I saw Buckethead as part of a news story on MTV, when he joined Axl Rose to record Chinese Democracy and join him on tour. Without hearing him play, I thought he was somewhat of a clown. His trademark bucket from KFC on his head while he wore an expressionless white mask to cover his face. No one that talented would put on such a ridiculous costume and expect to be taken seriously…and maybe that’s ultimately what he’s been going for all this time.
One of the many things you need to know about Buckethead is that he’s probably one of the most talented shredders to pick up a guitar. You will often hear his name bandied about when discussing the likes of Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen. I would like to think that if you were to ask any of Bucketheads contemporaries about his playing, they would talk about the respect they have for his talent, his ear, and his style of playing.
Back to his style…and not about what he wears.
Buckethead shreds. People around him know that. He has collaborated on many different projects with many different people in many different genres of music. He has influenced many a player and continues to be influenced by many players today. You don’t have to be a fellow guitar player to have Buckethead consider you an influence. Non-musicians like Michael Jordan, H.P. Lovecraft, and Bruce Lee all contribute to Buckethead’s influence on his body of work.
You can’t have Buckethead without mentioning prolific in the same sentence. At the time of writing this, I think he was known as the artist that has put out the second-most number of releases. We’re talking in the hundreds. It’s easy to put out a bunch of albums with the same riffs and tweak it a little and call it “new” or “fresh”. Not sure if I can put my finger on it, but every time I hear something I haven’t heard before, it doesn’t sound like an old formula that is just being recycled over and over.
Take the single, “Jordan” for example. A shredder from start to finish. Lightning fast guitar riffs that challenged even the most expert of Guitar Hero players. Running under 4 minutes, it’s hard to comprehend how the studio version was, allegedly, recorded in one, unedited take.
Back to his style…about what he wears.
The outfit took a while to grow on me and after a while I began to care about it less and less. Searching online, it’s almost impossible to find pics or video of him without the bucket and face mask. As I became more apathetic about the way that he looked, it almost came over me like a wave in very slow motion that Buckethead didn’t care about the way he looked either. Yes, the helmets that Daft Punk wears allows them to live in a relative obscurity. They can go grocery shopping without worrying about being noticed for an autograph. Not saying that Buckethead can’t do the same, but I think for him, it’s more of a “It’s not really about me, it’s about the music” vibe…and even that doesn’t seem to be done in a self-deprecating manner and I dig that.