Bumblefoot Interview September
Guitarhoo!: Have you figured out what rhymes with orange?
words rhyme with orange - just pronounce "orange" like "kite"
Now you put it that way... you're right! Do you think "Apocalypse
Now" would have had the emotional and psycholigical depth to the story
line which moved the world and changed the way movies are made had
Marlon Brando not swollowed the fly?
BF: Here's a
question for you Mr. Smart Pants... do you think the name of the movie
was referring to the fly's world or ours?
No. But I thought it was cool that it didn't break Marlon's flow (it
actually added to the scene). Maybe the fly was symbolic of our
society being swallowed by the mouth of darkness. You think that's why
Coppola decided to keep it in the film? Whatever... fuck it... let's
If a major label offered you 10 cents a CD, to release 10 strictly
cliche pop songs under their complete control with absolutely no room
for your creative input, with a written gaurantee of 10 billion copies
to be sold and endorsement deals with McDicks and Mountain Flu, or a
another label offered you 10 Dollars a disc and complete creative
liscense to do whatever the hell you wanted, but they forsee only a half
dozen copies to be sold and promise you when that happens they will sue
you and black ball you from all existing and future labels and
distributing companies worldwide. What would you choose and why?
(there's no third choice, the internet has also been obliterated by a
mega worm, so don't go there)
BF: Well, I don't
wanna get sued, but the *last* thing I need is a food endorsement. Uh,
if I *must* choose between the two, I would delay making my choice for
my entire life, thus living freely. (You didn't mention that the
choice had to be made within a certain timeframe) :P
Doh! Did you know if you mix diesel fuel with bleach it has a weird
chemical reaction? It growls and hisses and rapidly bubbles over...
(makes a great weed killer though)
BF: Sounds like
quite a "concoction" - forgive me if I don't try it.
ok, I just noticed, that at this point in the interview we have not
talked about anything relating to guitarists. You are a guitarist and
this is a guitarist website, so... um... hmmm... What kind of strings do
*Rimshot* - *Canned Laughter* (oh, this is the internet - *barump -
bump... chuckle, chuckle, chuckle*) Where were you born?
BF: In a
hospital. More specific? Mom's crotch.
hahahahaha... Were there other musicians in your family that had an
influence on you becoming a musician?
BF: Nope, no
Were you attracted to guitar from the get go or did you take on
learning other instruments first?
BF: I wanted to
be a drummer, but it didn't work out - I was always on time for
appointments, I didn't live off my girlfriend and I didn't quit bands at
their most inopportune moments, or keep my thoughts a secret and then
blow up every few months without warning. So I tried bass, but that
didn't work out either - I didn't do drugs, often smiled and had goals.
I thought about maybe playing keyboards, but I wasn't an only child with
an input/output brain malfunction that made me answer any question
people asked with "Hey, check out THIS patch! [sswoooooossshhhhhhaaaaaaahhhh]"
That was a keyboard sound by the way. A swooshing noise that faded into
a choir of aaaah's. Did ya like it? So I thought about maybe just being
a recording engineer - but I had friends, didn't fear daylight, and half
my vocabulary wasn't model numbers of rack gear. By the way, my X12 had
a dirty WXP board so I called the people that fixed my 94K3 to see about
trading it for the new C9, which I should add sounds great if ya put an
AFQ10000 on it running through a TX7B!! So eventually I went with the
guitar - easier on the brain - guitars and amps had people's first/last
names instead of being named after spaceships [keyboards], buying a new
set of strings didn't mean having to skip paying a month's rent [bass]
and there's a volume knob [drums].
Yeah, I started learning guitar first.
haha.. I understand... Did you take any formal training early on or
did you learn mostly by ear?
BF: Took private
lessons for 8 years, then dug deeper into music theory my on own after
Which areas of guitar playing would you say you had to work hardest on
and which areas came to you instinctively?
technique - seemed my right hand wasn't as developed as my left. Which
is surprising since I did so much more stuff with my right hand.
hehehe... Which was the first album you bought in your life and what
did it mean to you?
BF: Kiss Alive.
It meant I was a douche.
hahaha... Were you freaked out later on knowing that the Kiss Alive
record was doctored in the studio?
