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2015.03.23 - Interview with Bumblefoot in AlternativeNation

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2015.03.23 - Interview with Bumblefoot in AlternativeNation Empty 2015.03.23 - Interview with Bumblefoot in AlternativeNation

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:37 am

Interview: Bumblefoot Refuses To Discuss GNR, Talks Scott Weiland Recording Art of Anarchy Material Without Band
by Mike Mazzarone - Mar 23, 2015

Today I had the chance to interview Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. While Bumblefoot touched on many topics including his relationship with Joe Satriani, Art of Anarchy, a potential Little Brother Is Watching world tour and his favorite GNR material, Ron was very hesitant to answer anything related to Guns N’ Roses.  I was able to get him to discuss his favorite GNR tracks and recording the “Pink Panther Theme,” but otherwise he said that talking about GNR would give him a headache.

Bumblefoot also discussed recording the Art of Anarchy album, and how Scott Weiland worked with the band, praising his work, but being unsure of his commitment to the band.  Thank you to MSL and GNRTruth for providing many questions.

Are you planning a Little Brother is Watching World Tour?

It’s possible. I would love to, I definitely want to, I need to, I should. However, first I want to nurture the album a little bit more, I want to put out more videos, I want to do more things to let people know that it exists so people can check out the music and get to know it. After that though, I would like to hit the road, all over the place.

What accomplished songwriters that you’ve worked with have influenced your solo work most?

(Laughs) Ones that I have worked with that have influenced me the most? Let me think. Accomplished, that I’ve worked with? There are accomplished songwriters that I haven’t worked with, and songwriters that I have worked with that weren’t accomplished at all! I would say the one person that has it all is Tony Harnell (of TNT), he writes beautiful melodies and definitely makes me think a bit more when it comes to vocal melody.

Is there any material you initially wrote for GNR that ended up on your album?

Yes, I had two songs, “Argentina” and “Don’t Know Who To Preach To Anymore” that when I first wrote them I left them unfinished and I was thinking that I could bring them to the table with GNR but I felt ultimately that both songs were better fits on my solo album.

A three part question here: What is your favorite original GNR song, your favorite Chinese Democracy song, and your favorite unreleased GNR song?

Did you get the memo about no GNR questions or no?

No sir, I was never informed of that.

Oh, well, I’m sorry, I’m not supposed to talk about GNR. I will answer this question but from here-on we cannot discuss GNR. It actually would be fucking fantastic if you skipped every question you had about them from here-on. It would save a lot of headache. However, my favorite original GNR song is “Don’t Cry”. For personal reasons, of course it’s a beautiful song but that was also a time during shows where I would play the solo, the fans would sing along and it was my own personal chance to connect with the audience and that made that song extra special for me.

As far as stuff off of Chinese, I would say “Shackler’s Revenge” because of all the crazy setlist stuff, two handed stuff and doing that wild singing, it kept me busy and out of trouble.

How much time did Scott Weiland spend writing and recording with you guys in the studio, and did it come off to you like he was committed to the band, or just doing it for the check?

(Sigh) Well, he started off and wrote one song with us, he did everything in his own studio and had Doug Grean, his former right hand man doing everything with him at his place. Scott did one song called “Til The Dust Is Gone” and it came out beautifully. In fact, it’s probably going to be one of the singles. We shot a video for it and then he agreed to do the whole album so he pretty much banged out really quickly, in about a month. Scott would just write, write, write & hand things over. It was great.
As far as getting inside of his mind or spread any sort of negative dirt, that I cannot get into or even tell you. That is not stuff that I can answer.

Have you considered doing guitar and vocals for Art of Anarchy if there is a tour and more albums after the debut is released?

I don’t think so, no, because Art of Anarchy was created as a supergroup. Meaning, it would have a singer with one background, me in there with another background…etc. I think that’s what made it special and if I take over vocal duties I would compare that to teaching a three legged dog to run. I would love to if Scott was willing to see it through but if he didn’t then I would love to find someone that would be willing to see it through.

What is the current status of Blowout-NYC? Any plans for more shows?

There is no status, that’s not happening. Yeah, we did one show and everyone is too busy doing other things so that’s just not going to happen.

