Why Buckethead's Better Off Solo than in Guns 'N' Roses

Categories: Show Preview
buckethead_sized.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
Buckethead
Virtuoso Brian Carroll, better known as Buckethead, is an unheralded musical genius. Sure, it's weird that he performs with a bucket on his head and a white costume mask as he assumes the role of a character who survived a "chicken holocaust," but anyone who's listened to his solo works can't argue that the man isn't gifted.

For example, his song "Jordan" contains some of the most infectiously fuzzy guitar riffs, so distorted they almost sound synthesized. His tune "Frozen Brains Tell No Tales" includes an eerie, sci-fi sounding keyboard hook and some bizarre narration about removing the listener's head for a trip (which will be returned to their bodies afterwards). These are examples of the kind of intense, layered soundscapes Buckethead creates -- whatever you expect, it's not what you get. He takes every note and seems to turn it on its head, creating complex compositions in the vein of Frank Zappa, but with an orchestrated, multi-instrumentalist approach more reminiscent of classical composers.

Of course, not many people are familiar with Buckethead's solo works. He's known more for being a former member of Guns 'N' Roses. That's unfortunate, because, unlike Guns 'N' Roses, Buckethead continues to actively record and tour. (He'll be making a stop at The Nile Theater in Mesa on Friday, June 17.)

In one of the most classic cases of "the pot calling the kettle black," Guns 'N' Roses released this statement after Buckethead's departure from the band in 2004: 

"During his tenure with the band, Buckethead has been inconsistent and erratic in both his behavior and his commitment, despite being under contract, creating uncertainty and confusion and making it virtually impossible to move forward with recording, rehearsals, and live plans with confidence. His transient lifestyle has made it near impossible for even his closest friends to have nearly any form of communications with him whatsoever."

That description seems more fitting for Axl Rose, but whatever. A megaband can really only have one megastar, and Rose insists on being that sole star. He surrounded himself with capable players after the collapse of the original G 'N' R, but none of the band members were as talented as Buckethead -- not even Rose.

If Buckethead had stayed in Guns 'N' Roses and ignored his solo projects, the past seven years would have been very different for him. For starters, he would've been sitting on his bum for more than four years while the release of G 'N' R's Chinese Democracy was continually delayed. Rose kept himself busy suing people (including Geffen Records and former G 'N' R manager Irving Azoff), but when the album was finally released in November, 2008, it became the worst-selling Guns 'N' Roses album ever (note: it still went platinum).

And even if Buckethead had held out and went on tour with G 'N' R, Rose's behavior at shows wouldn't have bolstered the band's kinship. The band was almost an hour late to the stage at the 2010 Reading Festival, 30 minutes late to the Leeds Festival, and 90 minutes late to a show in Dublin on September 1, 2010 (the same show where Rose walked off stage after the fourth song because the crowd was throwing bottles).

By contrast, since 2004, Buckethead has released 19 albums (no joke), got propositioned by Ozzy Osbourne to play guitar in his band (which didn't work out because Buckethead wouldn't remove his costume), campaigned with Bootsy Collins for Rock the Vote, got a deal for a Buckethead signature Les Paul guitar from Gibson, and toured consistently.

So even though Buckethead has never had an album even close to the commercial success of say, Guns 'N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction, at least fans can go see him play live without fear that he's going to be 90 minutes late and then walk off stage in a diva huff after a handful of songs.

Follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook
My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
Cycle151
Cycle151

Chastising Axl for "walk(ing) off stage in a diva huff after a handful of songs" makes the author look petty and vindictive. Since he JUST told us that Axl actually left because the crowd was throwing bottles.

Awesomejam
Awesomejam

I love Buckethead, but to compare his writing to that of the late great Frank Zappa is a joke.Seriously. 

Gold Larry
Gold Larry

I agree that Buckethead is better off solo than playing for Guns n' Roses. But I disagree that Brian is more talented than Axl Rose. Rose is a multi-instrumentalist, the man is a music genius, he was the key to Guns n' Roses success back in the 80s and early 90s. Without him, even Slash couldn't be half as successful and Slash's solo album was not even close to any of the albums the 2 did together. Buckethead is talented, sure. But Axl Rose can carry a band, and imo, Chinese Democracy was a really good album, not AFD good, but it was one of the better one in the last decade or so.

