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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2013.04.DD - I'd Hit That Podcast - Interview with Josh

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2013.04.DD - I'd Hit That Podcast - Interview with Josh Empty 2013.04.DD - I'd Hit That Podcast - Interview with Josh

Post by Soulmonster Wed May 15, 2013 12:06 pm

Transcript of GN'R parts:

There is a part around the 00:45:00 minute mark when Josh explains why GN'R wasn't the biggest gig he had had at the time, and talks about his love of Paul Westerberg. At 00:51:18 the interviewer tries to get Josh to talk about the world of Guns N' Roses with contracts and stuff, but Josh starts talking about his love of Devo before he turns to GN'R at 00:55:10:

Josh: So the Guns N' Roses thing happened. I liked Guns N' Roses.

Interviewer: But how does that happen again?

Josh: What happens is they're looking for drummer. The whole band was falling apart basically, everyone was quitting or getting fired or both, I don't know.

Interviewer: Matt Sorum leaves or-

Josh: Yeah, yeah. Who knows what happened. But they're looking for a drummer. And it was '97 and I'll never forget, a now defunct rehearsal studio, Cole Rehearsal studios, it was in Hollywood, right around the corner from the Dragonfly, like on Cole and Willoughby. Anyways, they were rehearsing and I had a pager, okay, '97, right, a pager. I might have had a cell phone, but I don't know the phone number, you opened it for, like, if you blew a tire, or you're getting carjacked, you would use it for an emergency, you know. So the pager goes off. And I'm like, "What the hell is this weird Orange County number?" and I call it and it's their manager who was in Laguna at the time, south Orange County. "Hey, Guns N' Roses is looking for drummer and they're interested in you auditioning. Would you be into it?" and I was like, "Yeeeeah, uhm." I think I just kind of hurried off the phone and I was like, I kind of, like, mumbled a few things and kind of like tiptoed backwards out of the conversation because it wasn't something that I was really into at the time and I ended up being polite about it, but I end up hanging up and going, "I don't know if I wanna audition for Guns N' Roses." I had this band that was signed to AEM records at the time, that fell apart quickly due to drugs unfortunately, but a band called Slider. It was a very cool band, way too short lived. But this band I was trying to do on AEM called Slider, and I was playing with the Vandals and I was playing with Devo. But both the Vandals and Devo, neither of them were full time jobs. Neither of them were, you know. But I was doing gigs with Devo, I was doing gigs with the Vandals. I was playing on some records, do you know what I mean? I was making a living doing exactly what I wanted to do. And, "I don't know if I wanna join Guns N' Roses."

Interviewer: You weren't crazy about the music?

Josh: I liked Guns N' Roses. But like, what do you mean, Guns N' Roses? Slash and Izzy and those other dudes weren't in the band anymore. What's going on? I don't know. They called again... and or I told them I'd call him back. That was it, I called them back. When I called them back I'm like, "You know what? I should go down and just meet Axl." At this point he'd been our of the limelight for a while, he'd been out of the spotlight, and there were all these weird rumours about him, "Oh, I hear he is 300 pounds", and, "He is bald". You know what? I should go meet him. I like to form my own opinion about the guy rather than hearing all these rumours about him, right? Is he driving himself there? Is he taking a helicopter? Or a limo? What's he rolling up in these days? So I went down there to do it and he was cool. Actually, the first time I went down there he wasn't there. I auditioned, and, oddly enough, the two guys auditioning me were guys I would later be in two separate bands with. The guy that was playing bass, because they didn't have a bass player at the time, was Guns N' Roses' pro-tools engineer at the time, Billy Howerdel who would later do A Perfect Circle, but he was just the pro-tools guy and he strapped on a bass and I had no idea. Like, "Who's this weird bass roadie? Who's this bald bass roadie that's going to jam with us?" Later, he and I would have A Perfect Circle with. And on guitar was Robin Finck, the guitar player who had just left Nine Inch Nails to do Guns N' Roses, and who would later leave Guns N' Roses to rejoin Nine Inch Nails, and I played with Nine Inch Nails for a bit. Anyways, so we're down at the Complex in West LA or Santa Monica or wherever that is, and I auditioned and it went well and they said "We want you to come back" and "Axl wants to meet you," and I said, "Cool!" So I came back and I met Axl, and I liked him. He seemed like a cool guy. And I had so many people telling me not to do it, and actually - not to bring him up again - but I remember talking to Paul Westerberg, and Westerberg was the only one who said, "You should do it. Go do it! If everyone's telling you not to do it, you should go do it". I went, "Yeah, you're right." "What, am I gonna join some cool alternative rock band?" - this was in like in the late 90s - "What, am I going to be, like, in a grunge band?" And I have friends begging me, that will remain nameless in case any Guns N' Roses people listen to this, there were a couple guys in pretty famous bands that I'm friends with, they were begging me like, "Dude, what are you doing? What are you doing? You can't be in Guns, dude. You're insane to think you're going to be in Guns N' Roses." And I was like, "Oh yeah, I'm gonna give it a shot." So I went and did it and I signed a two-year contract and [?] was actually okay like, you know, if you write music, and I ended up writing one of the songs that record, I mean, I quit before the record was done because I spent two years in the studio with them. The first year I was there, like, five nights a week. I'd drive from Long Beach up to the Valley, deep in the Valley, like at 9 at night, 10 at night, and work till, like, four or five, six, in the morning, you know, five nights a week for the first year, give or take a week or two if we'd have off. And Axl was cool. I'd say, "Hey man, you know, the Vandals want to go to Europe in November for, like, two weeks. Are you cool with that?" He'd be like, "No problem. Go do it." "Hey man, Devo is gonna go to New York at the end of January for three gigs. Gonna go to New York." "Cool. No problem." The second year I was down there, '99, it was way looser.

