If you’ve been to a Kristi Kream and the Sugar Daddies gig you’ve seen it. At some point about halfway through, Bill Bucco whips out his keytar and starts slinging it around. He’s roaming the audience or sitting at your table. We sat down with Bill to talk about his keytar, his complicated relationship to music, and why he’d rather listen to Blondie than Beethoven.
What’s with the keytar? How did you come up with that idea?
“It’s incredible how much people love that thing. It wasn’t my idea in the beginning. It was the guitar player in a band I was in before KKSD. He came to me one day and was like, ‘you need a Keytar!’ And immediately I was like, ’yes I do!’ You don’t see it every day. But the big thing is it allows me to be portable. I can break the wall and join the audience. My other keyboards, once I set them up they stay in one place the whole show.”
You started on bass. How has it been, switching from bass to keyboards?
“I was on the bass at first because that was what we needed in the beginning. I didn’t pick it out of any special passion. But I learned how important it [the bass] was. Even though bass players don’t grab the spotlight much, it is an essential part every tune in a rock band. The keyboards are not that essential in a lot of songs. My saying that … I believe a lot of people would disagree, but from my perspective they aren’t.”
“What? Wait. Did I say that? Truth is we sound f***** awesome with keys. It’s a secret weapon. It’s our fabric now. With keys there is tons of freedom to move around. Setting up for the gig I always check to see if my mic and keytar chords have room to travel into the audience. I extend them into the room to see how far I can take them. But it’s hard to feel it before the gig starts. I need the crowd, the fans, to be into it with me. We’re setting up, the fans aren’t there yet. I start telling everyone I don’t think I’ll go out there and play keytar tonight, I’m not feeling it. They roll their eyes. They think I’m the diva. Maybe I am. Isn’t that supposed to be Kristi’s job?”
I don’t know. Is Kristi a diva?
“I think she is. She just hides it better. I’m a loud whiner. If I was gone I’m sure she’d take her proper place in the echelon of our band dynamics.”
But you are a big ham …
“I do make a spectacle of myself. I like to involve the audience. It’s one of the ways we provide a more energetic and entertaining experience than the next band. We don’t want to be background noise; we want the audience to engage. KKSD and their fans on a musical journey together.”
I think I’m going to cry now. And you play harmonica as well?
‘(Sighs.) Jack of all trades … but it’s weird, people and harmonicas. I could play the most technically difficult piano passage, break my fingers and sweat over some extremely important keyboard part – all night long – but also a some point toss off a small 8 bar harmonica solo to Bad Moon Rising. After the gig, invariably someone will come up to me and say ‘man you’re incredible on that harmonica!’”
You’re known for playing a lot of instruments. How long have you been playing music?
‘I started on piano at seven. You know, those weekly music lessons from the preacher’s wife. I had to go to the local convent to practice. My Mom wasn’t buying a piano until she knew I would stick with it. I found music was easy in the early days. It got harder around high school, when I went to the conservatory.”
So you are you classically trained?
“I guess so, whatever that means. Don’t hold it against me. I couldn’t play anything until I learned about jazz”
Why aren’t you playing jazz then?
“Are you kidding me? Look, classical and jazz are masterful expressions of the human mind, such as it is. Challenging. Deep. It’s all about what I want to communicate. I’m a child of the 80’s. Give me Blondie and Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Prince. What’s more fun at parties; Beethoven or the Beatles? … Of course having said that I feel I should add the disclaimer that I love Beethoven too. I apologize to my entire musical pedigree. It’s complicated. I’m such a diva.”
Bill, his keytar and the rest of KKSD are playing Saturday, November 15 at Keagan’s Restaurant in West Broad Village, Short Pump.