DEVORE, California — Second chances are rare in rock and roll. Second chances spurred by a song called "Crazy Bitch" are even more uncommon.
Still, with the track's surprise success — it has reached #3 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock singles chart and #59 on the Hot 100 — the seemingly forgotten Buckcherry have made a certifiable comeback.
"It's like sweet revenge," singer Josh Todd said backstage at KROQ's Inland Invasion, where Buckcherry were opening for heroes Guns N' Roses (see "Guns N' Roses Take On Aguilera, Chester Bennington Joins Alice In Chains At Inland Invasion"). "Nobody really wanted anything to do with us when we started this whole [comeback] process, and eventually we changed everybody's mind by staying on the road and putting out a record that we feel is really great. And the timing just worked out. So it's awesome that we have a second chance."
Buckcherry debuted in 1999 with the single "Lit Up," a #1 Mainstream Rock smash, and their self-titled full-length went gold. Time Bomb, the band's 2001 follow-up, however, fell on deaf ears, and by 2002 they had pretty much disbanded.
Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson nearly made their first comeback — what would have been a big one — a few years later after playing a show with former Guns N' Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. "There was a lot of buzz around town," Todd recalled. "We just thought it would be a good idea to start a band. So we started a band for about a month, but it didn't work out, and then that kind of became Velvet Revolver. I think it was something where Slash just wasn't into it."
Todd next pursued a solo career with 2004's You Made Me, another commercial disappointment, and went more than a year without talking to Nelson. "Then he reached out to me one day, because I had some stuff just going on in my personal life, and we just started talking as friends," Nelson said. "And once we felt comfortable with re-establishing our friendship, it was a matter of time before we get in a room and just see what happens. And the three new members of the band are the first three guys that we called."
"After the first rehearsal was over, we said, 'If anybody wants to be in this band, show up tomorrow with studio rent,' " Todd remembered. "And everybody showed up."
One of the first songs the band learned was one Todd wrote while driving around Los Angeles after coming off the Time Bomb tour in 2002. "The Paris Hilton sex tape was going around and I just thought it was hilarious how someone could launch their career with a homemade porno," Todd said. "Then I started reminiscing about girls in my past, and I think everybody's got a crazy bitch in their little black book. And that's what it's about."
After finishing the album, 15, named after the number of days Buckcherry spent recording and releasing it in Japan, satellite and Internet radio stations got copies of "Crazy Bitch" and started spinning it.
"We absolutely did not think it was the first single; in fact we were all set to go with a different song," Nelson said. "Then it became the #1 most-requested song on satellite radio and we were forced to furnish a clean version for regular radio. That was April, and ever since then it's been crazy. It's October now, and we are still talking about 'Crazy Bitch.' "
Not that he's complaining. "We've been at this long enough to know that this is a really good thing," Nelson added. "We just really hope that the depth of the record gets exploited, because we think that the record is a lot more than just 'Crazy Bitch.' "
That might have to wait though, as Buckcherry just shot a new video for "Crazy Bitch," replacing the low-budget raunch-fest the band made to create more Internet buzz. The original also stemmed a lawsuit from a minor who said the band coerced her into appearing in a sexually-explicit video, but Buckcherry contend she used a fake ID and signed a consent form to appear in the clip.
"It's a little bit different, but there's still some nastiness going on," Todd promised of the second version of the video.
When the time comes, the band plans to release "Next to You" as 15's second single — a song with a theme similar to that of "Crazy Bitch." "We're real deep," Todd said.
In the meantime, Buckcherry have been on the road since November and plan to stay there "until the wheels fall off," according to Nelson. "We get a lot of people at the shows that don't even know that we have three records out," Todd added. "But that's really cool for us, because it just broadens the whole fanbase. We've been having a lot of fun."