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The Lowdown: Keith Nelson of Buckcherry

The Lowdown: Keith Nelson of Buckcherry

Face to Face, October 7th 2009

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Last Edited by: Heron October 12th, 2009.

Londoners have been lucky enough to see Buckcherry live twice this summer and their show is surely not an easy one to forget. For all those who need their unique energy kick once in a while, the band is now promoting their long awaited first live album "Live and Loud 2009." Lead guitarist and founding member Keith Nelson is here today with Altsounds to tell us more, and let us discover that not only he’s a great musician, but has a brilliant sense of humour!

Stay with us to find out more about "Live and Loud 2009," an unmissable "discover Buckcherry if you haven’t yet" offer and the invaluable music industry lessons only Kiss can teach...

Altsounds: Hello Keith and welcome to Altsounds!
Keith Nelson: Hello!

Altsounds: For all those readers who don’t know Buckcherry yet, what do you sound like?
Keith Nelson: What do we sound like? We sound like two cars colliding on a firey bridge. How’s that?

Altsounds: That sounds pretty good!
Keith Nelson: Thank you!

Altsounds: Can you tell us your main influences, as a guitar player and as a band?
Keith Nelson: As a band, all the obvious rock’n’roll influences such as Aerosmith, ACDC, Guns’n’Roses, Sex Pistols; as a guitar player, Keith Richards, Joe Perry, Billy Givens from ZZ Top, Ronnie Wood.

Altsounds: Your first album came out in 1999, and it wasn’t really the best year for that kind of music...
Keith Nelson: Doesn’t sound like there’s ever been a best year for straight up rock’n’roll, does it?

Altsounds: I guess not.
Keith Nelson: But we don’t give a fuck, we’ll do whatever we want!

Altsounds: I like that attitude!
You split up a while ago...
Keith Nelson: We did... But then we aren’t split! We split up for a couple of years, and it was really necessary I think in the big picture of the band and everything that was going on with us. I think a couple of years off actually did us really good. We realised what was important to us and what wasn’t and that goes a long way towards making better music; so we reformed the band in 2005, and we went on to enjoy far more success than we did the first time around.

Altsounds: That’s true, you are enjoying way more success than the first time... Back then you were more like a “niche” band, while this time you’re getting slots at Download and plenty of mainstream press coverage. What do you think has changed, you or the music scene?
Keith Nelson: I think if you listen to what we’ve been doing since the middle to late 90s that hasn’t changed all that much. I think that our persistence has paid off, and I think that our live show has a reputation that precedes us, so that coupled with the fact that I think we’re just becoming better songwriters, we make better records and we’re a better band. I think the whole thing coming together has been a convergence of rock’n’roll superiority otherwise unknown to us.

Altsounds: Do you write your songs together?
Keith Nelson: For the most part yes, lot of times Josh (the singer) and I will come up with the genesis of the song, but it’s not really a Buckcherry song until everyone in the band is involved.

Altsounds: Let’s talk about your live shows. I saw you back in June...
Keith Nelson: Where?

Altsounds: London, Islington Academy, sold out!
Keith Nelson: That was a good show!

Altsounds: I agree, there’s lot of energy there, and you’re promoting right now a live album...
Keith Nelson: Yes, "Live and loud 2009," which was recorded in May 2009 on a Canadian tour that we did. We recorded 5 or 6 shows, we picked the best of that and put it out, and you get a really accurate representation of what this band does.

Altsounds: How much of that energy I felt live do you reckon I will find on the album?
Keith Nelson: I think you’ll feel lots of it. It’s very interesting to listen back to the music without having the visual aspect, it’s just the audio, it’s not a DVD and surprisingly, as reckless and fun as it is to play it, I think it comes across in the recording as well.

Altsounds: A step back now: not long before this live album you released a studio album, "Black Butterfly." Some of our readers haven’t got their copy yet. "ould you like to say something to get them to run to the record store? Let’s do some selling!
Keith Nelson: (Laughing) I think that “Black Butterfly” is our best record yet, and I’m the most proud of it. “15” and “Black Butterfly” have been released together in the UK and Europe, firstly because we had some issues with getting the record released; but we thought it was a great way to introduce ourselves to our European audience by putting those two records together and putting the price low. I think if you like good old rock’n’roll music, and if honest rock’n’roll is something that you’re missing in your life, you need to absolutely run out and get “Black Butterfly.”

Altsounds: You’re touring the US with Kiss at the moment, not simply a huge band, but a rock’n’roll icon I would say...
Keith Nelson: It’s a travelling circus, it’s phenomenal, it really is one of the best... THE best rock’n’roll shows I’ve ever seen!

Altsounds: More fun or more stress for you?
Keith Nelson: Oh, way more fun, there’s not lots of stress, I mean, it was stressful touring with them in 1999 when nobody knew who we were and we actually played the UK for the first time; we played... Where did we play? We played... Don’t know, we played in London...

Altsounds: Wembley?
Keith Nelson: Wembley Arena! And when you’re touring with Kiss and no one knows who you are, that’s very stressful! It was actually almost comical the way we were treated by the fans, you know, and I don’t blame them.

