Buckethead – The Last Guitar Samurai
Good evening everybody, throughout his career Buckethead has paid homage to everything from horror movies to Disneyland, but perhaps more than anything else, Buckethead has shown his love for all things Japanese.
So in today’s video we’ll take an in-depth look at Buckethead’s long history with the land of the rising sun, Japan.
And here to help us along is our special guest, Mrs NatterNet.
(Hello, nice to meet you.). Woo!..Woooo!
So let’s begin by letting everybody know that Buckethead is Japanese! (Huh???)
Well, at least according to a 2004 article from Vanity Fair he is.
During an interview with longtime friend and Lord of the Rings legend, Viggo Mortensen, Vanity Fair asked Mortensen what it was like to work with “Japanese guitarist Buckethead”…and Mortensen chose not to correct them, much to the delight of Buckethead..
“He said ‘Man I’m so happy you told them I was Japanese. I love that. That’s so genius”.
Mortensen would further speak of the error saying “I might have said he had an underground following in Japan. So now he’s this Japanese guitarist. Let’s just say he was raised by Japanese chickens”.
But to be fair to Vanity Fair, if someone had no idea who Buckethead was and had to guess his nationality, then it wouldn’t be a surprise if they thought he was indeed Japanese. Because, Buckethead is a Japanophile. And no, that’s not a bad thing.
So where else could we start with Buckethead’s love of Japan, other than Giant Robot?
(Huh? Giant Robot? Wow!)
Published In the late 1960’s Giant Robot was a Japanese manga that was turned into a popular TV show. Known in the west as Johnny Sokko and his flying Robot.
And if you’ve been a fan of Buckethead’s for more than 5 minutes, you’ll know Buckethead really loves Giant Robot.
Not only has he named a band Giant Robot, he’s also named several songs and albums as a tribute and even up to his most recent tour used the Giant Robot TV show as a backdrop during his live shows.
(remember when we went to tetsujin-28 in Kobe?)
Buckethead spoke of his love of Japan in a 2006 interview stating “I love it there. I don’t feel like I’m a freak there. I’m sure they notice me because I’m so large, but they don’t make me feel bad about it. I’d rather be invisible and move around without anyone seeing me”.
And if you’re wondering where that interview came from, it’s from the March 2006 edition of Penthouse Magazine.
(Eh! I’m shocked).
The magazine also features an interview with comedian Dane Cook and tells you how to unleash your spouse’s “inner nympho”.
A woman who loves a lot of sexy time.
Eh? Danyel Cheeks??
Besides Giant Robot Buckethead has also paid tribute to numerous Japanese TV shows including the iconic Ultraman, which can be seen on the front and back cover of the 1999 album ‘The 13th Scroll’.
The song ‘Viva Voltron’ for the American adaptation of the Japanese anime series.
And along with Bootsy Collins, composed the song ‘Shackler’ for the English dubbed version of the famous Japanese anime, Dragon Ball Z.
(Shackler / Viva Voltron / 13th Scroll)
And speaking of Cobra Strike, the second album by the band includes the song ‘Yoshimitsu’s Den’. Yoshimitsu being a character from the famous Japanese fighting game ‘Tekken’.
And then there’s the most famous of all Japanese characters, Godzilla.
(Oh, Godzilla! He’s a little bit scary).
On Buckethead’s 2006 classic album ‘The Elephant Man’s Alarm Clock’ Buckethead pays tribute to the iconic monster with the songs ‘Gigan’ and ‘Final Wars’.
Final Wars is named after the 2004 Japanese movie Godzilla: Final Wars. And Gigan was Godzilla’s arch nemesis in the 1972 movie Godzilla vs Gigan.
Gigan is further mentioned on another Buckethead classic ‘Crime Slunk Scene’ with the song ‘Mecha Gigan’. With the word Mecha meaning mechanical or robot.
(Gigan / Final Wars / Mecha Gigan)
And In 2018 Aragon himself Viggo Mortensen once again teamed up with “Japanese guitarist Buckethead” for another nod to Godzilla, with the album ‘Godzilla Sleeps Alone’.
(Godzilla Sleeps Alone)
As well as monster movies Buckethead has also cited Japanese horror movies as an influence, notably the 1989 cyberpunk horror, Tetsuo the Iron Man. With many of the sound and voice samples being used on the 1993 Praxis album Sacrifist.
And on his 2007 album ‘Peppers Ghost’ Buckethead dedicated the song ‘Imprint’ to Japanese horror film maker Takashii Miike. Mikke was the director of many horror classics including ‘Audition’ and ‘One Missed Call’.
The song ‘Imprint’ is a reference to an episode of the same name from the horror series ‘Masters of Horror’. Which was directed by Miike and featured the Buckethead song ‘We are One’.
And if like me you’re a fan of Japanese horror movies, then be sure to check out our video Top 10 Japanese Horror Movies on our website, NatterNet.com
(Horror, I really like horror!)
Incidentally, Peppers Ghost also includes the song ‘Goblin Shark’. On January 25th 2007 a rare Goblin Shark was discovered on the shores of Tokyo, Japan. And just over a month later, Buckethead released Peppers Ghost with the song ‘Goblin Shark’ on. So, not a coincidence.
As well as horror movies Buckethead has also referenced Japanese samurai movies, notably the 1956 movie Samurai 3: Dual at Ganryu Island. In one of Buckethead’s earliest recordings from the Acoustic Shards album, Buckethead plays the song Ganryu Island / Sasaki's Gone. Sasaki being the name of one of the main characters in the movie.
(Ganryu Island/ Sasaki’s Gone)
Of all of his tributes and japanese references, Buckethead’s 2011 song ‘The Rising Sun’ is perhaps his best and most poignant.
On March 11th 2011, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck the east coast of Japan. The earthquake was the biggest in Japan’s history and the 4th most powerful earthquake ever recorded. The earthquake took the lives of almost 20,000 people.
One week later Buckethead released the song ‘The Rising Sun’ on itunes, with all the proceeds going towards the relief funds for those effected by the disaster.
(The Rising Sun)
One year later, on his classic album ‘Electric Sea’ Buckethead featured another song for Japan ‘Yokohama’. Yokohama being the second largest city in Japan, south of Tokyo.
In 2011 Buckethead began releasing his Pike album series, which currently stands at 275 albums.
And it might surprise you to know that throughout all those albums, there isn’t that many references to Japan.
Pike 106 Forest of Bamboo is arguably a reference to the famous Bamboo Forest in Kyoto Japan.
Pike 59 features Japanese instructions on the cover that say ‘you should attach the piece with an over the counter glue and ideally color it silver’.
And Pikes 57 and 93 are the only Pikes in the series where ‘Bucketheadland’ is spelt out in Japanese katakana writing, just like on Bucketheads debut album where it all began Bucketheadland.
So, as I’m sure you’ve seen throughout this video, Buckethead loves Japan. From TV shows to Movies, Anime to Video Games, Japan’s influence on Buckethead has shown through his music, both in the studio and during his live shows.
And whilst Buckethead might not be a “Japanese guitarist” he is a guitar hero and the Last Guitar Samurai.
(Buckethead is the BEST!) Woo!! Wooo!!