Inasu Chirayath
Inasu Chirayath

On your comments about Axl, I watched them live in Abu Dhabi in December 2010. He is still the real rock star! Though they started the concert late, he still sang 16 songs and it was the best gig I have ever been to. Buckethead wasn't there but there were 5 other 'bucketheads' including DJ Ashba!

Inasu Chirayath
Inasu Chirayath

He is a talented chap, should be disciplined like DJ Ashba!

Stormtatrai
Stormtatrai

I know it is a reporters job to stir the pot, but i think that yu should be a little less concerned about bagging axl and more concerned about finding a story to tell where you don't have to put people down that bring out music for others. Sure they didn't getbalong, but I don't see how it's your responsibility to interfere with that. I suggest you take your juvinelle writing style and review the wiggles new album, I'm sure that will be enough controversy for you right?

"did he pass the hot potato or not???!"

On a side note: you'd think after 30 years of axl, people would get it, don't go to a show if you have to be home by 12. If you go, go for a good time. That might mean, waiting around for a bit. Yer, it sucks, but understand it's what it takes to get it out of him...

Rob Selover
Rob Selover

I love Buckethead, I love G'N'R - Saw them back in '03. It just didn't work. It was like having a Bloody Mary and pancakes at brunch - delicious on their own, hell, even at the same meal, but if you mix them together before you ingest, it's just gross. Def. a Slash fan, but I actually really like Axl's current lineup - DJ Ashba (despite the doucheyness) is quite well suited to the bands style. Bumblefoot is (amazingly talented and a nice guy) stupid though. Looking forward to catching Buckethead here in SF.

Jew fucker
Jew fucker

chinese democracy was an ambomination, a fucked up frankenstein project that resembled something closer to a pile of dog shit

Jew fucker
Jew fucker

"On a side note: you'd think after 30 years of axl, people would get it, don't go to a show if you have to be home by 12. If you go, go for a good time. That might mean, waiting around for a bit. Yer, it sucks, but understand it's what it takes to get it out of him"

Wrong!! Its unprofessional and immature

Desperadopost
Desperadopost

Oh yes it is.....Your ignorance seems rather encyclopaedic, which is why you should be the last to advise others to read more books....

Buckethead’s playing (and I own everythingthe man ever recorded) can be summed up by endless variations on thefollowing principals:

 

- Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Patterns andScales

- Paul Gilbert’s nondecatuplet basedconcepts; especially for building speed

- Pebber Brown’s ideas; who, contrary topopular belief, was (by far) his most influential teacher (Not Paul Gilbert)

- Ideas derived from misinterpreting ShawnLane’s experimental one-note-at-a-time demotapes (on Conlon Nancarrow inspired music)

- Recycling ideas and complete songs fromthe (his) past, just tweaking them enough to let them pass as “new” songs (there are at least 3 "Jordans")

Buckethead is a textbook pattern player who really can't be compared to a musical genius like Zappa. It doesn't matter that he has dozens of albums out, in music it's quality that counts not quantity. His successor in GNR Ron Thal on the other hand, is rightfully seen as a musician of gigantic Zappa-esque calibre. The article is clearly written by someone who's setting first steps into the virtuoso scene. Niki D'Andrea should save terms like "genius" until he/she has seen/heard people like Ron Thal, Guthrie Govan and Mttias Eklundh play....

yeahthanksfornothing
yeahthanksfornothing

@Desperadopost

What you basically just said is that he's a pretty studious man, who had excellent teachers, who at least tries to grasp some concepts of music theory, and likes to jam, mix things up, and tries lots of variations on his favorite compositions. He's content, and insanely good at what he does. And he's also proven how versatile he can be. He's not just all speed shredding and scales. While a huge chunk of his work sounds similar, even his cheesiest pieces have some charm to them, if not decent complexity. Is he a legend? No. Zappa? No. But he's a damn fine, ridiculously talented guitarist. One that makes many famous players of today look like amateurs.

Desperadopost
Desperadopost

Your ignorance towards Ron's discography is simply encyclopeadic. It's illustrated by your short irrelevant response. Start listening to the man....

lolololololololololo
lolololololololololo

Bumblefoot's music is way too cheesy to even put on the same page as Zappa.

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...