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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

2021.01.14 - No Guitar Is Safe Podcast - Interview with Bumblefoot

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2021.01.14 - No Guitar Is Safe Podcast - Interview with Bumblefoot Empty 2021.01.14 - No Guitar Is Safe Podcast - Interview with Bumblefoot

Post by Blackstar Sat Feb 13, 2021 5:10 pm

https://www.stitcher.com/show/no-guitar-is-safe/episode/132-ron-bumblefoot-thal-80823001

Excerpts from Ultimate Guitar:
---------------------------------------

During an appearance on No Guitar Is Safe, guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal was asked to name the solos he enjoyed playing the most during his time with the band.

Bumblefoot was a member of the fold between 2006 and 2014, performing on the band's latest full-length effort, 2008's "Chinese Democracy."

The guitarist replied:

"There was a lot of stuff on 'Chinese Democracy.' Just being able to play my own parts with the band - it felt good.

"There is something to be said about that - when you get to play something that you came up with, that you wrote, that you recorded.

"As much as I loved playing the other songs, which everybody loves, you're there to please the audience - you wanna make them happy and you wanna deliver those songs the way they love them and not rewrite anything.

"I'm not gonna rewrite the solo to [1987's] 'Sweet Child O' Mine.' Give them what they came there to hear. But when it came to the spots where there's a little bit of freedom, or if I got to play my own things...

"I think 'Shackler's Revenge' was the song on 'Chinese' that I loved playing the most - because I feel like I added the most to that song.

"I mean, there were a bunch - there was 'Scraped', there was 'Shackler's,' there was 'Catcher in the Rye'... Certain songs where I was doing a lot of the leads."

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/guitarist_names_gnr_song_he_enjoyed_playing_most_when_he_was_in_the_band_talks_approach_to_playing_sweet_child_o_mine.html

*

During an appearance on No Guitar Is Safe, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal looked back on a crazy live moment with the band, his "Spinal Tap" moment while playing the "Welcome to the Jungle" solo live in concert with the group.

Ron said about his time in the band (transcribed by UG):

"There were a lot of great memories. That was my first time touring on such a big level with a crew; I think at the biggest, it was 110 touring personnel traveling, and playing places in the world I never played, on stages and in scenarios I've never been in before.

"So the whole thing was one big massive incredible takeaway. The good, the bad, and everything in between, that's all part of anything, and it was, you know, some right years of touring that we did, and recording and everything for 'Chinese Democracy' we did a live DVD and stuff, yeah."

There must've been many, but tell us a true 'Spinal Tap' moment with GN'R, maybe on stage or backstage?

"The biggest one that I can think of that comes to mind definitely, it was when we were doing our first show of a tour in 2011, and it was the first show I was going to be playing after a car accident.

"I was very drugged-up, doctors injected steroids into my spine and were giving me oral steroids. I was raging from that, and on all kinds of just cocktails and combinations of this and that, whatever could just get me through the day, like, live through a day with this incredible pain I was in.

"Having to wear a 30-pound double-neck guitar for three hours that I couldn't lift on and off of me, my tech had to put it on me and take it off because I couldn't raise my arms because of the nerve damage from the accident.

"Just being so drugged-up - I don't know how the fuck I lived through it, but whatever, I did. But that first show - and also I had this massive concussion, it took a while for the brain damage... Still there a little bit.

"It was an odd time. And I should not have toured - absolutely should not have. But you know, I was being made to think that the world was gonna end if I didn't, and I had to save the universe by touring, so I did it.

"There was a fan in the front row that had a Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet - she was so cool, she was great - so I took the helmet and I put it on. And now while we're playing the show, also there's a huge rainstorm, and the rain was so heavy and getting so high on the stage.

"It was raising higher than our pedalboards were, it was that much puddling on stage, and the brooms are sweeping away, the water is making pyro misfire, all kinds of crazy shit. And the fretless, my fingers were like sticking to it because I was so pruned up that I couldn't slide on them, my guitar was soaked...

"So I put on the Star Wars helmet. As soon as I put it on, I felt like the skin on my face just stuck to it, and I remember saying, 'Oh, fuck.' And as soon as I said that, it fogged up, so now I'm completely blind, and this helmet is stuck to my face.

"I wasn't able to get it off with one hand, and the solo to 'Welcome to the Jungle' is coming up, that I have to play, and I can't see, and I really need to see because, you know, the way I play - I can't hear, so I don't if I'm on or off, so I need to see.

"At that point, I have to make sure that I'm getting up to that ninth fret, and not on the eighth or the seventeenth or whatever. I can't see, I don't know, and I don't have my normal feel because my guitar is soaked and my fingers are soaked.

"So I stopped playing it. 'Oh my gosh, I'm not gonna get through this!' And I had to stop and lift the helmet and I kept playing and I nodded and it came right back down. 'Fuck...' And it fogs up, I can't see again.

