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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.


2011.03.DD - Conexao Guitarra (Brazil) - Interview with Bumblefoot

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2011.03.DD - Conexao Guitarra (Brazil) - Interview with Bumblefoot Empty 2011.03.DD - Conexao Guitarra (Brazil) - Interview with Bumblefoot

Post by Soulmonster Sun Nov 07, 2021 5:40 pm

Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal
by Thiago Verpa

Original English Interview (Jan 31, 2011)

CG - What have you been up to lately?

So much! Since getting back from the tour last December, I've locked myself away in the studio, finishing up years of music and looking at years of plans that I hope to make happen this year. Guest solos, original songs, cover songs... feels good to finally get things done that have been looming over my head for so long.

CG - Recently you released the song “Real “ to the Rock Band game. What’s your opinion on these music games kids seem to enjoy so much? Do you think it’s the first step to someone grab a real instrument, or do you think it gives an illusion that it’s easy to play an instrument?

Thanks to those games, people have been exposed to a ton of music that they otherwise never would have heard. It makes music a bigger part of people's lives, and I'm sure a good amount have been inspired enough to want to make their own music. To me it's all positive.

CG - What inspires you these days to write songs?

It has to be something that impacts my life on an emotional level. I wish I could just sit down and say "I'm gonna write a song today" but it doesn't work like that for me, unless I'm collaborating with someone. If I'm by myself, a bomb needs to drop on my world, and then something legitimate will result.

CG - When you started playing, how was your practice routine? Is there any exercises that changed completely your vision about the guitar?

I started when I was about 6 or 7. The first few years, it was extremely academic - reading introductory Mel Bay books with a metronome, learning chord and music theory... eventually I got into learning songs and more techniques, by the time I was a young teenager I was very into it, and would spend hours a day playing, jamming, couldn't get enough of it. What changed everything for me was hearing Eddie Van Halen for the first time, it opened my eyes to how innovative you can get, and it changed my approach to playing.

CG - What’s your opinion on the music industry these days? If you could have a meeting with the big records companies still alive in the world, what would you say to them?

First thing I'd tell them is that 10 years ago they shouldn't have attacked Napster, or independent music sites like used to be back then. This was the future of music and they tried to destroy it, when they could have embraced it. They shouldn't have been so cocky to think the consumer needed them - it's the other way around, and I've been saying for over a decade "Artists can survive without labels, labels can't survive without artists - remember that, and don't sign bad deals, you'll only empower a flawed system that needs to be restructured." Now, music and the capability to distribute it has been equalized - anybody can make music and promote it worldwide on the internet. Everyone has the same size gun - what separates us now is how well you shoot.

CG - Where did you get the nickname “Bumblefoot”? Did you have other nicknames before that one?

I'm eating blue corn chips right now. Every time I finish answering a question I eat a chip. It's a way to moderate the speed of my eating, and it keeps me from procrastinating - I want the chips, so I'm typing fast. This works. OK, the nickname. Bumblefoot is an animal disease, Ulcerative Pododermatitis. I learned about it while my girlfriend was studying veterinary medicine. It started as a song, then became the concept for my first album "The Adventures Of Bumblefoot" (1995, Shrapnel Records), then it became the name of my band. Being the lead singer, lead guitarist, songwriter, the band name was more like a defining name for everything I was doing musically, and became a nickname.

CG - About your simply unique guitars, where do you get the ideas to make them? Did you ever have luthier classes?

Crunch, crunch, another chip...... most of the ideas weren't pre-planned, they became what they are during the process. Much of what I do is like that, made from spontaneity, which for me is often the most true expression. Everything I did for guitar building was by trial and error, with an emphasis on the 'error' part, haha. Learning the hard way that intonation comes from the string length according to where the string leaves the bridge, not from where you pre-drill the holes to attach the bridge. Mistakes are the best learning tool. The Swiss Cheese guitar started with an idea to make it look like I took a bite out of the body, but it didn't really look like it and I just kept on going without a plan until it was covered in holes and router shapes. From there I knew what it was meant to be, painted it yellow and did the next dozen years of recording and touring with it.

CG - Are you working on your next solo album right now? If yes, what can we expect?

This year I'm going to release a song at a time, singles. An album is more of an investment of time than I have with all the touring. A song at a time is manageable, it's the best way to get music out, and to keep it going. I'm not just putting out the songs though, I'm doing it differently. I'm releasing the song in a bunch of hi-res formats - WAV, FLAC, MP3 (320kps), M4A - I'll also be making the instrumental version of each song available. Then there's a 'Player Pack' for guitarists, it has a full transcription of all the lead guitar parts and soloing, with TAB, music notation, picking, fingers, and any other directions, and that comes with a WAV and MP3 of a Backing Track, it's a mix of the song minus the lead guitar so people can play along. I'm also releasing a 'Producer Pack' for the studio-minded, it's 24-bit WAV stems of the song - a stereo file each of drums, bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, lead vocals, and backing vocals so you can load it into your multi-track software and make your own mix, edits, or just solo the tracks and see what each sounds like on its own. I released the first song "Bernadette" in mid-January, it's a punky heavy cover of an old Motown song by the Four Tops. Check it out here:

CG - Why did you decide to re-issue “The Adventures of Bumblefoot” ?