BF: Nah, I wasn't
freaked out. It was probably a good thing.
Which was the last CD you bought and what did it mean to you?
BF: I only
ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD. I don't buy CDs. The last one I ILLEGALLY DOWNLOADed
was The Beatles "Let It Be Naked" - no wait, I didn't ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD
that one, I bought it. OK, never mind about all that I said about
ILLEGALLY DOWNLOADing stuff. Never happened. Really. Never.
hahaha.. You're not alone on that, man... NOT illegally downloading,
Did you ever meet Frank Zappa?
BF: No, sadly, he
passed away a few years before I was born.
Let's chat a bit about your guitar collection. You have some of the
sickest designs which rival the brilliance of Rick Nielsen. Can you
reflect on what you were going through to inspire the creation of the
Pensive Penguin guitar?
BF: They're not a
collection, they're a FAMILY you cold-hearted manhole. I was thinking
the guitar had too much wood and not enough pictures of penguins on it.
hahaha.. The Mutant Cow guitar?
BF: I don't have
a mutant cow guitar.
The Swiss Cheese guitar?
BF: For this one
I was inspired by Swiss cheese.
Fascinating! The Hand Guitar?
BF: For this one
I was inspired by a hand. Actually, I don't have a hand guitar.
Your signature "Bumblefoot" guitar by Vigier, (is cool with the wings
coming out the sides when you press down on the whammy bar). How did
that design come about?
BF: Glad you
like! That guitar was inspired by Swiss cheese.
That's profound! You use a "thimble" on your right hand (on solo's
such as "R2" off your "9-11" disc) to hit some unbelieveable high notes,
and the way you incorporate it in the context of the solo is way out
there yet musical. How did you come up with it?
BF: Well, I
needed more notes. The string keeps going and I needed a way to get to
them without the limits of the fretboard. Needed something metal for
sustain, but easily accessible. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Until my finger turned blackish-green.
Another style of playing you don't really hear a lot of (but I'm sure
it's on the rise) is the use of Fretless guitar. Again, you play it so
well. When you pick up the fretless versus your regular axe, do you find
you view music in a completely different way?
BF: Well, thank
you young lad. I don't really view music differently, but I have to view
the physical way of playing it differently. On the fretless, ya don't
bend strings - ya slide to the pitch instead of bending it. And ya have
to keep your fingers intonated , which gets tricky when playing chords.
So yeah, there's a challenge, but challenges aren't necessarily a bad
Did it take you a while to adjust to having to play the notes more
precisely verses a fretted guitar (or vice versa)?
BF: What did I
just fucking tell you? I mean, no, it didn't really take that long to
get precise. The first few minutes are weird, but we human's adapt
quickly. We acclimate. We adjust. We MAKE DO.
oh, sorry I was flipping through a Playboy. What were you saying?
You are having a hard time keeping guitars in tune or something?
About halfway through the solo on "Swatting Flies" off your "Hands"
disc, sounds like you're working the fretless there. Are you sliding
your fingers up and down the neck or are you actually playing individual
notes quickly (cool sound!)?
BF: Nope, those
are individual notes. Just a whole lot of 'em. I put some videos on
Bumblefoot.com - you can see what's happenin' in the Hands solo on one
of the videos.
Also, around halfway through the solo on "Chair Ass" off the same
disc, what effects are you using there and are you playing a combination
of harmonics and chromatic notes? (kind of takes me back to "...And the
Cradle Will Rock" where EVH plugged an electric organ through a Marshall
with a heavy flange on it, and "Mean Streets" combined but more insane!)
BF: Ah, that was
played with a can of soda pressed against the strings over the pickup.
Do you have pet names for some of the wild sounds you come up with?
BF: Yeah, the
thing with the can I call Fido.
ha, You're record "Uncool" was bad, man. Did you draw a little
Tony Clifton for some of your razzier vocal stylings?
BF: That fucking
guy steams my bean. He thinks he can throw on a mustache and no one will
notice that he's ripping off Eddie Vedder.
I believe you just opened up a world of hate mail from that dude...
