, so there was no police out there. It was literally like a nudist colony. People were walking around naked, riding motorcycles naked, fucking in plain sight, getting blown and everybody’s partying. We go on stage and there’s eight naked chicks in the front two rows. I couldn’t believe it.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Josh: I’ve pretty much signed every body part. But I think the strangest request was somewhere in Europe. I’m at the merch table doing a meet and greet and there was all these young dudes, in there twenties probably… that were so fucking hammered. They were crazy Buckcherry fans. And one of them says, I want you to sign my mate’s dick! So, I said alright, have him pull it out. I’m not touching it, but I’ll sign it with a sharpie. He’s gotta like stretch it out so I can sign it. Ha ha ha. So, yeah I signed his dick. I’ve signed lots of tits and asses and all of that kind of stuff.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform originally?
Josh: Very early on, this was this guy Ian McKay. He was the lead singer for a band called Minor Threat. Minor Threat’s Out of Step record was a big record for me. I was going through a lot of stuff at that time. I was like 14 or 15 when I got that record. I felt like the guy knew who I was. It felt like a record that I could’ve written myself at the time. I was also really influenced by dirty comedy back then. I loved Sam Kinison. We would sneak down in my cousin’s basement and listen to George Carlin, Sam Kinison, and Richard Pryor and we would study these performances. I was so enamored with the honesty. Watching George Carlin was fascinating for me. He came up with all of his own material and he did several different HBO specials. They were all different and funny. And they were usually an hour long. That’s an incredible amount of comedy material to write for a full hour. He was so clever. I did my version of Sam Kinison‘s Wild Thing at my high school when I was a kid. Later, I would get into bigger rock bands. I’d sneak into my sister’s room and listen to all of her Billy Idol and Prince records. That’s how I got into Prince. My mom listened to Rod Stewart a lot and my dad listened to the Eagles. So I listened to all of that stuff.
XS ROCK: Are you guys performing the whole album on tour live?
Josh: Oh yeah! We’re also writing new songs on the road.
XS ROCK: Are you throwing any Buckcherry songs in the set list?
Josh: You know, we’ve done a show where we played “Lit Up” and “Crazy Bitch” but it just feels weird because it’s all in standard tuning and we’re tuned down to C. So it just seems strange and it’s not what “The Conflict” is all about, but in certain situations we might have to do that until we get an audience for just The Conflict and then we’ll focus just on that.
XS ROCK: You mentioned doing arena tours. If you could design a dream tour for The Conflict who else would be on the bill?
Josh: Wow! Definitely Rage Against The Machine, Temple Of The Dog, AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses. I really respect Axl Rose a lot and I’d love to do a song with him some time.
XS ROCK: So Which do you prefer? Performing live or recording?
Josh: It’s two separate schools. It’s all about performing live, but you don’t get that point without recording great songs. I can tell you my least favorite thing. I hate sitting in the studio for a long time. I like to capture the live feel of the song and then leave. I think that’s the way to do it. The best part of this business is definitely getting on stage.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Josh: Oh wow! In music…getting a platinum record in the rock genre, against all odds. That was fucking huge. Gold records, a worldwide fan base. Those were things that I dreamed of and they actually came true by just having faith and just going for it. And not looking back. To have longevity in this business and still be here twenty years later. Personally, I’ve been sober for 23 years with no drugs or alcohol. That was a huge undertaking for me. My life was destined to be jail, institution or death. That was where I was headed. I got real lucky to get the chance to get sober and then actually stay sober because a lot of people don’t. So that’s a huge accomplishment for me. That and being a father. Being a father to my kids and always being available to them, providing for them and watching them grow up has just been amazing.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Josh: Listen! I love everybody out there who has come and supported me over the years. Go out and get The Conflict record. It comes out September 15th. You can pre-order it now and get two songs immediately. Yo can pre-order it on iTunes, Amazon and all of the places that you get digital music. We’re looking forward to seeing you come out and seeing it live. We’ll be touring all through the fall and next year.
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Josh: Thanks Bobby. I really appreciate it. Great interview.