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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

25. AUGUST 2004-MAY 2006: FINALIZING CHINESE DEMOCRACY; LAWSUITS; RETURN TO NYC

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25. AUGUST 2004-MAY 2006: FINALIZING CHINESE DEMOCRACY; LAWSUITS; RETURN TO NYC - Page 2 Empty Re: 25. AUGUST 2004-MAY 2006: FINALIZING CHINESE DEMOCRACY; LAWSUITS; RETURN TO NYC

Post by Soulmonster Sun May 16, 2021 2:12 pm

BUMBLEFOOT BEFORE GUNS N' ROSES


Ronald Jay Blumenthal, or Ron Thal or Bumblefoot, was born on September 25, 1965. Before becoming a guitarist in Guns N' Roses, Bumblefoot worked as a professor teaching music production at Purchase College [The Journal News, November 3, 2006].

According to The Journal News who had interviewed Bumblefoot's students and faculty, Bumblefoot was a "an amazing guitarist and a regular guy"; when confronted with this, Bumblefoot replied:

Maybe a regular guitar player and an amazing guy. (Laughs) I think I'm pretty regular. And as far as playing guitar, all that stuff is all a matter of opinion. If people like what I'm doing than great. If they don't? Then I guess I've got a little more practicing to do.



BECOMING A MUSICIAN


Talking about wanting to become a musician:

When I was 5 years old I got the Kiss 'Alive' record and that's what made me want to be musician. That's what made me want to do this.

Oh man, this goes way back to when I was about 5 years old. All the older kids in my neighborhood were into KISS. Then I heard the KISS Alive album for the first time and it just blew my mind! I wanted to be a drummer and so did my brother. So we got into this contest where whoever had the faster drum roll got to be the drummer. Me being 5 and him being 8, he was a little bit faster, so he ended up being the drums. So I was like, “OK, I want to be a bass player because Gene Simmons is badass with the fire, the blood and the high shoes!” Bad shoes! [laughs] So, I went to a place to start taking bass lessons and at this point I was about 6. The bass was taller than I was and the strings were thicker than my fingers, so that wasn’t going to happen. So they lied to me at the music store and told me that by law you have to play acoustic guitar for two years before you can switch to bass. So I was like, “OK, if that is what I need to do I will do my time, man! I am gonna take it like a man, like a 6 year old man, and do it!” So I got into it and just stuck with it and forgot that I was supposed to switch to bass. Twenty years and I forgot! But I do play bass now too, but I play it like shit because I never did get those bass lessons when I was 6. So it all kinda worked out and I have gotten to do everything, although I am the world’s shittest drummer. So it is a good thing that I didn’t take the drum lessons!

It was the whole KISS thing. A lot of people from my generation heard the KISS Alive album for the first time and it got them so psyched up that they felt like they needed to experience that themselves – then spent the next 20 or 30 years working towards it. It’s the same kind of story. I was 5 years old and all the older kids in the neighbourhood got KISS Alive. Where I grew up there seemed to be two ages of kids: all the kids that were my age, and all the kids that were two or three years older. And the younger ones seemed to get exposed to a lot of the culture of the ones who were a little bit older. So I was five, six, seven years old and going out buying Boston’s first album, Yes’s ‘Going For The One.’ Blondie’s ‘Parallel Lines.’ Ramones’ ‘Rocket To Russia.’ Really getting exposed at a much younger and maybe even more impressionable age. And KISS and the Beatles, those were my two favourites that made me really wanna make music. KISS made me wanna get up on a big loud stage and put on a crazy show, but the Beatles made me truly love music. That’s what made me want to lock myself up in a studio, splice up tape, turn it backwards. All that kind of stuff. That was the creative inspiration.

When I first began, I jumped right into band activities - I started writing songs, had a band logo, merch, started making demos, planning shows... only problem was I couldn't really play guitar yet, haha. But there's one philosophy I always believed in – you only need to be good enough to play your own songs... or whatever song you're playing. I wrote songs I could play, and did the most with my limited abilities. I started taking 1-on-1 guitar lessons, private lessons with different teachers and continued for 8 years. I started with reading, a lot of reading, then music theory, then classical and jazz, while always playing rock on my own and training my ears, learning songs just by listening. I would drop the needle on the record for a few seconds, remember the sound I just heard and would try to match it on the guitar. I would try to learn an album a day – the Scorpions, Judas Priest, Kiss, Ozzy, Iron Maiden... then tougher things like Yes, Van Halen, Jethro Tull, even Tchaikovsky.  It was great for the ears, and great when I wanted to jam with people, because I'd know a lot of songs. After I stopped taking lessons, I kept studying on my own, and would try to find patterns that linked other aspects of life to music, try to see how music, math and emotions all connected. I even programmed my old Commodore64 computer to write random music, haha. Crazy kid...

I had an overactive brain like wow. I would be outside in my yard, I'd be five years old, and have a stack of encyclopedias and I would be reading the encyclopedias just memorizing information about everything I could while everyone would be in the front, you know, just playing football and stuff and they'll like, "Come play with us!" "Yeah, one minute" and I'm... stuff like that. And I was a real just, I don't know, I just had this like incredible hunger for like everything there was to sponge up about everything. Oh yeah, I got dumber with age. Now I'm just a stupid rock star. Oh, but yeah, I was a smart kid. And I think part of the... what I loved about music besides just, you know, loving music, was just trying to understand the math behind it and I was as a kid I was definitely into all the theory and everything and trying to just find on my own, you know, just come across all the different links between things in life and the math that makes music work and yeah.

