INTERVIEW: JOSH TODD of JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT – July 2017

According to a recent press release: “JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT have unveiled the powerful new music video for the title track off their debut album, Year of the Tiger, out September 15th on Century Media Records. The clip, directed by the renowned Chris Cuffaro (Pearl Jam, George Michael), is the first of three videos shot as a mini-concert this past May in the band’s hometown of Los Angeles. The other two videos will be released over the next few months. See below to check out the new video and access the pre-order links for the new album. The band will be touring world-wide throughout 2017/2018.”  As frontman Josh prepares to support the new release with press and touring, we were able to grab a little of his time to discuss the new release and much more!!

Toddstar: Thank you so much for taking time out man, I appreciate this.

Josh: My pleasure.

Toddstar: Well, let’s jump into the good stuff. Josh Todd & the Conflict, Year of the Tiger. I have been spinning this thing since I got the download. I can’t stop listening, man. What is it about this album that you feel takes what you do to the next level?

Josh: Man, it’s passion. It had coming up on two years since I put a record out, and I really was in a position, kind of back against the wall once again in my career, and I had to dig deep and make the record of my career again. That’s the way I felt inside. It may not have seemed like that, but I got with Stevie, my guitar player and songwriting partner, and he also co-produced the record, and he plays in Buckcherry as well, a long-time friend prior to even being in a band together. And it was a labor of love for us. We were in the same boat in our lives, and we were really into this music, and we have a great band now with Sean Winchester on the drums, who played with Everclear and Bow Wow Wow, old punk rock bands, and Greg Cash on the bass who played with Dorothy. It’s just such a great group. I just can’t wait to do this live a lot. I’ve done a handful of shows with these guys, and it’s been amazing. We’ve got stuff coming up, and we’re gonna start hitting it hard in the fall. But to answer your question, it’s just, I really love what I do, and I’m a student of the game. I want everything to be great, I want, when I look back on it when it’s all said and done to be like, “Man, I’m really proud of this body of work.” So I’m so glad that you have the record, because I’ve been sitting on it since March. I’ve done a bunch of press, and some of the people haven’t gotten the record, and the people that have the record are really into it, and it makes me so happy. That’s like the big payoff, you know?

Toddstar: Well, the fun part for me is – and I’ve been a fan forever – what you did with Buckcherry in the beginning, and then you jumped into You Made Me, which I thought was just such a good turn for you. But this kind of really marries everything you’ve done in my mind, even going into this Spraygun War stuff.

Josh: Yeah, it really encompasses everything that I’m about, and that’s why I love it, dynamically as well.

Toddstar: From the jump of “Year of the Tiger,” that’s what made me think of Spraygun War, is it took me right back to that same kind of groove. I don’t want to call it rap-rock, I don’t want to call it nu-metal, it’s none of that shit; this is Josh Todd & The Conflict. And it shouldn’t be confused with any of that other stuff, because it really is you and Stevie and the other guys in the band, but you can tell it’s you guys.

Josh: Yes. There was a good quote, I talked to this guy earlier today, and he’s like, “IF GNR, Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against The Machine made a record, this is it. And it sounds nothing like any of those bands.” And I was like, “That’s awesome, give me that quote, I love it.”

Toddstar: And this is cool, and I want to get to the cover on it in a minute, but looking through these songs, which of these songs really kind of fought you guys tooth and nail? Were there any songs that just didn’t work the way you wanted them to in the beginning?

Josh: Yeah. First of all, “Year of the Tiger” was one of the first songs we had written, and that kind of was the song that was the foundation of the record. It was like, “Oh my God, this song is so great. This makes me want to just fucking do a bunch of crank and drive recklessly through the streets of Los Angeles, and shoot guns…” I was just like, “This song, this is it.” That was the song that was like, “We know what we got now, we know how special this can be,” and we just started writing like there was no business. So that being said, I’ll tell you the songs that came easy, like “Rain,” I wrote a cappella; I wrote it just with my voice. I wrote all the lyrics and melodies for the verse and the chorus, and I went to Stevie when I was like halfway through the writing process, and I go, “This song, I want like a ‘We are the Champions’ beat, and I want you to rip a solo like Brian May rips a solo, something memorable and iconic. That’s what I want in the middle, and then put some music to it.” And we just got a tempo, and I sang it a cappella down, and I came back the next day and Stevie had all the music done. And it just came out real quick, and it was amazing. We’re actually doing a concept video to “Rain” right now, it’s gonna be amazing, and Billy Jane is directing it, he did a couple Buckcherry videos, and we just have a really good relationship with him. He’s super talented. And then songs like “Fucked Up,” for instance, which we just dropped on the internet, that came together… it was good, and the music was good and we had a good chorus, but I couldn’t get the verses to work. So that was actually the third verse I’d come up with, and it was kind of off the beaten path of what I would normally write, which was really cool. I remember just coming in being so fucking frustrated with the song. I was like, “If this verse doesn’t work, I’m done with this fucking song, and I don’t want to hear it again.” And he’s like, “All right.” And I just ripped it out, and we were like, “That’s it, we got it.” So songs like that, and I’m trying to think of what the other songs … You know there were just songs, like I said, that sometimes you write a song and it just comes out. Usually hits are really easy, like “Year of the Tiger” wrote itself really quick, and “Rai”n wrote itself really quick. But songs like “Push It” we had to work on a little bit. I remember that was like the third chorus I’d come up with. I really liked the verse, but I could get a chorus to pop. And then, that was like the last one I wrote, and again, I was at my wit’s end. I’m like, “I don’t want to re-approach this song ever again.” So usually, that’s when it all happens, right when you’re at that frustrated moment, and you have a breakthrough, and then that becomes the song that it needs to be. So that’s all I can say about that so far.

