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On The Warpath: An Exclusive Interview With STEVIE D Of BUCKCHERRY

By Krishta Abruzzini, Pacific Northwest Writer
Sunday, March 24, 2019 @ 11:10 AM

"Itís not important to be sober. Itís just important to not be fucked up all the time. You just need to be able to show up and kick ass at your job."

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Personally, it was never a thought that BUCKCHERRY could be a spoonerism of Chuck Berry (mind blown). As it turns out, the name was actually derived from an acquaintance of the band, a drag queen named Buck Cherry. Formed in 1995, the band has garnered much commercial success through the years with eight studio albums out to date. The latest, a much anticipated release that took over three years to produce just hit in March of 2019, titled Warpaint.

Guitarist Stevie D recently chatted with me about the new release, guitars, amps and photography. A big congratulations to BUCKCHERRY for their latest release!

KNAC.COM: Hi Steve! Itís Krishta with KNAC.COM.

STEVIE D: KNAC? Itís so crazy hearing that. I grew up with KNAC being on the radio. I grew up in Chicago, but when I moved to [Los Angeles], KNAC was in full swing on the radio and the biggest thing in Southern California. So, very cool!

KNAC.COM: Weíre still around! Web based now, but, still here! Your new album is out today!

STEVIE D: Yeah, Happy Warpaint release day! Itís out March 8th. It was available on itunes, and a lot of people were getting in the mail this morning. Vinyls, cds, and virtual copies in mailboxes. Itís a very exciting time. Itís three years in the making.

KNAC.COM: Congratulations! Any songs that stand out for you, that you think might be a big hit?

STEVIE D: Well, Iím really close to it. "Vent" is doing really well at radio. Personally, I like songs like "No Regrets", and "Back Down". As far as whatís going to be a hit, I never know. I didnít think "Crazy Bitch" was going to be a hit, and look what happened. (Laughing)

KNAC.COM: Ha! Iím not sure how that happened either.

STEVIE D: Donít ask me, Iím not the one to ask.

KNAC.COM: Listen, you throw some profanities in there, itís going to be a hit. Thatís my theory on how it happens [laughing].

STEVIE D: If that were true, then Iím putting profanity on everything.

KNAC.COM: Listen, get a good hook, and throw Crazy Bitch somewhere in there, and itíll take off. Bam. (Although in post edit, I realized that that BUCKCHERRY has an EP titled simply, Fuck with the word Ďfuckí in each of the titles. Theory blown.)

STEVIE D: Iíll have to sit with Josh and see what we can come up with.

KNAC.COM: Itís got to be the cool colloquialism though. There are songs written that use it just to be using it and itís cheesy, but sometimes a great song with that one profane word can pack a punch. But itís got to have a hook.

STEVIE D: I think hooks, profanity or not, thatís what works for us. We did put an album out with all the ĎFucksí on it, and it wasnít as successful as some of our other stuff. Itís all about the big fishing tackle box, itís got to have a lot of hooks.

KNAC.COM: I totally agree with you. I saw an interview with you recently where you were talking about vibrato with the guitar, and how beautiful that is compared to technicality. To me, feel is so much more important than just a bunch of technical ability.

STEVIE D: As a guitar player, and a student of the game for years, Iím still as excited about guitars as I was when I was a teenager. That said, technical ability is always an eyecatcher, a head-turner. People will always go, ĎWhoa, that guy is fucking amazing.í Where I feel like you keep the people, is in the soul in your playing, and that really lives in your vibrato. Thereís soul singers that donít have the gymnastic ability that some do, but guys like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Prince will live on forever. Thatís not to say that thereís not a place for say, the Geoff Tateís of the world. I just prefer personally, when thereís more soul thereís going to be more music and thereís going to be more passion.

KNAC.COM: I agree. You can play one soulful note and bring someone to their knees, as opposed to playing twenty notes, that may be awesome to witness, but, did it move the audience? Are you mainly a Gibson guy?