[...]  I was 5 years old and all of the neighborhood kids were like 4-6 and then there was the next generation of kids that were 7-9 and they all went out and got the KISS 'Alive' album that had just come out. So I heard it through them and as soon as I heard it, it was like a little spark came on and I was like, that is what I gotta do with my life! So, immediately, I need to get a band together, writing songs, doing promotion, making demos..and make it happen! [...] This was a 5 year old all motivated! Immediately I got together with some of the neighborhood kids and started writing songs and borrowed a guitar from one and I didn't even know how to play it. I would lay it on my lap and just strum it and hit it..and I had no idea whatron4 to do with it, but I started writing songs and the only thing I wrote about was what my little geek brain knew about like the solar system and the planets. My first song was a rip off of 'Fox On The Run' called 'Jupiter Is Nice.' But yeah, yeah...I really wanted to play bass because, out of everyone in KISS, it was Gene Simmons that wowed me the most. I wanted to spit blood, fly up to the rafters, breathe fire and play a bass! So I went to the store and the nearest place where they sold instruments and gave lessons and I was a tiny little kid and I was like "I wanna play bass!" My fingers were probably thinner than the bass strings at that point and they looked at me and somehow they conned me into playing guitar.....You need to play acoustic guitar for two years before you play bass...... and I'm thinking to myself, "that's a strange law", but if that is what it takes, fine! So I started taking guitar lessons and strictly academic stuff, reading and all eighth notes and sixteenth notes. Going through all of the reading books, Book 1 and 2 and 3 and my teacher would throw me a bone every once in awhile and teach me a song, the first song I learned was 'Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo.' And what was funny and coincidental is that one of the guys in Guns N'Roses, that was HIS first song too. Richard Fortus...

So that was how it all started ....writing songs, I started putting on concerts in my basement and the local school, we'd have cups of confetti to hand out for the end of the show and they'd all throw the confetti in the air and my poor Mom would have to clean it up.




Bumblefoot in 1978



And why he quickly became so skilled at playing the guitar:

I was just really, really focused. And I practiced a lot. And I was the kind of kid who was into things like music theory. I found it to be really fascinating. I was interested in the math behind it all. It was like food for the brain; it wasn’t just mindless stuff to me. But I needed to keep my brain occupied – otherwise I would do very bad things. And I did. I would vandalize the neighborhood in the most creative ways you could imagine.

I took lessons when I was a kid for a good eight steady years of just weekly lessons, very academic. From there I started teaching out of the basement. Then I started teaching at a music store, and then in my early 20s I set up the music department at a private school. I was teaching music for children there, I set up a jazz band, a choir, music history… a whole music program for this private school. Right before that I was teaching at a music institute that a chain of guitar stores in New York had. At some point I worked my way up to teaching music production and guitar at an actual legitimate college in New York State.


And leaning to play Eddie Van Halen's Eruption backwards:

I had to – it was a challenge. And yeah, this was the early Eighties, and there was nobody like Eddie. Before that I was into Kiss, AC/DC, the Beatles. But the first time I heard Van Halen, it was like nothing else. I had “Eruption” on cassette, so I popped out the reels, flipped them over and popped them back in. I literally wanted to be able to play the song forward and backward. And at 12 years old, I could do it.


And getting hooked up with Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records:

I suppose that’s when I went “legit.” This was in the late Eighties. I had been gigging in bars and clubs around the New York area, trying to get a deal for my band, AWOL, and also playing in cover bands, doing, like, every Rush song known to man. But in addition to all that I started making these weird, strange instrumental songs, mostly for my own amusement. And a friend said to me, “Hey, you should submit this stuff to one of those guitar mags that showcases unknown players.” So I did. And the guy who got in touch with me as Mike Varney. He put me in his “Spotlight” column [in Guitar Player magazine], gave me a nice write up, and we stayed in touch. I wound up appearing on a few of his compilation CDs and also a few of the Guitar on the Edge compilation records his brother [Mark Varney] put together. Mike was also talking to me about doing a full instrumental album, but I always said no, because I wanted to be part of a band. I grew up on Kiss, the Beatles, Van Halen – I wanted it to be four names up there. I didn’t want to be known as the solo guitar guy. [...]  I never considered myself just a shredder. I’m more like a songwriter that tastelessly plays way too many notes for the song. [laughs] But that said, it’s still the song first. And as a guitarist, the most amazing thing you can do is come up with one of those riffs that every player wants to learn: “Smoke on the Water,” “Paranoid,” “Stairway to Heaven” and, dare I even suggest, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” If you can come up with something like that, you’re golden. All the other bullshit doesn’t matter.


And his main influences:

Definitely Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. There were plenty of others, from Charlie Christian (old bluesy jazz) to Andre Segovia (classical) to Alan Holdsworth (fusion) to Yngwie Malmsteen (neo-classical) but the ones that had the most impact were definitely Eddie and Jimi.

Guitar-wise, I was always into Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen really opened my mind up to a different way of looking at things. For the most part, I really played a lot like Angus [Young] when I was a kid and was totally into that vibe. When I heard Eddie Van Halen for the first time, I was like, “What? What the fuck is he doing?” and that kinda changed the road that I was on. [...] Well definitely Eddie. Hendrix is there, for that feel and he had such a fucking vibe to him. It is so hard to say. Even Yngwie [Malmsteen] because, to me, I think of the ones that had such an impact on music or guitar players, or both. People started shredding because of him. He’s to blame for that because he inspired a lot of people that went on to take what he did and add it to their schooled, jazz approach that they had to things and suddenly you have all the shrapnel artist for next 10 years. So he has to be given a lot of credit for being a major inspiration for a lot of people. I could even throw in some people that you wouldn’t expect like Elliot Easton from The Cars because he was so fucking tasty in what he played. If you want to go down that road, you could even say Ace [Frehley]. You can sing his guitar parts more than you can even sing the vocal to a KISS song. You could go on forever, people were great for so many different reasons either by what they contributed or by how something hits you individually.


