The Making of Buckethead Albums (with Brain)
How Buckethead Albums are Made
Good evening everybody, today with the help of one of Buckethead's best friends and former Guns n' Roses band-mate Bryan 'Brain' Mantia, we're gonna take a look back and hear the stories and methods behind some of Buckethead's most famous recordings. How are Buckethead albums made? Let's find out! Woo!!
First up, how the 1992 classic album Transmutation by supergroup, Praxis was recorded.
(Praxis – Transmutation) (1992)
Bernie Worrell had a couple of ideas, Bootsy Collins had one, I had two or three beats I always wanted to play with them. And Buckethead had a couple of riffs and we just recorded all of it. It was just like “hey, you got a beat? Well go play it!”
“That's your favorite of the Praxis albums?”
Yeah, that's my favorite and probably the best thing I've ever been involved with. If I can have that on my tombstone and be like, what do I want to be remembered by? It would be that!
“it makes me wanna listen to that album right now, straight away!”
Yeah, I can still listen to it and the crazy thing is, it sounds like its now.
“yeah, it stands up!”
Yeah, it stand up, it doesn't dated in any way. It sounds like 'wow, this could've happened yesterday'.
Next up, another Praxis favorite from 1994, its Metatron.
(Praxis – Metatron) (1994)
Buckethead and I, at this point were hanging out. He come here to San Francisco from Los Angeles and we'd go to the cemetery everyday for like 5 hours. That was his thing, he'd do nunchucks on the grave. And then we'd sit in the studio and watch movies all day for like 12 hours and then go get pizza and then come back. Basically just binging.
And Bill Laswell called and said “hey if I send you some 24 tracks, will you guys record some stuff?” and we were like “oh okay sure” and so I went to my friend Cookies studio and Buckethead brought all his crazy stuff with him.
Chainsaws and hatchets?
Yeah and all his toys. And we sent it to Bill and he added his parts. So that album was pieced together like that. It was cool doing it that way because we could do whatever we wanted and we didn't know what Bill was gonna do with it. And when Bill sent it back we were like “oh shit, that's cool”. I thought it was kinda fun not knowing what our tracks were gonna turn into. I thought it became a pretty cool album.
Yeah, I'd agree.
Next up, a holy grail album for Buckethead fans. Giant Robot NTT.
(Giant Robot – Giant Robot NTT) (1996)
Giant Robot was something we had going for years just because of Buckethead being into Giant Robot. I think he has like 5 or 6 of them, like 6 foot tall Giant Robot dolls. So Buckethead always had that stuff around. We kinda made that album with my friend Pete Scaturro, the keyboardist.
And Buckethead was like “let's do a Giant Robot album and let's get Pete, because I have all these samples”. Because Pete had just bought this Synclavier (digital synthesizer) which was a $200,000 computer, which Michael Jackson had. And Pete bought one. And it was pretty crazy. And that's the Giant Robot album that we did.
Which is a great album!
Yeah I do love that album because of the whole sampling thing and technology just getting into sampling, and that we had the technology to do it, so that was pretty cool.
Next up, Buckethead and Brain formed the band 'Pieces' and released Buckethead's most infamous album. I Need 5 Minutes alone
(Pieces – I Need 5 Minutes Alone) (1997)
So how did you guys form Pieces? Just like a side project?
<laughing> Oh my god, Pieces. Oh man. Shit I haven't thought of that in years!
It's so random that album, like random noises.
Yeah yeah, I know. I love that album. It's the same thing as the Metatron album, we were just hanging out. And John Zorn had called Buckethead and was like “can you deliver me an album?” and Buckethead was like “oh, okay”. And Buckethead kept singing this thing “Pieces” which I think was a movie or something, I'm not even sure.
So we went into the studio, we'd watch some movies, eat pizza and then record. And we'd wake up the next day, watch some movies, eat pizza and record. And in the end we called it Pieces. So yeah <laughing>
So why 'I Need 5 Minutes Alone'? Where did the name come from?
I think we were just wearing each-other out and we were like “dude, I just need 5 minutes alone!”. We were with each-other for so long that we couldn't take it. There was no thought behind any of it. It was just happening in real-time and it became that, the whole album.
Next up, the short lived jam band El Stew.
(El Stew – No Hesitation 1999, The Rehearsal 2003)
So how come El Stew never took off? Because you did like a Rehearsal album and another one called No Hesitation.
