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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

2011.02.DD - Guitar Part (France) - Interview with Bumblefoot

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2011.02.DD - Guitar Part (France) - Interview with Bumblefoot Empty 2011.02.DD - Guitar Part (France) - Interview with Bumblefoot

Post by Blackstar Sun Nov 21, 2021 11:56 pm

2011.02.DD - Guitar Part (France) - Interview with Bumblefoot 20110210
2011.02.DD - Guitar Part (France) - Interview with Bumblefoot 20110211
2011.02.DD - Guitar Part (France) - Interview with Bumblefoot 20110212

Translation from French:
------------------------------------

GUNS N' ROSES
Ron Thal, Richard Fortus, Dj Ashba
The three mercenaries


Is Guns N’ Roses without Slash still Guns N’ Roses? Yes, considering the reception from the audiences that continue to go to concerts to hear Axl [sing]; and he, at the very least, deserves credit for knowing how to complement himself [with the right people]. GP went to meet Ron Thal, Richard Fortus and DJ Ashba, the three guitarists of GNR…

Axl has retained the mythical Guns N’ Roses name, but, by doing so, has made himself the target of certain negativity. The many other legendary bands that continued without their original lineup have experienced the same problem, especially once their sound changed. That hasn’t prevented the 49-year-old singer from proving that he could still have brilliant ideas, like the recruitment of three different and exceptional guitarists where even one should have been hard to swallow, with Slash being irreplaceable!  The concert at Bercy on the 13th of last September highlighted the superb playing of those three virtuosos, Richard Fortus, Ron Thal and Darren Jay “DJ” Ashba (nothing to do with a disc-jockey)! Even though the band took the stage extremely late as usual, Axl is still a godlike singer. Advice to those who might have preconceptions about the group: call it “Axl and the prodigies,” or any other name along those lines, and listen again to “Chinese Democracy” with an open mind. It rocks! Before the show at Bercy, our team had the opportunity to spend quite some time comfortably seated in the magical area called “the hospitality room,” the band’s backstage waiting lounge with cozy sofas, soft drinks, snacks, guitars. Meet the three guitarists…

Ron Thal

How did you join Guns N’ Roses?

Joe Satriani recommended me. It was June 2004. I wasn’t excited right away, but when we started playing together with the prospect of doing shows in front of hundreds of thousands of people, it was like, “Woooow!”

How did you feel at the first show playing in front of a huge crowd?

Oh! 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.

What are things like in this new Guns N’ Roses? Is there a real band spirit?

When we aren’t playing together, we call each other, we see each other. When we’re on tour, it’s exactly the same as in other bands; we’re on a bus together, we party…

Isn’t it too hard to have three guitarists at your level of playing? I’m warning you, I’m going to ask the other two guys about that, too!

(Very serious) You know, at first it was supposed to be four [guitarists], but the fourth guy couldn’t make it.

Four?

I’m joking (laughs).

How do you decide who plays rhythm, who plays a solo, etc.?

Now I’m going to get serious. We have lightsabers, one of us wears a Darth Vader mask…

And will it be possible to take a video of that some day?

Of course, you’ll see it (he mimes). No, it’s basically: “That one is yours to play,” “No, you do it,” “No, I don’t want to, you play it.”

What were the recording sessions for the long-awaited “Chinese Democracy” album like?

I worked 14 hours a day in the studio in Los Angeles and New York. I was experimenting with different styles of leads. Plus techniques, melodic or rhythmic ones, “groovy,” “riffy,” or just [unintelligible], just to give them a million things to choose from.

Did that take long?

Two weeks in October 2006 and another two weeks in January 2007 in New York. I was doing one to three songs a day. There are also sessions that weren’t used for “Chinese Democracy,” which might end up on future albums, if Axl wants…

At that time, what was your state of mind? Were you thinking that it would take that long [to be released]?

As soon as I played on it, I really started hoping that it was going to come out! Yes, it took longer than usual! (laughs) It took so long! There were so many people involved in it and no one knew where it was going! That album already had a history even before its release (laughs). And then, I think that the public expected something more like… (plays the intro to Welcome to the Jungle) “Appetite II,” and we’re 20 years later and everything is different. A period of adaptation is needed.

Let’s talk a bit about your guitars. You’ve got a superb Vigier here, golden yellow double neck.

Yes, I spent a lot of time with Patrice (Vigier) on choosing the pitch, the angle, the balance, to find the best technical options. This is my main one. Here, hold it.

Wow! It’s very heavy! And the wiring?

