During an appearance on a video podcast hosted by Todd Kerns, the bassist of SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS, GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist Richard Fortus talked about what it was like to work with Buckethead for a couple of years in the early 2000s. The eccentric musician (real name Brian Carroll), who wears a fried-chicken bucket on his noggin and talks only through a hand puppet, quit GUNS N’ ROSES in 2004 after becoming fed up with GUNS‘ inability to complete an album or tour, his manager told MTV at the time.
“Bucket is very musical, but I think a lot of guys like that — phenomenal, prodigious talent — they’re not necessarily… I think Bucket‘s music is great,” Fortus said (see video below). “What he does on his own, he’s out there, but he did understand how to make three guitars work, and that’s a very difficult thing. And he would lay out and just stand there and be weird and Bucket-y, and then he would come in on the choruses, and it would be huge. He got that; he understood that. [He’s] a phenomenal talent. But the thing is, socially, guys like Bucket spend so much time in their bedroom practicing that they don’t really — it’s just different for them socially.
“Being in a band, you’ve gotta relate to people,” Fortus continued. “And I think Bucket struggled with that. I always got along with him, but I think he really had a tough time with that. Same with [another former GUNS guitarist] Ron Thal [Bumblefoot] — he had a difficult time sort of assimilating into that ‘band world,’ ’cause he hadn’t done it before.”
Richard, who joined GUNS in late 2001 or early 2002, went on to talk about how playing with a group of people requires an ability to understand and connect to others, thereby developing social skills.
“When you think about that time that you spent rehearsing with other people, playing on stage with other people, traveling in a van, sleeping on floors with people, that teaches you how to be married to four other people,” he said. “It really is a skill that you learn; it’s a skillset that you have to develop, or it doesn’t work. You’ve gotta be a team player, but you’ve also gotta be driven and motivated.”
Last September, Fortus told “The Radical With Nick Terzo” podcast that it has been at times difficult to adjust to the different musicians that came through GUNS N’ ROSES since he joined the band nearly two decades ago.
“I love Robin [Finck, guitar]. I loved his playing. I loved working with him. And, obviously, Tommy [Stinson, bass] is like my brother. We were all very tight. And then there was Bucket, who was just sort of out on his own. But it was very musical, and it was exciting to be a part of. He’s a phenomenal talent. Man, he’s pretty out there. And he definitely can be difficult to work with. I enjoyed working with him, ’cause he’s very musical.
“It was a difficult dynamic to make three guitars work,” Fortus said. “[Buckethead] did an excellent job, because he understood the dynamics of it and how the puzzle pieces have to fit together, and Bucket really understood that. Everything sort of has to have its place.
“When [Buckethead] left and Ron Thal [a.k.a. Bumblefoot] came in, it was a different dynamic, because I think Ron had been used to sort of doing his own thing, with his own band, so he didn’t really get how that worked, or how to make it work. So it was difficult at that time.”
Fortus got his big break when his band PALE DIVINE opened for THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS. This led to Fortus forming the band LOVE SPIT LOVE with PSYCHEDELIC FURS frontman Richard Butler and drummer Frank Ferrer. In 2000, Fortus and Ferrer became touring members of the reformed PSYCHEDELIC FURS before Fortus hooked up with GUNS N’ ROSES. Ferrer himself joined GN’R in 2006.
GUNS N’ ROSES is now reportedly working on a new studio album — the first under the GUNS banner since 2008’s “Chinese Democracy” and the first to feature guitarist Slash, singer Axl Rose and bassist Duff McKagan since 1993.