Interviewer: By the way, I don't mean to cut you off, I'm just curious. When you do that, when you start off and it's like, "Hey, here's the contract." Are they saying, "This is the the amount we're offering," is it "holy shit!" numbers.

Josh: No.

Interviewer: At the time?

Josh: Not at all.

Interviewer: No, not at all?

Josh: Money-wise? No. And there's a lot of rumors. You know. Everyone's like, "Dude, I heard you got paid $1,000,000," you want to put your pinky up like in Austin Powers, "$1,000,000 to join Guns?" Fuck no. Nothing like that. It was good money and it was good money for me at the time being a single guy with no kids and being....Let me think how, how old was I? Probably about 24-25, I guess, 24-25. Yeah, I was getting a decent sized weekly paycheck and I was still being able to, like, because I was doing it in the evenings, I was still... this one record was happening all the freaking time, too, so I'm planning records all day, I'm doing sessions during the day and then going there at night and doing his thing. And oh, not touring a lot but not needing to and not even thinking about, I mean, like I said, going out of town once in a while with the Vandals and once in a while with-

Interviewer: But you had to get permission and all that?

Josh: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it was only for a week or two at a time and no long term. But it was great. I was making a bunch of records during the day with people and then going to work with Axl at night and. But yeah, I did hear rumors about people... There was no, I didn't get a big signing bonus, you know, and I wasn't out shopping for Ferraris the next day or anything. It's like, "Okay, I'm gonna make good money every week. This is great. It's cool. I don't have to worry about rents and..." you know, it was awesome. You know, it was, it was. It was good but it wasn't ridiculous. It wasn't, "Go buy yourself a crazy car and a cool house," none of that shit. But you know, I've heard through the Grapevine, "Hey, I heard that," you know, "you got this" or "you got that." It's usually not the case, you know, when people think that kind of shit, you know? But who knows? You know, I don't know. I mean, I read some stories about Robert Trujillo, who I used to play with, who plays bass in Metallica.

Interviewer: Yeah, that was in the movie. They did give a signing bonus, basically.

Josh: There you go. Well, that happened to Robert but not to yours truly.


Josh: Like, I got nothing. I got a rock, man like Charlie Brown on fucking Halloween.

Interviewer: So you would say that going into the second year or something you said the first year was was all good, you're saying it was all-

Josh: It's not that the second year wasn't good, it's just the second year we're kind of running out of things to do. You know what I mean? The record wasn't done-

Interviewer: Was that a pain in the ass? I mean, come on, it was a pain in the ass working with...

Josh: You know, it wasn't. It wasn't for me. You might talk to other people who will say it was. Everybody's always looking for a good Axl story from me, or a crazy Axl story from me, but I don't really have any, man, I know they are out there, but my personal experience, and experiences with him...he was always cool to me. I don't have anything bad to say about the guy. His reality is different than yours and mine, and most everybody's. He's had a weird run, from what I know about him, you know, as a kid or a teenager up to becoming really famous and having all that power and money and shit, it's gotta be weird, especially when you are a kid.

Interviewer: He lives in a different world.

Josh: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, you know, and you kind of, it's just the way it worked out, you can't even blame him for it. Even when I do hear stories about him, I don't go, "Oh, man," this or that I go, I feel bad for him, you know, sometimes, you know. But anyways, I like the dude. Never had any issues with him.

Interviewer: So that wasn't why you left or anything?

