Ron Thal - aka Bumblefoot
WTF is a bumblefoot anyway ????




You've recently released, 'Forgotten Anthology tell us about it.

I took all past songs that were incomplete, going back to '95 and finished 'em up and released them on the 1 cd, in a chronological order. Starts off with grungy stuff and works its way up to now. Some songs were released on foreign albums or comps. A lot of songs were only partially recorded or partially written. It kinda closes a chapter in a way - I feel like I got everything out and can start something new.

How did that album come about ?

The first batch of songs were from an album I wrote that got rejected from the fuck-up of a label I was on in the mid 90s. It was grungy and dark, too much for the label's taste. They were rejecting songs left and right for ridiculous personal reasons - "we can't use the song 'Old' - it reminds me of my grandfather who's in the hospital..." - shit like that. Most of the tracks were already recorded, just had to record a few things here and there and mix it. The next batch was more metal-ish stuff that would have been on an album to come after Hands. The drummer decided to have a sudden life change, quit the band and moved away, leaving everything for dead. He was a major part of the music and I didn't want to put out an album with an absentee main player. So I started from scratch, started fresh, doing the Uncool stuff. A lot of the tracks were released on a demo version of the Uncool CD Sept 2000 in France - songs from the post-Hands thang, and a few others that didn't quite fit the vibe of the album. That's the next batch of stuff on Anthology, the loungy Uncool stuff. Finished writing and recording some songs from '99 that didn't make it onto Uncool... after that ya got songs that were pulled from the 9.11 CD - same reasons, not finished recording it or writing it, or feelin' like it didn't fit... the last song on Anthology was somethin' only released on a comp CD in the UK, one of the last things I wrote and released. The song's kinda nuts. Sometimes I look at the Anthology album and it reminds me of a group of paintings by Louis Wain I saw once, an artist that painted pictures of cats. He developed schizophrenia and you could see it getting weirder with each painting. By the last one, his interpretation of a cat was this intense unrecognizable design. It was shown later that the paintings weren't in order, so it doesn't really illustrate the depth of his insanity - still cool though. http://labwww.csv.cmich.edu/luke/explain.html

What are you currently running in your studio ? (programs, effects, plugins, tape , adat, hard disk)

Cubase and an old PC. That's it. No outboard gear other than a Focusrite 8-channel mic-pre to get good levels goin' into the soundcard. I've done analog 8tk, 24tk, ADAT, DA88... when it comes to stability (no eaten tapes drop-outs), editability (no splicing), sound enhancement (mic modelers, compressors & fx plugins), nothin' beats direct-to-computer.

So what about the instructional video? (Where the hell is it ... how come its not done bla bla bla)

Man, I just don't have enough time. It's been on the to-do list for years already, but there's always somethin' comin' up that needs to take priority and get done first. I got a DV cam, so it's a small step closer to happenin'.

Could you tell us your favorite guitar players? (have fun with this one ... lol)

For guitar technique, I think Marcel Coenen, Rusty Cooley and Shawn Lane.  For innovation, Alan Holdsworth is up there.  Eddie Van Halen was my biggest inspiration - it was hearing Eruption and the intro to Mean Streets that changed my perception of what can be done on the guitar.  Then there's the personal friends that totally kick ass, like Mattias Eklundh, Joboj, and Mike Romeo


Can you tell us how the deal with Vigier came about ?

It was during the first tours I did in Europe. They brought me a guitar to try out for a show - it felt better than any other guitar I ever played. I had dinner with the head of the company, Patrice Vigier, and we spoke about different ideas and doing something special. That's where we came up with the
Bumblefoot (Click Here To See It) They later gave me a fretless guitar (Click Here To See It) which I use more and more. Love that guitar... Patrice is like family - I love the fuckin' guy.

The sliding almost whammy pedal'ish souding stuff. Is that the fretless?

Nope, that's a thimble on my picking hand lit'l finger - I tap notes with it to get sounds higher than what the fretboard can give... never owned a Whammy pedal - make all the weird noises from the strings...

