’Cherry on top 

Only in weird, wild L.A. could a
band like Buckcherry party in the same room as recent NBA retiree and
former genie Shaquille O’Neal and TV legend Betty White. Truth is, the
reason is far more noble than sordid debauchery.

party-hearty guys gained fame in the mid-2000s via vintage, sleazy,
hard-rock tunes like “Crazy Bitch,” but they’ve used that notoriety for
issues greater than sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, like filming a PSA on
child abuse with the aforementioned megastars.

“We’re growing up, you know?

can I say?” lead singer and founding member Josh Todd said. “It makes
us feel good to give back. Most of us have kids at home, and you want to
leave a good environment.”

It all
began when he read “A Child Called ‘It’” — a best-selling,
autobiographical account of an abusive childhood — that his daughter
brought home for homework. It set a new tone for Todd, who wrote songs
about the subject for Buckcherry’s 2008 album, “Black Butterfly,” and
chased that with a track benefiting victims of the BP oil spill in last
year’s “All Night Long.”

“It ripped my soul out,” Todd said. “I was obsessed with that book, and it turned into this other thing. It was like, ‘Wow, let’s do something.’”

Buckcherry has raised hundreds of thousands for child advocacy groups — a seemingly far cry from the band’s cock-rock roots.

It formed in 1995, releasing two major-label records before temporarily disbanding, then reforming with a different lineup.

is the band we always wanted it to be,” Todd said. “I don’t even really
consider that first lineup to be the band, because we’ve made the
majority of our records with this current one, and the most successful
ones. We finally found the right guys.”

Buckcherry became a major force in hard rock; the years have been kind.

think it’s just sticking to our guns,” Todd said. “We are playing rock
’n’ roll when it’s not really what’s going on as far as what’s popular.
It’s been the black sheep since the early ’90s. We went against the
grain, and it’s paid off. It’s hurt us at times, but in the end, we
found our audience and our own sound. That’s what you dream about.”

tour with Papa Roach — including Friday’s KATTfest — fills Buckcherry’s
slate through fall, and then it’s back to recording its sixth studio
album, which, if nothing else, will rock pretty hard.

a huge void as far as big, rock anthems and arena rock goes,” Todd
said, “and that’s what we are all about: being as big as we can be.”

Click through to read Joshua Boydston's interview with fellow KATTfest performer Sonny Sandoval.

Photo by PR Brown.

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Joshua Boydston

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