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Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (GUNS N'ROSES): Chinese Democracy, such a unique album

Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (GUNS N'ROSES): Chinese Democracy, such a unique album
BANDS : Guns N'Roses, Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal

Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal, the solo guitarist of Guns N'Roses was kind enough and he responded to an interview for Metalfan Romania. Bumblefoot spoke about the concert the band will perform in this summer in Bucharest at Rock the City festival, about Chinese Democracy, the future plans of the band, but also about his solo projects and about the gratitude for Joe Satriani's gate for that to be recommended when Guns N 'Roses where looking for a new guitarist. Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal is a musician who would should receive more attention from the public and the public would must understand that Guns N 'Roses remains Guns N'Roses regardless the lineup.


 
Metalfan: Hello Ron and welcome to Metalfan!
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: My pleasure, thank you!

Metalfan: How did you get the nickname?

Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: The nickname was my band name, releasing 'Bumblefoot' music for the last 15 years.  Before the band, it was the name of my first album The Adventures of Bumblefoot on Shrapnel Records in the mid- 90s...   that album title came from a song called Bumblefoot that was on a guitar comp CD in the early 90s and became the title track of the album...   I wrote the song when I was helping my girlfriend study, she was in veterinary school, and Bumblefoot, aka Ulcerative Pododermatitis was one of the animal diseases she was learning about...

Metalfan: This summer Guns N' Roses will come back to Romania to play at the Tuborg Green Fest. Do you remember anything in particular from the previous show in Romania? It happened in 2010.
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I remember the show two years ago, fun show!  Great crowd  :)  I remember the food.  I always remember the food, haha...   wish we could have spent more time there.

Metalfan: You joined the band back in 2006. How did you get this job?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I was recommended by Joe Satriani eight years ago. I was busy with my own albums and tours and producing and teaching music production at a University in NY, it was a year-and-a-half before we (me & Guns) started playing together in 2006.
 
Metalfan: Two years after you joined, in 2008, the band released Chinese Democracy. Most of the songs if not all of them were already completed a long time before, so it's safe to presume you didn't get to have a say in the songwriting, but you took part in the recording. Can you tell us a bit more about that, what exactly was your part in all this and how did this things go recording-wise?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I didn't write the songs, they were there from years before I was.  I wrote my own guitar parts for the songs, I played on every song, a good amount of fretless guitar on the album.  We'd spend 14 hours a day in the studio every day for weeks and I'd lay literally 100 different ideas for a song and see what worked the best, what fit best with the other melodies... 
 


Metalfan: The album has been received with mixed reactions from the fans and critics. How do you see now this album now, do you think it stands the test of time? How important has it been for your career as an artist?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: It's such a unique album – no matter what anyone's opinion is, everyone can agree that there's no album in the history of music that went through such a journey in its creation.  I'm proud to be part of it.

Metalfan: The band has been promoting this album extensively live in the last few years. Has there been talk about a new album between the band members or is this a topic that belongs to a distant indefinite future?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: Everyone in the band is a good songwriter and we'd be able to make a great fucking album.  We've just been touring our asses off - we'll see what comes after that, I don't know what the future will be.

Metalfan: How about a live album or a DVD? There's been a lot of touring with the new line-up have any of the shows been professionally recorded with the intention of being released at a later time?

Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: If it was up to me we'd have live DVDs of every leg of every tour with backstage footage and interviews and funny moments, it would be like a dozen sequels to Spinal Tap, haha.  Ah well...

Metalfan: What's your favorite Guns N' Roses song and why?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: From the old stuff, Don't Cry.  Back when I first started touring with Guns, I played a solo version of Don't Cry and the audience would sing along, it felt like a real connecting moment in the shows.  From the newer stuff, the song Shackler's Revenge – I'm playing the fretted/fretless double-neck, switching back and forth while singing backup, I do a lot in that song.
 


Metalfan: What do you think about the whole story of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction of Guns N' Roses?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I think Axl said enough about it, haha...

Metalfan: A teaser for the video 'Better' directed by Dale Resteghini has been released in 2010. But the video itself has not been released so far…

Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: Yeah, people have been bringing up this 'Better' video for a few years, I don't know what the plan is.  The one I saw was pre- Dale, and that wasn't a storyline type of video.  I can only speak for myself, I release tons of stuff - in the past year I finished & released four albums of music – produced Alexa VetereBreathe Again” (http://www.reverbnation.com/alexavetere) and PocRise Above” (http://www.reverbnation.com/pocnation), guitar-work and final mixing & mastering for rapper ScarfaceWork Ethic”, two videos for my song “Invisible” (http://bit.ly/bumble2vids) and nine singles of my own last year, each with transcriptions & backing tracks & recording stems (www.bumblefoot.com/discography.php).  And that was with being away on the road half of that time and rehabilitating from a car accident that fucked my world up.  You just have to trust yourself, have faith, don't second guess, don't over-think, and you'll get plenty done.