And his love of KISS:

I was 5 years old, and the older neighbors (they were around 8 or 9 years old) played me the KISS Alive! album, it had just come out. I was an instant KISS fan. Next memory, besides putting the KISS Army sticker on my bedroom door, or seeing an occasional commercial on TV for a concert or album and getting all riled up, was playing drums to Detroit Rock City for our 2nd grade talent show. (I wanted to be a drummer originally...) Then getting the KISS dolls, and seeing them live at Madison Square Garden in '79 - it was my first concert, and not much topped it. All this had an impact on my life, the direction it took, and why I'm doing what I'm doing today.

[Being asked why he started playing guitar]: Well because I was a really shitty drummer. Yeah. And I wanted to, you know, I heard KISS, I was five years old, I heard the KISS Alive album and I was like, "That's what I want to do that right there." "I want to put on makeup and dress funny." Uh so yeah, so I wanted to be a drummer and it didn't quite work out and I was like, "Well I want to be a bassist cuz Gene Simmons is the shit, he scares me I'm five," and you know, "I want to spit blood and fly and I want to breathe fire and fuck chicks and..." Actually no I didn't want to fuck chicks when I was five. So I remember I was six years old, I was having a birthday party and invited two girls from my class thinking that, like, if I invite them both that I'd be able to get with both of them at the same time. Yeah didn't work out. It did not work out in any way but that's another story. So yeah once wanted to be a bassist but you know I was too young, you know, bass strings like fucking cables, you know, for a five-year-old, you know, thickening my fingers so I started on guitar and I stuck with it.




Bumblefoot in 1986



Bumblefoot would frequently use a fretless guitar from the French guitar company Vigier:

Vigier Guitars has been making one [fretless guitar] for 20 years, but very few people had embraced it. From the first time I heard it I thought it was the coolest thing and started using it. Been playing Vigier guitars since '97, got a fretless in '99 - gets such a unique sound, real fun to play.

Dig playin' both, each has somethin' about them. Fretted guitars you can really dig in and bend the strings till your fingers are chewed up, but fretless has a freedom you don't get from a fretted guitar. I kinda dig soloing with the fretless, Vigier makes the ones I use, with the metal neck. And they made the foot guitar. They gave me the fretless to check out, I think it was the NAMM show in 1999. The first 5 minutes were strange-but after an hour or so, it all started comin' together. CHEck 'em out at "www.vigierguitars.com",

Vigier Guitars has been making a fretless for 25 years, but none of their artists really jumped on it. I figured I'd give it a shot, and see what comes of it. Definitely a different approach - no bending strings, vibrato more like a cello - takes a minute to adjust, but after that it feels natural.

The company Vigier, they were making this [fretless] guitar I had discovered it in 1998-99 and I asked them if I could try one out and that's when I started using it.


In early 2006, Vigier would release a Bumblefoot signature guitar:

Yes, Vigier just put it out in January 2006. Nothing crazy, not a flying foot or a chunk of cheese - a 'Normal' guitar, customized with the pickups and wiring I use (split coil and out-of-phase settings,) non-floating vibrato (stays in tune when you break a string,) and a hole to stick your thimble when you're not using it Razz

Yeah, about the thimble (metal cap used in sewing that you put over your fingertip so you don't get jabbed with the needle...), I keep it on the little finger of my picking hand and tap with it - after the neck ends and the string keeps going, I use it to get the higher notes.


Bumblefoot would also occasionally use a thimble for tapping:

I don't think I'm doing anything physically different from other players, maybe just the choice of notes and phrasing. Maybe the only difference is the metal cap or thimble on one of the fingertips so I can tap above the fretboard and still get sustained notes off the string. You can hear that in the song "Guitars SUCK", the real high notes, that's all tapping with the thimble.


At one point, Bumblefoot played in a cover band called Leonard Nimoy:

I did have a cover band back then. What cover songs were we doing at the time… We were doing covers of GN’R. [...]We’d do “Brownstone”, “My Michelle”, uh, what else… I think we did “Jungle”. A bunch of stuff off of Appetite. I had a band called Leonard Nimoy – you know, the guy on Star Trek? He played Spock – and we would do covers of AC/DC, Kiss and Aerosmith, Guns, and… It’s pretty funny, we would – no, I shouldn’t even get into that story, it’s too much! We just did some crazy shit.

[...] I had a cover band with some friends called Leonard Nimoy - we did a few songs off Appetite when it first came out, I think we did Brownstone, Jungle and Michelle... I remember the first time hearing Guns - it was 3am and I caught the Jungle video on MTV. I remember thinkin', "this is gonna be BIG..."



THE BUMBLEFOOT NAME


Bumblefoot adopted his stage name when helping his wife prepare for a veterinarian exam:

In the early 90s, my girlfriend was in veterinary school and I was helping her study - one of the animal diseases was named Bumblefoot. One of the treatments was to rub hemorrhoid cream on a bird's foot. It was all so bizarre that I wrote a song about some kinda fucked-up superhero named Bumblefoot. I used the idea for the artwork on that instrumental CD, then named my band Bumblefoot, eventually it became my nickname. It fit the band, kinda quirky experimental sometimes-Zappa-ish Mr.-Bungle-ish sounding...

