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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.


2010.05.02 - Vuelta en U (Costa Rica) - Interview with Bumblefoot

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2010.05.02 - Vuelta en U (Costa Rica) - Interview with Bumblefoot Empty 2010.05.02 - Vuelta en U (Costa Rica) - Interview with Bumblefoot

Post by Blackstar Thu Aug 05, 2021 12:57 pm

Bumblefoot Interview with Vuelta en U (Costa Rica)


Auto translation from Spanish with small corrections:

Interview with Bumblefoot, guitarist in Guns N' Roses

By Arturo Pardo

Guns N' Roses came to Costa Rica to play and left without being able to. However, one of its members did share music with a group of Costa Rican fans: Bumblefoot, or rather Ron Thal, one of the three guitarists in the legendary American group. In the courtyard of his hotel, the charismatic musician chatted with locals and performed a free, private and very intimate concert.

With the same graciousness, the 40-year-old guitarist talked to Vuelta en U for almost 40 minutes, via Skype. During the interview, he said that he felt bad for the local audience, that he's eager to return to our country, and that he has the desire to make music for much longer and even take out a brand of hot sauce.

Six years after he started playing with Guns n 'Roses, this virtuoso has a lot to talk about, so much so that this is probably the most extensive interview that has been published in this medium.

Before presenting the Q&A, we will invite readers to download a Bumblefoot song, with his permission. In addition, the musician stated that, since his records are not available in Costa Rica, those who wish to get his music can enter his official store .

Judging by your messages on Twitter I would say you were angry about the cancellation of the show in Costa Rica. True?

Yes, very angry. It was very sad. We went there to do a show and we couldn't do it. It hits hard not doing what you were supposed to do, even though you went there for it. They gave a second option and that didn't work either... You know how disappointing it is for the fans, but it's just as disappointing for you, too, because you wanted the show to be done as much as they did.

We already know the show never happened, but what can you tell about what did happen?

Let's see… what happened… Since we arrived we met a lot of wonderful people, we enjoyed the weather, the food and we had an excellent time there. We were really looking forward to doing the show, but on the same day (Friday April 9th) we were told that they had built the stage poorly and that there was no time to rebuild and inspect it to make sure it would be fine when we played. They told us they were working hard so that we could play the next night, but they couldn't ... or at least that was the information they gave us.

That day a handful of fans came at the hotel, so I gathered them, we went outside and I played an almost 2-hour acoustic show for them.  We sang and played songs at a private show;  It was the least I could do for them. I went there to play and I had to make sure I could give some kind of a show to some people in Costa Rica and at least make them happy.

How did you feel when they were told that the second date to perform the concert was canceled?

That was like a second punch to the face.  At that moment you feel that everything is against your hope to play, but you refuse to let the negative things win over you.

Even as just a matter of principle, we need to return to Costa Rica in some way and give people a show.  However, it is very complicated: there are promoters, contracts, 55,000 pounds of equipment that we have to carry by plane and a crew of 60 people.  It is not as easy as saying "let's go" and traveling there.  It is very complicated and many times you feel that you are moving a mountain as long as things are carried out.

I remember that with my own band, seven people traveled on tour: we slept on the equipment, we all drove anywhere in a minibus, and it was that simple.  However, the machinery of Guns N' Roses is much bigger, it is not so easy for everything to happen.

Axl wants it to happen, and so do we and the audience… we're going to find a way to make it happen.  I don't know when;  I'd like to snap my fingers and get there… for now we hope to be lucky enough to do that and go to both Costa Rica and Guatemala (where their show was also canceled).

Could you talk more about your relationship with Federico Miranda?  I know they are friends and thanks to him we got in touch for this interview.

We met many years ago at a NAMM convention;  it was held one June in Los Angeles.  He's a great guy and a great musician, he's got a lot of spirit and he really loves music and guitar, he's very passionate about it.

For a long time he has been doing everything he can to take me to Costa Rica and I have never been able to go through the itinerary with the tours and the recordings.  And it is that everything happens at the last moment;  If you plan far in advance, there is a good chance that shows will be canceled: it has happened to me repeatedly.

That's something else that bothers me about not playing in Costa Rica: now I was finally there, I was going to share the stage with Federico's (Gandhi) band and we even wanted to have meet-and-greet with the fans, but  everything was spoiled because of the cancellation...

