Monday, August 5, 2013

Exorcism Number Twelve: Brian "Buckets" Buccellato

Hey! I'm back to being nosy. Thank god. This is an interview with Mr. Brian Buckets. I feel like I asked him some pretty straight-forward, perfunctory questions and got unusual and interesting answers. Which is, of course, really neat. He and Chris Pierce (whose interview is forthcoming BTW) have a recording studio together called Volume IV. (Fun Fact: Past Exorcism, Marissa Paternoster has painted some crazy shit on the walls. At their request of course.)

I recently saw Brian play drums in his band Risk Relay and he is really fucking good. It's drumming that is weird but not like, "Oooh look how weird I am!" weird. (You know what I mean.) Technical, but not showy. Fancy, but not for the sake of it. In other words, like...really fucking good.

Anyway here you go. Here you are. Here we all go.


-What made you wanna play drums and do you play any other instruments? 
It's kind of difficult for me to pinpoint exactly when because I started to become interested when I was 8 years old (I'm almost 35 now.)  I do remember being really into watching MTV, and at the time ridiculous hair metal and Guns n' Roses was pretty much dominating air play.  I remember sitting on the couch, watching music videos and trying to play along with chopsticks.  I also had an older metal head cousin that played, and when we would visit I would watch him shred on one of those enormous two bass drum, eight tom,  two hi-hat, seven cymbal monstrosities….and of course I thought that was the coolest! 

I can play a very small amount of guitar and bass, but I've always been a bit clumsy on both.  I feel like it's one of those situations where being ambidextrous works to my disadvantage; I'm left hand dominant, but I play guitar right handed…I feel like there's always a certain degree of disconnect between what I'm thinking my fingers should be doing and what they're actually doing.   
-What bands got you into music? What about them was inspiring? 
I remember really wearing out my Appetite for Destruction cassette…and then moving on to Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Overkill, and Nuclear Assault.  I think I was mostly drawn to the over the top nature of what they were doing, whether it was trying to be more technical, badass, fast, or mean-sounding than anything else that was out there…although I'd still argue that Gn'R and Maiden wrote some legitimately good rock music.
-What drummers were your faves growing up? What about their style was interesting to you? 
This is pretty embarrassing considering the guy is now one of the most gigantic turds in music, but I used to think Lars Ulrich was the most creative drummer.  I thought his work on ….And Justice for All was brilliant at the time, but then again, I was still just a kid.  He would play all of these weird timed fills and arrange parts such that each time through the same section of a song he would play something that sounded similar to what he played the previous time, but just a little different.  I always thought Glenn Evans (Nuclear Assault) was really good.  I think I just liked how fast he would play…and he would always have a few songs on each record where he would rip some absurd drum solo at the end of the track.  For the most part, I've never been much of a fan of individual players.  It just so happens that most of the bands I like have competent players.

-Do you feel like your fave drummers changed as you got older? When listening to your old faves now, do you hear their playing differently as opposed to hearing them as a kid?
Sure.  When I listen to Lars now, I feel like I'm listening to a deaf Ringo Starr playing heavy metal.  It's just incredibly goofy sounding to me.  I wonder whether it was all the result of him always being a poor player and lots of tape being spliced together to make it sound passable.  In general, I think my tastes have changed a lot.  I used to think the more notes you could play, and the faster you could play them, the better.  I still love a good shred fest, but I can also appreciate simple, more subdued playing.
-How did you learn to play? Self taught or did you have lessons? How (besides being more comfortable probably) has your playing evolved?
I took lessons for a good six years or so.  I actually played on a practice pad for a couple years before I got my first drum set.  I used to be able to sight read pretty well too.  My instructor never knew I was left handed, so he taught me to play as a right handed player.  I think this worked to my advantage in the end because I was constantly working my right hand harder than my left.  Eventually he saw me playing as I do now (left hand leads, right foot leads) and was like, "Why didn't you tell me you were left handed, you schmekel?!"  I didn't know, I was only 10 or 11 years old…I thought there was only one way to play! 

My playing style has always been tied to the kinds of bands I've been in, and I've really not played with that many different people.  I was playing mostly in Bad Religion sounding punk bands in high school, which doesn't really allow for that much creativity.  I would just try to play as fast and hit the drums as hard as I possibly could.  As the different incarnations of Risk Relay took form shortly after high school (yes, we've been playing together that long) I started to mess around with more syncopated stuff, more counter rhythmic stuff.  I've managed to stop hitting the drums like I'm mad at them…try to listen and balance the kit and just play less, play slower.  I've also developed a dislike for open hi-hats and cymbals in general.  I think that comes from having such a hard time dealing with them in the studio on occasion.
-How do you feel about playing live? Talk about whether or not you have now, or ever had, any kind of stage fright. 
I've been playing shows for almost 20 years now and I have only started to enjoy them in the last five years or so.  In the past I feel like I was way too serious and far too concerned with perfection.  It got to the point where people would complement me after a show and I'd be so furious about some dumb mistake or dropped stick that I'd actually tell them they were wrong and that I fucking sucked!  I still get annoyed when I make a mistake but I feel like can hear the whole picture now…so if the band sounds good to me for 98% of the set, I'm happy.