Are there markers on the neck so you know where the frets would normally be ?

Hell yeah. I'd be so lost without 'em... with fretless you put your finger exactly where the fret would be (not behind the fret where you'd press the string down on a fretted guitar...) Vibrato is more of a classical back-n-forth motion, and ya never bend the string - instead, ya slide up to any pitch you'd otherwise bend to. Chords take extra getting used to - just gotta keep your fingers accurate, and that just happens the more ya play. I use a heavier gauge to help with tone and sustain - 12's with a wound-G.

What amps are you currently using ?

Line6 Vetta combo. It's got everything I want.

You seem to be having much more success overseas, why do you feel that is, and what are you doing to improve your marketing in the states ?

The problem in the US is the RIAA. They block all the big doors and don't let you through without paying their toll. Anyone who won't give up their rights and income to the RIAA won't get access to the bigger distro, radio, etc. Today, the only way you can legally be a slave in the US is through the music industry, by signing a recording contract. I had my taste of it and it made life not worth living. The big labels will say "X is the cool music you have to listen to," a year later they'll say "X isn't cool anymore, but Y is - Y is the cool music you have to listen to..." The reality is that they push whatever they invested their money into (Y) and market to make the money back. X is still good music, but they don't want you to buy it anymore. Now if your music is "Z" like mine, where you're independent and run your own business without them getting a piece of it, they're gonna do everything they can to keep you from getting heard - they filter out Y and Z so everyone has little choice but to buy X. They'll attack MP3 sites where indie music is easily available. They'll attack file-sharing sites where indie music is easily available. They'll attack internet radio sites where indie music is easily available, lobbying to make a new law that the radio site has to pay royalties - an amount just big enough where big RIAA-connected stations can afford to pay it, but independent radio stations can't. They'll do what they can so the only music you can get is the stuff they'll make their money back on. And by limiting the choices, inflating prices, screwing the artists, attacking the competition (instead of releasing better music) AND the consumers, all in the name of a quick buck, they're destroying themselves. Artists can survive without labels - labels can't survive without artists. We have the power, they're trying to have all the control. Fuck that. In Europe the situation isn't as bad - more opportunities are available, people haven't had their minds as pressured to be closed. Yeah, I've dealt with the same types of industry scumbags there, but they don't have an organized group that lobbies to change laws and take rights away from artists. Not yet.

You produced a jessica simpson album, didnt you ?

Nay sir, I played guitar and co-engineered the dance radio mix of "Irresistible", nothin' more than that...

Whats your main focus right now, producing or writing?

This year I've been focusing more on producing. I have the new studio in Princeton NJ and havin' a great time with the bands and artists. I'm getting the itch to write, but nothing has surfaced yet. Don't wanna push it - it'll happen when it's meant to and it'll be unforced. The next writing I'll probably be doing will be a collaboration with Mattias Eklundh (singer/guitarist of Swedish band Freak Kitchen) 

What other artists have you produced ?

Geez, more than I can think of. Lemme see... besides my own sheeit, there's a punk-ish anti-folk artist named Cathy-Ann (http://www.cathy-ann.com/), a Latin pop artist named Troy Kurtis (http://www.troykurtis.com/), a retro-80s electro-pop guy named Q*Ball (http://www.qballmusic.com), a Coldplay-ish-but-ballsier rock band called Still Life (http://www.stilllifeband.com/), some great local hardcore bands - Most Precious Blood (http://www.mostpreciousblood.com/), all-girl hardcore band The Wage Of Sin (http://www.thewageofsin.com/), hardcore/nu-metalish band Strabismus (http://www.strabismusick.com/) - they just got a deal with Universal UK label, December Aeternalis (http://www.deathofanangel.cjb.net/), Nothing Left To Mourn (http://www.nothinglefttomourn.com/), All For Nothing (http://www.afnmusic.com/)... a bunch of my own stuff for publishing companies and MTV... I love producing. The only time I don't dig it is the rare times I try to work with someone that has no faith, or clue. They kill ideas before seeing them through, they don't take chances, they listen to their inner concerns rather than what the music sounds like, they make ya change something silly for an hour until it's back where it started and THEN they like it. The worst is when ya try to mix something and they say "sounds GREAT," ya lower the volume and they say "something changed, it doesn't sound as good," then ya turn the volume up again and they say "yeah, NOW it sounds GREAT! Wha'dya do???" Totally kills the vibe. Almost never happens, but it did twice recently with some dancey people I tried to work with. No wonder so many producers are fuckin' nuts.