You recently posted on Twitter that once you finished your Latin American tour, you would go back to "normal life."  Is it strenuous to go on tour with GnR?

I could always be on tour, just as it's great not to be on tour and I could always do that too.  The difficult thing is the transition from one thing to the other: to get rid of the strict regimen of being on tour and having only one purpose, then you go home and there is the family and there are many other things in the studio, you have to figure out what to do during that time.

I feel like someone who wants to commit a crime to go back to jail because life outside is very difficult, there are many options (laughs).  It's really difficult, right now I'm in that transition phase: looking at the wall, with a big list of things to do and not knowing where to start.

How would you summarize the Latin American tour?

Oh, it was amazing!  It is so different compared to going on tour to other parts of the world, especially the United States.  Latin Americans are more passionate about music and I knew that was going to be the case, I have spoken with GnR fans for a long time: they told me what to expect and they really did not lie.

GnR fans, and music fans in general, in Latin America love it so much… In Lima, Peru, when we got off the plane there were like 300 people behind a gate at the airport: they yelled, they wanted videos and autographs.  In the United States there is nothing like that, it's very different here, so it was very intense to go on tour in Latin America.

I will always carry the memories of those moments with me, I will never forget them and hopefully we can repeat it and live that again.

What did you think of Guns before joining the group?

Honestly, I didn't follow them much;  In the 2000s I didn't know much about them, just the basics: that Axl was there, that the rest of the original members were gone, but I didn't know what state the group was in.  About Chinese Democracy, I only knew the name and that it was not ready after a long time of working on it.

I had no idea what was going on with their shows, I didn't know what to expect… then I was surprised at how big everything was when I walked in.

How did you get into the band?

My friend and guitarist Joe Satriani emailed me saying that they were looking for a new guitarist, that Buckethead was gone, and they wanted a replacement.  He told me that he had recommended me and wanted to warn me, so I would know that it was not a joke if they called me from GnR.

Later I got an email and started talking to them, I spoke to the record's engineer and the manager.  Little by little we got to know each other and made plans.  It took time for everything to happen, but it all started with an email from Joe Satriani (laughs).

The album Chinese Democracy included the participation of many guitarists, what do you think you contributed to the final edition of the album?

I played on all the songs on the album and wrote my own parts.  I wanted to give the album a more rock and roll sound.  I included rhythms with a bit of blues and added a lot of riffs.

I added a lot of fretless guitar, which I think gives it a different sound when it comes to guitar.  For example to the song Chinese Democracy I added slow slides to the verses and the solos ... I don't think there have been great rock releases with so much fretless guitar, so I would say that the fact of giving that to the music of the album makes it unique.

Your role in Guns is that of Slash, how do you feel when you play the solos of the songs that he interpreted and that he had written for the guitar?

They are great songs and I am very happy to play them.  You don't have to write something to enjoy playing it.  Those songs are a pleasure to play and people really enjoy them;  I love being on stage with my band mates sharing those songs with the audience.

The three guitarists play there own parts: ​​DJ Ashba plays most of what Slash did, Richard (Fortus) and I do some of the solos, which, by the way, I've rearranged.  We are three guitarists who are lead [guitarists] in different ways;  it's fun.  As far as I can, I pay tribute to those songs with the greatest possible respect and play the solos as they were originally performed, giving people the songs as they know and love them.

I will never play exactly like Slash, simply because I am someone else and have another pair of hands.  I don't have to try to be different, just the performance will have my own style because it's me playing, and that will happen with any musician playing something.

What does the exposure you've gained as part of Guns mean to you as a musician?

It is difficult to say, because I feel the same person as always and nothing is different.  I live in the same house and things haven't changed that much, although when I'm with Guns people see me differently, for example some see me as a rockstar, but I don't feel like one, I feel like the same guy who makes jokes and loves to play guitar.  Every day is just another day of my life.

I'm going to ask a question that a lot of other people ask. What is it like to work with Axl Rose as the leader of the group?

Haha, something a lot of people wonder what is it like to work with Axl? ... Well, most of the time that we are talking, we joke about old movies, we tell each other funny stories and then we get on stage: we play and do our thing.