Seriously though, you have a cool voice, you can portray lots of passion
then flip it over and add a lot of whacky character to your tracks. Do
you routinely practice or do you whip up your chops when you are writing
BF: All that
stuff happens spontaneously. Go figure.
How many takes did you go through for the photo's on "Uncool"?
(that's a lot of Martini glasses being chucked, must have been a soggy
day for ya,haha)
BF: Somewhere in
the 30s - it was kinda fun. A few bruises, but what is fun without
Bumblefoots Uncool CD. Be sure to
check it out!
No pain no gain... Who are some of your favorite comedians?
BF: Greg Morton's
a funny guy. Perhaps I may be so bold as to call him a friend.
As a writer and producer there are so many directions you can take a
song or an entire album. You have to tap into your intuition and have
the flexibilty to maneuver in and out of ideas while keeping a clear
mind of where you feel the music should be going. You are very skilled
in this area obviously by the sound of your work. Do you ever look
back at some of your compositions and think, "ah, I should've zigged
when I zagged there"?
BF: Yes, always.
Within a month of recording something it feels like the music isn't
representing what I'm sayin' anymore and I've grown to a different
place. So ya have to know when the cut-off point is where you have to
accept the thang and live with it and treat it like history instead of
Are you typically flooded with ideas when writing a piece of music and
it's just a matter of time to get all the parts out, or do you
periodically go back to small bits and pieces and see if they fit
BF: It's either
tidal-wave or drought.
Do you ever record a few versions of the same song, live with it for a
bit, then figure out which one has the right vibe you want to express?
BF: Usually I go
with the gut instinct.
When you compose some of your more detailed songs, which feature wind
and stringed instruments, percussion and piano, do you transcribe all of
the parts for your players or do you play them rough ideas and verbalize
BF: I play almost
everything on guitar synth. Anything else, I'll write out for the
Do you allow for the other musicians on your projetcs to inject their
own ideas are do you usually have a strong vision of what you want to
BF: They always
have a lot to freedom to do what they want. I play with people because I
like what *they* do. Usually at rehearsals they'd ask what they should
play for certain parts of songs, I'd tell 'em "whatever you want - make
up somethin' for it..."
Why do you feel D Minor is the saddest of all keys?
BF: Cause Nigel
Tufnel said it was so.
You are currently swamped producing other bands in your studio.
How's it all coming along and what can you share with us about these
BF: Ya know I'm
really getting fed up with your shenanigans. It's all coming along fine
sir, thank you. Check out Q*Ball's new CD "Fortune Favors the Bald" -
electro-poppy new wave-ish stuff. Was very hands-on with it - co-wrote
songs, did all the engineering, played guitar and sang backing vocals...
Check it out -
OK Dad! Will do... Having your own studio must be a dream come true!
Did you build it from scratch and what kind of gear are you using?
BF: It's an old
house that I've been slowly rebuilding with the help of some quality
folks. All-digital HD, great sounding drum room... I just might like
putting up drywall at the studio more than recording.
You've done some unique covers (Lounge versions of Eminem's, Outkast's
and Ozzy Osbournes music, to name a few). Were you ever contacted by
those guys with their comments on your concoctions?
NO. Actually, it wasn't me who did those CDs - it was a guy named
Herbert "Ruffles" Lovecraft who did all that shit. People think it was
me, but I had *absolutely nothing* to do with any of those recordings.
I believe you... Do you find your creativety peaks at a certain time
of the day (where you find yourself right there)?
BF: 11pm - 6am
When you are finished a project does it take you some time to unwind
from being close and submerged in it all for so long?
BF: It used to,
but these days I'm working on at least 6 different albums at any given
time and it's more of just one big endless thing that goes on for
Do you find your fans are prodominately guitarists or are you seeing a
different crowd seep in, as you are covering a lot of different styles?
BF: Most people
that come to the shows are guitar-players. If there's a lady present,
she's usually with one of the guitar players. Or she's a guitar player.
Damn guitar players...
When you play live, do you and your band mates stay fairly true to the
original recordings or do you all use it as an opportunity to mess with
the music and try new arrangements (or derangements, I should say)?
