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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2012.07.DD - Teraz Rock Magazine - Interview with Bumblefoot

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2012.07.DD - Teraz Rock Magazine - Interview with Bumblefoot Empty 2012.07.DD - Teraz Rock Magazine - Interview with Bumblefoot

Post by Soulmonster Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:39 am

TERAZ ROCK magazine (Poland)


Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal answers readers' questions....

JULY 2012



1. If you was to play on another G3 tour and chose other guitar players who would you invite?

Mattias Eklundh and Guthrie Govan. If it was G4 it would include Christophe Godin. I could easily make it a G10 and add so many amazing players, but if I had to only choose two, they'd be the two. We've recorded together, toured together, jammed together - they're wonderful people and it shows in their wonderful playing.

2. You worked as a producer with 24-7 Spyz among others. Why do you think this band didn't achieve such success as Sevendust or Limp Bizkit?

They hit the scene along with bands like Living Colour, they had a specific energy that I loved. But things happen, whether it's from labels, management, internal conflicts... that's a question best for the Spyz guys to answer, they could tell you more about it than me. It doesn't take anything away from the music, it's great either way. I love producing most of all - the collaborations, the combination of spirits in the music, making someone's music come alive, I love it. The last two albums I produced were "Breathe Again" from NYC rocker girl named Alexa Vetere, and "Rise Above" from Poc, a rock singer from Mexico City. On both albums I co-wrote and did a lot of guitar-work, it was more of a collaboration than just producing.

3. In 2011 you recorded some covers (including "Pink Panther Theme" by Henry Mancini) for "digital download series". What was idea behind it? Would you continue it?

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. ( It was everything I wished I had for the music I grew up with.



1. I know you like spicy food. What meal you recently eat was most spicy and how did it feel eating it?

Actually, since I had the car accident last year and my brain got rattled, I no longer enjoy spicy food. Even the slightest bit of spice is irritating. I don't know if I'll ever get my old personality traits back or if things like this are permanent. When it came to spice I would usually add my own ingredients to make everything 'the spiciest thing I ever ate', haha. I would add drops of a liquid that measured 7,100,000 Scoville Units. To get an idea of how hot that is, Jalapeno peppers are at 5,000. Habaneros are 300,000. The hottest peppers on Earth (Naga Viper, Bhut Jolokia) are at 1,500,000. 'Pepper spray' used as a weapon by the police is 2,000,000. Absolute heat, Resiniferatoxin, Capsaicin, is 16,000,000 - it'll cause chemical burns. What I would eat was 7.1 Million.

2. In the past you modified guitars by yourself. Now, on GNR tour, you use mainly Vigier guitars which is not well known company. What's so special about it?

So many things are special about Vigier guitars. The necks feel amazing. Vigier guitars don't use an adjustable metal truss-rod inside the necks, instead they use a strip of graphite rock. The necks are always perfect no matter what changes happen in temperature or humidity - that's important on stage when you're playing outdoor festivals... My Vigier's have DiMarzio pickups (Tone Zone at the bridge, Chopper at the neck) and a 5-position selector with out-of-phase settings and single-coil settings, gives the guitar a lot of variety. There's a 'zero fret' which I think makes the 1st fret feel more consistent with the rest, just a lot of features that make a guitar great. ( ) And my 'Bfoot' signature models have a magnetized hole in the bottom horn to hold your 'thimble' - it's a metal cap I keep on my picking hand 4th finger, I tap on the string higher than the fretboard to get notes higher than you can get on the neck. (Video example at )



You don't use Stratocaster recently, although you used this guitar as a teenager. Do you think learning flying bridge instrument is important phase in guitar education or would you recommend something else?

It's good to play all different physical styles of a guitar, as each has its own character. My Vigier double-necks have a floating bridge on the fretted necks, although I don't use the vibrato bar... hmmmm, maybe I should....? Smile



Does someone call you Ron anymore or everyone uses Bumblefoot nickname?

I get called by a lot of different names... "Ron", "Mr. Foot", "Bumble"... my mom still calls me "Ronald" when I do something wrong, haha.



1. Were you ever so burnt-out you didn't even want to touch guitar?

Abslutely! When that happens, it's good to step away, live life, and come back to it when you want to. How ever long it takes. I've gone weeks without toughing a guitar, it's ok. Sometimes you have to.

2. Did you ever try guitars by Polish company called Mayones?

No, I haven't. I'm checking them out right now online, they look beautiful!

3. Would you accept offer for playing bass in Metallica?

Haha, I think I'll stick with guitar.



Name place of your dreams to build house and live.