Josh: No. Well, I mean, I left because we were ending year two of sitting in studio and this record still wasn't gonna... didn't look like it would be done anytime soon. So I'm sitting going, "Okay, I've sat here for two years, I like everyone down here, I don't have a problem with anyone in this room, I like Axl, I like some of the record we've been making, do I think it'll be out a year from now? I don't know." You know what I mean? I've been here for two years. I'd be surprised it was out in the next year. So I was getting discouraged. I was getting frustrated and discouraged, like a lot of people, and I think like a lot of people would be if they were in that position.

So in the meantime, I had on the weekends been messing around with Billy Howerdel and Maynard. I met Maynard James Keenan on the Lollapalooza tour of '97. Devo and Tool toured together on that and the Tool guys were big Devo fans and so they would sit on the side of the stage and ask for our hats and clothes at the end of the shows that were ripped apart, the yellow plastic hazmat kind of things we wear. So they're always super cool and I kind of became friends with Maynard and with Danny Carey in '97. And Maynard and Billy Howerdel lived together in LA, Maynard had just bought a house in Arizona but he kept a room, he rented a room from Billy. Billy Howerdel, who I was working with in Guns N' Roses, used to be a guitar tech for Tool so he was friends with those guys. I'd met Maynard separately from Billy, but then when I started working with Billy in the studio like one day Billy goes, "Ohh, you know who my roommate is?" I said, "No, who?" "I live with Maynard," or "He rents a room from me," you know, "and when he's in LA, he stays at my house in Studio City," and I said, "Oh, cool, man. Yeah, he's cool. I [?] last summer. I like that guy." And then it ended up being Maynard calling me going, "Hey, Billy will never tell you because he's too shy," or, you know, "nice" or whatever, "but he writes really great music. and I'm gonna do a band with him and you should play drums," and I think, "Gosh, yeah, okay. Like a band? Like, we're gonna go make a record and put it out and go on tour like normal people do?" Because, you know, the GN'R thing just became frustrating for me. I didn't see it. It wasn't really a light at the end of the tunnel yet. And so I was like, "Oh my God," once again, like everyone here, I don't know if I want to sit around here. I don't know how much more time is going to be wasted down here.

So the weekends I was doing the Perfect Circle stuff. The demos are turning out great, the demos ended up being the record. We didn't even retrack. We retracked one or two songs, but we basically had a real mixer, Alan Moulder, come in to mix. With that first record, a lot of what you're hearing, a lot of what I like about some of the performances are not being worried about, "Oh my God, we're in the studio." and that red light sound that we're recording. Some of the tracks were, like, we'd have studio time in our friend's studio and I'd be leaving and Billy, the guitar, Billy Howerdel would say, "Hey, man, I got one more song. Just play over it so I have something to play to when I get home," I go, "Okay." And I give it one, maybe two passes goes [?] and that end up being the drum take on the record on the first record. And when I listen back to go, "That sounds cool." There's some weird shit, like, sometimes there's some weird shit that happens, Phrasing stuff because I didn't know the song yet, I didn't realize there was an extra bar or two at the end of the first verse before going to [?]. So I play some weird fill in the middle of nowhere. But it's cool, you know, it's...I mentioned--

Interviewer: It's like what you said before about Westerberg.

Josh: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And just going with it, man, committing and going for it. And that's what I like a lot about that first record, it's pretty spontaneous that way. And just not having that weight hanging over you, looming of, "Oh, man, we're in the studio, we [?] all this money now, we're making this record." It was more like, you know, it was loose, man, it was loose and spontaneous, off the cuff. Anyhow, back to Guns N' Roses. Yeah. So my two-year contract was coming up and I just... I didn't see it leaving that room anytime soon, so I had to make that decision: Am I gonna sign up another two years? And am I okay with sitting in this room for another two years? You know-

Interviewer: By the way, what does the contract even mean? If you wanted to have gotten out of it, say, a year in, what would that have meant?

Josh: Well, supposedly you can get out of any contract. Right. [?] They wanted me to sign something saying that they're the priority. There wasn't a bunch of rules in there. There wasn't a bunch-

Interviewer: "You're representing the Guns N' Roses organization."

Josh: No, it was looser than that. But it was more like, "Hey, we wanna know that if you sign this thing you're not gonna split in three months and we've got you for.... unless you want to spend some time and money and hassle, and if you got a real reason to get out of it in a year, we wanna know you're gonna be here and we can count on you." That's basically all it was, you know.

Interviewer: So the contract was about to expire and you were thinking, "You know what? I don't want to re-up"?

Josh: Yeah. And once again, it was nothing personal. I liked everyone involved in it. But I just, like, I just didn't see it picking up any momentum anytime in the near future.