Metalfan: Could you tell us more about your playing technique? What are your main influences? Bands, albums and guitar players...

Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I started playing at age 6 after hearing the Kiss Alive! album in the mid- 70s, it had just come out.  Kiss made me want to do what I now do, and the Beatles made me love music and melody and how creative a song arrangement can be.  Guitar-wise, a lot of Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Brian May...   I guess some of the things I do that guitarists might find interesting is the fretless playing, and the “thimble” tapping – I keep a metal cap (thimble) on my little finger of my picking hand and use it to tap notes on the strings higher than the fretboard, to get an extra range of notes.  Both the thimble and the fretless require accurate finger intonation like you'd need on a cello or violin, it's an aspect of guitar playing that isn't touched on often, as it's not needed with fretted guitar playing.  Examples of the fretless & thimble are the songs “Guitars Suck” (Bumblefoot “9.11CD) and “Guitars Still Suck” (Bumblefoot “Abnormal CD)

Metalfan: How many guitars do you own and how many of them you actually use? Do you still have your first guitar? What's your favorite guitar?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I'm not sure how many I have, I stopped counting, haha.  It isn't a lot though.  I'm not a big guitar collector, I just have what I've played on, over thirty-somethin' years...  around 15 guitars maybe?  My first guitar was a sunburst Les Paul copy from a company called Pace, back in the late- 70s.  I still have it, but it's gone through some obscene changes. At age 12 I started getting into guitar building and modifications, and did some odd things to my guitars... (www.bumblefoot.com/gear.php)  My favorite for a long time was the “Swiss Cheese” guitar, then the “Flying Foot” guitar, now it's definitely the Vigier (www.vigierguitars.com) fretted/fretless double-neck – I can do everything I want to with that guitar, it's the weapon of choice.

Metalfan: You are regularly using a double-neck guitar during your live concerts. All the famous guitars players in the history of rock'n'roll have been using a double neck guitar at some point. Honestly, how much of it is a guitar-hero show-off to impress the audience with, and how much is it technical necessity?

Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: Nooooo, I *need* that double-neck. I do so much switching from fretted to fretless and back during a song, gotta have it.  I think most guitarists have a double-neck for a legitimate purpose - one neck is usually a 12-string on most double-necks.
 


Metalfan: In 1995 you have released your first full-length solo album titled The Adventures of Bumblefoot. How do you see it at this point?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I wasn't planning on my first album to be instrumental, it was what the label (Shrapnel Records) wanted – my vision was to have a band, that's what I always wanted.  But I wasn't going to stop moving forward just because it wasn't immediately happening the way I planned it. Life never happens the way you plan it, it's filled with compromises, and that isn't always a bad thing.  It turned to be a special album, something unique for its time (1995).  We re-released it in 2010 with additional tracks from a video-game soundtrack I had scored in '96.  I released a 200-page transcription book for the album as well, it was nearly a year of work making that book.  I transcribed it myself, completely accurate with fingers, picking, musical notation, tablature, for every track of every song.

Metalfan: Tell us a bit more about the digital singles you've been releasing last year, one single almost every month. Even though you had enough material for a full length album, you chose to release it as singles, how did you come to this decision?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I'm so busy between touring and producing that I'm not able to hibernate for nine months and make an album happen.  It made more sense for me to release songs as I made them, one song each month, keeping a steady flow of music coming out rather than waiting years to finish and release an entire album – I didn't know how many months I'd be able to keep it going, managed to get nine songs released before hitting the road again.  The last song I released was the version of “The Pink Panther Theme” I'd play as my guitar solo with Guns, and the band played on it.  About these songs - it was more than just releasing an MP3 each month – each song was released with a choice of hi-resolution formats, instrumental mixes, lead guitar transcriptions with backing tracks and reference mixes, and also recording stems so people can make their own mixes. (www.bumblefoot.com/discography.php) It was everything I wished I had for the music I grew up with.

Metalfan: Your latest solo album dates from 2008. What can you tell us about your next solo album?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: I think the songs released in 2011 were like an album, just released in a non-traditional way. Almost like an album - with an album, songs are like chapters of a cohesive book, and the songs released in 2011 were more like a collection of individual short stories.  Ah, but what comes next?  I don't know.  I'm just letting life happen, and whatever music comes out will be the reaction to what I had lived.  But I don't know what that will be...  life's full of surprises, I'm not planning anything, I'd rather surprise myself.

Metalfan: Thank you for your time and for your answers, Ron! In the end would you like to send few words to our readers or to add something?
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal: Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words to you all!  And thank you for the thoughtful questions.  See you very soon in Romania!!!

~ Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal

www.bumblefoot.com
www.facebook.com/bumblefoot
www.twitter.com/bumblefoot
www.reverbnation.com/bumblefoot
www.youtube.com/bumblefoot
Foto: Danette Bartholomew
Autor: Klawz, H.
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