Considering that the band burst onto the rock radar with a song called "Lit Up" and then built its reputation on explosive live shows, it's only fitting that Buckcherry's sophomore album is titled

Considering that the band burst onto the rock radar with a song called "Lit Up" and then built its reputation on explosive live shows, it's only fitting that Buckcherry's sophomore album is titled "Time Bomb."

Set for a March 27 release, the DreamWorks album finds the Los Angeles quintet offering ample doses of the same rambunctious attitude showcased on its self-titled, gold-certified 1999 debut. But "Time Bomb" also sees the group refine its energetic hard rock sound with a Stones-worthy sensibility and elements of classic power pop.

Vocalist/lyricist Josh Todd believes Buckcherry's musical growth stems in part from the growth within its own ranks. The group added a second guitarist, Yogi, after it finished recording its debut, and Todd says "Time Bomb" benefited from his presence. "Having Yogi aboard definitely helped step up everybody's game, because the guitars really accented each other," he says. "Adding Yogi really gave it a lot more flavor."

Buckcherry's other guitarist, Keith Nelson, says that 15 months of constant touring in support of the group's debut -- four singles from which cracked Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart (including the Grammy-nominated No. 1 hit "Lit Up") -- also strengthened the album's material. "The record represents a band that went out and played as many shows as they possibly could."

The band made a conscious attempt to separate the John Travis-produced "Time Bomb" from its predecessor, Todd explains. "It's a more melodic record than the last one, and it's a little harder," he says. "There's more uptempo songs [because] one thing that bothered us about the first record in retrospect [was that] there's just a few too many slow-to-midtempo songs. We just wanted something out there that was going to really step up our game from the last record."

Accordingly, 10 of the record's 13 tracks pull no punches, lyrically or musically. They include the driving "Whiskey in the Morning," a tale of Todd's battles with alcoholism; the peppy, Cheap Trick-reminiscent "Underneath"; and the set's turbulent first single, "Ridin'," which the act has been performing live for two years.

"I feel like it's the next logical step from 'Lit Up' as far as a leadoff track," Nelson says. "Hopefully the record will have long-enough legs that people will be able to get beyond 'Ridin' ' and see that there's a lot more going on, but I think it's a really good place to start."

Todd says the infectious, edgy song was written before Buckcherry embarked on its first tour. "I was just imagining what it's going to be like -- what I've dreamed about my entire life," he notes.

A video for "Ridin' " will be shot later this month. DreamWorks marketing director Monica Fitzgibbons says the clip will be promoted in unique ways, including at NASCAR races, where it will be shown on jumbotrons. "Whiskey in the Morning" is currently offered for download on the DreamWorks Web site.

The group has already returned to the road, joining Fuel as openers on a six-week Kid Rock tour. "They needed a band to start the party," Todd quips. "Naturally, they picked up the phone and called us."

Buckcherry will also headline select dates on what would have otherwise been off-nights. "We just wanna get the buzz going again and get everybody excited, so ["Time Bomb"] really pops when it comes out," Todd says. "We thought this tour would be perfect for that, to really set it up the right way."

"We're itching to go play," adds Nelson. "I think it's a good way for us to reach some people that we hadn't reached on the first record. I think it's a really great opportunity for us, and we're stoked to do it."

Buckcherry first broke its 10-month concert hiatus -- during which it contributed the song "Alone," in collaboration with film scorer Hans Zimmer, to the "Mission: Impossible 2" soundtrack -- in November, when a brief tour of California offered the group a chance to test its new material. "That was just the appetizer for us," Nelson says. "That really put the jones on us to hit the road."

The band's live energy is one of its biggest selling points, says DreamWorks' Fitzgibbons. "What you see onstage is what they're passionate about," she says. "They're not afraid to go out there and stay true to the music that they want to play. I think that's what makes them special. They're not trying to be pretentious; they're not trying to be a gimmick. They just want to rock."

Adds Todd, "That's the best part of this business, being onstage."

Although the tour with Kid Rock ends four weeks before the release of Time Bomb, Nelson says Buckcherry will be on the road throughout 2001 and probably even beyond. The band is scheduled to perform spring-break-themed concerts in Corpus Christi, Texas, in March, and Nelson hopes the group can also soon return to Japan, where the record will be released with a bonus track March 16.

He adds, "We're just gonna go out and play as often as we can for as many people as we can and enjoy what we do for a living.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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