Josh Todd - Vocals
Jesse Logan - Guitars
Mike Hewitt - Guitars
Mark John - Bass
Kent Ross - Drums
"If I dont last, if I dont measure up / its just because Im fucking rotten to the core." - Josh Todd, "Blast"
Josh Todd has never had a problem measuring up, and you can bet the lucky 13 songs on the singers first post-Buckcherry release, You Made Me, meet Todds exacting musical standards. While he is justifiably proud of his two discs with platinum-selling, Grammy?-nominated tattooed rockers Buckcherry, "I definitely wanted a fresh, more modern sound for this record and band," Todd says. You Made Me, in stores March 9 (out in Japan via JVC/Victor Entertainment on March 26), features the first single and video, the mid-tempo, hypnotic rocker "Shine," which was "Most Added" at Active Rock in its first two weeks at radio. "I wanted a more melodic record vocally, and I wanted to find young, hungry guys; ones who were willing to take a bullet for the cause," he explains of the lineups 2002 inception. "So I cold-called an ad in Music Connection magazine. One ad, off the cuff, called while standing at the newsstand! They were a band who had moved to L.A. from Salt Lake City and were looking for a singer. They listed influences as Deftones and At the Drive In--cool bands--so I left a message, and after I did, I was like, what did I just do!?" he recalls with a laugh. "I told my producer, Chris [Johnson], and he said, thats so brilliant, its gonna be great!" And it was. At the first jam session, "the chemistry was instant," and Todd quickly wrote melodies for two songs over the bands existing music. Three days later, Todd talked with band--Jesse Logan (guitars), Mike Hewitt (guitars), Mark John (bass) and Kent Ross (drums)-about what he envisioned, making sure there were no drug or girlfriend "problems," and stressing his hardcore work ethic, which the band soon adopted, rehearsing every day, each member meshing as an equal and becoming an integral part of a well-oiled rock n roll machine. Adopting the band name Josh Todd-and it IS a band, not a solo outing-the quintet rehearsed daily, soon working up 30 memorable songs toward their debut. "Its a neat combo; my experience and their excitement," reflects Todd. "They have really good chops. I always like throwing things together that dont really make sense into a pot and seeing what happens. Were all really open to everybodys ideas. And weve come up with our own sound."
The songs on You Made Me are a product of a particularly prolific writing period that began right after Buckcherry ended. Of his state of mind then, Todd recalls: "I wasnt angry. I did a lot of inner work on my decision to end the band; it wasnt fuck all these people. So since Im a workaholic, Ive been writing for two years solid! In 2002, I wrote 20 songs with Keith [Nelson, guitarist] for the third Buckcherry CD that never happened, then we met the Guns N Roses guys and wrote nine songs together as a band, so thats 29 songs. I knew I had to move on from that situation, and wrote 30 with my new band, plus nine songs with Muggs from Cypress Hill, and two of those got on his record."
Inspiration was clearly not a problem. "I had been in a situation that was so not right for such a long period of time, that by the time I got with these guys, it was so easy and so exciting." Several songs on You Made Me are inspired by outside events, yet with Todd, its always personal as well. "I think songs are pieces of emotions. Music either makes me want to kick somebodys ass, cry or go out drinking. Thats what I try to do. I listen to music and it takes me down a road. I read a lot and I write down a lot of titles." The haunting and epic song "Lovely Bones," in fact, was inspired by the best-selling book of the same name. Todd, a true crime freak, is obsessed with the TV show "Forensic Files," and the lyrics to the song "Burn," are loosely based on a true episode from the show. "The wife poisoned her husband, slowly, to death, but I thought, how great would it be if he was drunk, he passed out and she burned him alive?!" reveals Todd. "Itd make a great video; I even wrote the treatment. On more personal songs, its easy for me to access things from my personal life and word it such a way that I can really become attached to it, so when I sing Im super-passionate about it."
Hes super-passionate about the new situation, band and CD. "I just wanted a fresh, new start," Todd furthers, "All the guys are in their very early to mid-20s. Ive always been the youngest guy in all my bands, so now Im on the other side of the coin, which is cool. Starting fresh, I knew I was going to have to humble myself, but I was like, bring it on; I just want to be happy. And along came [manager/business partner] Todd Meagher, and we got into business. Hes a forward-thinking guy, has a songwriting background, and he works his ass off. He and I are the perfect combination."
As for the stellar sound of You Made Me, Todd was thrilled to work with producer Chris Johnson (Evanescence, Masters of Reality) and Rob Chiarelli, a mixer known for his work with Madonna and Public Enemy, and his ability to bring out the best in a song. Of his old friend Johnson, Todd has high praise: "Chris is an incredibly gifted musician and I always wanted to do a record with him." The combo of Johnson and Chiarelli proved a winning one: From You Made Mes kick-off cut, the balls-out, aggro yet toe-tapping "Mind Infection" to the raw punk power of "Blast," the CD is intense yet dynamic, cohesive yet multi-dimensional. The industry was quick in their praise for the bands sound and vibe, as Adam Neiman of Music Choice exclaimed, "Josh Todds Shine is the wakeup call my playlist has been waiting for. We need more ROCK records like this." And Anthony "ChaChi" Siscar, PD at WZZN-FM in West Palm Beach chimed in: "First time I saw him, I liked him. The second time, I loved him. The third time, I wanted to be him."
Indeed, Todds charisma is anything but understated, and his unique image has covered the sides of buildings and billboards in Calvin Klein ads, as well as earning the singer movie roles, the most recent an indie film called "Lightning Bug," directed by Rob Hall, who also directed the powerful "Shine" video for Josh Todd. The frontman also appears in The Salton Sea, XXX, The Banger Sisters and The New Guy. "I pursue movie roles when I have time," Todd explains. "Its fun, challenging and I love it." Other activities occupying this workaholics time? In 2002, Todd sang with all-star band Camp Freddy for a Vanity Fair Breast Cancer Benefit in Hollywood, and appeared in New York at a Rock the Vote event where he performed Janes Addictions "Mountain Song" with Janes guitarist Dave Navarro.
Todd, whose musical tastes run from Minor Threat to Public Enemy to Rage Against the Machine, has coalesced his influences, intelligence and varied personality aspects in Josh Todd. The CD title, You Made Me, which comes from a song of the same name by Todds old ahead-of-the-curve punk band, Slamhound, is particularly revealing, as the singer explains: "You Made Me refers to society and all the elements in your life that mold you. If you dont like my vulgarity and crassness, hey, youre the one who made me!" Todd laughs. But with big-mouthed, bold and soul-baring, headbanging performances, Josh Todd-the person and the band-are a hard bunch to resist, pain, passion and raw power oozing from every pore, wearing their weary hearts on tattooed sleeves.