I'm always a little bit nervous, but I've never had any kind of stage fright.  At the same time I've not played many "big" or "important" shows.
-What got you into recording bands and who taught you how?
I was always interested in sound.  When I was maybe 12 years old or so, I discovered that you could "multi-track" with two boom boxes.  Record something on one, and then play it back while playing something else and recording on the other boom box.  Very sophisticated analog setup!  Then I bought a 4-track in high school and messed around with that quite a bit.  After quite a few poor experiences making records with a bunch of different recording engineers (some quite famous and expensive) I became convinced I could do the job better and not be a dick.  So I took some classes at Brookdale Community College and interned at a studio called Technical Ecstasy with my current studio partner, Chris Pierce.  I took what I learned by watching there, bought some of my own stuff and then starting asking my friends to let me record them for free.  The best way to learn recording is by doing it.   
-How has your knowledge of being able to record sounds affected your process of making a record for one of your own bands? 
I think it allows me to map things out in my head a bit more as far as the process goes.  Like I'll have an idea of how I want to try recording certain parts…whether that's in a wacky way or very straight forward.  I also think my band mates are more willing to follow my lead when I make suggestions or have an idea in the studio because they trust that I've been through the process enough times.  But most importantly, it makes every record we do take forever!  It certainly helps me to have someone else help out.  I had Chris Pierce take care of almost all of the setup during basic tracking of the most recent Risk Relay record, "After Fake End Times."  It sounds great but I'm still searching for the right amount of control to take for one of my projects.
-What are some memorable recording processes with bands in the area? Feel free to be really specific and really scathing. 
I prefer to be pretty vague in terms of the bad stuff.  I know it's boring, but I don't really need to rehash the specifics of those sessions. I've seen a lot in a relatively short time.  I've seen bands disintegrate in front of me; members get kicked out…spoken to in ways that were indescribably evil.  It's always a challenge to make sense of the wreckage after a bomb goes off…it's like, "So…are we still making a record or….?"

Some stuff has been pretty random…I recorded a few songs for the band Mother Night and the bassist decided he was going to smoke some pot before he did his backing vocals.  I figured he was an experienced stoner, but really he hadn't smoked in years.  He legit fainted in the middle of his take…fell backwards…I was still recording in my parents' basement at this point so I guess I'm lucky he didn't hurt himself!  I once shared an interesting conversation with the members Psyched to Die about the Woodsporn phenomenon…the ancient tradition of using the woods of NJ as a secret library for porno magazines. 

Really, the most memorable recordings were the ones where the band could play and the people involved were all good.  "The Secret Audio Suspense" EP I did with The Unidentified, Screaming Females "What if Someone is Watching Their TV?", The Ergs "That's it, Bye" all come to mind.  They were so enjoyable because nothing happened.  The bands showed up to make a good record, and that's what we worked towards.  There was no drama, no bullshit, no awkward moments…I even managed to make a few good friends out of the deal.

-Where did you grow up? What are/were your parents like? Do you have any siblings?
I grew up in South Brunswick NJ.  My parents are both retired/nearing retirement.  Oddly, my father doesn't listen to music at all.  Literally does not own a single recorded album.  Neither of them are what you would consider particularly creative, so I'm not quite sure where I came from.  Most importantly, they have been incredibly supportive of me.  From letting my bands practice in their home, to letting me record there, to helping me to get through college at ages 28-34.

I have a lovely older sister, Michele, whom I often kid about her name being spelled "like a boy's name."  She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband, 2 year old son, and month and a half year old twin (!) daughters. 
-What was school like for you?
Academically, school was always a bit of a bore to me.  I was never much of a reader and always thought that no one needed math because calculators were invented.  So in high school I didn't really give much effort, but I got good grades.  I played in some bands but somehow playing in a "punk rock" band in high school doesn't really make you a ton of friends.  I did one semester at Rowan…I hated living in a dorm and I really couldn't figure out why I ended up there other than that's where my parents wanted me to be.  So then I did the recording/communications program at Brookdale and still really didn't give much effort to any of the courses besides the audio related ones.  Fast forward a bunch of years….I just graduated Rutgers May 2013 with an Electrical Engineering degree.  I really enjoyed the engineering program.  If you're ever really ready for it, school doesn't have to be that difficult. 
-At the risk of sounding cheesy, how significant a role has music played in your life? 
Without music, I'd probably be heavier (drumming is great exercise), have more stress, fewer friends, less to be proud of in my life, and fewer interesting things to do.  I might have a little more money, though.
-Ever see any ghosts or weird paranormal shit?

Ha.  Not exactly, but I get this weird kind of déjà vu where the event seems familiar because I feel like I once experienced it in a dream.  In fact, it just happened to me today while I was in this future looking presentation room at work!

Thanks BUX! Here are links to Volume IV and Risk Relay