Yeah. And I can say she's now been my wife for 10 years, so she must have done good on the test. It was one of those sleepless nights and she had a thousand pages to memorize and one of the diseases in her book was called Bumblefoot and I thought it sounded like such a silly sounding name that I ended up writing a song about a superhero called Bumblefoot. And then it ended up becoming the name of my band and then my own nickname. Now, I'm stuck with it. And now I'm stuck in this cool band with the name of a Saturday morning cartoon character.

The name Bumblefoot happened about 15 years ago, my girlfriend was studying to be a veterinarian, one of the diseases she was learning about was something that birds and rats get, called Ulcerative Pododermatitis, also known as "Bumblefoot" One of the treatments for the disease was to rub hemorrhoid ointment on the bird's foot. It all sounded so fucking ridiculous, I went and wrote a song about a superhero called Bumblefoot, a few years later, started up my band and called it Bumblefoot, and it sort of morphed into my nickname. What the fuck was I thinking..........?

Kids, don't do drugs.

My wife was in veterinary school many, many years ago and she is a veterinarian now, she passed! Thanks to my help, of course! I was helping her study and one of the diseases was called Bumblefoot and I was like, “What the fuck is that? That is so stupid!” So I am reading about it and it said that turkeys get this disease and that one way to treat it is to rub hemorrhoid cream on their foot. I was thinking, “This is so idiotic! I am naming my band Bumblefoot!” It sorta became my nickname, which worked out to not being the best thing in the world. Especially following someone named “Buckethead” in a band. You get all the jokes like “Buckethead and now Bumblefoot? What’s next, Bumperdick?” Everyone has something to say, but whatever! At the time I guess I was more in a Monty Python state of mind where I thought being named after a giant fucked up foot might be funny and good for the rest of my life. So I wake up one morning and I am taking myself a little more serious or I should say that other people are taking me more seriously and the name is, I wouldn’t say a detriment, but it makes you scratch your head.

It was the early 90s, my girlfriend was in veterinary school and I was helping her study. One of the diseases was Ulcerative Pododermatitis, also known as Bumblefoot. It was a disease that turkeys get, and one of the treatments was to rub hemorrhoid creme on its feet. It inspired me to write a song for my band at the time about a superhero called Bumblefoot, and when I had my first record deal in the mid-90's, I called the debut album "The Adventures Of Bumblefoot", with an album cover showing this apocalyptic scene of mayhem and destruction with this winged striped foot flying overhead. When the deal finished I started my own band, called it "Bumblefoot", that was around '97, '98. Over the next 10 years of putting out albums and touring, the name 'Bumblefoot' was connected to everything I was doing musically, and it went from band-name to nickname.

That name goes back to the early 1990’s when my wife was in veterinary school. She was studying to be a veterinarian and one time I was helping her study and that was one of the diseases. It’s called Bumblefoot or the technical term “ulcerative podermatitis.” It was such a silly name and I was thinking to myself that would be a cool idea for a song. So I wrote a little song called “Bumblefoot.” Then when I had my first record deal in the mid 1990’s, my first record was called ‘The Adventures of Bumblefoot.’  It was this big apocalyptic cover of death and destruction with this big winged foot flying overhead. After that I started a band called ‘Bumblefoot’ and that’s kind of what did it. Having the band since 1997 and putting out ‘Bumblefoot albums’ it just became a thing where when people met me and I introduced myself as Ron, they would go oh yeah, “Bumblefoot!”  It kind of became the nickname from doing the band because the band was pretty much a solo thing. I wrote everything and it was my guitar and singing.

Yes, it was my wife, when she was just my girlfriend and she was studying to be an animal doctor, veterinarian and I was helping her study and that was the name of one of the diseases. It was very strange disease, where a turkey or different birds can get it. It's infection on the bottom of their feet and one of the ways you treat it was to rub hemorrhoid cream on their feet, which I thought was so stupid and make me laugh. It's just so ridiculous, that inspired a song and I wrote a song called "Bumblefoot" and that song led to another song, which led to the album, which led to the band, which led to my nickname. From there it just inspired the other songs, where I would take different other animal diseases and write songs around them. That was sort of direction, the concept, I guess, just as I was making the album.


He would also emphasize that Bumblefoot was only one side to him:

[Bumblefoot's] not me, it's a side of me. It's a Ziggy Stardust, not a David Bowie.


And that in Guns N' Roses he would consider himself to just be Ron:

Ulcerative pododermatitis is its full, fancy name. 15 years ago I was helping my wife study for veterinary school when we discovered it. It was the stupidest thing I ever heard, so I used it for a song title. Then an album called The Adventures Of Bumblefoot [1995]. It’s well-suited to my solo work, which is quirky and Mr Bungle-ish, but personally-speaking I might’ve outgrown it. I don’t feel like Bumblefoot when I’m onstage with Guns. In that environment I feel like Ron. Does that make sense? [...] Well, I have this multi-personality disorder [laughs]. I put on my funny foot-shaped guitar and I’m being Bumblefoot. But I’ve got a Flying V and I’m playing with Axl and my name is Ron. It’s hard to explain.