That place is imaginary, haha. It has New York's energy and LA's weather and Pennsylvania's building codes and Canada's health care system. And a theme park that resembles Amsterdam. It would be on the Mediterranean coast. The house would have a room with shower heads above, glass walls, and a big game of Twister on the floor. I almost built that room in my studio, but I needed more space to do it. If this magical place can't become real, I'd consider Scottsdale Arizona - mountains, lakes, forests, desert, and sunshine, all there. Smile



1. Is your fancy beard your own idea for image or you were inspired by someone? You would fit ZZ Top, don't you think?

My Beard rules the Universe. You should be grateful that my Beard allowed you to ask a question that mentioned it. My Beard gave permission to the trees to grow and produce paper so Teraz Rock can print their magazine. All Praise my Beard! Bring it gifts. No, bring it *sacrifices*...! Hmmm, no, just gifts. My Almighty Beard will challenge all those who dare question its ultimate power. My Beard is the One Supreme Beard. Except for the guys in ZZ Top, their beards kick ass.

2. In demo you sent to Mike Varney was Chopin's "Fantasie Improptu". What was the idea behind playing it?

I always thought it was one of the greatest pieces of music, and there was such a challenge to finding a way to play it on guitar. The triplets against 16th's, the way it would flow, the dynamics and chord changes, it was romantic and beautiful. I was recording it for my first real release on an album, 'Ominous Guitarists From the Unknown' (Shrapnel Records, 1991). In 2010 I made a guitar version of Chopin's Waltz Op. 64 #2 for a video game "Music Master Chopin - Rock" (Bloober Team / PC Project). I should try and transcribe it, that'll be a tough one!



I know you play Chopin sometimes. Do you know any other Polish musicians/bands?

I've heard bits of things over the years but not enough to truly say 'I know Polish bands'. Behemoth. There you go...!



Are you sports fan? NBA, NHL maybe american football?

I used to like boxing a lot, wrestling too, some hockey, basketball, football, baseball - but music takes up all my time, I can't follow teams and seasons, not enough time.



Do you remember your first time?

Doesn't everybody? Haha... I won't give details, a gentleman never tells... Smile



1. What's most embarrassing memory from teenage party?

It takes a lot to embarass me, haha. I can think of a lot of things that I could or should be embarassed by, haha. Usually involved something physical with a girl, and having little concern about where we were and who was there. You could do that in the 80's - no YouTube, haha.

2. I've heard you're movie maniac. What's your favorite horrors (Seventies only please).

Ahh, so many! Not sure if I have a favorite, but the most recent 70s 'horror' type movies I watched were The Omen, Phantasm, Willard, Wicker Man, and Horror Express.



What's the funniest/most stupid job you ever did?

Other than 'rock star' ? Most of my life has been music-related work - writing, producing, engineering, teaching, playing in bands, guitar-designing... trying to remember other jobs I've had... I would paint album covers on the back of denim jackets when I was 12 or 13, that's how I'd buy guitar gear. Once when I was 16 I answered a job ad in the paper, lied and said I was 18 so they'd hire me, didn't know the exact details of the job. The job was scaping old paint off the side of an old building, standing on a piece of wood 50 feet off the ground with a hand-held scraper for 8 hours. That job didn't last. I worked as a stock boy at a convenience store as a teenager and there was this rather *large* woman in her 20's that kept saying she wanted to feel my chest and would put her hands under and up my shirt - it was horrible. She had a good 100 pounds on me, I was just a kid, finally one day she backed me into a corner and my brain shut down and my fists went up - she jumped back before I had to actually defend myself. After that, I worked at a department store in the infant section - we'd all sit behind the refrigerated doors drinking little baby jars of juice, at the end of the day I'd be singing Led Zeppelin songs loudly and inappropriately, must have been something in the juice. In my early 20's I ran the music department of a private school and part of the day was 'music for children' where I'd play my guitar and sing kid songs to 5-year-olds. I was supposed to have an assistant that helps handle the kids but she had some odd hatred issues against men and would say rude things to me all the time. One day she pulled my hair and I finally snapped on her. Oddly enough she liked me from that point on. Crazy. I don't know, I think these stories are more creepy than funny.



1. How did you feel at your first concert with Guns N' Roses on stage?

Hungry. We only had seven rehearsals and my biggest concern was knowing the music off the yet-to-be-released Chinese Democracy album. There was so much concern over music being leaked that they wouldn't give me a copy of the songs to learn them. So I had to learn half an album of complex arrangements by listening to the songs for a half-hour on the road manager's laptop at the reheasal room. That was the challenge. It felt like every gig I had ever done - I drove to the venue with my amp in my trunk, played, then hung out with fans...

2. Axl is more your boss or a friend?

More like my cousin's Uncle's friend's TV repairman. We spend more time laughing and joking, he's more friend than boss.

