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SoulMonster
APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
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.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2010.07.16 - The Gown - Interview with Bumblefoot

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2010.07.16 - The Gown - Interview with Bumblefoot Empty 2010.07.16 - The Gown - Interview with Bumblefoot

Post by Soulmonster Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:34 am

INTERVIEW: Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal

It’s official, Guns N’ Roses are lined up to play their first ever Belfast gig. Formed in 1985, Guns N’ Roses became one of the defining rock acts of the late 20th Century, selling over 100 million albums worldwide. However, tensions within the band would see the original line-up slowly crumble away, and by 1997 vocalist Axl Rose was the sole remaining original member. Despite this, Guns N’ Roses soldiered on with a new line-up and in 2008 made their comeback with the highly anticipated album Chinese Democracy. Speaking with The Gown, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, who joined the band in 2006, talks about Guns N’ Roses coming to Belfast, playing Chinese Democracy material live, how he got started on guitar and more.

BY ANDREW SCOTT

Guns N’ Roses’ debut in Belfast marks a trend of popular rock/metal acts playing the city. 2010 has already seen Metallica perform in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1988, and Deep Purple’s first ever Northern Irish show. Bumblefoot was surprised to hear that Northern Ireland has often received the short straw when it comes to gigs. “My question is, why hasn’t it happened sooner? I have no idea why, I’m just glad it changed. I’m glad GNR and all these other bands are coming to Belfast now.” And as a music fanatic, he had a few kind words for some of Northern Ireland’s hottest emerging talent, “‘The Continuous Battle Of Order’ is cool, a real head trip! ‘Not Squares’ can get pretty ‘out there’. Then we have ‘Putrefy’ – sick fucking vocals! (laughs) Yeah, ‘The Answer’ are real good, great singing, and a real nice feeling ya get from their songs.”

When asked what role he felt music could play in times of conflict and transformation, highlighting the success of The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers during The Troubles, Bumblefoot said, “Music can be a strong voice in tough times. Whether it’s a voice of tolerance or to heat up the fight; it unifies people, fuels the fire, whatever your fire is. It can also be an escape from all that, to take you away from what’s weighing you down.”

Bumblefoot is looking forward to checking out the sights in Belfast, if G’N'R’s busy touring schedule allows for it. “I would love to check out the Waterfront, maybe go see Belfast Castle as well. My favourite thing is the real stuff, finding random local places, eat what y’all eat, drink what you drink, hang out and get a better sense of how life is.” Bumblefoot is refreshingly frank about life on the road, explaining “My favourite touring experiences are usually the ‘normal’ moments, when you’re with calm people having a nice conversation and you’re not getting bombarded. Then there’s the opposite extreme, and I won’t get into details of that! (laughs) I’ve had some great times in Russia, Japan, Latin America, and the UK as well. Whether it’s naked table hockey or a relaxing cup of tea, it’s the people you’re with that make the moment great.”

Concerning the Chinese Democracy album, Bumblefoot confirmed that fans in Belfast can expect some of the album’s finest tracks to be played live, including the thunderous title track, the hook-laden ‘Better’ and piano-ballad ‘Street Of Dreams’. It is abundantly clear that Bumblefoot loves to perform live. “Ya know what I’d love to do? Write a song every time we do a leg of a tour, record it, make it available to people, play it at the shows, and do that every time. Ya never know which one will really have a big impact on people.” However, fans looking forward to the next Guns N’ Roses album may be waiting a while longer. Bumblefoot admits he would love to make new music next, “but we will have to see what the future holds. For now I’m just looking at the immediate future, coming to Europe, coming to Belfast.”

While plenty of classic Guns N’ Roses material is played live, Bumblefoot does not feel that additional material will be taken from the band’s more experimental Use Your Illusion albums, released in 1991. “I’ll play any of ‘em, but right now it doesn’t look like we’re adding any more ‘Illusions’ songs to the set. Anything could change at any time, but that’s how it’s looking’ right now… I do sneak in a little piece of ‘Estranged’ during my solo.”

Of course, Guns N’ Roses are synonymous with Axl Rose, the band’s enigmatic vocalist and frontman. Chinese Democracy was worked on for a decade at an estimated cost of over $13 million, making it the most expensive album ever made. Rose has often been negatively portrayed by the media, accusing him of ruthless perfectionism and claiming the singer responsible for the break-up of the original line-up. Bumblefoot, however, insists that Axl does not deserve such a reputation, adding, “We’ve had plenty of fun times, some tough times in the trenches, but it’s all good.”