1995: THE ADVENTURES OF BUMBLEFOOT


I had a band and got signed to a small indie label that released the two out-of-print albums. [...] So I signed the deal, part of the deal was the label wanted an all-instrumental guitar album from me - that was the first album, "Adventures..." [...] .

I remember it all like it was yesterday. I lived at home with my parents. I had all my equipment set up in the basement, where I would be sitting on the chair, the mixing board in front of me and a little foot switch under my foot. It was a summer time (laugh) I remember how the air-conditioning would go on and it had really loud motor. It cooled down the whole house, so I couldn't record every time it went on. And I would have to wait for it to shut off for 10 minutes and then lay tracks and then go back until it would stop and wait. Sometimes I would go upstairs and turn up the thermostat, so that the air-conditioning wouldn't go on (laugh) and my mother would realized some hours later that the whole house is so hot and start yelling at me. I remember it all completely, very vividly. Writing the songs for it, the excitement for doing my first solo album. Before that I was just doing single songs for different guitar compilation CDs. I started doing this in 1991, 1992, 1993. So this was 1994 and I was finally doing my first album.


In 2010, Bumblefoot would re-release this album at Shrapnel Records [chinesedemocracyforum.com, October 2009] and he would be asked if he now when looking back at the album would have changed something:

[...]Shrapnel is re-releasing the album after 15 years, and we're adding a few extra tracks from a video game I did music for around the time the album was first released. I spent 6 months transcribing the album, as detailed as possible. Notation, TAB, fingers, picking, everything the hands do on every guitar track for every song (the 12 songs, not the bonus tracks) It's about 200 pages, all I have to do is add some text info, photos, tweak the layout and get 'em printed. Hope to have it available by mid-2010.

I wouldn't change anything. Not now. I think I go through a pattern with every album I do - I finish the album, I'm happy with it, a week later I start hearing the things I'd change, I'm haunted by more and more changes... it's actually *me* that's changing, I start to feel like I've outgrown the album, like it represents who I am less and less as time goes on. Then after a few years I accept it as part of a previous chapter of life, and I'm ok with it, and feel good about it. The only thing I ever would have changed was some of the vocal screaming in the song 'Q Fever' – my voice was blown out from recent gigs, and couldn't deliver the intensity of what I wanted to do. I had a deadline, I couldn't wait a few days for my throat to heal and retry it with the vocal tone I pictured. But I'm ok with it. It's imperfect, as albums should be – they should be *human*, imperfect like a real person. Shrapnel Records is the label that released the album originally, and are re-releasing it. I worked with them on it, I updated the artwork and added bonus tracks from a videogame soundtrack I did back then, around the same time the album first came out. I'll be selling autographed copies of the CD at www.baldfreak.com - it's the official webstore for all my CDs & merch. And I'll be donating $5 from every autographed album to Multiple Sclerosis research. I also made a transcription book of the album - it took 6 months to write out, it's 200 pages. It has every detail of what I played on the album – notes, fingers, picking, tablature... that'll be at the webstore too.

My first album 'The Adventures Of Bumblefoot' came out in 1995, on Shrapnel Records in the US, Roadrunner Records in Europe & Japan. It's an instrumental guitar album, and every song is named after an animal disease, a concept that began with the first song 'Bumblefoot' (aka Ulcerative Pododermatitis) That's where my nickname 'Bumblefoot' began. The album got a good response from critics and press, reader's polls, it was a nice beginning. Two years later, I finished the record deal and the label stopped manufacturing the album. It was out-of-print, and there was no way to get the album.

Sometimes I'd see them on eBay, selling for up to $150. I even saw one going for $600... last year Shrapnel contacted me and said they wanted to re-release the album. I was so glad – we worked together on it, I prepared the artwork for the digipak design (original was a jewel case) and added 5 bonus tracks from a video game soundtrack I had made for a Sega game also in 1995. The album will be available online at my webstore ( http://www.bumblefoot.com/store/ ) in August – the CDs will be autographed and $5 from every album will be donated to Multiple Sclerosis research.

I also made a transcription book for the 'Adventures' album. I listened to each recorded track and re-learned the parts, I wrote out every detail of everything I played on the album, did the typesetting for all the music notation, TAB, fingers, picking, everything. It took six months to write out, and is so accurate and detailed, definitely something 'guitar geeks' like me will enjoy, haha. That will also be available in August at the webstore.



1997: HERMIT


"Hermit" was released in 1997, it was the second album released under the artist name "Ron Thal" - it's out-of-print along with the first album in 1995, "The Adventures Of Bumblefoot."


Talking about the difference between Adventures and Hermit:

I had a band and got signed to a small indie label that released the two out-of-print albums. The band sounded like the stuff you hear on the "Hands" CD (debut Bumblefoot album released 1998). We were gigging in and around NYC, I was teaching music, playing in cover bands with friends and doing some photography on the side. [...] I guess that's the main difference - the first "Adventures..." album was all instrumental, the second "Hermit" album was more of what I do, singin' and band-oriented stuff. Never wanted to be a guitar hero, just wanted to make songs and be in a band.



1997: HANDS


This would be Bumblefoot's first album released as Bumblefoot. Being asked if there is any difference to album released by Ron Thal and by Bumblefoot:

Yes - you can find Bumblefoot CDs anywhere on the internet. You can't find Ron Thal CDs - I don't own the rights to the albums, the label won't re-release them, your only choices are to buy them for $100 on eBay when someone sells one, or "illegally" download them. Although it doesn't seem very illegal to download an album, if the record label makes it impossible for people to buy.



