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SoulMonster

2011.11.15 - Interview with Bumblefoot - Ny Hard Rock Music Examiner

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2011.11.15 - Interview with Bumblefoot - Ny Hard Rock Music Examiner

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:07 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]bumblefoot examiner.com/hard-rock-musi…
A couple of misquotes through the phone (weird accent & I talk
too fast, lol) but check it out, hope you like [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
In just two short days, the monster rock band that it is Guns n’ Roses will be playing the Izod Center in the Meadowlands. Armed with three guitarists, a pair of keyboardists, and a spectacular stage show all supporting singer Axl Rose’s famed voice, fans are in for a 30 song setlist filled with new songs from Chinese Democracy as well as all the old Gn’R classics. I spoke by phone with lead guitarist Bumblefoot in anticipation of the month’s biggest rock show:

Examiner: Hello, thanks for talking to me today. Before anything, I have to ask, do you prefer to go by Ron or Bumblefoot in everyday conversation?

Bumblefoot: Whatever you’re more comfortable with. I’ve been called many things, I’ve been called Bumble, Ron, Hey You, whatever you’d like is fine.

Examiner: Okay, so Ron, how’ve you been?

Bumblefoot: Good, good. We just got to Chicago about an hour ago. So yeah, all is good, wonderful in the universe.

Examiner: So Guns n’ Roses is coming to the New York area this Thursday, at Izod Center in the Meadowlands, and I’m actually personally planning on catching you guys up in Hartford, CT over the weekend again. Axl first took the new version of band on tour in the US in 2002, then again in 2006, then Chinese Democracy came out in 2008, and now you guys are going out again here at the end of 2011. Is there some kind of rhyme or reason to the timing of this tour, or the earlier ones for that matter?

Bumblefoot: I have no f*cking idea, man. They just tell me where and when, and I suit up and go. And I’d rather not even know. The less I know the better. Ignorance is bliss. Just get me on the stage and don’t let me sing.

Examiner: These are the first concerts in the US since Chinese Democracy came out. Do you think that fans are coming to these concerts, or leaving, with a better appreciation for the new songs?

Bumblefoot: I hope so. We give it our best to just give the people a good show, like any band does, hopefully people walk out saying whoa, I really enjoyed the whole show and every song they played.

Examiner: I read that your very first show with the band was here in New York, at the Hammerstein shows in 2006. How much time did you have to get ready for those shows?

Bumblefoot: About a week. About a week to get ready, and to learn all the Chinese Democracy music. I had a half hour to just listen on a laptop with headphones, and just write notes, and I had those notes on the side of the stage when I started doing the shows, because they wouldn’t give me a copy of the music. And at that point they were so worried about leaks and all of that, and they didn’t really know me well, and so just to play it safe, that’s how it went. So it was definitely an extreme challenge, at least for the new stuff. The old stuff, everybody knows. Who doesn’t know the songs off Appetite and Illusions? So that wasn’t a problem. But we had about a week to get it all together.

Examiner: Given Axl’s reputation, were you worried that he might not show, especially those first few nights you were in the band?

Bumblefoot: I didn’t know. You didn’t know what to expect, and that’s the thing. I just kept an open mind about it all, anything can happen, and whatever happens is gonna happen and it’s not for me to try to control the world and just whatever is going to be is how it’s meant to be.

Examiner: You played on the Chinese Democracy record, but for these live shows, you end up playing a lot of solos written by both Slash and Buckethead. Can you talk to me about the differences between their styles and how you play them?

Bumblefoot: Well the stuff on Chinese by Slash was gone by then, he was out for a good couple of years. So all the guitar parts, there’s Buckethead’s parts, there was Robin Fink’s parts, and then when I joined, I wrote a bunch of new parts, I had a fretless guitar and I added all these fretless guitar parts to the album, and most of what I play are the things I wrote for the songs and played on the album. And then any of the crazy stuff that Bucket did, I take that stuff, while the other guys will do some of Robin’s melodies or Bucket’s more melodic parts. I have a doublenecked guitar, where I’m basically switching from one to the other during the songs.

Examiner: Is there a difference you can explain between, for example, the solo on Sweet Child O’ Mine or Nightrain versus the solo on This I Love, or other Buckethead solos on the Chinese Democracy record?

Bumblefoot: Let me see, what I can tell you about that? Slash plays like Slash, and Bucket plays like Bucket, and I play like me. Everyone’s got different hands, different gear, and a different style and a different heart and a different soul and a different mind, and one’s an apple, one’s an orange, and the other’s a banana.

Examiner: Have you had any personal contact with either of those guys since you joined the band, or before you joined for that matter?

Bumblefoot: No. Before, I met Bucket once or twice. Never met Slash.

Examiner: I’ve been looking at setlists from earlier shows on this tour, and you guys are knocking out over 30 songs at every show. I’m hard pressed to think of another band that’s doing that these days, what’s the motivation behind these massive shows?