Aspiring guitarists need look no further than Bumblefoot for inspiration on how to reach the top of the rock n’ roll ladder. ”The first song I learned was a riff in ‘Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo’ from Rick Derringer. The riff before the first verse, and after each chorus. That was back in ’77, I was 7 years old. After that I think it was ‘Barracuda’ from Heart that I learned next, the intro riff. I got the sheet music for it, and man I had such a crush on the Wilson sisters. I was 8, they were sisters – perfect. Okay, it may not have worked out…I was big into the Beatles, KISS, AC/DC, Yes, Sex Pistols, Ramones as a kid, then got into Zep, Floyd, Who, Queen, Rush, Priest, then a lot of old-school metal.”

Famed for his unusual guitar designs, including his famous ‘foot’ guitar, Bumblefoot revealed that even his first guitar has received a unique makeover. “It’s gone through a few changes. I used to do a lot of guitar re-building as a teenager.”

It is apparent that Bumblefoot is a true rock star and a technical guitar maestro who is sure to give his all when Guns N’ Roses, once dubbed the world’s most dangerous band, perform in Belfast’s Odyssey arena in August.

Posted at: http://www.thegown.org.uk/2010/07/16/interview-guns-n-roses-guitarist-ron-bumblefoot-thal/


Original interview (July 2, 2010)
This is Guns N' Roses first time in Belfast, and it helps to mark a recent trend of popular rock/metal acts performing in the city. Deep Purple recently performed here for the first time ever, and Metallica played their first gig in Belfast since 1988. What is it that attracted GN'R to perform in Belfast?

It's great that you're finally getting all these bands coming to Belfast. But I'm surprised to hear this, I didn't know that you guys didn't have bands coming to town more often. My question is, why hasn't it happened sooner? I have no idea why, I'm just glad it changed. I'm glad GNR and all these other bands are coming to Belfast now.

Are there any particular sights or attractions you're looking forward to seeing while in Northern Ireland?

Would love to check out the waterfront, maybe go see the castle as well. I know there's plenty more to see but don't know if we'll get the chance - sometimes we get into town right before we play, and have to hit the road immediately to get to the next destination. My favorite thing is the real stuff, finding random local places, eat what y'all eat, drink what you drink, hang out and get a better sense of how life is.

This region has a past scarred by 30 years of violence and sectarianism, but in this time, the local music scene continued to flourish, with bands such as The Undertones, U2 and Stiff Little Fingers using their art to craft a picture of The Troubles as it affected them. Do you feel that music has an important role to play in times of conflict and transformation?

Music can be a strong voice in tough times. Whether it's a voice of tolerance or to heat up the fight, It unifies people - fuels the fire, whatever your fire is. It can also be an escape from all that, to take you away from what's weighing you down. Music is whatever we want it to be, and we seek it out to give us what we want to get from it. It's an important role. It lets everyone else feel what you feel, and understand where you're at.

We often talk about the classic Irish acts, but the new Northern Irish music scene has been blossoming over the past few years, with bands such as The Answer achieving global audiences. Are there any new Irish bands you're a fan of?

OK, I went and did some homework. 'The Continuous Battle Of Order' is cool, a real head trip! 'Not Squares' can get pretty 'out there', like it...! Then we have 'Putrefy' – SICK fucking vocals, ha! Yeah, 'The Answer' are real good - great singin', and a real nice feeling ya get from their songs...

Will you be raising a toast to Arthur Guinness on 23rd September? (As part of the now annual Arthur Guinness day celebrations!)

Yes, I just might be raising a toast or two... or ten... on Arthur's Day, haha...!

The most obvious change between this and other Guns N' Roses tours is the amount of material played from the Chinese Democracy album, which has really risen to become an integral part of the touring setlist following it's release. What songs from the album do you enjoy playing most?

I like playing Shackler's, Scraped, Catcher, Better... sometimes we do more songs, in Japan we played almost the whole album. More often we do half-a-dozen off Chinese – the title track, Street Of Dreams, Madagascar, Better, those are usually in there.

Are there any Chinese Democracy tracks which you feel are becoming popular live staples with the fans?

Street Of Dreams gets good reactions, Chinese too – well yeah, we open with that one... Better does well too... ya know what I'd love to do? Write a song every time we're gonna do a leg of a tour, record it, make it available to people, play it at the shows, and do that every time. Ya never know which one will really have a big impact on people...

There's a wide range of classic Guns N' Roses songs – is there a possibility of more Use Your Illusion-era material such as 'Estranged' or 'Civil War' being performed over the tour?

I'll play any of 'em, but right now it doesn't look like we're adding any more Illusions songs to the set. Anything could change at any time, but that's how it's lookin' right now... (I do sneak in a little piece of Estranged during my solo...)

There's a fantastic chemistry between yourself and the band's other two guitarists, DJ Ashba and Richard Fortus – how long do you spend practising together to get to that sort of performance level?

We spent a lot of '09 in a rehearsal room jamming, trying different gear, working out our guitar parts – definitely been the best live shows of my time with the band.