He's definitely an intense guy, that's all: he's pretty normal.  I do have to say that the singers I've worked with in the past make Axl look like a little kitten.

I know that people hear a lot of stories about him, but for me everything is fine.  When it comes to negotiating, everything is very simple.

Why did the band take the stage so late in some shows on the Latin American tour?

Hmm.  Okay. I can only say that I was at the venue ready to play on time and would have been more than happy to play on time.  When the fans were waiting, I was waiting too.  I'm not going to speak for anyone else and I won't say anything else ... I'm just saying that: I would have loved to take the stage closer to the time we were announced and not make people wait.

Do you miss playing solo since you've been with Guns?

Sure, I miss a lot of things: producing bands in my studio, working on my own music and going on tour with my band as well as teaching guitar.  There are some things that I can't do because of the GnR itinerary;  It is impossible for me to be in two places at the same time.

In Guns everything happens at the last minute, so I don't know what the future holds.  It's hard to accommodate outside of that, so I've gotten to the point where I prefer not to make plans because I end up canceling them.

Did you write music during the tour?

It is very difficult for me to write music while on tour.  With the tour I'm so bombarded, everything is so intense and I feel everything on my face that I don't have time to clear my mind and write a song.

You have been making music for a long time ...

I had my first band in 1977, when I was about 5 or 6 years old.  After being in many bands, the first real band was called Bumblefoot.  In the mid-90s I was able to put records on the Shrapnel Records label.

Now, 15 years after its release, the album The Adventures of Bumblefoot is going to be reprinted and re-released this year.  I have already signed contracts, all the artwork is already done and fortunately this year it will be available again.

After that album, Hermit came out, and then I formed my label and my band and started releasing the records (Hands and Uncool). I did a lot of touring in Europe in 2001 with the album 9.11.  Uncool came out in 2002 and later I put out a lot of unreleased and unfinished songs on the Forgotten Anthology (2003).  In 2004, I made a small DVD that was a guitar clinic, in 2005 I released Normal and the next two years I went on tour with Guns.

In 2008 I released Abnormal and then that same year Chinese Democracy came out, and an acoustic EP (Barefoot) came out. And last year, I spent it rehearsing with Guns; in the summer I went on tour with Lita Ford while I continued rehearsing with Guns for the tour that came later ... that's my story in short.

Also, during that time I have produced various bands and written music for television.

After having the band Bumblefoot and before joining Guns, how did you make the decision to go solo?

That's a difficult question.  I do a lot of material as a guest musician on various albums whenever I can. For example, I have done various things with Steve "Lops" Kuldow, the singer from Anvil, like a Christmas album we did last year.

However, between my solo career and playing with Guns I try to deal with "two big balls" and that is very difficult.  GnR has to be my priority in my career ,because it is a project where there are more people involved, who could be affected by what I do or not do.

I don't know what will come next and I don't know what the future is for GnR, but I assume that everything comes to an end.  I don't expect to be in the group until I'm 80 and in a wheelchair.  At some point, things will change and when that happens, I will go back to everything I was doing before joining the band: teaching, releasing music as a solo artist, going on tour, working with other groups writing music for them, or as a producer, engineer or just recording them in my studio.

We can never predict and I would never wonder what life will be like in the future.  Every year that goes by, I look back and realize that I never imagined being where I am now, and a year ago I never thought I had done what I did at this time.

Now I have stopped making plans, I don't think about the future and I just let it all happen.

However, I imagine that there are still goals to be achieved ...

Of course;  tons.  I have a list of things to do that I have not been able to do: I want to do voiceovers for cartoons, I want to put out my own line of hot sauces, because I love spicy food.  I want to act a bit, I've already done some of that and it was fun, so I'd like to try it again. I'll love everything I'll be able to do, but those are the goals outside of music.

In the musical field, what goals would you like to achieve?  Is there a guitarist that you see as an idol?

A lot… I would like to do something like a tour with other guitarists, in the style of the G3 and go on tour.

I would love to work with anyone, as long as they are someone who loves making music and are good-hearted in making it, regardless of what style they play.  It doesn't necessarily have to be rock 'n' roll, I have worked with people from hip hop, jazz, classical, Latin music and even opera.

