Josh Todd is one of those rare individuals who truly lives and breathes rock ’n’ roll. Over the past two decades, he has earned his stripes as one of the most captivating and dynamic frontmen in rock. As the driving force behind Buckcherry, he has rocked audiences around the globe, logged countless miles on tour, and continues to elevate his work as both a singer and songwriter. A true artist, he isn’t afraid to push the envelope creatively and remains compelled to explore new musical territory. In fact, it’s his unrelenting drive which led him to his latest creative outlet — Josh Todd & The Conflict. This latest endeavor pairs the legendary frontman with his Buckcherry bandmate, Stevie D. on guitar, drummer Sean Winchester, and bassist Greg Cash. Together they usher in a new era of high intensity rock ‘n’ roll! In September of 2017, they will unleash their debut album, “Year of the Tiger”, via Century Media Records. “Year of the Tiger” was co-produced by Stevie D. (Buckcherry) and Stone Temple Pilots drummer, Eric Kretz. Pre-orders for the album are available now through Amazon, Apple Music, Google Play and iTunes. Each pre-order comes with the instant gratification downloads of “Year of the Tiger” and “Fucked Up.” These two tracks are just a taste of what is to come from the band, and also serve as undeniable proof that Josh Todd has a tremendous amount of creative life left in him. Rest assured — rock ’n’ roll is alive and well in 2017!
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Josh Todd to discuss his musical roots, the formation of Josh Todd & The Conflict, the challenges of bringing their debut album, “Year of The Tiger” to life, and much more.
You have been playing music for the better part of your life. How did it grab you early on?
I grew up in Orange County, California and during that time when I was a kid, there was a big punk rock movement. I just had a lot of dysfunction going on around me as a kid, not all bad, but I gravitated toward aggressive music because I felt it spoke to me. All those bands were on independent labels so they weren’t doing stuff for the label as far as censoring themselves or writing songs for the radio. They were writing songs from the heart and I really loved that about those records. I always tried to keep that formula when I went down to get into the creative process and write songs for myself.
A simple question but one I have been asking people who have become deeply ingrained in the fabric of the music industry like yourself — What does rock ‘n’ roll mean to you?
It’s a lifestyle for me. It means salvation. It’s my outlet. If I didn’t have it, I don’t know where I would be. Without it I would be jail, an institution or death, for sure! That’s what it means to me. It’s something very special to me that is always interesting, fun and exciting for me after all these years!
I think the the authenticity you bring to each project really speaks for itself. That leads us to the next chapter of your already impressive career. How did the ball get rolling for Josh Todd & The Conflict?
I was on the road with Buckcherry last year and Stevie D., the guitar player for Buckcherry, and I have been long time 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, “Ok! 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 BC organization and I hadn’t put out a record in 2 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.
Tell us about the album and who you have involved in bringing it to life?
The album is called “Year of the Tiger” and it drops September 15th, 2017. The title track is available on the internet right now, which is a performance video, along with another song called “Fucked Up.” “Year of the Tiger” was one of the first songs we wrote and we were super fired up about it. That kicked off the passion to get this record finished and helped shape what we needed it to be. We thought, “Oh, this is a hard song to beat, so this is going to be the song we always look to when we are coming up with the rest of the list.” We just started writing songs and some came easy, while others were a little harder as far as rewrites and stuff like that is concerned. It’s probably one of my best records. I’m not just saying that because we are just about to drop it. I wish you could hear it because it’s fantastic! It’s a ten song record and a great ride! The band is awesome as well. I’ve got Sean Winchester on the drums. He played in Everclear, Bow Wow Wow and a lot of other punk rock bands. Greg Cash is on the bass and he’s an amazing bass player who has played with Dorothy for a long time and been in a lot of other bands. Great bass player, great dude! We’re just killing it live!
Sonically, is there a definitive line that can be draw between the sound of Buckcherry and that of Josh Todd & The Conflict?
Like I said, there are two songs out there for everyone to check out, “Year of The Tiger” and “Fucked Up.” It differs in that we aren’t just in a standard tune and playing traditional rock ‘n’ roll. It’s heavier, it’s alternative at moment and sometimes it even sounds like metal. We are tuned down to “C” and it’s a lot different as far as the energy and how heavy it is sonically.
You mentioned Stevie D. Being a longtime friend. You guys clearly have a great chemistry. What do you bring out in each other creatively?
Ya know, we didn’t really have the opportunity to write a lot together in BC, 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 LA 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.
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?
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.
Building a band from the ground up is no easy task. What challenges have you faced along the way?
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!
Was there anything you hoped to try on this album that you might not have able to take on with previous projects?
I really pushed my vocals to the limit. I’ve worked on my range quite a bit and I think when you hear the entire record, you’re going to be pleased. I wanted it to be heavy. That was the most important thing and it’s reckless, fun and melodic. It’s a cool journey and it’s even more fun live! That’s all I can say! I put a lot of passion into everything that I do and I love all the records I have been a part of but this one is really special to me!
You have always had some terrific cover art for your albums. The same is true with “Year of The Tiger.” How did that imagery come about?
There is a really cool website that my manager pointed out where all of these terrific graphic artists put up their art and they sell their images. If you like stuff you can hit them up and get t-shirts and other things designed. I thought that was so cool, so I went to the site and they were thousands and thousands of images from artists from around the world. I found this one tiger head and hit the guy up! [Rahadil Hermana at Dotstruction Studio] I’ve never met him and we did everything over the internet but we had a great back and forth. I said, “Hey, I like this tiger head but can you alter it and do this…” I just gave him some direction and he came back with that image. We were all like, “Wow! This is dope!” That’s really how I met him! Since then, we established a great relationship and we’re going to keep using him! It’s been a great experience!
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?
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 BC shows in Canada and then I come home and I have a few BC shows next month. Then we are going to start focusing on The Conflict. BC 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 BC record and do that for awhile before I come back to The Conflict. That’s the plan!
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?
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, “Ok!” 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!
You have seen a lot of change in the music industry through the years first hand. What are the best lessons we can take from your journey?
The lesson I have learned is that you need to treat your band like a business as much as you don’t want to think about that and be an artist. Be creative and push everything else off onto people who know that side of things. You really need to get involved because it can save you a lot of time. I didn’t do that at the beginning and it cost me. Now, I know every aspect of my business. I know all the pitfalls that you can fall into if you are not careful. That’s one thing I would definitely pay attention to if I were a young artist. Make sure you get an attorney to look at anything before you sign it!
What’s the best way we can support this new project and get the money into your pocket?
Right now you can go out and pre-order the record, “Year of The Tiger”, on all digital platforms. If you go out and do that, you will get two songs, “Year of The Tiger” and “Fucked Up.” Also, come out to the shows and support The Conflict! It’s a great show and a great record! That’s really all I can say as far as supporting me!
Awesome! Thanks for your time today, Josh! We wish you continued success and we’ll see you out there on the road!
Thank you, Jason! Take care!
Josh Todd & The Conflict’s debut album, Year of the Tiger, drops September 15th on Century Media Records. The album is available for Pre-Order of Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes and Google Play. For all the latest updates visit Josh Todd’s official site at www.joshtodd.com and like Josh Todd & The Conflict on Facebook.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.