Can you tell me about the recording session for the track “Pink Panther Theme.” I understand most members of GNR contributed with the exception of Axl.

That one, we actually played live and then I put it in my solos at my place. We did it live in California and then we took it live before we hit the road and I wrote my solos on it, spending around three weeks trying to transcribe it.

What was it like meeting Joe Satriani and playing with him? Do you have a favorite song of Satriani’s you like to play?

Joe is just a sweetheart, just a wonderful guy. We stay in touch, we see each other, whenever Chickenfoot would come into town I try and get over there and say hello. One of my favorites is “Always With You”. That song has such a beautiful melody and could go on forever and never stop being beautiful.

Wonderful track. Beautiful song, I would like to thank you for taking par-

Hey listen, do you have some actual questions for me about my solo album, or no? Anything of interest that you want me to tell you about, anything? Anything that doesn’t have to do with GNR or Scott Weiland?

Here, I’ll tell you something cool about the new album, one thing that was cool about it was that I really enjoyed the process. I had 100 fans and friends and we all met at a venue in Brooklyn. So, like this listening party but the album wasn’t finished yet. We played each song in the state that they were in at the time, talked about each song with a little Q&A talking about what each song was about as well as different things. I then showed everybody different parts to sing and we sang them together so the album has group vocals of about 100 different people chanting stuff and singing different stuff. That is something that I really wanted to do.

For me, albums I like including people that are actually going to be listening to the stuff and make them part of the process. To me that’s most special because it’s for everybody, not just for me.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:39 am

Bumblefoot has been doing mnay interviews lately to promote his recent solo album. I haven't bothered to include them here since he is very reluctant to talk about GN'R, which is apparent from the interview above. I included this interview to highlight the issue and because it is such a clusterfuck interview with the interviewer not being properly prepared.
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Post by Soulmonster on Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:39 am

Hey everyone. This is Mike Mazzarone and I was the one that conducted the interview.

I will do my best to really explain the situation here. When I confirmed regarding the interview with Ron, I was never, under any circumstance told by his publicist that anything was off limits. Therefore and logically we used questions regarding Scott Weiland, GNR, and more hot button topics. Softballs were included and we are going to do a full review of the album, however when I was told "Did you get the memo about no GNR questions", that was the first time I had heard such a thing. By Ron himself. I had many more questions that I was going to use and that wasn't useable because of that last second curveball. Ron never told me that it was due to legal issues or a gag order, he said that he just didn't want to discuss it. While he did answer the three parter, he even felt nervous about that.

I honestly put full blame on the publicist, however Ron was just as unprofessional about his handling over the phone about it. However, and I can't stress this enough, I was never told ONCE that any questions about Guns N' Roses were off limits.

Well, I truly believe that if you don't want me to ask something then that should laid out. The PR actually emailed me a second time, today saying that Bumblefoot contacted me on a wrong number, so he had multiple chances to e-mail me and state that "do not talk about this or that". To make it seem like it's common knowledge is insulting to me. Their PR never even e-mailed me the album when I requested for it, so I couldn't really ask anything about the album. I had sent follow ups or no avail so it would be something that I could not ask him anyway.

I am trying to get a digital copy for review purposes but I think all of you can understand that it would be impossible for me to ask questions on something that I don't really have any familiarity with. I stuck with what I did know and I don't see any fault in that. If anyone wants to single anyone out, blame their PR. Not me or AlternativeNation.
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Post by Uli on Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:10 pm

@Soulmonster wrote:Bumblefoot has been doing many interviews lately to promote his recent solo album. I haven't bothered to include them here since he is very reluctant to talk about GN'R...

That's understandable and okay with me.

However this here is quite a long and good one:

Guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal is a man of many projects. He’s been the guitarist for Guns N’ Roses for years now, but is also a player in the new band Art of Anarchy and has been working on a solo album. Bumblefoot recently spoke with Loudwire Nights host Full Metal Jackie about his many projects and his work with Guns N’ Roses over the years in the interview below.

How ya doin?