I would say that the foundations of who I am are in the classic rock of the 60s, which is what I grew up with, and it's what I still love more than anything. However, as a musician that I am, what I like is making music.  I love to go beyond who I am and connect with people who do different things, I am fascinated with pushing boundaries.

At some point, your guitar style was described as "ridiculous", but with a positive connotation.  How did you feel about that description and how would you define your technique with the instrument?

As long as it's with a positive connotation, saying it's ridiculous is fine.  I would describe my style as "me".

I have a big problem describing myself, because I don't see myself the way people see me, I just see myself as the same person I've always been.  About my style, I have my influences: Hendrix, Van Halen and Angus Young, Ace Frehley, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde… there are so many.

I started to get serious about work in the late 80's and early 90's. At that time people crossed the lines between very different genres, genres like rap-rock, funk rock and things like that started to appear and a lot of experimental projects appeared.  That influenced me.

I can also mention guitarists like Mattias IA Eklund (from Freak Kitchen) or Buckethead… guys who are more experimental but keeping the rock foundations.  I would say that it helps to apply that Frank Zappa theory of not taking yourself so seriously and that you always have to have a bit of humor about the things you do.

Could you make your top five of guitarists?

Sure ... let's see ...

Les Paul: He would be the first for his work as a guitarist as well as the making of the instrument.  Without him, guitar would not be what it is today.

Eddie Van Halen: He dedicated himself to experimenting with his instrument.  I have used some of his tricks in several of my pieces and also in the  Chinese Democracy album.

Jimi Hendrix: he explored a lot of sounds that no one ever made, he has a lot of passion and groove.  He had a vibe that made him intense without necessarily being intense.  He just let himself loose and that made him amazing.

Ace Frehley: Kiss is the band that wanted me to do what I do today and I probably wouldn't be a musician if it weren't for them.  When you listen to their songs, there are parts that you would hum and sing and they are not the vocal part, but the guitar part.  That's great to me, and that's why I have so much respect for Ace, for making solos so singable.

Angus Young - He was a huge inspiration to me when I was little, because he had unstoppable energy that has yet to diminish.  He is a great.

If I had to pick five it would be them but I could go on down the list.

Now to finish, what can you expect from Guns in the near future?

We're supposed to go on tour to Europe now, but, again, I'm telling you: we can't take for granted that something happens until after it has happened.  This is what happened when I made plans with Federico Miranda and went to Costa Rica. I told him that I couldn't make plans until the show happened and in the end it wasn't even done.

I don't plan anything and I don't assume anything. After nothing different happens, I say: "it did happen."  Until then the plans could change at any time. On this tour, there were changes hours before: the places where you would play, the dates ... everything was constantly changing.

What would you say to a musician who is taking his first steps?

No matter what age you're starting at, just start enjoying what you're doing with music.  You have to try everything: write songs, play covers, play with other people, but, of course, always enjoy it.

You don't have to think more than necessary.  This happens to a lot of people and they prevent themselves from doing something good.  If you are writing, you don't think the material is going to suck, push the writing process hard instead of criticizing yourself so much and stopping, let things run smoothly.

It's good to jam with a lot of people. If you want to learn to read music and give it theory, it's not essential, but it definitely helps and it's knowing why things sound the way they do and knowing the language of music.  Don't be a slave, do not stop doing many things to dedicate yourself to music, art should be something that adheres to your life and not something that takes you out of it.

You have to get a good job, not spend 10 hours playing guitar at home without doing anything else, you have to do more things in your life and experiment as much as possible.  The more interesting your lyrics are, the more experiences you can talk about to tell people.

Think of your music as your baby: you must give everything to that baby and you cannot do that if you are starving.

You have to pursue what you like, but for that you have to find a good job that will pay your bills and allow you to buy your equipment, pay for time in studies, make your own CDs or advertise your concerts with posters ... Your music is your baby and you have to raise it and give it a good life ... do everything that is needed to achieve that, but mainly enjoy it.

And what would you say to the people of Costa Rica?

Thank you for going to the concert, or for wanting to go.  I would have loved to see them face to face.  Let's hope we get another chance for that to happen.  Thank you very much to the people who read this interview and I hope you find it interesting and that you enjoy the music.  Hopefully this is just the beginning of many things between you and me.

* This interview was carried out thanks to the help provided by Federico Miranda, national guitarist, who is a friend of Bumblefoot.

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