"And all the while I'm in indescribable pain, half drugged-up, I just have to stop and just lift off the helmet. And to this day I still get people sending me pictures and videos of it.

"But the day after that show I literally got hundreds of emails from angry fans saying how I destroyed their lives and how I ruined the song, I ruined everything because I missed a few notes of the solo, a solo that I play perfectly every damn show."

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/ex-gnr_guitarist_recalls_wild_struggle_to_play_welcome_to_the_jungle_solo_under_heavy_medication_after_brain_damage_with_stormtrooper_mask.html

*

During a conversation with Guitar Player Magazine, Sons of Apollo guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal talked about his 2011 car accident.

In a severe crash, Ron's car was totaled, with the guitarist saying a year later that he ended up "brain-damaged for about a month - I couldn't speak right, I couldn't raise my arms," adding that he was "not recovering, and probably never will." At the time, Thal was a member of Guns N' Roses.

You can check out the latest Sons of Apollo album "MMXX" here via Amazon.

Now, the guitarist said that "life goes on," adding about the crash (transcribed by UG):

"All the windows shattered, it actually hit so hard that the middle key chain that I had, it broke the key that was in the ignition, and my keys were lake on the passenger floor of the car.

"It hit that hard, yeah. And the trunk area of the car was just flat. But thank god, I had a Toyota Camry, and they have those crumple zones, and they worked, so where I was - was intact.

"But the rest of the car was... in the back was like an accordion. I remember saying out loud, 'This is gonna suck.' As the car was coming at me, I knew it wasn't gonna stop, and there was nowhere I could go.

"I remember I just said - I didn't tense up or anything, I just relaxed. And I remember it was almost like someone slowing down a movie, slowing down the frames of a movie, and then going black as it does, seeing my hair fly forward, and all this glass fly forward...

"And that's the last thing I remembered. And then, however long it was, I came back out and the car was just filled with smoke, just white smoke, I guess from the airbags and the engine and everything.

"The first thing I did is that I felt my legs to make sure that they were intact, and opened the door to make sure I can get out because I don't know if it's gonna catch fire or what's gonna happen.

"I just wanted to get the hell out of the car as quick as I could, and just make sure that I had legs to do it. So I just felt down, and they were sore as hell. But I got out, and I remember I stood up and just straightened out, and when that happens, you're full of adrenaline and that keeps you going.

"I remember this woman just gets out of the car that hit me, and I just looked at her and I just yelled at her, 'What the fuck were you thinking?!' That's what I remember saying, and she just goes, 'Oh...'

"And I was like, 'Oh... that's not gonna cut it - not good enough.'"

Was she texting or something? What the hell?

"I don't know. I guess, maybe texting, I don't know what, but she did not stop, she didn't even brake... She didn't even brake.

"In fact, the guy - when my car was towed to the place - he said, 'What the hell? Usually, when someone brakes, the nose of the car goes down - she didn't even brake.'

"So, going 50 or 60 miles an hour [80-100 kmh] just straight into the back of me, and then knocking me into the car in front of me, and then into the car in front of them.

"I remember, I was all out of it, and cops drove me home - they started driving me home, I filled out a report and everything, the trucks came to carry away cars and everything, and cops drove me to the border of their jurisdiction.

"Then I just started walking home, and I lost my keys, somehow I guess I dropped them along the road without even realizing it, and I was just walking for miles without even thinking. And I texted my wife and told her, and she came to get me.

"And then I went into the house, and I remember as soon as I got to the stairs, I dropped and just collapsed on the floor, face down. I was just out on the floor, and that was the best of it. After that, shit started getting weird.

"All kinds of things happened because my brain moved in my skull a little bit - that changes aspects of your personality, so suddenly people I loved felt like strangers I didn't even know. I suddenly loved broccoli - if it's on a plate, it's the first thing I'll eat before the stake or anything else.

"It's like, 'Oh, broccoli!' I never gave a fuck about broccoli... Like, all things about my personality changed. I couldn't really speak very quickly, it was very slowed down.

"And if you asked me a question that had A or B answer, it was like I hit a brick wall, and I wouldn't be able to answer. It would be like a computer program with a bug in it. It would be like, 'Hey, what do you want? The red or blue?' 'I'll take the...' - I would be stuck.

"I couldn't make a fist, I couldn't squeeze my hand, for almost years I couldn't raise my arms in front of me, I had to re-learn how to move and do things where I had to keep my arms stiff and raised from the elbow, it was pretty bad."

You could still play guitar?
"No. I figured at this point I would just be producing for the rest of my life, and that's what I figured it was going to be, and then I started going to physical therapy and just worked really hard.

