Thanks to the guys at Total Assault, I recently had the pleasure of visiting with Josh Todd (lead singer) and Xavier Muriel (drums) of Buckcherry before their performance at the Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing, Michigan [pic]. They’ve been touring extensively to promote their new CD and have also been headlining for KISS during their Eventful North American Tour, so it’s safe to say they’ve done a ton of interviews about the band and the music, both of which are amazing. But I get to tell them we’re going to be talking about their body art and what tattoo enthusiast doesn’t like to talk about that? Josh and Xavier were no different and I had a great time getting to know more about them through their ink.
Tattoos Responsible for Buckcherry
Did you know that if it weren’t for tattoos, Buckcherry probably wouldn't exist? Around sixteen years ago, Josh Todd was fresh out of a band and was getting tattooed when his artist, Kevin Quinn, told him about a guy he knew, Keith Nelson, who was also a musician. He suggested the guys meet, so one day Keith showed up at the shop while Josh was having one of his tattoos worked on. Josh said it wasn’t instant chemistry, but they decided to hang out and write some songs together and see what came of it. In 1995, Buckcherry was formed and Josh and Keith are still creating kick ass music together, so I guess there was chemistry there after all.
The NEW Buckcherry
Granted, Buckcherry experienced a huge blow when Josh left in 2002, disbanding the group and going solo for a short time. It seemed as if Buckcherry was finished, but fate brought Josh and Keith back together, this time older and wiser. Keenly mindful of previous mistakes that had hurt them in the past, Josh and Keith selected new band members and became much more discriminating about the contracts they signed. Since the reformation in 2005, Buckcherry has been a serious contender in the music industry, with their most popular single – Crazy Bitch – going 2x multi-platinum in April, 2008.
One of the new members that joined the new-and-improved Buckcherry was drummer, Xavier Muriel [pic]. Also an avid tattoo collector, Xavier’s got at least a third of his body covered in ink, with plans for more. He was also one of the first musicians to support Scott Bartlett (Saving Abel) by allowing his art to be used as inspiration for some of the clothing pieces in Scott’s fashion line, Tatco. That obvious appreciation for body decoration made me raise an eyebrow when I read that one of Xavier’s favorite places in the world is Japan. Knowing that many of the Japanese culture are still highly offended by tattoos, I asked him how they are received when they tour in Japan and he said, “I wouldn’t say we have problems. We’re definitely gazed upon a little bit differently cuz, you know, we wear t-shirts out in [public]. But back in the day (in the U.S.) if you had tattoos you were a biker or an ex-con, so it’s still kinda that way with them. And of course, you’re American and everyone else is Japanese, so you already stand out and then you throw in the fact that you’re layered in tattoos, it gets a little interesting.”
First Tattoos and Regrets
Since they’re both so extensively covered in ink, when did they start getting tattooed? Josh said he actually tried to get tattooed at 16, but the shop carded him and refused to do it. So, he waited two years to finally get tattooed legally; he had two years to really think about what he wanted, so what was his epic first tattoo? Josh chuckled guiltily, “I was really hammered and I got a Betty Boop on my wrist that I have covered up. It was a horrible decision…I really regret it.” But he added wisely, “I think everybody who’s got a lot of tattoos has a cover-up story.”
Xavier, however, waited until later in life to get his first tattoo, losing his "tattoo virginity" at age 26. He also got something that meant a great deal to him – his family crest [pic]. How did he avoid the first-timer regret? “I had always looked up to guys in bands and bikers and whatnot, but I never figured out what I wanted and I didn’t want to go and do the flash art thing. So, I waited until I decided it was the right thing to do at the right time.” Of course, that doesn’t mean everything went as planned. He adds with a sardonic smile, “I was just gonna get one and…..well, we all know where that went!”
First tattoos aside, what are Josh and Xavier’s favorite pieces? Josh answered first with, “I like my kneecaps…these are my twins (pointing at the skulls directly over the bend of his knees) [pic: right knee] [pic: left knee]. I like them because you don’t see many kneecap tattoos.” Responding to my comment about the pain level, he said, “Yah. It’s brutal.” Josh’s kneecap skulls were inked by Abl at Graffiti Tattoo in North Hollywood, California.
Xavier’s favorite tattoo is actually a recent acquisition; two large koi fish, one over each rib cage [pic]. The fish are big, bold and brilliant pieces of art – it’s easy to see why they’re his favorite. And the artist? Kevin Quinn – the same man responsible for introducing Josh and Keith so many years ago. Kevin has actually inked a number of pieces on all the Buckcherry members over the years. Xavier explained his loyalty with, “When I got into the band, Keith and Josh had already been stuck by [Kevin] countless times and I was like, I’m gonna go where they’re going because their shit looks really good. He’s a great, great artist.” Josh nodded enthusiastically and added, “Yah, he’s definitely the man.”
A Father is Still a Father
You want to know what a rock star is really like? Ask him about something personal, like his tattoos. Want to know who he really is, deep in his core? Ask him about his kids. Our chat about tattoos led to a chat with Josh about his oldest daughter, and that’s where I felt like the rock star, the parties, the fame and fortune all dissolved and the only thing left was a father who loves his child.
I had read that Josh, with all his ink and crazy lifestyle, wishes much different for his oldest daughter, now sixteen years of age. He’s even told her not to bring home any guys that look like him. I found that interesting, because I recalled an interview that his wife, Mitzi, did in 2004 for E! True Hollywood Story about her own father’s reaction to Josh’s many tattoos. When the couple got engaged, Mitzi’s father sat Josh down and told him, “You know, I’m really not a fan of the tattoos.” And Josh answered him, with all the respect and sincerity in the world, “You know, one day you won’t even see them.” So, I asked Josh what inspired him to give that profound response to his future father-in-law and he said, “I don’t judge a book by its cover, really. He’s from the old school, so what tattoos represent for him aren’t good things; they represented criminals and stuff like that, but tattoos have come so far from there. But, I wanted him to know there’s a person inside all of this; it’s just part of my gig and what I like to do, but I’m a good guy.”
So how can the same person who so insightfully disarmed an opponent to his own body art be so closed-minded to the idea of his daughter dating someone just like himself? Simple – he’s a dad. There’s no rationality when it comes to a father protecting his daughter. It’s not about open or closed minds anymore. As Josh put it, “I want my daughter to be secure and taken care of. Although I’m in the entertainment business, it’s a tough life and I don’t want her to have to go through that kinda stuff if I can manage to direct her in a way to get with someone a little more stable….(nodding) I would like that.”
The Bottom Line
While that’s understandable, I would like to remind everyone reading this article that many heavily tattooed people are very good people with stable jobs and home lives. I don’t want a new stereotype to be started now that we’re finally getting people to realize we’re not all convicts and gangsters! But, as I said, we’re talking about a father protecting his daughter, and I know for a fact that my husband would prefer our daughters date someone unattractive and utterly boring if that’s what it takes to keep them safe. When it comes right down to it, though, Josh says, “I’m just all about whatever makes you happy.”