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Buckcherry takes to the stage August 12 at Rockin' the Rivers

Editor's Note: Buckcherry is scheduled to play Rockin' the Rivers on Friday, August 12.

Buckcherry went into 2020 ready to tour throughout the year promoting the band's 2019 release, "Warpaint." The pandemic saw to it that the year was not going to go as planned.

 But rather than just sitting around and watching one tour after another get pushed back and ultimately canceled, Buckcherry put the unexpected down time to work by making "Hell Bound," the studio album that arrived in June 2021.

 The decision to get to work on new music was just business as usual for frontman Josh Todd and the other members of Buckcherry. In Todd's view, the group has never had the luxury to slack off on their work habits.

 "When you're in a band it's like it's your business. So if you just sit around and wait for people to tell you what to do, then you're not running a good business," Todd said in a recent phone interview. "We create opportunities. We've always created opportunities within ourselves. We have to make schedules, we have to stick to them. We have to show up and work hard. We're so used to doing that because people have written this band off many times and we have many peaks and valleys in the Buckcherry career. We have come back from a lot of adversity and had a lot of success. And we only did that by believing in ourselves and working hard because no one else is going to do that except us."

Todd is correct when he says his band has had plenty of ups and downs and probably wasn't expected to still be around two-plus decades after Todd formed the group.

The first major obstacle came not long after the original edition of Buckcherry made a quick impact on the rock scene.

Formed in 1995 in Anaheim, California, the group hit big with its 1999 self-titled debut album, which went gold and generated a trio of hits, "Lit Up," "Check Your Head" and "For the Movies." But the 2001 follow-up, "Time Bomb," stiffed, and with internal issues worsening, Buckcherry broke up in 2002.

Todd went on to attempt a solo career before he and guitarist Keith Nelson reunited in 2005 and brought in three new musicians – guitarist Steve "Stevie D" Dacanay, bassist Jimmy Ashhurst (later replaced by current bassist Kelly Lemieux) and drummer Xavier Muriel – to form the second edition of Buckcherry.

 This lineup made an emphatic debut with the 2006 album, "15." It featured the hit single "Crazy Bitch," which sold more than 1.2 million digital copies and landed a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. Another single, "Sorry," then became Buckcherry's first Top 10 hit on "Billboard" magazine's all-genre Hot 100 chart. 

 This second version of the group had a good run, releasing four more albums before running out of juice after the 2015 album, "Rock & Roll."

 Once again, Todd, took a musical detour before refocusing on Buckcherry. He formed a new side group, Josh Todd & the Conflict and released a debut album, "Year of the Tiger," in fall 2017.

 It was shortly after Todd's album was released that Buckcherry parted ways with drummer Muriel and perhaps more significantly, guitarist Nelson – considering he was an original band member and Todd's main songwriting collaborator. Those two musicians were replaced by guitarist Kevin Roentgen (who left the band in 2020 to spend more time with family and was replaced by Jetboy guitarist Billy Rowe) and drummer Francis Ruiz.

And now with Rowe aboard, Buckcherry have returned to the road with a busy slate of shows to play and new music to include in the group's set, thanks to the decision to use the pandemic as an opportunity to make "Hell Bound."

Once it became clear that tours would not happen in 2020, Todd and Stevie D. got to work writing songs, eventually amassing 22 tunes before the duo decided to reunite with Marti Frederiksen, who produced Buckcherry's fourth album, "Black Butterfly," and co-wrote "Sorry," among other songs, with the band. Things began with a writing session with Frederiksen.

 "I thought we had a lot of great songs. "'The Way' came from those sessions, and 'Gun' and 'Junk,'' Todd said of the initial group of 22 tunes. "But we felt like we needed to really leave no stone unturned, and I'm really glad we did because the songs we wrote with Marti were really the cream of the crop."

That chemistry Todd and Stevie D. have with Frederiksen was obvious, and the trio's one-week session yielded six new songs, five of which are now on "Hell Bound." 

 "He really understands what's special about Buckcherry and brings it out," Todd said of Frederiksen. "For whatever reason, the politics in the band, we didn't get to work with him for a couple of records there. It's so great to be back with him. I don't think I'll ever do a record without him anymore. He's like having a sixth band member."

 Todd is justifiably proud of "Hell Bound." The album opens with three of the catchiest and hardest rocking songs Buckcherry has released – the punkish "54321," the equally energetic, but more rock oriented "So Hott" and the title song, which has some AC/DC in its sound. The rest of the album is strong, as "No More Lies," a rocker with some pop and funk accents, the swaggering rock of "Gun" and Junk" and the slow burning rocker "Wasting No More Time" provide additional high points.

 As energetic as "Hell Bound" is, Todd said the album also reflects some difficulties that came with living through the pandemic, experiences that he said helped him grow as a songwriter, husband, father and as a person.

 "I think when you spend your life on the road, and then all of a sudden it stops and you're at home day in and day out, and then your whole family is at home and you're not used to it and they're not used to it, it brings up a lot of stuff," he said. "I think every relationship around the globe had a lot to deal with, people that maybe had issues they were not addressing that became really glaring once everything stopped and they weren't going to work. So all of that stuff came up. Yes, it's been a very challenging time, but I learned a lot about myself, and I think Stevie can say that as well. We poured it all into songs and got a really great piece of art out of it all, so I'm grateful for that. I'm going to take that and move forward and start enjoying life again."

 Some of that enjoyment is coming from the return to touring. Fans can expect Buckcherry to play a few of the new songs, but the band's deep catalog means the group won't go overboard in showcasing the "Hell Bound" material.

 "'Hell Bound' is so good that we all want to play every song," Todd said. "But there are the usual suspects we always have got to play, like 'Crazy Bitch,' 'Lit Up' and 'Sorry.' Then we have eight other records, so it is challenging, but we do a pretty good job and we rotate songs every night. We have a lot of what I call frequent fliers that come to multiple shows, so I think that's nice for them as well."