Good. I almost didn’t get to the phone, I was sitting on my couch and doing just a million things instead of making music. I’m everybody’s go-to guy so the guys in Art of Anarchy, they’ll hit me up and ask me to be in videos. Then it’s like, “Yeah, I’ll get right to that. Then it’s someone else is like, “Hey we need to register with ASCAP,” so I’m doing that. Then I realize my leg is completely asleep and I have to run downstairs and grab the phone. I run down, hobbling, stumbling down the stairs and get the phone. Then, you know what? I haven’t peed. I forgot I drank a gallon of lemon water so I’m looking at the clock and peeing for three minutes straight thinking, I’m gonna be late! Finally, anyway, way too much info! Great to be here, how ya doing!?

Good! You touched on this new band of yours, Art of Anarchy, tell us about it and the solo work you’ve got going on.

There’s so much I can’t tell you! [laughs] That started in 2011 with some friends of mine, Jon and Vince [Votta] — these two brothers that play drums and guitar and for the last 18 years. I’ve been producing every band that they’ve had. We stayed friends and they wanted to get heavier into music again and they put together a music company. They were going to release their own thing and wanted put out a supergroup album. I brought them into the studio and recorded the songs and laid my parts down. Then John [Moyer] came in and crashed out at the studio for a couple of days and laid all the bass parts. In looking for singers, Scott [Weiland] agreed to do a song. Then he agreed to do the album. There seems to be a disagreement on the word “bandmember.” We did two videos and the album is coming out on Century Media. That’s coming out June 2 in the U.S. and June 8 in Europe. Video and the single should be toward the end of this month.

The Votta brothers, total metalheads — old school Metallica and Megadeth and music definitely has those roots. It sounds like classic Metallica. Then I’m throwing my nylon string, classical guitar parts and weird fretless guitar and Moyer is putting in these great bass lines and then Scott adding all of those kind of vocal melodies that only he comes up with, that great singable and memorable, sticks-right-to-you kind of stuff. It’s interesting combinations when it all comes together.

What’s your oldest recollection of Guns N’ Roses, back before you joined the band?

That goes back to being about 17- or 18-years-old. Going through the channels on MTV about 3AM and I see this video of this freaky haired dude getting off a bus and went, what’s this? Listening to this, wow, this one guy is this bluesy shinkari, Gary Moore kind of player and then you’ve got this guy who’s all punkabilly, rockabilly vibe. Then you’ve got a punk bass player and this singer where I haven’t heard anyone sing like that. I remember the next day, telling my friends I saw this video from this band Guns N’ Roses, it sounded — they had a song “Jungle”-something. It seems as if everyone just happens to be up at 3 in the morning and caught it. The next thing you know, boom. That was it. It grew from there and I remember having a million cover bands while doing the original stuff and teaching and doing everything else as a teenager. We did “Brownstone,” “My Michelle,” a whole bunch of covers. I remember it well.

What kind of production work have you been doing lately?

I’ve been working with Darryl DMC McDaniels from Run-DMC, who has a band, rap metal collaboration with the metal band Generation Kill, which has Rob Dukes, formerly of Exodus. Rob Machette of Propane, etc. I’ve been old friends with Rob Dukes for years and he hit me up and said, “Hey we’re looking for someone to do the mixing and producing” and asked me to lay some guitar stuff too. So, I’ve become the seventh member of this thing. We put out a song called “Lot Lizard” and have another one coming out called “Fired Up.” For that one, I’m doing all the final mixing, some recording of my own guitar stuff and the mastering and just all the final production of everything

I did that, the Art of Anarchy stuff and working on some horror movie music for an upcoming little low budget horror movie called Clean Cut that’ll be out next year. I have a scene in it. I’m going to get killed. I get my throat cut, stabbed in the chest. Looking forward to dying on screen.

Then my own album, which has been in the works since the middle of last year finishing up a tour with Yngwie Malmsteen. Bouncing around doing a tour between the U.S. and Canada, jumped into the studio, just cleared the schedule of touring and finally just devoted my time and the momentum in getting this new album done. I’m really happy with the way that everything has been coming out production wise. I’m really happy liking how everything is sounding. So it was just trying to keep getting better every time you record an album. You want it to sound better than the last one.

Tell us, what’s foremost on your mind when you’re playing Guns N’ Roses songs, many of which that are so highly regarded as timeless?

