Josh Todd - Vocals
Jesse Logan - Guitars
Mike Hewitt - Guitars
Mark John - Bass
Kent Ross - Drums
Josh Todd has never had a problem measuring
up, and you can bet the lucky 13 songs on the singer's first post-Buckcherry
release, You Made Me, meet Todd's exacting musical standards.
While he is justifiably proud of his two discs with platinum-selling,
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 lineup's 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, 'that's so brilliant, it's 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 band's 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. "It's a neat combo; my experience and their
excitement," reflects Todd. "They have really good chops.
I always like throwing things together that don't really make
sense into a pot and seeing what happens. We're all really open
to everybody's ideas. And we've 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
wasn't angry. I did a lot of inner work on my decision to end
the band; it wasn't 'fuck all these people.' So since I'm a workaholic,
I've 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 that's 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, it's always personal
as well. "I think songs are pieces of emotions. Music either
makes me want to kick somebody's ass, cry or go out drinking.
That's 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. "It'd make a great video; I even wrote the treatment.
On more personal songs, it's 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 I'm super-passionate about it."
He's 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.
I've always been the youngest guy in all my bands, so now I'm
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. He's 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 Me's 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 band's sound and vibe, as Adam Neiman
of Music Choice exclaimed, "Josh Todd's '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, Todd's 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. "It's 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 Jane's Addiction's "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 Todd's 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 don't like my vulgarity and crassness, hey, you're
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.