Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with BUCKCHERRY and JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT singer Josh Todd. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Icon Vs. Icon: How did the ball get rolling for JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT?
Josh: "I was on the road with BUCKCHERRY last year and Stevie D., the guitar player for BUCKCHERRY, and I have been longtime friends. I have known him since I was 19 years old. We were just walking through a Target parking lot on our day off and I said, 'I need to find someone to make me beats because I want to write some songs.' He said, 'I can make you beats.' So, I said, 'Okay! Let's write some songs.' It was that simple. We started writing songs and we wrote an EP for this clothing line I had at the time called SPRAYGUN WAR. The EP was titled 'Into The Blackness'. It was really cool and we worked really hard on it and put it out. The natural progression was to move forward. When we got off the road, there were so many things in disarray with the BUCKCHERRY organization and I hadn't put out a record in two years. I said, 'I want to make a rock record. I want to make it aggressive and more along the lines of the stuff from my roots and what I'm all about.' Stevie knows what I'm all about because he has known me for a long time, so he started working on rock songs. He's a really great guitar player and composer. He sent me really good compositions and I write lyrics and melodies. We really started beating a record into shape in November of last year."
Icon Vs. Icon: You mentioned Stevie D. Being a longtime friend. You guys clearly have a great chemistry. What do you bring out in each other creatively?
Josh: "You know, we didn't really have the opportunity to write a lot together in BUCKCHERRY, so this was uncharted territory for us. It's weird, when I first met Stevie and he was doing a solo kind of thing and really heavily into Prince at the time. I had moved to L.A. from Orange County and I was this high energy, maniac, punk rock kid! We weren't in bands together in the beginning but we worked together and we were roommates. It wasn't until later that we got into a band together. Writing songs with him has been really awesome. It takes a little bit of time to get a songwriting language going with a partner, but once it starts clicking and he started to understand my language, as far as 'This is what I want out of this song...,' he would go after it and get it. It would come back to me and I would be like, 'Wow! This is great!' It took a lot of songs to get to that place but I think doing the SPRAYGUN WAR EP was really beneficial to making 'Year of The Tiger' what it is."
Icon Vs. Icon: You worked with Eric Kretz from STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, who co-produced the record with Stevie D. What did he bring to the table for a project like this one?
Josh: "He brought passion! He was one of those guys who was in at the beginning when we were looking for producers and he really loved the demos. He really understood what this could be and was fired up about it. He's got a great studio at his house and a great engineer that he works with named Ryan Williams, who has been instrumental in this whole process. He did all the Brendan O'Brien records and has seen it all! He's a super-talented guy. I've got to say that it was a lot of fun making a record again and I haven't had fun making a record in awhile. It was effortless and fun and we did all the work outside of the recording studio so when we went in we were just capturing the true essence of the live performance. In other words, we weren't working on arrangements or songwriting when we were in the studio."
Icon Vs. Icon: Building a band from the ground up is no easy task. What challenges have you faced along the way?
Josh: "There are a lot of challenges! [Laughs] I'm definitely finding that out! You know, we just take it one step at a time. It's funny, when we went in and recorded the record, we didn't have a label in place but we knew a label would come. We had a lot of people interested early on but we hadn't nailed it. We just continued to make the record and finally we got Century Media in the fold and they have been great partners. Now, we're gearing up! The radio track we are working on is 'Rain'. We just finished the concept video to that and it's going to be so awesome! We start going hard to radio on August 15th. We're doing a slow rollout and, right now, we are looking for a great package tour for the fall. It's hard because no one really knows what this is and they only have a couple of songs to go by. I think more is going to be revealed once the record is out and we are picking up shows here and there. We've got a show where we're opening up for BUSH and a show with Frankie Perez in Las Vegas. We just did a show on the Century Media stage in Seattle, so it's all slowly coming together. We also did a show with Mickey Avalon earlier this year which was a lot of fun, too! I love the artists we are aligning ourselves with and we are just going to try and continue that trend."
Icon Vs. Icon: You had mentioned some disfunction in the world of BUCKCHERRY. What does JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT mean for BUCKCHERRY. Is BUCKCHERRY back burnered at the moment?
Josh: "No, no, no. Listen, BUCKCHERRY is in the best place that it's been in over the past three years. All the disfunction happened at the beginning of the year. That's all been cleared, we've got new members, and we have been doing a lot of shows! We started doing shows with the new lineup in February and are doing a lot of fly dates. I fly out tomorrow to do two BUCKCHERRY shows in Canada and then I come home and I have a few BUCKCHERRY shows next month. Then we are going to start focusing on THE CONFLICT. BUCKCHERRY is in a great place now and the whole plan for me now is to have two pots and two bands. I like to work a lot, so I'm going to really work on THE CONFLICT worldwide and then once I'm done with that tour and this record cycle, then I'll go back, make a BUCKCHERRY record and do that for awhile before I come back to THE CONFLICT. That's the plan."
Icon Vs. Icon: You're one of the best frontmen in rock 'n' roll and it's easy to see that you put everything into your live performances. You make it look so easy and I know it's far from it! At what point in your career did you feel like you really came into your own?
Josh: "Thank you. You know, I'm one of those singers that needs to practice a lot. I practice constantly. Even when I'm home, I don't sit around and not sing for days on end. I don't know know how other singers do that. That's not what I do! I'm always working at home when I'm not on stage. I put a lot into it. Where do I think I started to arrive as a singer? I don't think it was until much later... maybe my mid-30s. Even though I had put out records, I didn't know a lot about the voice because I wasn't classically trained. I remember I went to a vocal coach when I was a kid and she was like, 'Go home and learn 'Every Breath You Take'.' I go, 'Okay...' I wasn't into that but I attempted to sing it. I came back with AC/DC's 'Back In Back' and said, 'I want to sing like this!' She goes, 'Uhh, we don't teach that here.' I said, 'Okay.' So, I proceeded to self-teach myself from then on until after the very first BUCKCHERRY record. Until that point, I had been running on my own free will. Looking back, I wish I wouldn't have done that and I wish I would've that but I'm stubborn, ya know. I just thought, 'Well, fuck her and fuck everybody. I'm just going to do it myself!' It was after that first record when I realized that touring was becoming really taxing on my voice. I didn't know how to take care of myself, so I started seeing a vocal coach named Don Lawrence in New York. He really taught me a lot. At that point, I became teachable, open to receive, and I wanted to learn everything about the voice that I could learn. Since then, I've been through a few different coaches. At the moment, I'm really into helping other people with their voices because I've been through alot and I know a lot. That is something I'm going to start up pretty soon, in being a vocal coach for other people."
Read the entire interview at Icon Vs. Icon.