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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

2010.06.08 - Gitarzysta Magazyn (Poland) - Interview with Bumblefoot

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2010.06.08 - Gitarzysta Magazyn (Poland) - Interview with Bumblefoot Empty 2010.06.08 - Gitarzysta Magazyn (Poland) - Interview with Bumblefoot

Post by Blackstar Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:05 am

Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

By Krzysztof Kukawka

Since we are especially a musical equipment magazine please tell us what equipment you are currently using on and off the stage?

On stage with GNR, I'm using the Vigier GV single-cutaway guitar, 2 custom-built Vigier fretted/fretless double-neck guitars, a Parkwood PW370M acoustic guitar, and a Godin nylon-string electric. The Vigier's go to an Engl Invader 100W head, with a Dunlop wah and a TC Electronic 'Nova' multi-FX unit in the amp's FX loop. From there the head goes to a 4x12 'Hermit' iso-cab (www.hermitcab.com) loaded with Celestion speakers, mic'd with two AT4050's going to the Front Of House... I have some more info about my gear at www.bumblefoot.com/gear.php  

Tell us something more abort Vigier guitars. I am asking because they are not well known in Poland. What is their story? When did you start using them and what was the main reason you chose them?

Vigier guitars (www.vigierguitars.com) is a French company started by Patrice Vigier about 30 years ago. I was touring France in 1997 and one of their reps came to a show and asked if I'd try one of their guitars. I had always built and used my own guitars at that point, and never sought a guitar endorsement, but I tried it, I played the show with it, and it felt better than my own guitar. There were many features that impressed me – a 'zero fret' in front of the nut, which made the first fret feel more like the rest... they used Dimarzio pickups (www.dimarzio.com), which I always used... there was no truss rod in the necks – instead they had a strip of graphite rock running through the middle of the neck, and this kept the neck perfectly and consistently straight, the necks never needed adjusting. And after over a dozen years of beating on these guitars in all different conditions of heat and humidity, it's true – the necks always stayed perfect. They also made fretless guitars, which I was curious about. And they were willing to build strange guitars for me, like the ones I would build for myself – they built the Flying Foot guitar for me, designed from the album cover from my first album, with wings that would extend from the sides of the guitar body when I depressed the vibrato bar, haha...! And last year my double-neck fretted/fretless guitars. I've used Vigier guitars on every 'Bumblefoot' album. Before that my main guitar for recording and playing live was my Swiss Cheese guitar, which I used on my first album, 'The Adventures Of Bumblefoot' released in 1995.  

Your first solo album „The Adventures Of Bumblefoot” is being currently re-released after 15 years. Looking back in the past, are you happy with the results or maybe you would change something in this record if you could?

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.

With this re-release, do you plan a tour with your solo material? If so, maybe some gigs in Europe are coming too?

It seems like I'll be gigging with GNR for a while, and I don't know when we'll have a long-enough break where I can do a tour of my own. But at least with the album being available again, I feel ok about adding these songs to a setlist of songs for my own solo shows. It could also be a good bunch of songs for guitar clinics, maybe that's something I'll do more of in the future.

When you started your adventure with guitar, how many hours a day you spend in the early days of learning and with what learning material you were focused the most? When you started playing you learned by yourself or maybe you had a teacher?

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...
 
What are the plans for the nearest future for Guns N' Roses?

So far it looks like we'll be touring Europe in the Summer, hopefully other parts of the world after that. I don't know yet what's confirmed, I'm hoping we'll have a show in Poland, but it's too soon to know. It's been 4 years since we played in Warsaw – I still remember how the venue was decorated with roses, it was so thoughtful...!
 
I know that maybe this question might be a little bit annoying for you (if not then for me it’s a relief). Could you tell from where did your „Bumblefoot” nickname came from because I think that a lot of your fans in Poland don’t know the story?

Haha, not annoying at all! My girlfriend was studying to become a veterinarian, I was helping her study, this was almost 20 years ago... one of the animal diseases was 'Ulcerative Pododermatitis', also known as 'Bumblefoot'. And one of the treatments for the illness was to apply hemorrhoid ointment to the patient's foot and wrap it in a ball bandage. As someone who's easily entertained by the unusual, I immediately pictured a super-hero that looked like a giant foot morphed with a bee, and I wrote a song for my band. Was a song with lyrics, a blues funk song, it sounded musically like the band Extreme now that I think about it. Later on, I made an instrumental song that was more fitting to the name and the idea – it sounded more like a theme song for a cartoon of a 'bumbling' fictional 60's spy character, sort of like the Pink Panther, but a little more quirky. I called the song 'Bumblefoot' and it was released on a comp CD of instrumental guitar music called 'Guitars On the Edge, Vol. 4' (Legato Records, released Feb. 1994).

When I signed my record deal with Shrapnel Records a few months later, this song inspired the concept for that album. I called the album 'The Adventures Of Bumblefoot', the 'Bumblefoot' song would be the opening track, followed by other songs also named after animal diseases. For the album art, I re-created the image in my head I had at the very beginning of it all, the 'flying foot', the creature with black & yellow stripes, wings, a stinger, and five toes... I also made other characters that represented each of the songs, scattered throughout the album art. Not your usual concept for an album, haha... when I was no longer under contract with Shrapnel, I started my own band and called the band 'Bumblefoot'. The music was hard rock, metal-ish, sometimes a bit strange... it had a Primus, Faith No More vibe. I would do shows and release albums, but being the singer and lead guitarist and songwriter, and being the guy laboring over the art, recording, promotion, and funding it all, the band was seen as more of a solo act. I didn't want it to be this way.

But work needed to be done and no one else was doing it, I had no choice but to do it all. So as people would point at me with the band in mind and say 'Bumblefoot, right?', I let it happen on its own, it was decided for me by other people's perception, which wasn't far from the truth. I remember telling Patrice Vigier in 2001 that I thought it was time to start calling myself 'Bumblefoot', feeling like I was fighting some pre-determined plan if I didn't. He thought it was a mistake, haha. I don't know if it was or wasn't, either way I'm ok with how things turned out. But I'm itching to do more. I haven't put enough music into the world, I need to make more.

http://www.bumblefoot.com/press/20100608_-_Gitarzysta/20100608_-_Gitarzysta.htm#english
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