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2000.12.DD - None Of You Dear - Mike Keneally Interviews Buckethead

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2000.12.DD - None Of You Dear - Mike Keneally Interviews Buckethead Empty 2000.12.DD - None Of You Dear - Mike Keneally Interviews Buckethead

Post by Blackstar on Tue Mar 17, 2020 8:32 pm

Mike Keneally Interviews Buckethead

BY MIKE KENEALLY

Do you know about Buckethead? KFC headgear, raised by chickens? The surface aspects of the character he presents has resulted in a lot of attention, but there is a phenomenal talent underneath the bucket. I heard his debut album Bucketheadland (still only available as an import in the US) back whenever it came out, eight years ago or so, and I'd never heard anyone play guitar like that. Shredding on a guitar is one thing (and a fairly mundane thing it had already become by the time Bucket hit the scene), but Buckethead's arpeggios are more than just jawdroppingly fast, they are severe, surprising, zigzagging designs in the air, rollercoasting madness which can alternately terrify you and prompt hysterical laughter. Inspired by theme park rides and monster movies, his vision of the purpose of guitar music is like none other; he is a unique figure in the world of modern guitar music. I met him in 1996 when he was a guest performer at two shows by a band which Henry Kaiser and I were in called The Mistakes. Before the second show, Buckethead (while not in character) showed me a guitar he was especially fond of; he was about to use it on a recording project with Shawn Lane and he was very excited about it. During the show, while in character, Bucket became agitated and destroyed the guitar. Afterward in the dressing room I saw him regarding the torn and forlorn instrument as though someone else had performed this dastardly act, slowly shaking his head and saying "...no...no..." I pretty much knew then that he was a remarkable person. This email interview was conducted on the occasion of the re-release of the formerly-unavailable-in-the-US Giant Robot on the Cyber Octave label. Buckethead has also recently become a member of Guns 'n' Roses.

KENEALLY: Congratulations on the US release of Giant Robot. Considering you first released this work six years ago, how do you feel about its introduction to a new audience now?

BUCKETHEAD: It's exciting to have that wedge come out finally. Now is different, some of the slabs wouldn't be done now but a lot of the story stuff is good to have out.

MK: What did you intend to convey with Giant Robot, and is it something which still feels relevant to you now?

B: Stuff about the park and the toy store and the last train ride is very important now and the park anniversary coming up makes it nice.

MK: Are there plans for CyberOctave to release your debut Bucketheadland in the US?

B: No, there are no plans for that. There is a lot of building going on at the park right now though, some new attractions.

MK: Each of your solo albums seems to represent a different facet of your personality. I'd love to know your feelings about your albums and what they mean to you now.

B: Each slab is fun to look back at, it is like sound diary. They were all fun rides.

MK: Your musicianship and your spirit run very deep, but you're also very well known for the surface aspects of your character (ie. the mask and the bucket). How do you think the nature of your character has affected others' understanding of your work?

B: It goes to the grave. Bury it burn it hack it - it goes to the grave.

MK: What would you like people to know about your music which they may not know now?

B: It is all music made for rides.

MK: The last time I was at Disneyland, the Rocket Rods ride was closed for renovation. Why?

B: It seems that ride is always breaking down. It is on a burial ground though. That might have something to do with it. That ride took the place of the people mover. That was a fun ride where you could take a break and look at Tomorrowland from above and the Tron sequence was great.

MK: You're amazing; you're the first guitarist I ever heard who does mega-fast, shredding arpeggios which tell stories rather than just try to impress me. Some of the stories are scary and some of them are really funny; sometimes I burst out laughing listening to your solos. Do you?

B: That is nice. It's a grabbag. Lots of times the things that inspire that stuff is pretty funny.

MK: Most of your lead lines make shapes in the air and a lot of the shapes smell like factories. If they were real factories, what would be manufactured there?

B: There would be many factories, many. A toy factory where they make life-size remote control dolls and robots. A factory that makes stuffed cut off heads. A factory to build the park rides Willy Wedges and the Slaughter Factory. A factory where they build Giant Robot. Thoses would be some of the factories.

MK: You and I met, and briefly did a little playing together, thanks to our mutual friend Henry Kaiser, an intensely creative and unique guitarist. I'm curious about your impressions of Henry's work.

B: He is like Dr Frankenstein in his laboratory making all these crazy things and putting them together. He plays his personality, that is hard to do.

MK: Do you strive to create a special physical environment in the studio when recording?

B: To a certain point. Bring a box of stuff, lay it around. Couple dummies, some chicken feed if it's away. At the coop it is, there is tons of stuff. The video goggles have changed everything now. Anywhere anytime with the goggles.

MK: If you have a home studio, how do you compare working there to working in a regular studio environment?

B: The coop is like a blanket. Pull the shades type of deal and when no one's watching get the bags out and see what's left and what's worth saving. The coop is home that is preferred.

MK: I think Monsters & Robots is a terrific record. What might people do while listening to Monsters & Robots which would enhance their listening experience?

B: Take it to a slaughterhouse in a Walkman. If you dig late at night in the dark it can be good for accompanying you, with the goggles and saw. 1 steel door scene first slaughter on loop is good. "Jump Man" on Space Mountain is good.

MK: Colma is a really pretty and relaxed record, obviously a major departure from your other work. I was happy for you when I heard it. What should people be doing while listening to it?

B: There are a few things. Colma is a city of cemetaries and on a foggy day a stroll through that place works well. The more statues the better. The water is good too -- the best would be a cemetary underwater.

MK: You're in Guns 'n Roses now -- I'm curious to know what led up to this intriguing development. How did you hook up?

B: There was this Leatherface doll that Spencers-type stores put out, it's pretty large and puffy, it was on the top of the list. Didn't receive it from the family. Got invited to Axl's on Christmas night; never met him before. Sad about not getting the doll but it is ok, but still sad. Get to Axl's, he presents this box wrapped up. The Michael Myers version has been out for a while, knew it was the same box. Figured it was Michael Myers and opened it up. There was Leatherface. In the brain joined that second.

MK: Are you enjoying yourself in Guns 'n Roses? Are you contributing music to the project and generally being encouraged to be yourself?

B: It has been fun like a ride never been ridden. Every turn is new, it will be interesting to see where this ride goes.

MK: I now have a series of questions which were contributed by a guy named Bib Odorall from Danden, Ohio... first of all, what does your fascination with robots and sci-fi stem from?

B: It goes way back to the coop and checking out movies at the drive-in theater located behind the farm, you could see it through the cracks in the coop fence.

MK: Do you have a ridiculous video collection, and what kind of stuff is in it?

B: Yea it's pretty massive. Lots of gonner stuff.

MK: And Bib's final question: are you into really strange guitars? Weird, uncommon instruments?

B: Not so much, just shuvels, saws, the sledge, stuff like that.

MK: What's the best music ever?

B: Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride music.

MK: Happy?

B: Not totally but getting happier.... It is an honor to be asked these questions from you Mike Keneally, you are such a talented person and it means a lot coming from you.

https://web.archive.org/web/20010202151600/http://www.noneforyoudear.com/00/dec/buckethead.html
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