Actually it was Shrapnel Records' decision to re-release the album, they own all the rights to that album and the one following it, "Hermit." The album's been out of print for the last dozen years, and it seemed like the only way to get it was on eBay, where I've seen them sell for as much as $600. Now 15 years later, Shrapnel re-released the album, I'm so glad about it. We added bonus tracks from a video game soundtrack I did for Sega in 1995, making it a total of 19 tracks. If you get the CD at my webstore ( ) it's autographed and $5 goes to Multiple Sclerosis research. I also released a transcription book of the album - I spent six months writing out and transcribing every detail of every track of every song – the TAB, notation, fingers, picking, strumming, weird noises, absolutely everything. It's a 200-page book, and is also be available at the webstore.

CG - You have an aggressive way of singing, does it come naturally?

Ya think so? Maybe not in a real metal or hardcore way, but maybe as far as exposing my insides, yeah. I just go by how I feel, how the music makes me feel. The acoustic stuff on Barefoot isn't aggressive but it's emotional and honest, gets very dynamic because there's space, there's room for it. When I'm singing a song that's just a constant hammering of energy, the vocals are gonna respond to it. I guess it's just that, just letting whatever I feel come out.

CG - If you could form a band with any musicians in the world (dead or alive), who would you pick?

OK, just so I don't spend 3 hours rambling off names and why, I'm gonna go by the first people that pop into my head, and will exclude anyone I've ever been formally in a band with... John Sykes on vocals and guitar, Pal McCartney of vocals and keys, Keith Moon on drums, Flea on bass, and me in the corner of the room just watching with my jaw on the floor.

CG - Do you practice when you’re on tour?

Yes, more than when I'm off the road. I try to keep a guitar in my hand every day for at least an hour, if not a few. The fretting-hand wrist is bent at more of an angle while on stage, and I need to keep it stretched and accustomed to the angle, otherwise the fingers lose strength.

CG - What equipment you use on the road? Any favorites?

I use an Engl Invader100 head, with a Dunlop wah pedal and a TC Electronic Nova System multi-fx with an expression pedal in the Engl's FX Loop. The head goes into a Hermit iso-cab loaded with Celestion speakers and two AT4050 mics in there. I use a single-cutaway Vigier G.V. guitar, a custom Vigier fretted/fretless double-neck, and a Parkwood PW-370M acoustic guitar. That's it, nice and simple. There's a video with more details here:

Gear links:

CG - I know you don’t make plans, but do you think Normal and Abnormal would have third part, like "Post-Abnormal",or maybe “Abfreak”?

Haha, I think the Normal / Abnormal complete each other, a yin and yang...

CG - What’s the best advice you can give to all the guitar players out there?

Don't be late. Don't be a prick. Don't be unprepared. Be diverse, don't just be a guitarist - be a writer, a teacher, an engineer, design album art and tour posters, book bands, try it all and see what you're good at and what you enjoy - be as self-sufficient as you can be, and use what you know to help others.

CG - If music wasn’t your thing, would you have a different job like being an economist, or doing stand up comedy?

I'd peddle smut. Seriously I don't know, been doing this my whole life and in so many different ways, I couldn't picture not having it in my life in some way, I do it because it's my passion.

CG - You seem to have many other interests, like food, arts, home improvement, tell us about other things people don’t know about you.

I don't know what people don't know about me, haha. They often surprise about what they 'do' know, haha. OK, here's something that makes no fucking sense. One time I went for three days saying nothing but the words "chicken," "lesbian" and "onion" in a strong Cajun accent. Different combinations and orders to the words. Every few hours I might throw in the word "lemon." I remember having to teach guitar lessons, and the students cracking up, following me into Subway watching me try to order a sandwich, or answering the phone. I was thinking about making an album where its 12 songs and lyrics are just different variations of chicken-lesbian-onion spoken in that Cajun accent. I even went and got the domain until the year 2017.

CG - What kind of movies and TV shows you like to watch?

Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, bad 'B' movies, horror movies, but my all-time favorite is the original 'Twilight Zone' - a year or two ago Tommy Stinson and I were talking about forming a band called The Serlings (named after Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling) and make every song about a different Twilight Zone episode. That was something I tried in the past, had a Floyd-ish song 'King Nine Will Not Return,' but it didn't stick. If a song doesn't stick in my head, it doesn't get recorded.

CG - Here's a question I ask to everybody I interview: after many years playing, did you achieve everything you wanted in life? Any dreams to come true yet?

Not even close to achieving what I want in life. And if I did, I'd want something more - it's part of who I am, not a dissatisfaction, more of a drive to take everything a step farther than it is. As a kid I dreamed of playing Madison Square Garden, after seeing my first concert there, KISS in 1979. That came true in 2006.

CG - This space for rent: say anything you want, the space is yours.

In February I plan on auctioning myself off (musically) as a fundraiser for flood relief in Brazil and other countries in need of support. Please check, and for any updates on this, and info on more songs I'll be releasing - thanks a lot, obrigado!

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