"I spent hours a day there, just doing exercises and all kinds of things, and they would be doing all kinds of weird stuff on my neck, and this pulling on my head for 10 minutes to try elongate, make space between the vertebrae and all kinds of shit.

"I just worked out really hard every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for hours, I would stay there extra-longer and just did every machine there and everything I could to build the strength back while going also to these doctors that would be injecting shit into my neck and doing all kinds of just weird stuff.

"The pain was, just imagine the pain - imagine someone taking maybe a one-inch drill and just putting into where your neck meets your back and putting in there non-stop while pouring wax into the hole. That's what it felt like 24 hours a day, non-stop.

"I couldn't think, I couldn't do anything. There were days I would just spend all my time just standing up with my back to a wall, hitting the back of my head into a wall just to divert the pain, and that was my life.

"And that's how I had to tour. It was a hell that very few people have experienced, and the ones that had, they're almost in tears. We meet and we talk about it because no one else ever understood.

"I was a fucking nutcase. I was like, 'You have serious PTSD from a year of that' because basically, your life is pure torture, you are being tortured every minute of your life.

"And I tried to off myself during the tour - failed - which sucked even more, but from there I tried every single thing, I went to every kind of doctor.

"One guy - I tried everything possible to alleviate the pain, and nothing really worked, nothing, and finally as a last resort I went to this doctor on the recommendation of another doctor friend I had, like, 'Why don't you talk to this guy and see if there's anything he can do?'

"And he took about five vials of blood, and he checked it for every single possible thing, and he was amazed that my organs still worked.

"The amount of things I took - before a show, I would take 20 Advil with a shot of Jagermeister, and being on Tramadol - or being loaded up on steroids - it's like, 'You should absolutely be dead from the things you did, and your organs should be liquified.'

"He said that actually, my heart was super-strong, my kidneys, my liver, everything was rock-solid. And he put me on a cleanse, a 112-day cleanse where just by going by my blood.

"He said, 'According to this, just talking to you and everything, this is what I'm prescribing.' And it was all about food and when to eat - when to stop eating, and certain supplements to take.

"Those steroids wiped all the vitamin D out of your body, so you have to go on a whole bunch of stuff to get that back. And the stress that this caused, your stress levels are so high that they are starting to fuck up your glands, and you need to go on this DHA to counterbalance.

"You need to start reading books on philosophy, gurus, self-help, learning how to manage being alive and how to deal with this.

"You need to get into therapy to figure out how to not be self-destructive with all of this, and the amazing things that I religiously - and to this day I still do - like, this bottle here has a fresh squeeze of lemon in it, which is pretty much - that and green tea is just about all I drink, which is what he prescribed.

"And in about three weeks, the pain went down.

"For me, what I had to do is I had to actually start eating more red meat, and I had to stop eating bread, and I had to cut out all kinds of bad sugar stuff, and I had to run for 20 minutes every morning in a special way where it's sprinting for a minute and a half, jogging for two and a half, sprinting for a minute and a half, jog for two and a half.

"It's called a 'Peak Eight' type of exercise, and I did it religiously, by the book - the exact apple in between meals, this much protein from this kind of source, with these vegetables.

"After three weeks, the pain was down, and I dropped all the bloat from the steroids, my hair was getting shinier, my skin was clearing up, my balance was better - it was fixing things I didn't even know were wrong.

"He saved my life. And it was not the drugs, it was not all the things I was being prescribed, it was not the pills, it was not the injections, it was not any of that - it was food. Food is what did it.

"Everything that I was doing - the exercise helps, of course, it always helps - but all the drugs and all the treatments were just putting a bandaid over a wound, they weren't treating the wound.

"And it was actually food - that changing of diet changed my body, and I was able - that's what did it, fucking food.

"I never was that much of a believer in it. I was just like, 'Oh, calories in, calories out.' No. The old stuff that they said in the '70s and what our grandparents ate? They were right, you are what you eat.

"A lot of what we've been told, we've been misled by profit organizations not to get along in that kind of conspiracy-sounding shit, but it's true. Look, the sugar-people paid off the studies to make a fake food pyramid so they can sell more of their own shit.

"And we live by it, and we've had more diabetes and obesity as a result. It was food that saved me.

"So yeah, I still have pain, it's never totally gone - I still have issues, but it's manageable, I can deal with it, I can still do what I do and I can still play again.

"During that tour, I was able to play, I just worked hard and exercised and did all the treatments and everything to get to that point, but I was doing it in a state of physical and mental distress that I really needed more time to heal.

"I should not have been on tour, it was stupid. And that's a choice I made at 42, that I would not make at 51. I would say, 'I do not give a shit about anything. Health comes first and happiness comes first.'

"Without those two things you have nothing, and you need to maintain that, and you need to nurture that, and you need to take care of that - nothing before it.

"Music is not more important than health; this guitar, as much as I've devoted my life to it and I love it, this is not more important than health. Without health, you can't do anything.

