top of page

20 Questions with Buckethead (via Herbie), November 1999
Philadelphia City Paper, interview A.D. Amorosi

Since 1992, Buckethead has been tossing out trashy metal riffs and cool, clean liquid solos that’d make inspirations Yngwie Malmsteen and Eddie Hazel cry. But rather than make anthemic rock records, Buckethead has played for avant-mutants John Zorn, Will Ackerman, Iggy Pop and Bill Laswell. He’s also recorded his own stuff, like 1994’s Japan-only Giant Robot (to be released here in 2000), Day of the Robot, Colma and his new Monsters & Robots (Higher Octave). What gives this enigma that extra oomph is that he remains anonymous, wearing a KFC-type pail atop his head and an eerie, Friday the 13th-like china doll mask. When choosing to discuss music (he rarely does interviews), he talks mostly in terms of cartoons, Disney songs, B horror films and chickens. To make matters sillier, when I get "him" on the phone from San Francisco, a man named "Herbie" says that "he" must talk for Buckethead, that Buckethead never talks. Throughout the conversation, a gentle, funny "Herbie" jump-cuts his answers, saying "I" when "he" means "he" and vice versa. Fine with me. I had somebody else ask him questions! Just kidding. All four of us had a great time.


You, I mean, he, grew up in sunny California, right? Was he a big air guitar type?

He grew up in a chicken coop. He wasn’t much of an air guitar player. He went to Disneyland all the time and he really liked this band that used to play there on an hourly basis. The band had no name but they played in the New Orleans Square area. That was a big influence. A lot of the park rides too had a big impact on him, stuff like the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean.

OK. What’s with the chickens? The KFC helmet?

The chicken coop is a sacred place. A peaceful place.

And the Disney thing? I know he’s planning an all-Disney record for 2000.

He’s trying to bring back good childhood memories, recapture his youth a little bit. There’ll be park themes, electric parades, weird narration stories about summertime's he spent there.

How does a guy who has such a sinewy heavy-metal sound wind up working with the likes of Zorn and Laswell?

He likes to explore and they like to explore. He wants to learn all that they know, the different ways of doing things. I like that they — Zorn, Bootsy, Laswell — have no rules, that they’re always looking to expand. Laswell in particular is an exciting center of information and sound.

Without giving him the "pretty-fly-for-a-white-guy" rap, Buckethead has really endeared himself to this hardcore funk crew, the whole P-Funk thing. How does that work?

I think I identify with their spirit, their free being. I can relate to that. It goes beyond just playing. It’s the idea of being genuine. It’s gotta be a genuine expression, no matter what.

Why and how does the idea of the robot symbolize his work?

It’s the whole Voyage Into Space-Johnny Sokko thing. That robot spoke to him. Ever since, it’s been so predominant, so appealing. The music follows suit. It’s fun stuff. Music for Bucketheadland, a place where weird toys live. There are stories in there, secret stories, and the guitar is the way for those stories to come out: the functional parts of Bucketheadland.

So where does Colma fit in? It’s like the calm in the eye of the storm that’s his other work?

It’s an emotional record. His mother was sick during that time. I wanted to make a record she would like.

In the last year, he’s played on OzzFest, the Family Values Tour and now the Antipop Tour. Do the crowds get what he’s about? That he’s not just some metal guy?

I think they get it. It’s funny because sometimes I’ll do a great solo and I’ll follow it with jokes or my robot moves, his dancing, and the crowds seems to get that even more than the playing.

The Antipop Tour, featuring Buckethead, Incubus and Primus, Sat., Nov. 13, 8:30 p.m., Electric Factory, Seventh and Willow Sts., 215-336-2000.


  • Youtube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter


Buckethead Unmasked - Who is Buckethead.
Rare buckethead
bottom of page