It took a "Crazy Bitch" to bring Buckcherry singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson back together.
"That's the only song we wrote before we broke up that we actually hung onto, and it just kind of wouldn't go away," Nelson says on the phone from Sturgis, S.D. "I knew it was catchy, but we never thought something like that would get played on the radio. It's got "bitch' and it's got "fuck' and things in it that make it unplayable on radio these days."
Fans viewed the sex-filled track, a free download, as an appetizer to the group's new disc, 15. However, the song quickly gained interest from rock radio programmers, who requested a cleaned-up version of the song. Nelson says the band never imagined releasing it as a single let alone the lead single and he's amazed at how it's taken on a life of its own. For instance, it's become quite popular at clubs where pole dancing is a featured attraction.
"I've heard rumors of girls at certain establishments fighting over who gets to dance to it," Nelson says, laughing. "So I guess that's a good thing."
Though the Los Angeles band grew a loyal following through its two studio albums 1999's self-titled effort and 2001's Time Bomb, it never found mainstream success. When Buckcherry called it quits a few years ago, it seemed Todd and Nelson were poised for bigger and better things: They were working with ex-Guns N' Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum.
On paper, this group was a Molotov cocktail of rock 'n roll swagger and debauchery. Then the unthinkable happened: The ex-GNRers dropped Nelson and Todd, choosing instead to hook up with ex-Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and form Velvet Revolver.
"We were both involved in the early stages of what became Velvet Revolver, and as much hope as we had had for that and the disappointment when it went away, looking back now, it didn't happen for a reason," Nelson says. "And I'm so proud of us for kind of overcoming all of the obstacles in our way and doing it."
Nelson does have a co-songwriting credit for "Dirty Little Thing" on Velvet Revolver's platinum debut Contraband. But he says the material on 15, which was recorded with new members Jimmy Ashhurst (bass), Stevie D. (guitar) and Xavier Muriel (drums), has him excited about the future.
Without micromanaging from labels and handlers, Todd and Nelson finally could write and record an honest album, fueled by influences ranging from Muddy Waters and Led Zeppelin to Prince, Rage Against the Machine and the Sex Pistols. The result is a more mature studio album that still rocks in the raucous Buckcherry fashion. One thing that hasn't changed for the band, though, is its penchant for blistering, sweaty concerts. Sure, the outfit has aged, Nelson says, but it's more in the product and less in the presentation.
"We've always prided ourselves on high energy, low IQ," he says, laughing. "That's kind of been the fight song around here. We're just trying to keep it really, really fun. We look at it as though we're the host of the party."
Buckcherry and Three Days Grace
Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Monday, Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25, visit ticketweb.com.