Interviewer: So did did you foresee that they would just find someone else and use their... or did you think at the time like, "Well, they'll they'll keep everything I've done"?

Josh: I honestly didn't care either which way. I honestly didn't care. And what I was more excited about is that I had written three or four songs, I co-wrote three or four songs. When I left there was two lists. There's the master list, like, "Here's the 20 songs we're concentrating on." And there was a B list, "And here's the other 20 songs that if we get to him one day or finish him one day, we'll see what happens." For the 20 songs, I had three or four songs, or for the 16, I had three or four songs that were in the running. And so, like, that's pretty cool, you know, and, "I've put in enough time down here playing drums and I have made some money doing it and got a chance to write some... co-write some songs to these guys. Whatever they want to do with my drums after I leave is their business." You know what I mean? And it didn't surprise me...or I will tell you what did surprise me. It didn't surprise me that they had someone replay my stuff. What surprised me is they supposedly had Brain redo my drums like note for note. That's supposedly a true story. And I've never actually asked Brian about it, I wasn't sure if he was allowed to talk about or how that worked, but I saw an interview someone was for [?]... He's done some interviews where he says that, like I'd heard it through the grapevine.

Interviewer: Did you listen to it or you don't even-

Josh: I can't remember. I can't remember what the hell I played. So anyways, Brain recorded... And I get the whole, "Okay, you're the new drummer, we want you to feel part of this, we want you to redo some of the drums." I got that part. I also got the part that Axl loved what I did, or was not so much he loved what I did but had gotten used to hearing the song certain way and liked them a certain way. It was strange  to me that he had him redo them almost note for note. But it also didn't really surprise me. I mean, I get that a lot of time, sometimes what people do in the studio if they're procrastinating, is you can do stuff also that makes it look like you're busy, give yourself certain [?], you know what I mean? I might come back to my studio and have to, like, write something that I need to do with somebody, but I'll go, "I'm going to just clean instead, I'm gonna order that new piece of gear, and then I'm gonna do this," and I never get to the actual writing of the music, but I cleaned the studio and I ordered the gear and I returned that phone call, so I did some shit, you know? Anyways, I understand, yeah, he wants the dude to feel like he's a part of it and so they're gonna re-do the drums. But supposedly they hired like a guy to transcribe like all the drum parts. Not that it was... they're not, you know, transcribing the "shut up and play your guitar" drum parts-

Interviewer: But still the idea-

Josh: - the 4/4 rock and roll. And Brain's a great drummer and he's been a friend of mine-

Interviewer: Did you set him up with that or?

Josh: I didn't. I sat Guns N' Roses up with Buckethead. I introduced Buckethead to them. And we could do a whole separate podcast on Buckethead, man.

Interviewer: Who is Buckethead?

Josh: His name is Brian. Can I tell you something?

Interviewer: Were you laughing when people said he was Steve Vai? Do you lou love that kind of stuff?

Josh: I never heard that, I've heard rumors but I never heard that. But the other day, I was working with a band in the studio and they were talking about Buckethead, and I go, "You know dude, I've known Buckethead for 20 years". They were online and they were showing me pictures, "Is this him?". All these different pictures of guys. "This might be Buckethead?" "No, no, no, no." They finally found an ad that he had posted, like when he was 16, like in Penny Saver or something, Recycler or Guitars For Hire or something, and there's a picture of him, but you can hardly see his face, and he was 16, so it hardly looks like him. But every photo it was like, "No, that's not him, that's a tall guy with long hair, and that's a tall guy with long hair, but not Buckethead".

When I finally re-tracked him down -- I hadn't talked to him for five years -- the joke I had with Axl is that no matter who you mentioned, I knew. It became an ongoing joke, he'd go, "Yes, so my first girlfriend, Linda, that I met back in Indiana when I was 14", and I'd go, "Oh yeah, I know Linda!" It got that weird almost, so he, "Yeah, sure kid, you know everybody". When Robin Finck had left to rejoin Nine Inch Nails, we were looking for a guitar player and we had auditioned a few people, and we weren't really sure what we would do, and one day I walked into the studio and Axl goes, "Buckethead! Do you know him?" And I go, "I've known him since '91, man!" And he's like, "I knew you'd know him! How do we get hold of him?" "I haven't talked to him in a while but last I heard he was hanging up in San Francisco with the Primus crew. Let me call my buddy Dave, the manager of Primus, Dave Lefkowitz." So I called Dave and "Yeah, I've seen him around," so I got his phone number. The first thing I asked was, "Do you think Buckethead would even be into this, he's such a quirky, weird, artiste?" And Dave goes, "Yeah, I think he is tired of the starving artist routine, I think he is ready to make a living". It's funny, but when I talked to Buckethead on the phone the first time I was, "Oh yeah, man, they were asking about you the other day and I was going, 'Shit yeah man, I know Brian, I've known Brian for since like '90, man, I've known Brian for a long time,'" and he goes, "Hey, when you talk about me, you don't say like 'Brian this and Brian that' do you?" I'm like, "No, no, no. What did I say? Did I say that? No, no, no, I said Buckethead." I'm like, " Holy shit! He is freaking out on me for for humanizing him too much!" Because I kind of knew him as Brian, too, like when I first met him I used to call him Brian-