Most of the time it’s, ah – can’t wait to eat! [laughs] I play for food. As far as the music goes, if you mean the approach I take because it’s not the usual thing. It’s not like I’m playing my own songs that I wrote and recorded. Unless you’re looking at some of the Chinese Democracy stuff where I did write my own guitar parts, I did record them. So those parts were at least my own. But when you’re doing classic songs that thousands of people came to hear, that they’ve loved for the last 20+ years and want to hear them just as they love them, you have to honor and respect that. So, you don’t want to go and rewrite a classic song. You want something that the people know and are going to sing along with and not surprise them and make them feel like they have to suddenly unlearn something that they’re in love with. So, definitely the melodies, the main parts, the integral parts to the songs, you want to do exact.

You can play it your way, it’s coming from your hands, your spirit, your everything. It has to be you, there’s nothing you have to prove by trying to change it, just do it the best you can do it that has the right feel and emotion that speaks it the best you can speak it so that people can really connect. Then, if there are free moments where there’s room to go off, like the end of “Paradise City.” We’re all just circling around and taking turns doing solos at the very end of the song, then you can go and do your own thing. That’s OK, but you don’t want to change the intro to “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” [laughs]

Earlier Guns N’ Roses lineups are remembered as almost bigger than life. What was the best advice you got about coming into a band with that kind of history?

I was given no advice. I basically had to figure it out on my own and make my mistakes and learn from them. It was being thrown right in and figuring it out. Definitely, I think I went into it a little bit more idealistically than, I won’t say I should have. It could have went either way but I’m looking at it as a musician thing. Hey, this band is continuing and they asked me carry the torch and keep going. I’m proud to do so. I’ll do it the best I can and the goal is to show people a good time, whoever comes to that show is there because they want to be there. Let’s give them good music, let’s give them whatever we can give them.

I didn’t realize just how passionate [laughs] the fan base was about their lineups and how personal it was and how betrayed they felt by change and how you truly had to earn their trust or faith, or whatever it is which may never come. You can’t please everybody and not everybody is going to lie you and it’s not up to you. All you can do is be yourself and be real and hope for the best. You just have to charge through the hate, the death threats and people throwing things at you, the people harassing your family. The physical altercations, you just have to get through it and keep your eye focused on what matters, which is I love making music, I’m doing it with these people and we’re going to do it together and this is for the people that want it. I’m not going to not do it for the people that don’t want it, you have to do it for the people that do want it.

You have a new album Little Brother Is Watching available on iTunes. Tell us about that.

This is my 10th album. A lot of people don’t know but I started in the early ’90s. I was on Shrapnel Records, Roadrunner Records in Europe and Japan and had this whole solo thing where I was out making albums and touring and I was known as a guitar player but also as a singer-songwriter and someone that has this full artistic spirit and I do! When I joined Guns, when you join a band with that much history and name immediately it sort of deletes your old definition and replaces it with member of Guns N’ Roses.

At that point I think people just thought I was this hired guitar player guy. It was the first band I ever joined other than doing my own thing. I played with a lot of different people, jammed with a lot of different people and I would do guest spots with different people but as far as calling myself a member of another band, this was the first time I was doing that. It sort of, at least in my eyes a lot of people tell me I’m wrong but in my eyes I’ve felt that it made people see me as a different entity than what I was. They didn’t know that I sing, they didn’t know I was a songwriter and didn’t know I played melodies. They thought I was just this shred guy.

I think that putting out albums since then, I put out an album called Abnormal in 2008 and also an acoustic EP then. In 2011 I was doing a song a month that included backing tracks, mix-stems so people can make their own mixes and transcriptions of the music and all this different stuff for each song. I just kept trying to find ways of putting out music while doing all this touring and trying to balance it out with everything else. Finally, in 2014, it was time to take a break and do a full album. I can hear that I’ve grown up a little bit, [laughs] the music definitely has a better sense of space. Balancing melody to all the fancy guitar stuff where I always going to look at everything and always go back to food. It’s like spices.

