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

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

Registering is free and easy.


2009.08.25 - GnREvolution - Q&A with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

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2009.08.25 - GnREvolution - Q&A with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal Empty 2009.08.25 - GnREvolution - Q&A with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

Post by Blackstar Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:22 am

The GnREvolution Q&A with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

GnREvolution: Who are some of your favorite guitarists..past and present. and for our resident U2 fanatic...what do you think of The Edge as a guitar player? Is there any musician out there who you'd dream of doing a solo collaboration with but thus far haven't?

Bumblefoot: The Edge always did the perfect thing for the song, always the right atmosphere and energy. Some of my favorite guitarists...  Angus Young, Jimi Hendrix, Ace Frehley, Eddie Van Halen, and as far as guitarist's guitarists, guys like Al DiMeola, Allan Holdsworth...  so many inspirational players out there...   Would love to do some kinda band with John Sykes. My friend Mattias Eklundh from the Swedish band 'Freak Kitchen' and I have been talking for years about doing some kind of album together but neither of us ever have enough time to get it rolling.

GnREvolution: If the opportunity arose, would you ever collaborate with former GnR members such as Slash, Izzy, Duff, Buckethead, etc....either in or out of GNR. If such a collaboration could happen with you maintaining your position in GNR.

Bumblefoot: Jammed with Izzy plenty of times, and we worked out a nice version of 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia', does that count?  Haha...   Bucket and I talked before he joined GNR about me singing on his stuff, way back when - generally, if someone's cool and there's no issues, I give things a chance. You can always find a reason to not do things, I say fuck it and just play...  but there are people in my history I'd never play with again no matter what, so I understand anyone feeling that way about anyone. And it's best not to get in the middle of those situations.

(edit: for the Bucket fans out there ... I asked Ron when these BBF/BH collaboration talks took place, and he told me that it was early 1999. smile )

GnREvolution: Which tracks on Abnormal feature the fretless...

Bumblefoot: The main guitar in 'Jenny B' is all fretless.  Some little noises in the breakdown of 'Last Time', the 'siren' sound in the last verse of 'Abnormal', middle solo after the speed-up part in 'Guitars Still Suck', 2nd solo in 'Redeye'.

GnREvolution: What equipment did you use on Chinese Democracy.

Bumblefoot: Les Pauls, the Vigier fretless, Vox or a Cry Baby wah pedal, Marshall heads and cabs, sometimes a Boss Blues Driver pedal for extra juice.  Brought down my old JCM800 for some stuff...

GnREvolution: What songs (and in what ways) did you retool guitar work on to add your touch to for each respective song. can you tell us what guitar parts (Rhythm's, leads, riffs) are yours on the album?

Bumblefoot: If I can remember, been years...  in most of the songs I put in loose riffy rhythms, I think it freed everything up a bit.  On top of that, song by song, in 'Chinese' the fretless in the verses, 'Shacklers' the solos, 'Better' some little noodly stuff in the end of the 2nd verse, some little melodic lines in the rhythms in 'Dreams', solos in 'Catcher', 'Scraped' and 'Riad', the rest I don't remember. Like trying to remember how many sprinkles ya put on an ice cream cone 3 years ago...

GnREvolution: What was your process for recording solos? Were you given any advice as to the type of solo to play/tone etc, was it all improvised or were you asked to replicate but add your stamp to some existing melodies etc. (Like how Brain was asked to re-do the notes Freese hit but with Brain's feel etc) and generally any other suitable stories or tidbits that relate to the great work you've done on your parts.

Bumblefoot: I'd spend 14 hours laying down every type of thing I could, different directions in rhythms and solos, as well as different guitars, pickups, amp settings, ways of playing. All my own parts, didn't re-play anyone else's, but there was also a collaborative input. Decisions would be made for what they thought was best, using what where and when. Chi Dem is not your typical album, there's no other that's gone through the journey that album did, and no other probably ever will. It's not a simple 'play what ya want on your own song how ya want it and no one else gets a say in it'. My own albums are like that, this one is about being a piece of a very big musical picture. Where else will you hear me and Bucket and Frank and Brain and Robin and Richard and Axl and Sebastian and Dizzy and Chris and Tommy and Paul in songs together? It's a one of a kind, the rules don't apply.

GnREvolution: I would like to ask if your solos on Shacklers and Riad were influenced at all by Buckethead and did you secretly try to out do him?

Bumblefoot: Hahaha, no and no. Listen to my demos from 20 years ago and you'll find that I play the way I play, long before there were buckets on anyone's head or bumbles on anyone's feet. Guys from the same era like me, Bucket, Mattias Eklundh, Christophe Godin, Guthrie Govan, and plenty more, all have a similar thread in the spirit of what we do. No one's copying each other, the same way most 70's blues rock guitarists aren't copying each other - but there was something in the air at the time their cast was solidifying, that affected how they expressed themselves. This happens throughout every era of music, and in our case, the transition from the fun gluttonous 80s into the tighten-your-belt 90s, a time when cultures began to merge, big hair rock turned toward funk rock, grunge, rap rock...  there was an open-mindedness, more of a multi-mindedness that occurred.  Listen to any of our solo albums, you'll hear what I mean.

GnREvolution: Are there any songs on Chinese Democracy that nearly didn't make it? What can you tell us about the alternate album artwork and CD booklet?