Interviewer: Does he ever-

Josh: - Now all of his friends call him Bucket or Buckethead, like, they'll go, "Yeah, Bucket this or Bucket that"-

Interviewer: Without revealing his full ID, does this guy ever do anything publicly without the bucket?

Josh: No. He walks around without the bucket.

Interviewer: No, no, but I mean-

Josh: He doesn't go out to eat with this shit on.

Interviewer: It's not like he's like this side man one night for someone sitting in on guitar and there's people just like, "Who's that??

Josh: If he is, I don't know about it. But I would be surprised, I highly doubt it. Like, I don't think he's ever, like, playing guitar in front of anybody without all the shit on.

Interviewer: Okay.

Josh: First time I met him in the studio alone, my friend Warren, the guitar player in the Vandals, was producing him like in 1990 or '91. They were in a studio in Orange County in 1990 or '91. My friend Warren calls me, "Dude you have to come own and meet this guy, he's a freak, he's incredible, lightning fast, weird funk-slap style, he's like completely outshining Flea or any guy who does that sort..." I'm 18 so "Flea's the greatest funk slap bass player!" So I'm freaking out. "You've got to check this dude out man, he moonwalks and he does martial arts and break dance shit." And I'm like, "What?" I'm up in LA at the time, I think he's up in Dweezil [Zappa]'s house at the time. And I'm like...It's kind of weird if I mentioned Dweezil for the first time, we talked about Dweezil before we turned this thing on.

Interviewer: We discussed Dweezil Zappa earlier, folks.

Josh: -the first record I made [?] when I was a kiddo. [?] Dweezil's house which is way up at the top of the Lauren Canyon. And I was like, "Oh, man, I gotta come down and check this out." And Warren also tells me, he goes, "This guy's really excited, Buckethead's really excited - He calls himself Buckethead, right - he's really excited to meet you, he is really impressed that you used to play drums at Disneyland, so he's really excited about meeting you." Because he is a Disneyland freak. He's a Disneyland freak. So forget that you're the dude who plays in the Vandals or plays with Frank Zappa-

Interviewer: He want to meet you because-

Josh: - he doesn't care about the Zappa connection.

Interviewer: Did he interview you about Disney, did he-

Josh: Kinda.

Interviewer: He did?

Josh: I've I've got another funny story, man. About him at Disneyland that involves my dad and Axl Rose.

Interviewer: Did you go together?

Josh: We didn't. No, but my dad conducted the Disneyland Band when I was a kid. Anyone listening to this is gonna go, "Man, Freese makes U-turns every like 30 seconds!" I start a story then I abandoned it. I mention one name and I make a fucking U-turn and just go somewhere else. I'll make this quick: My dad conducted the Disneyland Band when I was a kid and then for years, since I was about 10, he still does this gig which is he hires... He's one of the guys who hires the music out there. Most musicians you see out there, he hires and fires. From the Latin bands, the Big Bands, the Top 40 bands, The Dapper Dan Barbershop Quartet, you know. Anyways, so Buckhead is like, "Oh my god!" Because when I was a kid I played my first gig for three years in a cover band every weekend, at Disneyland, when I was 12 till I was 15, so Buckethead knew that - or Warren had told him that - and he was like, "Oh my god, my dream is to work at Disneyland, play guitar at Disneyland."

So I came out and met him and I was just tripping on him. So I came and it's just Warren and him alone in the studio. It's like me and you hanging out right now in the studio. But I'm wearing a mask and a bucket, but it's just me and you.

Interviewer: He never took it off?

