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All lit up again

For Buckcherry, it's better the second time around

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In 2002, Buckcherry had had enough. While its 1999 self-titled debut album went gold, the band's 2001 follow-up, Time Bomb, fizzled out due to a lack of promotion. Three members left the band leaving the two founders -- singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson -- to pack it in as well.

Todd would go on to release a heavier, more alternative solo album, You Made Me, in 2003, but Buckcherry never left his thoughts. In 2005, he and Nelson got together to discuss some personal issues and the topic of Buckcherry eventually came up.

The result was new bandmates and a new album, 2006's platinum 15. Sparked by the success of the first single, "Crazy Bitch," the band felt a resurgence into the mainstream. A number of singles from the album followed -- "Next 2 You," "Everything," "Broken Glass" and the ballad "Sorry."

"I've always believed in Buckcherry and what we could do," Todd says by phone before a recent show in Lincoln, Neb. "I've also believed that not one of our records was given the shot it needed on radio. We've had a ballad on every album, but this is the first time one got on radio and look what happened."

It should be noted that the three former original members of the band -- Jonathan Brightman, Devon Glenn and Yogi Lonich -- have since formed their own group called Black Robot. Todd says he hasn't talked to them and isn't familiar with the new project, but wishes them luck.

For those just starting to discover Buckcherry, listeners have gotten a better idea of the band's diversity and songwriting abilities. For longtime fans, it was a pleasant reunion and feeling that it was "about time" the band got its due success.

That wave of popularity has led to the release of the band's fourth album, Black Butterfly, released in September. "We're so proud of the new record," Todd says. "We spent a long time on it, writing it. It was a longer cycle than the other records and it really paid off. We're getting a great response."

While the band spent 15 days on the last album -- thus the title -- it spent 21 days recording this time around. They also took time off for writing which Todd says was more productive than trying to write while they were on the road. He adds that the band is currently playing a handful of songs from Black Butterfly on the current tour.

"From the songwriting standpoint and how the record flows and how we've grown-up as songwriters, it's a great record," Todd says. "It's very complete and takes you on a journey. I think it's our best record to date. Me and the band are very satisfied."

There's no doubt some people might assume the band is one full of numerous sex and drug references, but Todd is quick to point out that there's only one song like that on each album -- "Lit Up" on the self-titled debut, "Porno Star" on Time Bomb, "Crazy Bitch" on 15 and the lead single from Black Butterfly, "Too Drunk."

"Everybody talks about the sex and the drugs, but it's only one song on the album," Todd says with audible frustration in his voice. "It's one song about the glory days of when I was young, but because it's a single, we're the sex, drugs and rock and roll guys. The record has a lot more depth than that. It was the same way with 15 and 'Crazy Bitch' or the first album with 'Lit Up.' People just have to dig deeper and it's the true fans that find out what you're about. There's just a huge void for songs that are a little risky lyrically and there aren't any party songs anymore."

Besides the variety of music on the album, most people may be surprised to hear Todd has been sober for 14 years. "Drugs and alcohol were probably the longest love relationship I've had," Todd, 37, says. "It happened from 13 to 23 -- 10 years of my life. I also have a lot of other experiences that I talk about. Songs are about your past and that's what I write about. If people don't like it, they can fuck off."

Butterfly continues the same sonic pulse that were present on the three previous albums -- solid rock songs, a ballad or two and more mature songwriting from the predecessor. While Todd previously had a goal of a platinum album -- which was met with the sales of 15 -- his long-term goal has always been getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. One thing driving that goal, which has remained constant since the band's inception, is its sound.

"When you hear a Buckcherry song, you know it's Buckcherry," Todd says. "It's hard to develop your own sound, but that's how you build a long career. You don't play 'Stump the Listener' every time you put a record out. You try to stay to your roots, but grow a little on each record. You have to keep it real and that's what we try to do."

Buckcherry will play the Grady Cole Center with Saving Abel and 12 Stones on Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.

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