Bumblefoot: I guess getting your money’s worth, keep them up even later! There’s 25 years of music, pretty much, so there’s a lot of stuff to be played. And a lot of those songs are pretty long, songs like November Rain and Estranged, they’re epic pieces. They’re more like movements, with an A part, B part, and C part. So just there’s a lot of music to be played.

Examiner: How did Estranged make it into the setlist? On the last two tours, it wasn’t there.

Bumblefoot: It just happens. A lot of times Axl might just say, hey, we’re doing this one. And then we say cool, and just nail it down. It might be something we already know, and it’s like hey, let’s start playing that. Or it might just be spontaneously, like A Whole Lotta Rosie. We just started playing that one last year, and it wasn’t planned, or anything. We either just sang a line, or I played the riff, and next thing you know we all knew the song, just because we know a lot of songs and stuff. And often things like that happen. Like the little jam before November Rain, that was spontaneous. A lot of the jams are spontaneous, and sometimes even the songs are. Estranged, that was something that I think Axl just wants to add to the setlist this tour.

Examiner: Can you name your favorite song on Chinese Democracy, and your favorite song from the original Guns lineup?

Bumblefoot: From Chinese Democracy, I would say Shackler’s Revenge. I get to do a lot of fretless switching to fretted, and there’s singing while playing lots of guitar parts, so it keeps my mind busy enough so I can stay out of trouble. So it’s definitely that one. Out of the old stuff, it’s more about the one that makes the crowd happiest, so Sweet Child, Estranged has been going over really well. It might be Sweet Child, for the simple fact that when the first notes kick in, the whole crowd gets on their feet, and the girls are dancing, and everybody’s just... the fact that they’re waiting for that moment.

Examiner: Axl is obviously a very controversial figure, I can’t think of anyone else in rock n roll who generates the kind of rumors and media controversy that he does, but at the same time, everyone close to him swears that he’s the greatest guy in the world. Do you feel like he hurts his own cause by doing such limited press?

Bumblefoot: I think, if you let people get to know him more, it certainly wouldn’t hurt him. We’re all human, we all have our light side and our dark side and everything in between. I know I sure as f*ck do. But, he just did That Metal Show (watch the interview, Axl’s first in 5 years, by clicking here), and if you watch it, that’s what it’s like to just hang out with him and talk. And we’ve hung out and talked for like 20 hours straight. It’s like a big episode of That Metal Show. I think that it wouldn’t hurt if... like me personally, I don’t mind connecting with people. And doing interviews and just hanging out and that kind of stuff. I know he’s in a different position, because at his level of fame, celebrity, notoriety, idolization, objectification, it’s so far beyond the scope of things I’ve ever dealt with. And you lose a lot of freedoms, because you can’t just say what you want because everything you say can and will get twisted, and it just gets to you. And you can’t hang out, because people just can’t handle it and start acting all weird and it gets uncomfortable and there’s always a problem with that kind of sh*t. So, it gets very tricky. And sometimes you just have to... it’s kind of like a doctor, where you may want to give your home number to your patients, but they might start to abuse it if you do.

Examiner: Guns n’ Roses was just nominated for the rock n’ roll hall of fame, and while the winners haven’t been announced yet, I’ve read interviews with both Slash and Duff and they seem to think that any attempt to put the original guys together in a room would be a disaster. Do you agree?

Bumblefoot: Ha. I don’t know, I’ve never been in a room with all the original guys. So I think only the guys who have been in the room with the original guys would really know for sure. I’ve hung with Izzy, I’ve hung with Duff, I’ve hung with Axl, I did hang with Adler once. I think that there would definitely be a... strange vibe in the air. I can only guess, and say that there might be an air of tension if they all got together. But that’s just me speculating.

Examiner: Has Axl himself said anything about it, that you know of?

Bumblefoot: No, we don’t really talk about it.

Examiner: Finally, the band has a reputation for late starts, which Axl has defended as part and parcel of rock n’ roll, and personally I agree, even if I don’t like it. What’s the earliest you guys have made it on stage on this tour?

Bumblefoot: I think 9:45

Examiner: So what time would you advise fans to absolutely be in their seats by if they don’t want to sit for hours, but also don’t want to miss the beginning of the show?

Bumblefoot: If I had to guess, I’d say 10:30. But I don’t know.

Examiner: So if someone’s tailgating in the parking lot, you’d say it’s a safe bet they could come in around 10 and not miss anything?

Bumblefoot. Ha. Yeah. But I’m just guessing, because I can say that and now somebody will go on at 9. Or I can say be there at 9, and we’ll go on at midnight. Don’t know. No f*cking idea.

Examiner: On That Metal Show, which just aired this past weekend, Axl said things start going wrong day of show, he said things get a little ADD, and then he said “hey, I’ve been late for everything in my life.” So is it multiple factors at work here, delaying the start?

Bumblefoot: I don’t know. All I can tell you is that I’m ready to go, and whenever Axl’s ready to go, I’m ready too. As far as what controls the time he gets to the stage, only he can answer that.

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