All the fancy guitar stuff is like a very strong spice and a little goes a long way. When you’re adding it in you don’t know just how sensitive people might be to it where it was truly overpower the whole meal. You find that, I feel like I’m on a cooking show now! But that’s what happens, a little goes a long way. I’ve found I have a better sense on when to let those moments happen in the right places where it’s not going to overpower the whole song and take away from the melodies that are in there. It’s definitely more of an melodic album and not as punky, just jackhammering through like a lot of the past albums might have been at times. Songs are longer and go through bigger highs and lows and dynamic changes. I guess people just have to hear it, check it out and see if you like it.

Musically, what aspects of your style and the way you play have served you best as a member of Guns N’ Roses?

They needed someone that was going to replace Buckethead and I was going to be able to keep up with his incredible guitar playing. So, they needed someone that could handle that kind of stuff. I’m not by any means calling myself incredible. I’m calling him incredible and saying they needed someone that could [laughs] do that stuff. They needed someone that, could of course play melodies and someone that could play technically. Just by coincidence, I had a funny name. From what I was told, the song that made them interested was off my very first, or second album — a song called “I Can’t Play the Blues,” which made fun of shred guitar players. It was a light-hearted, poking fun at ourselves as guitar players. Just always having to be a little bit louder and play a little bit flashier and all the little tricks and things, just that was the song that I was told they heard and said, “Oh this guy would be right.”

It was Joe Satriani that recommended me. From what I understand it came from two places, one of the guys in the band was surfing the Internet and found me and was like, “Oh, him.” Then from a second source there was Satriani that reached out and said “Hey they’re looking for someone to replace Bucket and I recommended you so they might be getting in touch.” A few hours later they emailed and got in touch and funny thing, that email was from the band member that hadn’t talked to Satriani. It was just odd timing that it kind of happened that way. So I’m still putting all the pieces together on how I ended up in that band [laughs]. It’s a mystery to myself. I’ve gone off on a tangent.

In what ways has playing in Guns N Roses changed the way you think about the music you make with artists and your own solo music?

It definitely had an effect. You can’t play in a band that you’re emotionally attached to and that you’re just living it for a good decade of your life just about and not have it be a major building block in whatever you’re putting together, sound wise. I think it made — just an overall thing. It wasn’t even a musical thing. It was the whole experience of just being thrown in and having to fight through it [laughs] in so many ways. I think it made me take a more serious look at myself that had to get my body in better shape to run around for three hours on a show.

I remember that first tour I dropped 30 pounds, and I needed it! [laughs]. I started getting a better idea how the world was seeing me. I was figuring out what I wanted to show them, who I wanted to truly be or not be and make whatever changes i needed to make in myself to be a better version of myself. Whether it was musically or just someone on stage or as someone, someone doing what I’m doing. You learn a lot, I would learn these things anyway. You learn from life. You learn from living, whatever is going to happen, you’re going to learn from it. I just happened to be learning it — doing this because this is what I was doing. But these were lessons that needed to be learned. Before Guns, I was a little more clownish, and some people like that. People that were more into the Frank Zappa-ish side to what I was doing, they love that stuff. I think they all think I got a little too serious. You grow, change, and you become who you become. I think I would have become like that anyway. I would have gotten a little more serious. I think when you’re in the your 40s, you’re not going to act the same way you do as you did when you were in your 20s, or at least approach life and things, yourself the same way. So, what did I learn?

I learned that your skin needs to be thick. I learned that once you say something on the Internet, it’s there forever and may go through some changes for the worse as people spread it around. I’ve learned what matters to me and what doesn’t by the end. I definitely had a good sense of why I wanted to be a musician and what I want to pursue more and just put more of my time and effort into and what I want to nurture more. Truly, I found that it’s more about charity and doing things that make a different and using the music and being a musician to make a bigger different for people. To do more things to help kids, to help education, to help veterans, everybody. You have the power just by doing what you do to motivate and inspire people and to take the action yourself to do these things. To make people’s lives better, not just entertain them. That’s what matters to me and that’s what I see as far as the future of putting more of my time into, if not most of my time.

Thanks to Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal for the interview. Keep an eye out for Art of Anarchy’s debut disc coming June 2. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie Monday through Friday 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.

Read More: Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal Talks Art of Anarchy + Guns N' Roses |

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