Josh: Well, he did. Like when we went out to eat. But while we're sitting in the room or while he's playing guitar, he was wearing the shit. It's just like 9PM on a Tuesday night alone in this little dingy, crappy studio in Orange County and the guy's wearing all this stuff and like, "Wow, this guy is a trip!" I should find the videotape, man, I have a videotape somewhere of me videotaping him doing, like, like all these robot moves and stuff in the studio, it's so crazy. So anyways, I didn't see Buckethead for years, up until I kind of reconnected with him for for the Guns N' Roses thing. Oh, but I might be skipping something else, though. You were asking about? Yeah, yeah, he wears the shit. Yeah, he wears it all when he plays, but when he doesn't play, he takes it off, you know. And when he wears the stuff, he won't talk, too. Actually, I busted him once, I got him to talk to me, he whispered to me once. I saw him at a NAMM show about three years ago. I hadn't seen him in a while, and I saw him at a NAMM show. He's walking with Bootsy Collins, you know, Bootsy Collins and him are like best buddies.

Interviewer: Oh, come on! We need a film with them [?] They hang out?

Josh: Yeah, Bootsy loves Buckethead. Buckethead goes and stays at Bootsy's house and shit, like in Cincinnati or Chicago, or wherever he lives. They made records together, Bootsy and Buckethead. I mean, there's about 300 people that love them, you know, but like anyways, great duo, right?

Interviewer: -do The Odd Couple on Broadway or something, you know?

Josh: Absolutely, man. Absolutely. So I knew that they were buddies and I would always sit with [?] Buckethead, "It's so great that you..." "Oh, man, you would love Bootsy, man, you would love Bootsy. Bootsy would love you, man. Oh, man, you gotta hang out with Bootsy sometime," Buckethead's telling me, right? So I don't see him for years, it was after the Guns N' Roses thing and I'd never met Bootsy. And one time I'm at a NAMM show and it's 9:00 AM at a NAMM show, everyone's going in, it's a mess, and there's the Gibson guitar chicks in short shorts and there's the old metal dudes. There's all these people, you know, just this onslaught of freaks and pouring into the convention center, right? And speaking of onslaught of freaks, I see, you know, Buckethead's whatever... 6'5"... I see Buckethead and Bootsy Collins. And there's a crowd around them, man, people are taking pictures, people are wanting to take photos. He's got that white, kinda like kabuki face mask with no expression on it and Buckethead [?]. I see him. And he doesn't talk, when he's in character he'll nod 'yes' or shake his head 'no' to answer questions, that's it. Because Buckethead has no voice, right? He doesn't talk. But I'm going, "Oh my God! There's Buckethead, man. I haven't seen his ass in five years, man. And he's with Bootsy Collins!" So I run up to him and there's all these people around, I, like, lean over and go, "What's up?" And he, like, leans over to me and I'm going, I'm thinking, "He's not gonna talk," but he said, "Hey man, what's going on? You gotta meet Bootsy." He leans over to Bootsy, then I go, "Oh man, I totally got him to talk in character right now." He's whispering, no one else is hearing, and he leans over to Boots, he's like, "Hey, Bootsy, man, this is my friend Josh Freese." He was like, "Hey, man, what's going on, Josh?" you know, and I'm like, "Shit man, nice to meet you. But he's just such a trip, man.

One time Buckethead was coming down to.... He kinda jammed with Guns N' Roses two or three times before he kinda got the job. He played and had a call back and came back again.

Interviewer: Was he doing the whole 'not talking thing'?

Josh: When he's got the shit on, yeah. He could take it off and talk-

Interviewer: He would come in the room and just not talk?

Josh: When he came to audition he came without the stuff on. He came without the stuff on.

Interviewer: So funny to have made it.. anyway.

Josh: He's great. A long story short: he was really nervous one night, and I told my dad, like, "Dad, you should really come up and meet some of the guys tonight, meet Axl and..." My dad had got in a car accident a few months prior to that, and Axl sent this really nice...kinda as a nice gesture and as a joke -- 'cause he is a funny dude -- he sent this nice, like giant, expensive skateboard and signed it, and made some joke about, "Hey, maybe you should try riding this for a while," or, you know, something... some joke about the car or whatever. It was a nice skateboard. So I was like, "Dad, you should come up and meet Axl... and meet Buckethead, he is such a huge Disney freak." And Bucket knew my dad was Mr. Disney Entertainment guy. So that night, Buckethead was up there, and he was, we were going to do some more playing, "Man, I am really nervous, I'm really nervous about playing tonight," and I said to him, I go, "Dude, you are all good, you practically got the gig already. You wouldn't be asked to come down a fourth time." "No, no, not so much that! You're dad's there and he hires the music artists at Disney [?]!"


Josh: It was funny. "Oh, you're worried about my old man? That hires people out of the park? Okay."

Interviewer: "That's the gig you really want?"


Interviewer: You know what I mean? Like, your dad did not offer him a job that night.