Bumblefoot: Ah man, I never get into things that haven't happened - it can affect the final outcome of things, ya can't do that. It's like going up to a stranger and saying, 'In 10 seconds I'm gonna try to steal your car.'  Guaranteed, the outcome won't be the same. So I never talk about plans, things that haven't happened yet - also, as I'm here typing this, managers could be walking out of a meeting in LA, and I don't know what's up until they tell me. Anything I'd say would be mis-information until it's so absolutely undeniably definite, in which case you'd probably find out from them soon after I did.  In my own band, there's less riding on things, it's ok to open the window and let everyone see inside. And I enjoy that, making videos in the studio as an album's being recorded, letting people know what I'm planning for myself - no biggie, if the plans don't happen, it's not like multi-million dollar companies have invested time and the work of hundreds of people are affected by the change. There's a need for protection and privacy when it comes to GNR bizz, or anything on that level. I know it can make you feel frustrated, invisible, abandoned - even though it sucks, I hope you understand that there's too much at stake to risk being irresponsible with information.

GnREvolution: Do you have anything to say about the chemistry of the members of Guns N Roses, either person to person, or as a whole group? and what the hell happened with Robin, its so weird he left on the eve of the album release?

Bumblefoot: I can't and won't speak on Robin's behalf, it's totally up to him if he wants to share anything about it. Me, I'm in touch almost daily with members of the band and crew, we hang when we can. I see Frank most often because we live near each other on the East Coast. But we all have phones, email, we're in touch pretty often.

GnREvolution: What has been your most frustrating moment with GNR and what's been the best moment?

Bumblefoot: Most frustrating moments are when plans are delayed or canceled while waiting for 'the pieces to fall into place' as I like to word it...   you guys have dealt with a whole lot of that, and I apologize for any of it on my end.  We were gonna do videos answering fan questions, had every intention of doing it, had mine all planned out - I was gonna soft-spokenly answer every question, very calmly, while 20 feet behind me there's a woman screaming bloody murder, giving birth. It was really fucking disturbing, and so contrasted and bizarre, it was just really fucked up. That's how your mind works after months of rehearsals and living in the same hotel room for almost 100 days.  The band accomplished plenty in that time - new guitar rigs, new guitars, new gear all getting worked out, new songs being worked on and sounding better than we ever have, DJ being a great guy and a wonderful bandmate, but the rehearsals ended before I could get everything and everyone together to make my video happen. I'm sorry about leading y'all on and not getting it done.

GnREvolution: What is your opinion on the reception of the album and singles in the media, and within the fanbase. Whats up with the music video for Better? Will we see a 3rd single from this album?

Bumblefoot: I can't say what the future holds, like what I was saying before - some things are unfinished bizz, other things I don't know the most-current status of, and I'm content often with *not* knowing - I don't want to micro-manage GNR, I want to write, record, perform, connect...  that should be my place.  My opinion on the album promotion?  I don't want to say things that can be twisted into a blame game towards anyone, it's not about that.  I just wish those 'pieces' were all in place, where we could have had a strong personal connection to the fans over the last year. I mean face-to-face.  I did what I could, happily, when the album came out - going to the listening party in NYC and hanging with everyone, doing days of interviews in Europe, it would have felt unnatural to not do all that. It should have been a celebration, nothing less. And it was good to celebrate with everyone at the listening party, thanks to those who were there.

GnREvolution: What is your favorite song on Chinese Democracy and which song from the album do you most look forward to playing live.

Bumblefoot: Right now I'd say This I Love, Sorry, Scraped...  would love to play Scraped and Shackler's live.

GnREvolution: When Guns N Roses tour next will Brain and Frank both in? will we see 2 drummers on stage at the same time? Are you looking forward to playing with DJ Ashba in a live setting?

Bumblefoot: Definitely have been looking forward to hitting the stage with DJ, and everyone. The two-drummer thing? Don't have an answer...

GnREvolution: Did you work on any of these tracks which Axl confirmed as working titles of future GnR Material or was your involvement in the recording process strictly limited to the songs which appear on Chinese Democracy? (Ides Of March, Berlin (Oklahoma), Atlas Shrugged, Oh My God, Silkworms, Down By The Ocean, Soul Monster (Leave Me Alone), Seven, The General, Thyme, Quick Song, Zodiac). Did you contribute to writing any new material for GNR that we won't hear until some possible future album? is the material you've heard for the follow up albums heavier or is it pretty much the same ballad to rocker ratio as appears on CD? Basically anything you can tell us about any future GnR Material would be appreciated...

Bumblefoot: I played on a good handful of songs that weren't on Chi Dem.  Can't predict what the fate of any of those songs will be.  I haven't written any new songs with GNR, would like to see it get to that point.

GnREvolution: How is perceived by the band (if at all)?

Bumblefoot: Couldn't tell ya what everyone else thinks about the boards or any specific one. To me you're all GNR fans, I don't divide you guys into specific boards - when I talk to one of ya, I'm talking to all of ya.  The boards are your playground, have fun in them  smile  Just don't do any illegal, you crazy fuckers, lol.  What do I think? Like any cluster of people, there are good people, and there are jerkoffs. I'll leave that to you guys to decide who's who, haha. Maybe make a poll, 'Biggest jerkoff on the board', haha.  I've actually met some great people through these boards, all over the world, people anyone would be blessed to know.

Thanks for the questions. And if ya say 'great, another interview where a bandmember tells us nothing' I'm gonna reach through the computer and punch you in the balls.


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