Yeah <laughing> the same as the Limbomaniacs, dude. You get a bunch of characters together that don't have the same vision. And unless everyone's making a ton of money and you have a main leader like a Les Claypool or Lars Ulrich or James Hetfield or Axl Rose, nobody keeps it together, so its like “fuck you, I'm doing this” and Buckethead's off doing his own tour and “hey I'm doing this” and DJ Disk like “F You!” you know? So we just couldn't handle it.
Next up, 3 of Buckethead's most revered albums:- 'Colma' 'Monsters & Robots' & 'Enter the Chicken'.
(Colma, 1998) (Monsters & Robots, 1999) (Enter the Chicken, 2005)
My friend, Extraxd, we had done El Stew together. He does a little engineering, his main thing is bass though. So he was like “hey, I got some beats”. And he kinda became friends with Buckethead and he asked him like “hey, why don't you just play some guitar on it”. And then that became Colma.
And then Monsters & Robots was like Les Claypool wanted to do one and said “hey, let me make one” and he made Monsters & Robots for Buckethead.
And then Serj Tankian did one, right? The chicken one?
Yeah, Enter the Chicken.
We had met Serj on the Ozzfest tour
And how was he when you met him?
What you seen on hear on the albums and what you see, you wouldnt believe it was the same person. One of the most intelligent guys I've ever met. And us 3 became friends. So thats how those albums came about.
Next up, the story behind some of Buckethead & Brain most bizarre off-the-wall albums.
(Kevins Noodle House, 2007) (Brain as Hamenoodle, 2010)
(Buckethead, Brain & Melissa - Best Regards, Kind Regards, 2010)
That was another one we did, the same way as 'Pieces'.
Yeah, it sounds like!
Yep, we were just totally having fun. Kevin's Noodle House was a sign we saw as we were driving back from the studio. And we were like “okay, the albums called Kevins Pho Noodle House” “Sounds great to me”.
Another album you guys did, Brain as Hamenoodle?
That was because the ramen was off the side of the food truck. But instead of ramen the guy had put a 'H' there instead of 'R'. And Buckethead was like “let's just call it Hamenoodle”. We made that album in real-time when I went back to the studio that night.
And even the one with Melissa, the three of us done. We would watch the craziest movies and make those albums in real-time. I think we made like a 12 albums set or something.
Yeah, why was there never a 3rd one, because they announced a 3rd one (Warm Regards)?
Yeah I don't think it ever made it. I think at that point we were all going our separate ways.
Next up, Praxis' final album 2008's 'Profanation'
(Praxis – Profanation) (2008)
That was mainly done by Bill Laswell. Buckethead and I went out there and I think we did 2 or 3 tracks on it with other people. Bill had already had that set up. Didn't like Iggy Pop and Mike Patton play on it?
Yeah, Maximum Bob.
Yeah, it was a lot of players. That was more like a “hey come out for 2 days and do this”. It wasn't like the other Praxis albums.
Yeah, it doesn't really feel like a Praxis album, it feels like a separate project.
Yeah, it's more like a Bill Laswell & friends project. But it awesome, loved it.
(Science Faxtion – Living on another Frequency, 2008)
How about the Science Faxtion album you did with Buckethead & Bootsy Collins, how was that?
I don't even remember that one. It kinda came out by someone else taking our stuff and doing. I forgot how that came about. Who did that album?
I think it was Bootsy.
Was it Bootsy? All I remember is that I gave some tracks to someone and they pieced it together. That wasn't like a Buckethead and I thought out one.
Last up, Buckethead and Dan Monti's epic Pike album series.
(Pike albums, 2011-present)
I met Dan Monti through Guns N Roses, he was the 2nd engineer on the album and we became friend. And he and Buckethead make all the albums they make.
Dan is kinda the master of everything. He can engineer, play bass, guitar, drums, he sings.
He's kind of an unsung hero among you guys because he doesn't really get mentioned but I know he does so much.
Yeah, he does it all. Like, him and Psticks are incredible. With them you can't go wrong.
All those albums he does with Dan are amazing. Whether you like it or not, it's him! He makes them because he loves it, he just loves it.
Has there ever been talk to get you on one of the Pike albums or do another solo project together?
We talk about it sometime. I mean, I'm game. I think it would be awesome if we did a studio album. Buckethead, Dan and I. That would be awesome. I'm down.