Toddstar: You mentioned “Year of the Tiger,” and I had the same kind of thought you had. You talked about doing crank and just driving through LA. The first thing I thought is, it would be the perfect soundtrack for like Grand Theft Auto or something like that, it just had that groove and that feel to it that pushed you to that edge. But what I like is, you get a track like Atomic, and it’s got the same feel without sounding rehashed.

Josh: Yeah.

Toddstar: How is it you can come up with and without rehashing the sound, how is it you kind of weave that magic?

Josh: You know, the “Atomic” was a song that Stevie and I wrote electronically, right? And then, it had just been lying around for a while, and I’m like, “This song is so fucking good, we’ve got to make it a rock track.” So we broke it down as a four-piece band, and it just popped immediately. It translated really well. So that song was really effortless, and I don’t know, maybe the fact that I approached that song electronically makes it sound the way it sounds with a rock band, so that could be the reason. I don’t know, but we just want to take the best songs that we got and put them on a record, and that song made the cut. There were some songs that didn’t make the cut, but Atomic was one of the last ones that kind of came and slid underneath the rug there to get on the record.

Toddstar: Well you said the key words, “There were some songs that didn’t make it,” so now do we have to look forward to some B-sides, some stuff creeping out?

Josh: Yeah, there’s a B-side called “Bullet,” and it’s really good. We play it live and I’m like, “I feel like it’s better live than it is recorded,” but everybody likes the song. We just felt, Stevie and I did, it just wasn’t as great as the rest of the record. So it’s definitely a B-side out there that you’ll be able to find when the record gets released.

Toddstar: Awesome. Josh, when you look over this list of songs, which songs do you feel hold up against other huge hits throughout your career, going way back?

Josh: Wow. I think “Rain” is a smash hit. It’s a first-time listen, it’s one of those songs that is just… everybody we’ve played it for has just loved it. So, hopefully that’ll happen on radio, you just never know. The timing and the song and everything has to be aligned to be right. There’s a song called “Good Enough” on the record which is a slower kind of acoustic song with a droning beat, and it’s one of my favorite songs on the record. Songs like “Story of My Life” and “Push It,” and as far as competing with radio songs that we’ve written in the past, are fucking great. So they hold up with all of the stuff that I’ve done in the past.

Toddstar: That said, what song was a huge radio hit that you thought, “Not a chance.”

Josh: “Crazy Bitch,” for sure. I just, I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t see that song getting on the radio because of the lyrical content. I just didn’t know what it was gonna do, and it became this phenomenon. So I’m really grateful, that’s what you work hard for is to get a hit. I didn’t think “Lit Up” would be a hit either because of the lyrical content, and it became a hit. So those songs were a surprise for sure.

Toddstar: You talk about going out and touring this, is this the one where you’re gonna try and hook up with somebody, and go out and put a package together, or are you looking to bring this to the masses and play every little place you can put your hands on? I’ve seen you guys at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan so many times, it’s so much fun seeing you at a place like that, because you’re so close and so accessible.

Josh: This would be a great band for The Machine Shop. We love The Machine Shop man, there’s always a great turnout when I’m there, and I’m really grateful for all of Michigan. We’ve had so many memorable shows, great rock fans. So we’re gonna do whatever it takes to break this record, so of course we want to be on a package tour, we want to get in front of large audiences, because that’s the quickest way to the top. And that’s definitely where our mindset is gonna be, that we’ll do it all. We’ll go play The Machine Shop one day and go play a theater the next day, and go play a big radio festival the next day. It doesn’t matter; it’s the same approach to everything. When I go on stage, I have the same mindset, I want to give 110%, I want to give people their money’s worth. It means a lot to me that people are working hard and they… The average concertgoer goes to maybe two shows a year, so I think about that when I go on stage, it means a lot to me. So, I want to make sure that I leave it all on stage, that I don’t leave anything left in the tank.

Toddstar: And that’s admirable, especially like you said, in the day and age when people can’t get out to a rock show for 10 or 15 bucks sometimes.