Josh: But then years ago, my dad used to go, "Buckethead's too out for Disney. We can't hire him. He's just too out, man." You know what I mean? "He's too out." And I bet you one day he does hire him out there or they figure something out, because what happens is that Buckethead would be playing with the Anaheim House of Blues, which is part of Downtown Disney, and my dad go, "I'm seeing ads for your buddy, Buckethead. That's so cool. He's playing House of Blues." [?] I don't know if he's just making conversation or what, he's like, "I gotta get Buckethead out here, man. We gotta get Buckethead. We gotta figure out a way to get Buckethead out of the park." And I think you know now that Disney is still really family oriented and it doesn't get as crazy as like Knotts Berry Farm or Universal Studios, but they deck the place out for Halloween for the month of October, they don't get as freaky as the other theme parks that get pretty intense with the haunted house shit, the gore and stuff, but they like to have a little bit of fun with that and I've been thinking of Buckethead like out front like on a mansion with his mask on doing some weird guitar stuff. Dude, I love Buckethead and I know we weren't... we didn't come here to-

Interviewer: This has become the Buckethead-

Josh: -Buckethead hour. But one of the funniest things about him is his love for Disneyland. When I first met him, 20-some years ago, I go, "So Warren says you like Disneyland, you go there often?" "Yeah", "When was the last time you went there?", "I went there on Monday." It was, like, two days ago. "Okay, shit, man, you do love it." "You know what I do there sometimes, man, I have recorded my own versions of the soundtracks to certain rides with me playing guitar and I go in there with my Walkman," pre-iPod, or whatever, "and when I am on the Haunted Mansion I listen to me play the Haunted Mansion and when I am on the Pirates of Caribbean I listen to me playing Pirates of the Caribbean." I'm like, "Shit man!" I am sitting there, trying not to crack up, "That's cool!" And I go, "What do you do on Space Mountain, man? There's-" you know, I was trying to, like, trip him up-

Interviewer: Stump the Bucket.

Josh: Stump the Bucket, man. "What do you do on Space Mountain?" He goes, "Oh, they don't have any... There's no theme song for that. So it's just me going off, man. It's just me soloing. I just listen to me soloing."


Josh: He's the best. I love him, I love him and oddly enough I've never really been in a band with him. I introduced him to the Axl but then when he was going to audition I took him to the side and said, "You have to know that I might not be here in six months." You know, my contract was coming up. And I said, "I don't want you to take this gig... I don't want me to be your connection to this whole thing, to me be your buddy in the organization. You sign on and then three weeks later me go, 'Later, dude!'

Interviewer: You were taking, like, the war approach. You were like, "Don't get close to me.! Like-

Josh: Yeah, you know-

Interviewer: It's like, don't ask too many questions, get to know them-

Josh. Yeah, sort of. But I wanted to be real honest with him about it, you know, and so I said, !Listen, this is a cool thing. And if you wanna do it, do it. But I don't want you to be angry if I'm not here in a month. You gotta do it not just because I'm here, but because you like everyone else."

Interviewer: So he knew the deal.

Josh: Yeah, yeah. And that's how Brian got the gig. Because Brain and Buckethead are super, super good friends. Brain knows him a lot better than I know him. And so when I left I could have told you Brain was gonna come play because they had already auditioned a bunch of guys in LA and didn't like any of the ones that they found. I was the one that they'd settled on and it's now two years later-

Interviewer: They weren't gonna go back to those guys.

Josh: What are they gonna do? Just audition the same 10 guys they already auditioned? I don't know. And Brain's a great drummer and wasn't doing a whole lot so it only made sense. But, I mean, he's like one of Buckethead's best friends. And I don't see Brain that often. I heard he was living down here for a bit, or had a studio in Venice or something. I should reach out to him and say hi. I like Brain a lot. He's always been kind of a big... he's a Bay Area dude, you know, came up from those parts and played in Primus for a bit after Tim Alexander, you know. Anyways, so yeah, the Guns N' Roses thing is just kind of that it had run its course and they didn't use my drums and like I said, I was fine with it. That's their business, do whatever they want. I was happy that-

Interviewer: Good terms with Axl?

Josh: Yeah. I mean, I don't talk to him often-

Interviewer: But?

Josh: I mean, I don't talk to him at all, really.

Interviewer: Have you run into him since

Josh: I mean, it's hard enough to run into me because I'm in my little bubble down in Long Beach, but there seems way harder to run into Axl, you know what I mean?

Interviewer: Yeah. Fair enough. I got you. No bad blood?

Josh: No. I worked with Slash a couple of years ago on his solo record, you know. And I heard that that bummed him out and I felt bad about that because-

Interviewer: Which part bummed him out?

Josh: That I was working with Slash. I think-

Interviewer: Oh, that bummed Axl out?