2001: 9/11


The album was half-instrumental and was gonna be called "Guitars Suck," but as I was finishing it up, the terrorist attacks in the US happened, and I felt I needed to do something helpful with the album, so I donated all the proceeds to the Red Cross. I changed the name so people would easily identify it as the benefit album.



2002: UNCOOL



2005: NORMAL


In the mid-2000s Bumblefoot got addicted to mood-altering medication, got overweigh ("Bumblefat", as he would refer to himself back then) and experienced a writer's block [Guitar World, February 2009].

At that point I knew things had to change. So I decided that it was about time I got my shit in order. I weaned myself off the meds, started exercising and finished my next album [2005’s Normal]

I went as long as could without making music, until it felt like I was denying myself something valuable to my soul,' he told me. 'For a year-and-a-half I was content, at peace – at its best it felt like a celebration with a slight buzz. I got past whatever I needed to, I was out of the hole, all healed up, ready to put the crutches down, so I did. I remember wondering if-and-when things would start to revert back to how they were before. It was weeks after stopping, I didn't feel any different yet, but people started to ask me 'what was wrong?' he recalled. 'They said I looked, I guess the best word would be 'conflicted'. My face was changing - people saw it, but I still felt fine. Not long after, it hit me, while waiting on line at the Post Office - I remember the feeling, it was like seeing the first dead leaf on the ground and knowing Summer's over. But ya know, I wouldn't change a thing. That’s what I meant before - it's about experiencing life and having something to share.


Explaining the title of the record:

Normal brings you into the world of an insane musician who takes medication and experiences what it's like to be 'normal' for the first time - but the medicine silences his ability to make music. Eventually he must choose which life he wants. The songs on Normal follow his journey, leaving you to ponder, "What's 'normal,' anyway?"

"Normal" is a true story of a musician who was suffering from depression. He starts taking medicine, and for the first time in his life, he feels "normal". The only problem, he soon realizes, is that the medicine is blocking his ability to write music, his head was once filled with music, and it's now silent. Through the album he evaluates different parts of his life from a new perspective. Eventually, he feels he must choose what's more important to him - the happiness with silence, or music. In the end, he chooses music, but takes with him everything he just experienced, everything he realized about life, that there is no "normal", there just is what is, and what we make of what is.

The album is about *balance*, realizing that good and bad are only ideas, they only exist in our perception, and they are interlocking pieces that complete each other, creating the whole. They're one and the same, a piece of one in the other, and they only exist as what we choose to see them as. Getting to experience the same life from two opposite points of view make you realize, there is no pretty, no ugly, it's how we choose to process what we see - the object doesn't change, how we objectify it is what changes. And it is something we absolutely choose. We can't control what we will encounter in life, we can only control our reactions to it.

The Normal album touched on making the choice, whether to continue on meds and sacrifice creativity, or get off them so I can do what I love, making music, at the risk falling back into Hell. In the end you realize you're not powerless, it starts with your perception of things and how you choose to react to everything. It's where life was at self-discovery-wise, learning to give up control and not try to change what we can't, and to just roll with it all, to learn, and draw from your experiences. I think an emotional charge can push creative moments, I think it's a personal expression, a look inside a person, I think free thinking helps creativity flow, but I don't think artistry completely coincides with mental disorder. But I'm the wrong guy to ask, haha.


Being asked if it is autobiographical:

Yes, for the most part. Some of the silly songs that break up the story a bit aren't completely autobiographical, but the overall concept is.

[...] the fifth Bumblefoot album "Normal" was recently released, we did a European tour in October/November of 2005, made a video for one of the songs, got some radio airplay, some TV shows played the songs as background music - always funny when that happens, ya don't expect it, suddenly ya hear it and I'm saying "What the...?" as if I'm hearing things...


With the release of "Normal", Bumblefoot had seven records out:

So there are seven albums released, the first two are "Ron Thal" albums and near impossible to find, the other five are
"Bumblefoot" albums.


And being asked where one can get his albums:

I release them myself on the internet, but not in stores. They're at my site, Cdbaby , Amazon, iTunes - you can get them anywhere in the world , as long as ya can get on the internet...


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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jun 27, 2021 5:12 pm

MAY 12, 2006
THE FIRST WARM-UP GIG AT THE HAMMERSTEIN BALLROM


For the first show on May 12, the band would debut three new songs, I.R.S., There Was A Time, and Better. For My Michelle, Sebastian Bach would join the stage and duet with Axl. This would also be Bumblefoot's first show with the band.

Review in Los Angeles Times:

Rose, wearing jeans, a black leather shirt and sunglasses, his hair in cornrows and tied in a ponytail, got a hero's welcome as he led the band through its traditional opener, "Welcome to the Jungle." His frame looked a little heftier at age 44 than in his street-waif heyday 20 years ago, but he kicked and scampered around with spirited energy, and his raspy voice had its old barbed-wire edge.

That was the start of a solid, smooth-running 2 1/2 -hour set that was dominated by vintage fan favorites, with no tirades, no impulsive departures from the book, unless you count a guest appearance by Skid Row's Sebastian Bach, singing with Rose on "My Michelle." There was also a lot less of the tension that fueled the band's performances in the late '80s and early '90s, largely because this is a different Guns N' Roses, with the original lineup -- most significantly, Rose's colorful, guitar-wielding foil Slash -- gone and new players in place since the late '90s.