Josh: Yep.

Toddstar: Other times I’ve seen you, you are so accessible, and so friendly to the fans. I can remember one time seeing you outside, and you were actually on your skateboard, and all I did was roll down my window and yell out “What time to you guys hit the stage?” And you turned around, you said “What’s up?” You responded, and you kept going. What’s it about the fans, or what drives you to connect with the fans the way you do? Because so many guys in your position would have kept going, or said “Fuck off” or just moved along, but you didn’t. What about that connection is there for you?

Josh: It’s all about the connection. I mean, writing songs is about connecting to your audience. So, it’s like without the fans and people showing up, there is no Josh Todd & The Conflict, there is no Buckcherry. So it’s this synergy, and I always like to remain humble and teachable, and that’s really important to me. So I don’t put myself above anybody else. I can’t say that I haven’t been grumpy, and people have approached me when I’ve been grumpy. Sometimes I’ve been short with people because I’m grumpy, or somebody’s being kind of obnoxious or whatever, I have those moments. But most of the time I’m very approachable, and it’s all about just being at one with everybody else, because that’s what it’s all about.

Toddstar: You’re bringing up Josh Todd & The Conflict, you’re talking about touring it, and you’ve still got the Buckcherry thing going, but how much of this Josh Todd & The Conflict, how many times have you guys said, “Let’s pull out one of those tracks from You Made Me, let’s do this one.”

Josh: We have so much content, so it’s like… And this record’s so good that we just want to play all of it. So we’re playing all of it, we’re also playing “OMG” from the Spraygun War EP, there’s some Spraygun War songs that we are converting, and you just never know what’s gonna happen when we get on stage as far as the songs we’ll get into.

Toddstar: But you’ve always had that dynamic when you’ve played live, that’s why it’s always so much fun to come see you. Getting back to that though, what made you pick “Erotic City” of all songs to cover?

Josh: You know, Stevie and I are huge Prince fans, and it’s such a goddamn shame that that guy’s gone. I really thought that he was going to be this guy that was gonna live til he was very old and have a voice for many years, kind of like Stevie Wonder, and just be always raising the bar. So I was really blown away by his passing, along with the majority of the world. And everybody went out and played Prince songs live, and I just kind of laid low and was like, when it got time to the songwriting, I was like, “We’ve got to do a Prince song, let’s do “Erotic City.” I want nasty Prince, and let’s make it a Conflict song.” And that’s the challenge, taking a song from that genre of music and making it into your own, and I think we did a great job with “Erotic City.” So I hope everybody likes it.

Toddstar: I love it, and what I liked about it, and it kind of builds on what you said about taking a song from another genre is, you took a song that’s well-loved, man, and you really made it your own without changing the groove of the track. How important was that to you that you kind of Josh Todded it and Conflicted it without changing the whole breakdown of the track?

Josh: Yeah, you can’t change the groove, because that groove is very special. I think, just being a songwriter, you know that going in, that you have to keep the integrity of your song, or there’s no point in covering it. You want people to be able to go, “Oh, it’s that song,” and relate to it right away out of the box. So that’s the challenge, keeping the groove and keeping the integrity of the song, and kind of making it your own. And that’s what I put to Stevie, I’m like, “You gotta have that hook in there. Wah-uh-uh-uh, you gotta have that in there and do it on the guitar and make it sick, but we gotta have this heavy groove underneath.” I put it to him, I gave him direction, and he came back with great stuff. And it was just a softball for me singing over it.

Toddstar: Well that’s something you guys have always done, you’ve always come up with great tunes that are good to get your groove on to, so this was the perfect touch for you. On a more serious note Josh, looking back over your career, any missteps that you’d like to have a redo on? Is there just anything, looking back where you say, “Fuck, I wish I could redo that?”

Josh: God, there’s just so much. I mean, I don’t have regrets, but there’s so many moves I wish I didn’t make, because I made desperate decisions at times because of money and stuff like that. And that’s what I wish I would have changed, and there will be no more of that in the future. And just some people that I got in the business with where I just knew better, it wasn’t a good idea, and band members, and just a lot of stuff… but you know what? It’s all a learning process, and I learned from all of that, and it got me to new levels in my career because of it, it really motivated me. But there’s a lot of stuff that I could have done without, because I’m already very motivated.

Toddstar: Well listen man, I know you’re busy, and you’ve got to get out there and promote this disc, because everybody should put their hands on this.

Josh: Yes, I agree.

Toddstar: This just really takes what you’ve done and takes it to the next level, in my opinion, and I can’t wait to see this live in Detroit, Flint, or anywhere close.

Josh: Thanks so much.

Toddstar: Thank you for your time, and can’t wait to see you hit Detroit, and maybe we’ll catch up then.

Josh: Yes sir, I appreciate it. Take it easy.

 

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INTERVIEW: JOSH TODD of JOSH TODD & THE CONFLICT - July 2017

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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