Josh: Yeah. And I haven't seen Axl. I haven't seen him since... What year is it? I haven't seen Axl in 13 years, okay? I haven't seen him in 13 years, right? I have nothing to do with him or his music. I don't know him anymore. Personally, I don't do business with him, you know what I mean? Ann not that Axl is going to listen to this and hear this and hear my side, you know, I'm a studio drummer, man. It's like, I play with, if I'm in town and can do it and I don't hate you, which I guess rules almost everybody out, I'll go play with you, playing your stuff. Slash [?] and stuff. Seemed like a cool... my friend Eric Valentine was producing it and he was having all these different singers, you know, Iggy and Ozzy and Lemmy, all the cool dudes that you can say their name, by their first name that ended in "E". Yeah, Ozzy, Iggy, Lemmy and then, you know, Chris Cornell and and the dude from Wolfmother and a bunch of people. Which is a cool thing, you know, but I'd heard that he was kind of... I don't know. I don't even know what that those guys had go on between them and I don't even care.

Interviewer: Right.

Josh: You know, I definitely wasn't doing it to get back at something.

Interviewer: It wasn't like Slash was asking-

Josh: No. Slash had not talked to Axl in 15 years, he has nothing to do with-

Interviewer: He didn't ask you anything about that?

Josh: It's not like, "Oh, I'm gonna get Josh Freese to piss off Axl."

Interviewer: And you guys never discussed it, it wasn't like that. Gotcha.

Josh: Not at all. But anyways, yeah, I haven't talked to him in forever. But I did go see them. I was in Japan a couple years ago, and they were there at the same time. And I keep in contact with Tommy, the bass player. Tommy Stinson. I emailed Tommy and said, "Dude, you're in Tokyo Thursday, I'm in here and I've got the night off. I wanna come see you play." "Great." And then I went to dinner with him the night before and I said something like, "So you're allowed to put my name on the guest list or does that have to be hidden from anybody that I'm coming to the show?" He's like, "No, not at all, man." And then I stayed for the show but of course they went on stage at midnight and I stayed till one or two and then I left towards the other set, it's two in the morning.

Interviewer: Do you know, Frank, by the way, do you know him?

Josh: I met Frank before he got the gig.

Interviewer: Okay. So you know him-

Josh: A little bit.

Interviewer: Okay.

Josh: .He was playing with someone....fuck. He was playing some gigs with The Psychedelic Furs and they were opening up for Devo like four years ago. Five years ago? Five years ago. In 2006, or 7 or something. The way I met Frank... he's was playing The Psychedelic Furs. See, I just like telling stories-

Interviewer: For those of you who don't know, Frank is the current drummer of Guns N' Roses.

Josh: Yeah. Devo was playing some shows down in Texas. The Psychedelic Furs were opening up for Devo and the night before the string of shows, like 4-5 gigs, Jerry from Devo and I are sitting at the hotel bar. And there's this guy sitting kind of across the bar, and L-shaped bar. He is sitting down and he comes up and he goes, "Hey Jerry, what's going on, man?" And he was like, "Oh, hey!" And I saw the guy sitting there, but I don't know who he was. He was like, "Hey I got this here," he had like a old, old program, like you got concert programs, right? From like 1983, Devo from the, like, New Traditionalist Tour. "My mom took me to see you guys play when I was ten. This is the program. I'm a huge fan." He was like, "Oh shit, cool, man!" And, "would you sign it?" "Sure", so he signs it and he turns to me and I go, "Okay, he's some old fan and he's pissed the original drummer is not here." He turns me to me and goes, "Hey, Josh!" I go, "Yeah, hey, man" again. "Would you sign it, too?" And like, "Yeah, sure!" And then he said, "I'm friends with..." he had a name, I don't know, he knew someone that I knew. "Oh yeah, someone told me about you." "Alright, that's cool." "Funny that we were going to meet." [?] that week and the next thing I know he's playing with Guns N' Roses. It's just funny how shit works out, man.


Last edited by Soulmonster on Sun Jul 17, 2022 10:11 am; edited 42 times in total
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2013.04.DD - I'd Hit That Podcast - Interview with Josh Empty Re: 2013.04.DD - I'd Hit That Podcast - Interview with Josh

Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 17, 2022 10:16 am

Love this interview. Hilarious when Josh talks about listening to music on the radio and not recognizing that he is playing the drums on songs he find bland and vanilla.
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2013.04.DD - I'd Hit That Podcast - Interview with Josh Empty Re: 2013.04.DD - I'd Hit That Podcast - Interview with Josh

Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 17, 2022 10:16 am

Just finished transcribing the GN'R parts.
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