The New York Times would mention both Robin and Bumblefoot:

The newest of the seven musicians backing up Mr. Rose on Friday, one of its three guitarists, is Ron Thal, also known as Bumblefoot. (One of his guitars has been designed to look like the bottom of a foot, with bumblebee stripes.) He takes up the role of the pyrotechnic shredder, vacated in 2004 by the guitarist Buckethead. At certain points in the show, including a few discontinuous unaccompanied solos, he accelerated to impressively fast chromatic runs; he also played some lavish, Hendrix-influenced blues language. Why this band’s gut-level songs now require the ornamentation of a wizardly guitarist at all remains unclear. It makes the band more atemporal, more Vegas-y, than necessary.

It was the group’s principal guitarist, Robin Finck, who made the sweetest and most grounded music of the night, and seemed most comfortable at work. An off-and-on member of the band for nine years now, Mr. Finck assumed most of the lines in the old songs formerly played by the guitarist Slash. But when he improvised, he spun out simple patterns, shaking the guitar’s neck and getting warmth and resonance out of each note or chord; his own unaccompanied solo, just before the concert’s final number, was a beautifully coherent, non-shredding couple of minutes, the best of the less-familiar music played in the show. He gave himself to the crowd, even literally, diving in to the audience three times.


Chicago Tribune:

Wearing a black leather shirt, blue jeans and boots, the mercurial singer was a flash of SoHo cool and Hollywood glam, his serpentine-dance a mix of defiance and sexuality. Rose still has cornrows, and he appeared physically lean and in great spirits. Confidently prowling or manically darting about the stage, he consistently hit piercing highs that probed melancholic pain and flexed a range of shivering wails, shuddering croons and scorching yowls that attacked like a starving animal ripping into prey. Led by stage-diving guitarist Robin Finck, Rose's seven mates executed signature riffs and bluesy rhythms with a sonic fullness that suggested that, this time out, they prepared.


Near the end of the show, Tommy would tell Axl how much fun he has having and the two of them would hug:

Near the concert's finale, bassist Tommy Stinson told Rose how much fun he was having. The singer embraced him, symbolizing the chemistry that the group maintained throughout the evening.


Bumblefoot would later mention that he had been learning some of the songs just a few hours before hitting the stage:

I was having fun, but had to concentrate on song arrangements. I was still learning songs a few hours before going on stage, I had songs written out in my pocket, haha. But I had faith that everything would be ok, I accepted that everything would happen as it was meant to.

The hardest part of the gig was remembering the new songs - I didn't have copies of the new material, only heard them once through headphones on a laptop at rehearsal, and had to learn the songs just from that.  We started making plans in the Summer of 2004, but a tour didn't happen until almost two years later - we got together in NY and started jamming just a few weeks before the tour began, then hit the road, and started recording tracks for Chinese Democracy soon after that.

The main concern was the new songs. They were afraid of leaks, so I had to learn them within a very short period of time on a laptop in the rehearsal room (laughs). I had little notes that I’d put on one of the speakers just in case! But after the first show, which went without incident, I felt better. I remember the first show with 100,000 people in Madrid, Spain (on the 25th of May, 2006). It was the first time I was seeing that sort of endless sea of heads. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel differently from when I was playing in small clubs.


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Post by Soulmonster Sun Jul 18, 2021 6:39 pm

THERE WAS A TIME


One of the songs that was debuted at the May 12, 2006, show at the Hammerstein Ballroom was There Was A Time.

Axl would later mention that it is the hardest song they do live:

That's the hardest fucker we do.
Las Vegas, USA, June 6, 2014


Axl would later discuss what parts of the song he wrote:

I wrote Robin’s bit in the second verse. There’s microscopic bits throughout usually woven down in the other guitars. There bits throughout the end, the basic power chord bit was originally mine, there’s a ghost like bit that formed the basis for the end vocal melody right before Robin’s riff’s in one side in the outro before Bucket’s solo and as it gets to the very end there’s lot’s of little over dubbed bits woven in and out very small but structured bits.





There Was A Time
From the alternative Red Hand album artwork
Credit to troccoli



There Was A Time
From the alternative Grenade album artwork
Credit to troccoli



And Bumblefoot would talk about Buckethead's iconic outro solo:

I think one of the biggest stand-out solos on [Chinese Democracy] is definitely Buckethead's solo at the end of There Was A Time. I think it is beautiful, it's just, you know, everything about it goes to great places. It's one of the highlights of the album. Yeah, definitely that. Well done, Bucket!
Fret 12 Video Interview, May 2011


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Post by Soulmonster Tue Aug 24, 2021 2:49 pm

I.R.S.


One of the songs that was debuted at the May 12, 2006, show at the Hammerstein Ballroom was I.R.S.




I.R.S.
From the alternative Red Hand album artwork
Credit to troccoli



I.R.S.
From the alternative Grenade album artwork
Credit to troccoli

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Post by Soulmonster Wed Aug 25, 2021 11:06 am

BUMBLEFOOT, TOO QUIRKY FOR GUNS N' ROSES?


Bumblefoot would say that at first he was unsure of whether his stage name, "Bumblefoot", would fit with the image of Guns N' Roses:

You know I spoke to them about that before joining the band. You know, "Does Bumblefoot match the coolness of Guns N' Roses?" If this was Primus or Mr. Bungle or a band like that it would work. But they were like, 'Naw man, that's you. Keep it.' ... It's not me, it's a side of me. It's a Ziggy Stardust, not a David Bowie.