What has been your favourite touring experience so far with Guns N' Roses?

My favorite touring experiences are usually the 'normal' moments, when you're with calm people having a nice conversation and you're not getting bombarded. Then there's the opposite extreme, and I won't get into details of that, haha...! I've had some great times in Russia, Japan, Latin America, and the UK as well. Whether it's naked table hockey or a relaxing cup of tea, it's the people you're with that make the moment great.

It's difficult to talk about Guns N' Roses without mentioning frontman Axl Rose. He gets a lot of unfair press, but what is he really like to work with?

We've had plenty of fun times, some tough times in the trenches, but it's all good....

You're a technical guitar maestro now, but everyone has to start somewhere – can you remember what the first riff you learnt was?

Yes, it was a riff in 'Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo' from Rick Derringer, first song I learned. The riff before the first verse, and after each chorus. That was back in '77, I was 7 years old. After that I think it was 'Barracuda' from Heart that I learned next, the intro riff. I got the sheet music for it, it had the same photo on the cover as their 'Little Queen' album, and man I had such a crush on the Wilson sisters. I was 8, they were sisters - PERFECT. OK, may not have worked out. I was big into the Beatles, KISS, ACDC, Yes, Sex Pistols, Ramones as a kid, then got into Zep, Floyd, Who, Queen, Rush, Priest, then a lot of old-school metal... would learn as many songs as I could, all the time, and bring my Swiss Cheese guitar ( http://www.bumblefoot.com/gear/04-swiss-cheese-guitar.php ) and Marshall combo over friend's houses and jam. Just jammed last night in NYC with the band Pisser, it's got Frank [drummer] from GNR and Anthony Esposito on bass – he's playin' bass with Ace Frehley now. Anthony and I used to jam in my basement when I was 8 and he was 10. The singer Eric was in a band Honky Toast with Rich Fortus. And Frank and I have this one circle of friends that goes back 20 years that we both hung out with. Very small degrees of separation in the NY music scene, everyone's connected.

What was your first guitar? And do you still own it?

I don't have the little nylon string from when I just started, but I still have my first electric. It was this sunburst Les Paul lookin' guitar, a copy of a Paul. It's gone through a bit of changes, haha. I used to do a lot of guitar re-building as a teenager, go to the 'Gear' link on my site ( http://www.bumblefoot.com/gear.php ), it's guitar #1 on the list, called the 'Pensive Expenguin' guitar. ( http://www.bumblefoot.com/gear/01-pensive-expenguin.php )

Lastly, will we be hearing any new studio material from Guns N' Roses in the future?

Right now our focus is on touring, can't predict where things will go after that. Would love to make new music next, but will have to see what the future holds. For now I'm just lookin' at the immediate future – coming to Europe, coming to Belfast. And I'm looking forward to seeing y'all soon, gonna be a great time! Thank you for havin' us.

Ron


Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon Aug 09, 2021 3:45 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Aug 01, 2021 7:59 pm

I found the interview on Bumblefoot's own site, in his Press section http://www.bumblefoot.com/press.php

I have pasted the interview into the first post of the thread (it was missing) and corrected the date.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Aug 01, 2021 8:04 pm

@Blackstar have you been using that list on Bumblefoot's site when adding interviews to our archive? If not, there is likely additional interviews there to add.
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Post by Blackstar Sun Aug 01, 2021 8:10 pm

@Soulmonster wrote:@Blackstar have you been using that list on Bumblefoot's site when adding interviews to our archive? If not, there is likely additional interviews there to add.
I've used other sources that led to Bumblefoot's site, but not this list. I see there are more interviews in it from the years before 2010 that we don't have in the database.
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Post by Soulmonster Sun Aug 01, 2021 8:21 pm

@Blackstar wrote:
@Soulmonster wrote:@Blackstar have you been using that list on Bumblefoot's site when adding interviews to our archive? If not, there is likely additional interviews there to add.

I've used other sources that led to Bumblefoot's site, but not this list. I see there are more interviews in it from the years before 2010 that we don't have in the database.

Cool! Wondee if it is complete or if there are some interviews he didn't want to list.
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Post by Blackstar Sun Aug 01, 2021 8:33 pm

@Soulmonster wrote:
@Blackstar wrote:
@Soulmonster wrote:@Blackstar have you been using that list on Bumblefoot's site when adding interviews to our archive? If not, there is likely additional interviews there to add.
I've used other sources that led to Bumblefoot's site, but not this list. I see there are more interviews in it from the years before 2010 that we don't have in the database.
Cool! Wondee if it is complete or if there are some interviews he didn't want to list.
Maybe only some audio interviews. For example, the interviews he did on the Talking Metal Podcast, I don't see them being included.
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