3. What was your first guitar?

My first electric guitar was a sunburst Les Paul copy from a company called 'Pace', cost about $85, got it when I was 8 years old. I still have it, but that guitar went through a lot of changes. First I put gold reflective tape on the pickguard, and then added the pickguard shape in reverse on the other side of the body. From there I had cut the body into a small odd shape and painted it red, put a Badass bridge and a DiMarzio Super Distortion pickup in it. Then it was covered in fur. Then I made it into a fretless and covered the fretboard in coins. Then it got covered with penguins. Click this link, you'll see, haha... ( )



1. What's your everyday relations with band members (only concerts, rehearsals?)

I'm always hanging with someone in the band, having dinner, going out or just sitting around doing nothing together. I guess you can say we're.... 'friends'? When we're not all together we call and email and keep in touch. It's pretty normal.

2. What's your favorite GNR song from before you were in a band and favorite from Chinese Democracy?

I liked 'Jungle' from the first time I heard it when it just came out. If I had to choose, probably Jungle and Don't Cry. On Chinese my favorite is Shackler's Revenge. It's high-energy, and I'm very involved in the song, switching from fretted to fretless, singing harmonies, I like it.



1. What do you think on sound effects on Chinese Democracy?

It's fine to me. It's growth. I always think of The Beatles, how in a few years they went from 'She Loves You' to 'Helter Skelter,' a totally different sound, which can also be attributed to changes in technology - amps with more drive, studios with more multi-tracks and FX… but, with the Beatles you grew with them, hearing them change from one album to the next. With Guns N' Roses, we're talking about big changes in technology, band members, and a longer moment of time - all the growing and changing happened without albums to take you along that journey, a step at a time. There wasn't a 'Rubber Soul,' 'Sgt. Pepper,' 'White Album' in-between. We're jumping straight from 'A Hard Days Night' to the 'White Album.' So the sound of Chinese Democracy came as a shock to many people, and many have strong feelings about it. That's good though - art and music should bring out strong feelings, yes?

2. Your funniest moment onstage?

So many. Playing in the rain at Rock In Rio 2011 as the stage was getting flooded, I put on a Star Wars helmet from the audience and it immediately fogged up and stuck to my face, I couldn't see and couldn't remove it...! Right as I had to play the solo! And of course it was televised, what a mess! A few months ago I was playing a solo and Axl came up behind me and wrapped my arms up in orange tape, I couldn't get out, haha! A lot of funny 'Spinal Tap' moments...



What do you think of GNR show in Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame?

I didn't see it yet, been so busy with touring and everything...



1. After GNR show in Poland you have 2 days off before Slovakia concert. Do you plan short stay in Poland, beautiful city Cracow is nearby...

I hope we'll have some time to enjoy Poland. I would love to see some of Cracow. My grandparents came from Poland and Lithuania, but I don't know which towns. I'd come over my grandmother's house in Brooklyn and she'd always be grating potatoes into a bowl, to make potato latkes, and she'd bargain with me to eat fruit... I remember, being 20 years old and her saying "Ronald, have an orange." "No thanks grandma, I'm not hungry." "Ronald, I got you this apple, here, eat it." "It's ok grandma, I'm really not hungry." "OK Ronald, I'll eat half, you eat half." "No thanks, I don't want to eat an apple." "I just cut the apple in half, here Ronald, here's your half..." Now I want to come to Poland and eat some potato latkes - and an apple - for her.

2. Could you play for local fans solo with Chopin's "Fantasie Improptu"?

If I do a solo tour I'll play it. Smile



Don't you miss composing in band context? Wouldn't you like to create new material with GNR guys? Did you record anything yet?

Yes, I miss writing as a band. My wish was that the band would get together for one week before every part of a tour would begin, and we write a song, record it, release it, play it on that leg of the tour, and keep doing this every time we start a new leg of a tour. If we did that, this band would have a brand new album done by now. When this tour ends, Frank (drums) and Tommy (bass) and I plan to get together and start writing some new music. Hopefully nothing will get in the way of doing that.



Did you consider quitting band or playing live after car accident?

Yes. I couldn't lift my arms and didn't know if I'd ever be able to wear a guitar again. So I started producing more, while going to physical therapy for months. I was not ready to start touring last year. It was the most difficult time in my life, I did whatever possible to get through shows, combining drugs and alcohol, to be well enough to play and numb enough to withstand the constant pain. It was brutal. This European tour is the first time since the accident that I'm on stage without poisoning myself to be physically able to. Before the tour began, I had steroids injected into my spine. Not fun. But I'm able to endure the pain and get through shows without drugs. It was a year of suffering like I never imagined, and it's not over. It almost killed me, for real. But it didn't, I'm a fighter. I'm fighting for what I love.


Thank you all for the wonderful questions, this was a real pleasure! Hope to see you soon!!

~ Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal
     June 7th, 2012

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