"And since then it's taken years to sort of just level out and get my brain back into the right place of - I wouldn't say who I was, or at least just a better version of me, just keep trying to be a better version of ourselves.

"So these days I spend every morning, for an hour, just reading, anything about stoic philosophy to cosmology, to fucking quantum physics to anything. I'm being who I am. You know what? I am a nerd, I love that shit unapologetically, I love it, and I am proud of that.

"There was a time when I used to feel like I needed to hide that side of me when I was younger and throughout the years - no, that's who I am, and that's what I love, and I enjoy the shit out of it, and I share it with the people that also enjoy it, so that's good.

"That kind of stuff, just not giving all of myself away - the way musicians do. We're givers and we're people-pleasers.

"I should say, with all of that, I finally realized that I had to start including myself in that equation of giving and people-pleasing. You need to please yourself and give to yourself as well, you can't just be in one direction.

"You have to have 'me' time and time to decompress and time to just recharge the batteries and spend time building yourself and doing for yourself, that's very important.

"The thing is, Western medicine, it's not evil, it's not like it doesn't work or anything. I think it should be medicine, pills, injections, all that kind of stuff.

"And not in every case, but at least, in this case, try nutrition and natural things first, not last. That was my mistake, and I did not know. Try the natural methods first, and medicine second.

"Half the people that are put on Statins and things like that - or half the people that are on things for diabetes, they could reverse diabetes rather than putting the bandaid on it by just changing their nutrition, as long as they're not too far gone.

"That's the thing, the two should be working together. It shouldn't be one or the other. They should be part of people's wellness."

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/bumblefoot_speaks_on_mistake_of_touring_with_gnr_after_severe_car_accident_talks_how_injuries__brain_damage_affected_his_guitar_playing.html

*

During an appearance on No Guitar Is Safe Podcast, former Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal discussed his use of a sewing thimble in guitar playing.

You can check out the latest Sons of Apollo album "MMXX" here via Amazon.

When asked about the thimble, Thal replied (transcribed by UG):

"The thimble, yeah - that's something I've been doing for good 30 years. The guitar has a magnetized hole in it that holds the thimble in there, and then you just grab it.

"I've been doing that since the very beginning, since 'The Adventures of Bumblefoot' album in '95 on Shrapnel.

"The way it came about is - I was about 18 years old and I was very experimental, trying all different things; I would build all these strange guitars and I would make my own double-necks with an octave higher, a little neck coming out of the bottom of the Stratocaster.

"And I made one where the whole fretboard, I pulled out the frets and lined it with coins and shaved down the edges - really strange, horrible sound, horrible.

"And I was looking for ways to extend the range of notes on the strings that are accessible, because what are we doing?

"We are shortening lengths of string, and we use the fret at that exact, precise spot, but once we run out of frets, there's still more notes that we can get to.

"I was thinking of all different things - I had one guitar that had up to 37 frets going into, just continuing, but they were so small, you couldn't access them, no way to get to them.

"That option didn't really work, and then it just dawned on me, like, 'What are we doing? We are pressing the string against a metal fret, and the string will always vibrate from that point to the bridge, so if we can instead of pressing the string to a metal fret - if we have a mobile metal fret we can press to the string, then we can hopefully achieve the same thing in some way.'"

Anyone who has not seen this, the thimble is on Ron's right hand, his picking hand.

"I keep it on the picking hand on my smallest finger, so I'm holding the pick with my thumb and my index finger, and then my second and third fingers are used for tapping, and then the fourth finger is for touching the thimble to the string.

"So once you are done fretting, then you hit this down, and you get the rest of the notes going up, so a lot of my old, weirder songs going all the way up to the top there, that kind of stuff."

Ron previously said about the thimble:

"Back when I was a teenager, I was looking for a way to get all the higher notes on the strings after the fretboard ran out...

"So I came up with this thing where I went into my mom's sewing box and I got a thimble, little metal cap you use for sewing right there, and I keep it on my smallest finger of my picking hand and I tap with it on the strings once you get higher than the fretboard"

Ron also talked about playing a fretless guitar, saying:

"Basically, for anyone who hasn't ever played a fretless before, just picture playing slide, but it slides on your fingertips.

"So it's as simple as that - you're gonna put your fingertips where you would place a slide, which is directly over where the fret would be if you want that precise pitch, but the beautiful thing about fretless is that you don't have to have a precise pitch.

"You can let it be a voice, let it be imperfect."

How high are your strings on your fretless compared to say like a typical fast lead-rock guitar fretted setup?

"Pretty much the same, yeah, basically the same. Actually, I should tune-up, and it's great for playing Zeppelin."

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/ex-gnr_guitarist_bumblefoot_explains_why_he_uses_a_sewing_thimble_when_playing_guitar__what_its_for.html
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