BF: We definitely
mess with the music live - add parts, change arrangements, all that good
What does your live set-up usually consist of?
BF: I just plug
into the Vetta amp - real simple. For bigger venues it gets mic'ed or we
run a direct-out to the PA. The last tour was like that - what an odd
tour - 2 hours a night of people stage divin' and crowd surfin' to
loungy guitar music. Haha, gotta love it :) When I do guitar clinics
type stuff, it's the same deal - plug into the Vetta. Those shows last
just as long but we do under 10 songs and I insult the audience and
throw things at the band the remaining time.
Nifty! You just recently jammed with Joe Satriani live, with Deep
Purple and Thin Lizzy. How did it all go and what did you perform?
BF: We did that
ol' blues jam "Goin' Down" - that was the first time we played together.
Man, Satch is a great guy to jam with. I hope he enjoyed it as much as I
Cool! What would you say has been one of your more memorable musical
experiences in your life?
eating breakfast this morning. I had a waffle.
haha... Who are some musicians you admire and you'd like to work with?
BF: So many...
most are dead unfortunately. I work with people based on their
personality and what's in their hearts, more than for what they do
musically. There are people I wouldn't have expected to be working with
until I got to know them and really admired them on a non-musical level.
I'd have to say top of the list would be Ethel Merman.
Ethel with Bumblefoot Live at the Apollo!
What do you find is the most challenging aspect to being a working
musician in this day and age?
BF: The hardest
part for a working musician today is to be a *working* musician - lol.
With the music industry in transition, not knowing how to fit into the
ever-growing digital side of things, the key is to NOT be part of the
music industry. Be independent, make your own rules, make your life the
way you want it to be, and be DIVERSE! If we learned anything from the
Crash of '29, it's to *not* put all your eggs in one basket. Teach
music, get yourself hired for studio or live gigs, write songs, whatever
- just have as many open avenues as possible so your life doesn't hinge
on one thing. The mistake a lot of bands make is they act like gigging
is everything, they do nothing else to keep the band active, and lose
morale when they play the same clubs for 3 years straight with the same
size crowds, losing energy (and money) on promoting the shows. Bands
need to get off their asses and stop waiting for a fukking savior to
take on all their responsibilities - be your own label - you'll care
more and give more attention to your band than some label with 50 other
bands. And don't fukking say ya don't have money to make merch or record
an album - ya have money for beer and cigarettes, right?? Just do what
ya gotta fukkin' do - less talking, more doing. So yeah, be diverse.
Touche! You are also a very giving individual. I notice you do a
lot of charity gigs etc. Is there any particular connection in why you
choose certain charitable organizations over others?
BF: My best
friend was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few years ago, and he
started a nonprofit organization that arranges dinner/comedy shows and
donates the money directly to the researchers. We've gone together to
the labs and checked out the work they're doing, and I help with
arranging the shows and whatever I can do. His name is Ralph Rosa, the
http://www.msrf.org I donate profits from the "9.11" CD to the Red
Cross, specifically to help those affected by the attacks on the US in
2001. Just wish I had more to give.
What are some of your future recording and touring projects we can all
look forward to?
Eklundh and I have been planning to make an album together for a long
time but we're both so damn busy... after I finish up - actually I just
counted and am working on 11 artist's albums right now! - so, uh, after
I finish that stuff I'll be doing my own stuff. Definitely overdue...
slooooowly working on an instructional DVD... some tentative big stuff
in the works that I shouldn't mention unless it happens... :)
Sweet... Do you have anything outside of music you'd like to tackle?
Again, sweet... What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of
photography... been getting into video-editing lately - mostly
video-taping bands at the studio getting beat up by their girlfriends
Do you have any advice you would like to pass onto aspiring musicians?
BF: Yes. Stay
away from guitarhoo.com - it's a terrible site run by vicious
people-haters. No, seriously, THANK YOU for inviting me to be on
hahaha... Bumble, don't be humble, your music makes the speakers
rumble and... well... whatever else goes with Bumble... Thanks for
taking out some time for this and bringing something different to the
site. We all look forward to your future projects!
BF: Thank you
sir. Good bless.
© 2004 Guitarhoo!