Altsounds: They just wanted Kiss...
Keith Nelson: They wanted Kiss and they wanted Kiss now. Who the fuck are these guys up here, get them away... Now that we’ve got a few records out and a couple of songs that people know, they’re much more inviting to us and it’s been a complete blast. I can't say enough about the way the guys in Kiss have welcomed us and accommodated us on the tour.

Altsounds: Did you learn anything new?
Keith Nelson: Yes, absolutely. Always wear tight trousers, get the highest shoes that you can possibly get, the highest platforms (I show my shoes)and I see you’re right on spot there! And when you’re spitting fire make sure you spit all of the fire out, you don’t want to swallow any of it! That’s all I’ve learned.

Altsounds: Good stuff! So, when are we going to see you live again?
Keith Nelson: You’re going to see us in early 2010, we will be back!

Altsounds: Headlining?
Keith Nelson: Somewhere, I hope so, if not headlining opening for a really cool band, and we’ll make for a great package and an undeniable night of rock’n’roll!

Altsounds: How was Download
Keith Nelson: Download was great. There were a lot of great bands. Seeing Def Leppard was a complete joy, Whitesnake was fun, Journey was awesome, ZZ Top was there, was really a good day of rock’n’roll.

Altsounds: Which one was your favourite show on the bill?
Keith Nelson: I have to say, you know, I’m a big big big ZZ Top fan, huge fan! Billy is one of my all time favourite guitar players, he’s a very kind, generous man. He’s got a great beard, he always has good sunglasses and what can you say about that? And he has the world’s best guitar sound ever. So, there!

Altsounds: How was the crowd with you at Download?
Keith Nelson: You know, to go and play a big festival like that and not get bottles of piss thrown at you is good, so it was a win for us!

Altsounds: Which songs got better feedback?
Keith Nelson: Everyone loves “Crazy bitch” because everyone knows a crazy bitch, and of course “Lit Up” is always a crowd favourite.

Altsounds: What are your thoughts about the whole illegal downloading/ file sharing issue?
Keith Nelson: It’s unfortunate that right now in the business of making music it seems like the record as we know it, the compact disc, whatever you want to call it, the recorded body of work, seems to mean less and less to people on a business side, because the big companies are having a hard time profiting off of it like they used to; so all that is really left is the live show. I think that illegal downloading is unfortunate and is a bit of a rip off to the artist and the record company, and what it’s done is created an environment that has made the live concert experience that much more valuable. I’m lucky enough to be in a band that excels at the live concert experience, so it’s a double edge sword.

Altsounds: Do you think the good ones will survive?
Keith Nelson: I think so. I think that there’s always going to be a place for good music, you may just not make any money from selling records anymore.

Altsounds: Social networking: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter... Good or bad for music? There’s a lot more around, but is it too much?
Keith Nelson: Oh, wow. You know, I’ve got to say, being on MySpace really helped rejuvenate my band. Honestly, in 2005, when we were trying to get things back together, MySpace was an invaluable tool for us. It allowed us to reach an audience that prior to that we would have had to spend lot of money to get to, and in 2005 we had no money, so it really was a great vehicle for us. I don’t know, there’s so much information at your fingertips that I think what it’s done its made it really a lot harder to get noticed, because the playing field is so levelled. We used to have to rely on record companies to back you with such a huge marketing fund that allowed you to do advertising, and now, because of where people are getting their information from and how they’re getting their input, I think that social networking sites have further levelled the playing field. It’s taking the money out of the equation.

Altsounds: Which is not a bad thing after all...
Keith Nelson: I think it’s great, I think bands have a chance to get noticed, otherwise they wouldn’t have the opportunity. But at the same time there’s so much information out there, you really got to have something special to get someone’s attention and keep it. Getting their attention isn’t hard, keeping it is the hard part.

Altsounds: Altsounds is an online magazine which recently topped Kerrang on ranking (which we’re quite proud of.) Do you think internet journalism is going to replace traditional magazines?
Keith Nelson: Internet journalism has the same responsibility that traditional magazines had. It used to be that a magazine or newspaper really had to get their facts straight before they could publish something. As long as internet journalism adheres to the same kind of standards, I think it’s a phenomenal thing. The problem with it is, for instance I went to Wikipedia this morning and I read some stuff about my band that wasn’t true; so, there is stuff that’s published out there that is presented as fact that is not true, and that’s unfortunate because a lot of people are getting misinformation. I think it is important for all mediums of communication to kind of be forced to adhere to be accountable for what they put out there.

Altsounds: What's on your IPod right now?
Keith Nelson: I’ve been listening to a lot of old blues stuff lately. Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, that’s kind of what I’ve been listening to lately, that and E.L.O actually. Lots of E.L.O.

Altsounds: Anything else you would like to say to our readers?
Keith Nelson: We have “Live and Loud 2009” which we’re really proud of, I think it is a true live record, in the sense that we didn’t go dubbing crowd noise and fixing mistakes; I think you’ll hear the imperfections of a rock’n’roll band, but you’ll also catch the swagger and the vibe of a real rock’n’roll band doing what we do. And I’m very excited about the way “15” and “Black Butterfly” have been packaged together for the European release, that’s very exciting to us that we’re able to come forward with a product that is really a great value for the price, considering what’s going on internationally with the general state of the economy.

So, I think that 2009 was a great year for us, and I’m really looking forward to 2010 and getting back to Europe and play more shows!

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