During a recent appearance on the Coming Alive Podcast – which marked essentially his first public interview ever – Brian Patrick Carroll, aka Buckethead, talked about how his onstage persona and mask came to be, saying (transcribed by UG):
“It sort of happened… It wasn’t something I really thought about. I was eating – it was actually a different chicken company, I don’t really know what it was – I was eating it and I thought…
“I had that mask, kind of like Michael Myers [from ‘Halloween’], it had a similar quality, but it wasn’t exactly the same size.
“I just put it on my head and I looked in the mirror. And I was like ‘That’s Buckethead.’ [Laughs] And then my friend went to school, he was going to college and he had video class and he filmed me.
“And I knew this guitar player, his name is Jim Gore. He really is the one I feel I owe a lot to. He encouraged me to do it, ‘You should just go be Buckethead, go play!’
“Because I was always super scared to play, and I didn’t really link that together, I just thought ‘This is weird.’ Like a horror movie guy. And when he saw it he was like ‘You should just go for it!’
“I was like ‘That would be cool.’ Because I could do everything I liked doing as this character that I’m totally scared to death to do otherwise.
“And it applied to all the stuff I like, like Disneyland and martial arts and dancing, all that stuff I liked. I was like, ‘I can’t do it just like me.’ It was a great way to get all the stuff out.”
During the rest of the chat, Buckethead talked more about those fears he’s had throughout life, saying:
“I have definitely fear stopping me. I definitely have been cowardly with a lot of things because I’m scared.
“And I think that that fear has just kept me kind of paralyzed for doing a lot of things like that I know that I should do. And I’m constantly trying to battle that.
“My goal really is to make an amusement park. I definitely think just trying to call people and develop relationships… I’ve had some tough times with business.
“It’s like I know I’m gonna have to do… I’m gonna have to get it going. And even on a small scale it’s harder to see me call anyone. So it’s like how am I gonna make the part if I can’t even call one person. But that’s what I wanna do.”
He further opened up during the chat, saying:
“I know I had such a good life and such a good childhood that I didn’t experience a lot of stuff until more recently. It’s definitely more intense for me now than it used to be. Especially if I just really immerse in it.
“My mom and my father passed away, so that’s been really tough.
“I feel when I play like they’re in the music, because they used to like when I played to them. I feel like a communication to them. I feel like it’s gate to…
“It’s hard to explain, but it’s comforting. And it maybe reminds me of those times when I was with them and I played for them. That definitely changed things a lot. And then I hurt my back pretty bad, and that was another pretty scary thing at the time.
“I was in pain and I never got anything to get myself out of pain. But I knew that what caused it… On a deeper level I didn’t really know it. I didn’t sit and think about it, but I felt it like what caused this.
“You gotta unravel. And then I saw a shooting star and I was praying for guidance. ‘What do I do? I can’t move.’ [Laughs] And then I kinda just dealt with it. And I found it.
“The greatest thing was, I found this book called ‘Foundation.’ I just went online and found the number of [the writer] Eric Goodman, and I called him and thanked him. [Laughs]
“Luckily he answered the phone. And immediately within the first 20 minutes of seeing him I felt stability again, through his exercises. And then his partner Peter Park also helped me so much.
“People go, ‘Oh it’s like yoga,’ but it’s really specific. I think he somehow figured out the way, for at least my situation, to straighten all the stuff there.
“I felt that gave me the confidence too, because I was always weak in that area, I just didn’t know it. And that’s been another thing, because I had a really horrible posture and I’ve been shy and tall. So it didn’t go together really good. [Laughs]
“So that just forced me to stand up straight. It’s incredible what I learned, and that’s helped my playing a lot too. That has actually helped when I play classical, because the posture is so important. That actually helped my hands.
“Then my neck, all the compressed nerves opened up because I wasn’t hunched over anymore. That also makes it easier to play and let that flow happen. Because I’m not constricted by ‘This is bothering me, this hurts…’
“I really find that my back issue was one of the best lessons that I’ve ever had. And if I would have taken another path, or if I would just to go out of the pain, I wouldn’t change my habits. So, lucky that I didn’t get a quick fix or something.”
During the same interview, Buckethead revealed he has a heart condition, as widely reported around the web. He concluded by saying:
“Those three things: my heart, my mom and dad, and the back – those are all in the last 10 years.
“What’s weird, 2009 was year that I felt the strongest. I never missed a day working out. Even when I went off tour I kept my disciplines really strong.
“And then I hurt my back, and then it seems as if ever since then it’s just my consistency hasn’t been the same.
“And that year still is like a blueprint for me. Like, ‘I gotta get back to that place.'”