Buckcherry's second hit single, "For The Movies," might be the one that sends this raucous LA lineup "To The Bank." A surprise success story, this tattooed n' bluesy bunch quickly became VH1 Rock Show darlings with their premiere video "Lit Up," a rollicking ode to cocaine shot in a grimy Hollywood club. If skinny singer Joshua Todd, his stomach emblazoned with a large "chaos" tattoo, is the focal point of the quintet, then soft-spoken but forthright guitarist Keith Nelson is the vocalist's perfect counterpart. The band is rounded out by guitarist Yogi, bassist Jonathan Brightman and drummer Devon Glenn. Buckcherry's self-titled debut is stirring up as much controversy as sales, but the band (named for either Chuck Berry or a transvestite prostitute, depending on which story you believe) wouldn't have it any other way.
Guitar.com: As a kid, what was the first concert you ever attended?
Keith Nelson: I went to see a guy named Donny Iris. He had one huge hit. He's from my hometown. It was the first show where it went dark, and there were lighters, and you could smell pot. Good stuff!
Guitar.com: Do you feel you're particularly an LA band?
Nelson: Isn't an LA band really a swing band now? When the band was coming up, in the early days, under another name, [Sparrow], we were so "un" what was going on. We weren't an LA band. I mean, yeah, we lived here, but we weren't a sample of what was going on. By the time I moved here, there was no hair, no [Sunset] Strip. I'm from a really small town outside Pittsburgh, so [LA] was definitely the big dream. I thought that everything on TV was going to be here, and it was so not like that, and it sucked. There's a lot of opportunities to leave, to turn around and run off, but I stuck it out.
Guitar.com: Did you think from the beginning that Buckcherry would get signed, even though you weren't the "norm" for what was out there at the time?
Nelson: The night before we were to sign our deal, we were all at dinner with our attorney, and Josh said, "so if this doesn't happen, we'll still be able to get a deal with an independent record label or something, right?"
Guitar.com: You said you had no qualms about releasing "Lit Up" as the first single, despite the lyrical content. How do you strategize your career without becoming too contrived?
Nelson: You keep it organic by still being who you are and keeping it real about what you do.
Guitar.com: And the censorship of "Lit Up?"
Nelson: We could have said, "No, don't edit our song," but we should just stay home then if we don't want to be marketable. I think maybe the industry people had kinda gotten sick of all these artists who didn't want to be stars, who didn't want to tour before their record, who didn't want to meet them, didn't want to do interviews, didn't want to have a good time. That's bullshit. They should stay home.
Guitar.com: A lot of bands spill their guts about their personal lives, but you guys seem to avoid any sobriety questions or lack thereof, which actually seem relevant considering the lyrics of "Lit Up."
Nelson: I think we always retain the right to be as private as we want to be. There's nothing that turns my stomach more than some idiot spewing about their sobriety or lack of sobriety. And acting in completely contrary actions to that. You don't always avoid [addictions]. You just hope you end up on the other side.
Guitar.com: You guys toured with KISS. As kids, was it always the quest to find out what they looked like under the makeup?
Nelson: I had no idea what KISS looked like until Lick It Up. When I was a kid and I heard KISS, I thought that every song on the radio that rocked was by KISS. That's no joke. I was a little kid and I heard "Walk This Way," and I thought Aerosmith was a guy in KISS. Don't tell Steve and Joe!
Guitar.com: Do you do any covers in your live set?
Nelson: It's funny, if you ask five guys in the band who their influences are, you get five different answers. Which is one of the things that makes it great to be in this band. At the same time, it makes it really hard to decide on a cover.