Bumblefoot in 2005 with his Foot Guitar



Later he would discuss wearing various outfits while playing shows:



In 2010, when asked if he had been asked to change his style, responded:

I was brought into the band because of who I am, I was brought in to be me. I was never asked to change. Even when I played my fucking 'Foot' guitar (http://www.bumblefoot.com/gear/08-vigier-flying-foot-guitar.php) when I first joined, no one stopped me. They should have, but they didn't, haha...


The Flying Foot guitar was abandoned after it broke down during a show in Istanbul in 2006 [see later chapter], and Bumblefoot would mention that Axl had been joking about his guitar in the in-ear monitor during the show:

haha, I was playing and hit the bar, and suddenly little strips of yellow and black wood hit my feet. That guitar had been through 8 years of tours, it was a matter of time before it gave out. It was time to put it to rest. The whole time I'd be soloing, a certain singer would be breaking my balls, saying stuff in my in-ear monitors like "Get a real guitar, that thing's a toy...", HAHA! Man, he fucked me up good sometimes, haha!




Bumblefoot in 2010 with his double neck Vigier



Bumblefoot would not be the first band member who changed his looks after joining Guns N' Roses, the same happened with Robin.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Nov 17, 2021 3:34 pm

2005-2012
TOMMY AND SOUL ASYLUM


In 2005 there were rumours that Tommy would replace the late Karl Mueller of Soul Asylum [Sp1at, September 2, 2005]. But Merck denied these rumours and said Tommy would only do two shows with the band:

Tommy has not joined Soul Asylum. They are longtime friends of his and he is doing two gigs with them in tribute to their late bass player Karl.


Tommy would also mention the shows in a mailing list update:

And lastly, but not at all leastly, I've been learning some Soul Asylum songs for a show in N.Y.C on Oct.26th at the Bowery Ballroom. Yep, I'll be filling in for Karl. I'm told he would have wanted it this way so this is for him as well as Danny, Dave and Mary Beth. At the moment, that's all I know for certain.


Despite Merck's assurances, Tommy would contribute to Soul Asylum's Silver Lining which was released in 2006 and would occasionally tour with the band in the period 2005 to 2012.

We’re all old friends from high school. After [bassist] Karl Mueller passed away in 2005 from throat cancer, his widow Mary Beth asked if I’d fill in for gigs the band booked before he died. When the band went to finish the record they’d started, she asked me to do that, too. Apparently Karl had a list of people he wanted to take his place in the band, and I was on it. I like those guys a lot—fortunately I’ve been available to do shows with them the past couple years.


In 2011, Tommy would discuss the common thread between Soul Asylum, Guns N' Roses and The Replacements:

Just that they’re all rock bands. And that they all have fairly emotional singers who are a little bit on the dangerous side. And they’re real—they’re all the real deal. I guess I got lucky enough to not have to play with people who aren’t.


He would also mention that he was more comfortable with Pirner (Soul Asylum) and Westerberg (The Replacements) than with Axl:

I’m probably more comfortable with Dave [Pirner, of Soul Asylum] and Paul [Westerberg] than I am with Axl [Rose], just because I’ve known them longer and I’ve been friends with them longer. That’s not to bag on Axl in any way—it’s just to say that I think I’ve managed to get along with Dave and Paul better.


The band had also planned a new record to come out by the end of 2011:

We still have a few things to finish up. Just last week, I was working on a couple things. Hopefully we'll get it out by the end of the year. It's a little hard because we are spread across different states, but we've been really working hard on it.


Talking about his involvement with the band:

Soul Asylum, I've known those guys since we all went to school together, Dave and I anyway. They're good guys and we have a good time playing together. That's more a labor of love.


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Post by Soulmonster Tue Nov 23, 2021 12:58 pm

2004-
THE COMPULSIONS WITH RICHARD, FRANK AND BUMBLEFOOT


In-between tours and work with Guns N' Roses, Richard and Frank would play with Rob Carlyle in the New York-based band The Compulsions [[Press release, February 3, 2004; Blabbermouth, February 24, 2011]. Richard and Frank would be featured on the EPs "Laughter From Below" (2004), "Demon Love" (2008) and "Been Through Hell" (2009) [[Press release, February 3, 2004; Blabbermouth, February 24, 2011].
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Post by Soulmonster Thu Nov 25, 2021 1:18 pm

2005-
PISSER WITH RICHARD, FRANK AND BUMBLEFOOT


One of the New York side bands that Richard and Frank played in, in addition to The Compulsions, was Pisser. In 2005, Pisser was starting to achieve some interest from record companies:

A few years back, I was in a band called Honky Toast with some of my closest friends in NYC. It was just a fun band that would play when we were all in town at the same time. We were just having fun with it and we played a few shows. Before we knew it, there were all these A&R; guys coming to the shows and a huge bidding war started. It was a great band, but didn't really happen for a variety of reasons. Pisser is the same singer and the same drummer from Honky Toast. It is just a fun, kick-ass, rock band. The same type of thing is starting to happen again though. We'll see what happens.

Pisser is a a band that rose from the ashes of Honky Toast. Again straight ahead rock and roll, my favorite stuff to play. Yeah Anthony Esposito [=bassist in Pisser] that... I've known as Esposito for maybe like 1986-87, I've known him for a very long time. I've worked with him in different bands. He's a good friend of mine. I consider him a friend first. Yeah, he plays with Ace Frehley. Actually Ace put this band together at Schoolhouse right? At Anthony's studio. So yes, so Anthony I've known for a long time. Eric J. Toast and we also have Rob Bailey on guitar. Again, it's a straight ahead rock and roll band. There's a MySpace page, you guys go check it out, it's super awesome.
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