STEVIE D: No. I was a Gibson guy for a long time. I met a guy named Sully (www.sullyguitars.com) through Nikki Sixx. Nikki called me one day and he was like, ďI got this new guitar and you need to check it out.Ē He sent me a picture of it, and it was a Raven, and I was like, oh thatís cool. I went over there and played it and it was just ripping. He had this other model there from the same guy, and it was called the Ď71 Trella. Oddly enough, Sully sent it to Nikki for me to try. Nikki was like, ďDude, take this home, see how you like it.Ē And I loved it. I couldnít put it down. I took it around the world with me. Consequently he made me my own signature model. Turns out weíre both from Chicago, and he made me another one that had the Chicago flag on it, and then he made me my own signature guitar. (Ď71 SD Stevie D Signature Model) https://www.sullyguitars.com/sully71 Theyíre beautiful guitars. I mean the necks are second to none. Heís made me several different types, aside from the Trella and the SD Conspiracy Series, he also made me a Ď92 model. I highly recommend checking them out.

KNAC.COM: Have you checked out any of Steven McSwainís guitars? Theyíre beautiful as well. (https://www.mcswainguitars.com/) Your bass player Kelly LeMieux plays with him during his off time in Portland, Oregon in an AC/DC tribute called THE DCs. (https://www.facebook.com/bonscottrules/)

STEVIE D: Steven is a great guy! Do you know Kelly and Steven?

KNAC.COM: Yeah! Steven actually plays with my husband in Portland as well in a CULT Tribute called SONIC TEMPLE. (https://www.facebook.com/sonictemplepdx/) Kelly has gotten up and played with SONIC TEMPLE as well. Weíre all connected. (laughing) Iíve known Kelly for a while now. Heís such a great guy. I was going to ask you, or I guess Iím supposed to ask you what itís like playing with the best bass player in the world?

STEVIE D: (Laughing) Iím one of Kellyís biggest fans. He definitely is the best bass player in rock. Hands down. Youíre not going to get any arguments from me. I challenge anyone out there to tell me otherwise.

KNAC.COM: Iím not going to challenge that!

STEVIE D: Heís the man. I mean, now when you get him talking about UFOs and Sasquatch. I still love him, even when heís doing that. [laughs]

KNAC.COM: So, you guys did NINís "Head Like a Hole". What was the thought process on covering that one?

STEVIE D: Not as much went into it as people think. We were entertaining a lot of different covers. Thereís a lot of artists that have influenced us through the years. As time goes on, we just play some riffs. Getting warmed up in the studio. We were playing "Head Like a Hole", and Mike Plotnicoff, our producer hit record, and I just think we sounded really comfortable and natural playing it as opposed to some of the others we were trying. We just layered on top of that song, and thatís what you hear on Warpaint. Weíre huge fans of Trent Reznor.

KNAC.COM: You guys just added Francis Ruiz, one of the sweetest guys I know to replace Sean Winchester on drums.

STEVIE D: Heís one of the nicest human beings on the planet. Aside from being an insanely great drummer, heís such a beautiful human being. Heís an absolute pleasure to have in the band.

KNAC.COM: I love that he is now in a band, in front of the audience as opposed to being a drum tech behind the scenes. So deserved!

STEVIE D: Absolutely! Thatís where he belongs.

KNAC.COM: Are you guys still using Marshall Amps?

STEVIE D: No. We use Orange exclusively. Hello? Where have you been? [laughs] Kevin (Roentgen) has been using [Orange] for years. Last year I switched over from Marshall to Orange. Not only because they make amazing amps, but they offer more support worldwide. Itís better for a touring band like us. Alex Auxier is an amazing dude and has had our backs since day one. I love them.

KNAC.COM: You and Josh also did SPRAYGUN WAR a couple of years ago, which was kind of a Electro-rap thing?

STEVIE D: We did it for a skate company. We did that with Tommy Lee. We also had another band called JOSH TODD AND THE CONFLICT with this guy Greg Cash, and it was a lot of fun, a lot of hard work. We also got together with Eric [Kretz] from STONE TEMPLE PILOTS. It was a wonderful experience. Itís just a shame that there was a label shakeup right as we were coming out of the gate. So it didnít get the exposure that we had hoped for. But thatís okay, because weíre doing BUCKCHERRY again. Weíll revisit the CONFLICT again in a couple more years. I mean, BUCKCHERRY is our firstborn. But, there comes a time where you gotta stop touring and give it a rest. Let it create the demand again. We were just touring so much, because records donít sell anymore, so our only income was playing live. We just played everywhere too much. We had to go away for three years.