Any tour plans or clinics ?

Probably the next thing will be at the NAMM convention in LA, Jan 2004. Hangin' around the Vigier booth jammin' with people, maybe do a gig while I'm there...

Do you still give private lessons ?

Just started up again - stopped teaching for a few years while I was touring more. I'll be teaching a music production class at Purchase College NY, and teaching privately at the studio in NJ.

How do you feel about Yngwie playing on g3, and how come you werent asked ?

Yngwie's a good choice. They'd have to be crazy to ask me... I'm not at the status of Vai, Satch, Yngwie, etc. and it's those kind of names that make it possible for G3's tour promoter to sell shows to venues. It boils down to business, and I don't do enough of it to make me eligible for something as big as G3. I'm still a bit of a newbie - sheeit, Yngwie was puttin' out albums for a dozen years before I had my first release... 

Any reccomendations on current artists ?

Dillinger Escape Plan and Wesley Willis (R.I.P.)

Any new gear you have been looking at ?

Nope. Just old gear. Although I'd like to check out the new memory guitar Vigier's workin' on, maybe some new MIDI guitar shit. Wouldn't mind gettin' a PodXT - my old Pod died in a bizarre act of God...

Are you buckethead ?

hahahaha. Uh... http://www.metal-sludge.com/ExposedBuckethead.jpg

Do you like KFC ?

Yeah. Not enough to wear a bucket on my head, but yeah. Likin' the Twisters... bucket of original recipe, 'dem sides, all good...

How come you didnt bring me a nathans hotdog, didnt you stop at coney island on the way here?

I did, but ate it on the way. Couldn't resist. I just brought ya the red fork, if that's ok.

Give Us Your Preference :

Yankees or Mets?


Yankees.

Jets or Giants ?

hmmm... used to be Giants...

Rangers or Islanders ?

Rangers

Knicks or Nets?

Either's cool.

Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island ?

BK.

Scores or Leggs Diamonds ?

Either is fine. I'll say Scores.

MTV or VH1 ?

Would have been MTV for Clone High, now I might swing towards VH1 for all the 70s/80s stuff...

Britney or Christina ?

Christina's voice, Britney's everytihng-else.

Chaka or Aretha ?

Aretha. Nothin' against Ms. Khan of course.

Oprah or Jenny ?

Jenny.

Springer or Stewart ?

Springer's too same old - goin' with Stewart.

Black or White ?

Depends. Prefer white bread above black bread. Black hair rather than white hair. 

Chinese or Japanese ?

Whatever Ziyi Zhang is, I like.

Barney or Elmo ?

Maybe Elmo, bein' he's from Sesame St. 

Jar Jar or Wicket ?

Neither.... Spock.

Ummm 1 more question ... How come all us dudes who play guitar from new york look alike ?

It's so we can identify each other as members of the same breed... Either that or we're all somehow related to one of the guys in Anthrax. 

Want proof all the guys from NY look the same click here

Hey, thanks for all, fuckface - great chattin' with ya!

BfoOt

No problem ass munch, it was and always is a pleasure, now go get me another hot dog......



Comments from Guru....



Being a former Brooklynite myself, hearing this dude while growing up was an experience. One of the coolest dudes on the scene today, he's not afraid to open his mouth and speak his mind (remind anyone of someone else around here.....cough cough).

I wanna thank BBF for the kick ass interview and with him utter pleasure, and intensity in the future...Thanks again

DA GURU of all that its ...ummmmm (if anyone can come up with smthing cool for that let me know .. lol)



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Published on: 2003-09-08