If you listened to music critics and label executives 15 or 20 years ago, you would’ve thought rock ’n’ roll was already dead; grunge paved the way for nu-metal. Boy bands and teen pop ruled the charts.
“Our first record was in 1999, and everybody told us rock ’n’ roll was dead back then. They also told us we weren’t part of the mainstream and we couldn’t sell rock records,” recalls Josh Todd, frontman of swaggering California rockers Buckcherry. “Then nobody would sign us when we got back together (in 2005).”
Buckcherry’s new album is titled “Rock ’N’ Roll” as a boot in the face to the genre’s detractors who continue to declare its expiration.
“We wanted to get back to our roots and have fun and make a rock ’n’ roll record,” says Todd. Its last album was the emotionally draining concept record “Confessions.”
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Todd also has a problem with what passes for rock these days.
“When I listen to rock radio, I can’t tell one band from the other. It sounds like they’re chasing radio. There are no more guitar heroes, and the way it’s recorded is muddy and bland. It’s chopped up on a grid and there’s tons of tracks. It’s so cluttered. There’s no separation. No dynamics. You go see them live and they’re all running tracks,” he complains of backing tracks.
“You’re paying to go see a live show and it’s not live. That never used to be the case in rock music. Now it’s the norm. I think it’s made people lazy and they don’t get really great at their craft. They go in and manipulate things in the studio and then figure out they can’t play it live and run tracks and phone it in.
“I don’t think the average live entertainment fan understands how much of it is going on now. We’ve been out on tour with rock bands that a portion of their set the singer wasn’t even singing. He was lip-syncing. And there’s a guy running a Pro Tools rig under the stage,” he adds.
Todd isn’t just fired up about music on “Rock ’N’ Roll.” The first track and single, “Bring It on Back,” is a tribute to his new favorite pastime – racing.
“I love Kurt and Kyle Busch and wanted to write about the experience of racing and what goes on in your head,” says Todd, who began racing indoor go-karts after Buckcherry played the infield at Daytona, Fla. He wanted a taste of speed himself.
“I found out there’s this whole worldwide subculture of outdoor go-karting. Everything is regulated, and it’s amazing,” says Todd, who has raced for four years.
“Rock ’N’ Roll” also contains a track inspired by his 9-year-old daughter.
“I wanted to write an original chorus I could sing around the house with (her). I put these chords together. We’d sing it every night. She’d start singing it around the house,” he explains of the song “The Feeling Never Dies.” “I thought that’s a really good chorus. I played it for (co-founder) Keith (Nelson) and everybody loved it.”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday.
WHERE: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.
DETAILS: 704-942-7997; www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.