More or less the same as on my other Vigier’s. The mics are DiMarzio Tone Zone and Chopper with a five-position pickup selector switch. You can choose the Tone Zone in split, two mics together, two mics out-of-phase and just the Chopper. There are two volumes, but no tonality, I never use it. Then just a switch to opt between the two necks and a killswitch to do the little “P-P-P-P-P-P-P’s” on “Chinese!”

And, of course, one of the necks is fretless…

Yes, that’s what I have particularly brought into Guns and “Chinese.” I’ve been the first to introduce fretless guitar to the broad rock audience, if you could call it that (laughs).

It’s very effective, with this golden yellow duct tape.

It’s been inspired by Eddie Van Halen. As a kid, I used to put tape all over on my guitar to do it like him… I have the same as this one in black, a G.V. Singlecut, and my old Les Paul as a reserve. The Parkwood one (a semi-hollow PW-114 with a black acacia sound board, a model tested in Guitar Collector 54, Ed.) I use for my warmups. It sounds very good and offers a great number of possibilities (it has mini-humbuckers and one piezo, Ed.). I have reset it a bit and tuned it higher to make it more difficult to play. So it’s easier to play on the other ones later!

What about amp and effects?

An Engl Invader 100w (E 642, Ed.). I have a multi-effect TC Electronics Nova System. I mainly use the reverb, the delay and an expression pedal for the Whammy effect… Alternatively, I have a wah Dunlop and 4X12 Marshalls equipped with Celestion speakers. I also have a Hermit 4X12’’ isolation cabinet and two microphones 40/50… that’s all. The simpler, the better.

How old were you when you started playing?

I listened to the “Kiss Alive” album when I was 5, and at 6 I wanted to form a band. I played the guitar like a drum on my knees (he gives a demonstration). Then I started taking private lessons at 7 years old and I got seriously into music, jazz, classical, etc. It’s now been 34 years!

What is the secret to becoming a formidable shredder like yourself?

(Looks very inspired, big smile)
Oooh, time! You have to physically work as much as you can. Speed first, then fluidity. And then, hopefully, you develop your musicality. Once you have the technique, you can think about what you’re doing, then you’ll have to keep it in the background and just focus on the music, on what you feel and what you’ve got to express.

(Richard Fortus comes in, he and Ron Thal argue quietly making it look like they don't want to be photographed together).

A little question for both of you; what’s working with Axl like?

Ron: Oh! No-bo-dy has e-ver asked this question be-fo-re (laughs). We have some good moments, there are some other times where we disagree and there are even times we get sick and tired of each other. I should note that I get sick and tired of him more often than he does of me. That being said, people always look at everything he does and they exaggerate. You know, some people just love digging up dirt.

Richard: That’s easy for them to do, because he doesn’t defend himself in the press.

Ron: He lets people say what they want…

Richard: Because they’re going to say it anyway. I think he realized that long ago.

Ron: … After the show, we’ll hang out in his room until tomorrow noon and he’ll tell story after story after story (sic)…

Can you share one of these stories with us?

Ron: Oh no, we can’t reiterate them (bursts out laughing)!

Richard: For religious reasons (laughs)!

Ron: Worse! To avoid lawsuits! (turning serious again) In fact, it’s just personal stuff, it’s not on us to share. We like to joke around amongst ourselves, you know. Wait, ask me what it’s like to work with Richard (bursts out laughing)!  

Richard: Oh yeah, we fight all the time. Actually, the fights are mostly to determine who SHOULD play.

Ron: I don’t wanna play! I don’t wanna play! (heads toward the buffet).
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2011.02.DD - Guitar Part (France) - Interview with Bumblefoot Empty Re: 2011.02.DD - Guitar Part (France) - Interview with Bumblefoot

Post by Soulmonster Wed Nov 24, 2021 6:43 pm

This is a bit of an interesting quote:

Two weeks in October 2006 and another two weeks in January 2007 in New York. I was doing one to three songs a day. There are also sessions that weren’t used for “Chinese Democracy,” which might end up on future albums, if Axl wants…


If we assume that when he says he did "one to three songs a day" mean that he completed one to three songs per day, it means that he worked on at least 20 songs (5 days a week, one song per day), or, if we go with an average of two songs per day, 40 songs.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Nov 24, 2021 6:44 pm

Taking this quote into account, it seems more likely he worked on closer to 40 songs than 20 songs:

We just did a whole lot of time in the studio, and I kept playing and playing and playing – until we ran out of songs! I played on the stuff that wasn't released, too. I mean, there's a whole big chunk of music from that era, and I played on pretty much everything. Then they decided what to put out, and I'm sure something at some point will happen to the other existing songs.
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