KNAC.COM: I totally get that. So back to our earlier conversation regarding colloquialisms in music, and now that weíre all, uh-hem, older, and many of us with kids, do you play songs like "Crazy Bitch" and "I Love Cocaine" around them?

STEVIE D: You know, these are all past experiences from years ago before we got sober. You know what I mean? I think itís good to be aware of some of the tendencies and pitfalls of certain lifestyles. So hopefully your kids donít follow in those footsteps. Iím not the type of parent that would want to keep things from my kid. Iíd want him to know as much as he can so he can make his own educated decision about whatever it may be. I mean, itís not like a song that Iíd play in the car while weíre driving. My son is only 4. He likes Disney, and Christmas songs, and movie songs. But Joshís kids are a little bit older, and thatís just his day job, and what happens at work. Itís not who he is when he comes home.

KNAC.COM: I know sobriety is a big part of your life. Is it an important thing for this band to all be together on the same level of sobriety?

STEVIE D: Itís not important to be sober. Itís just important to not be fucked up all the time. You just need to be able to show up and kick ass at your job. If you drink or get high or whatever, if you can still show up and give us 110%, do what you want. I donít give a fuck. But most guys that get really loaded have a hard time showing up. At least thatís been my experience. There might be others out there that can function at a high level. You know, the older we get, itís just too taxing to have that kind of lifestyle. Youíre not as resilient as you were as a teenager or in your early twenties. I mean, I could break a leg at twenty and be walking on it the next day.

KNAC.COM: Well, weíre not all Dave Grohl, right? Somethingís wrong with him though. Heís a freak of nature. [laughing]. Do you have any guilty pleasure songs? I mean, Iím going to admit it. I love the BEE GEES.

STEVIE D: Oh man! I love the BEE GEES. Itís not even a guilty pleasure. I donít give a fuck if people think thatís not cool. Thereís a lot of poppy music I like. I mean, good music is good music.

KNAC.COM: Aside from music, youíre also a photographer.

STEVIE D: Yeah. The last two years a lot less because Iíve been writing and producing a lot. Just recently I started shooting a lot more. Iíve got a couple of books out. Iíve had a few gallery showings. At the end of this tour, Iíll probably have another book about the Warpaint Tour.

KNAC.COM: Do you try to shoot while youíre out on the road? Are you an architecture guy, or more into people?

STEVIE D: Iím a street photography, candid, lifestyle kind of guy. Thatís not to say I wonít do landscapes when thereís something cool around. Or portraits. I used to shoot editorial. I stopped that. A lot of the editors hired me in the beginning because I had a certain style, and later were asking me to shoot something else. I was doing it because I loved shooting. I already had a job and didnít need that.

KNAC.COM: Are you a Nikon or Canon guy?

STEVIE D: Neither. I started as a Nikon guy, and I became a Leica guy for years. Then I did a left turn and went back into film. I shoot medium format as well as several Rangefinders.

KNAC.COM: As a photographer myself, I fought tooth and nail giving up my film and moving into the digital world. Thereís still something thatís really special about it.

STEVIE D: I like the look better. Again, I was talking to Nikki Sixx about getting a digital rig for this tour. I might go over and get one of his cameras and check it out. Digital is definitely cool. Itís got its place. I just like the way it looks.

KNAC.COM: I totally agree. The convenience of being able to shoot a thousand pictures without changing a roll of film is nice, but itís the outcome thatís important. Hey, thanks so much for your time tonight. Hoping you guys have something fun planned for your release?

STEVIE D: Weíre at the Hard Rock in Vancouver, BC tonight, so itís going to go off! I think weíre going to play "Radio Song" (off of Warpaint) for the first time ever! Iím very excited.

KNAC.COM: Iíll look forward to seeing you guys soon! Congratulations again on your release!

You can order a copy of Warpaint HERE

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