Guglielmo Malusardi: So what is the origin
of the name Bumblefoot?
| About the Interview
Unique... If we
could define this artist with just one adjective, this would
be our first choice. Formerly known as Ron Thal, this New York
born and New Jersey based, crazy, bizarre kind of music
hooligan guitarist, now known as Bumblefoot, has just
toured Europe and is working on his latest CD "Normal".
Guglielmo Malusardi caught up with Bumblefoot to
discuss his upcoming album and to talk about the music
business as it relates to guitar-oriented music.
Bumblefoot: A dozen years ago I was hangin' with my gal
while she was studying veterinary medicine. One of the bird diseases
was called Bumblefoot - one of the treatments was to rub hemorrhoid
cream on the bird's foot. I was quite touched by this, and
redirected my entire life on a new path...
Guglielmo Malusardi: When did
you decide to call yourself Bumblefoot, and why?
Bumblefoot: It was in 2001, people were already calling me
Bumblefoot, everything I was doing musically had the name Bumblefoot
on it - just kinda happened.
Guglielmo Malusardi: The
originality of your music - is it a mirror of your character, or
does it come from other "sources"? Is your music strictly connected
to your life, or not as much?
Bumblefoot: I thank you sir. My stuff is pretty strongly
connected to my life. Not everything lyrically, sometimes there's
just story-telling, but overall what I'm feelin' is what comes out.
Guglielmo Malusardi: Keeping on
the topic of originality, would you like to explain how your
absolutely unique guitars were built?
Bumblefoot: I just always felt a guitar should be as
personal as the music you make with it. I'd chop 'em up impulsively,
often without a plan, and in the end it would be whatever it was
meant to be. Now I leave it up to
Vigier - they do a much
Guglielmo Malusardi: Tell us
about your musical formation, when you started, and what kind of
schools you attended, or lessons you took?
Bumblefoot: I started taking one-on-one lessons at age 7,
did that for 8 years. Studied mostly out of books, strict reading
stuff, moved onto theory, classical, jazz. After that I just kept
studying on my own.
Guglielmo Malusardi: How would
you describe your guitar style?
Bumblefoot: Orange-ish brown.
Guglielmo Malusardi: How you
develop to a virtuoso level; did you practice like crazy, or did you
reach this level mostly through natural ability?
Bumblefoot: I thank you again sir. There was a time when
I'd spend all day and night trying to learn every song I could by
ear. Back in the old days before CDs, I'd be sitting by the
turntable playing a few seconds at a time, going back and doing it
again, figuring out every AC/DC, Priest, Maiden, Halen, Ozzy,
Malmsteen and Yes album I had. That was probably the best thing for
my playing - got the ears in shape and kept me playing songs more
than just exercises.
Guglielmo Malusardi: When I
listened several years ago to the Shrapnel compilation CD "Ominous
Guitarists From The Unknown" I jumped off from the sofa after five
seconds of the track, "Chopin Fantasie" - what a great
Bumblefoot: And again, thanks. I always dug that song (the
original version). I was watching the show Taxi and one of the
characters played it on piano - that was when I got the idea to
learn it on guitar. Got the notation for it and came up with the
guitar version. Took out the middle section and did my own thang.
Actually, when I recorded that I had busted a tendon in my finger
about a month before - tore it working out and then fell on my hand
(long, stupid story) and killed the fourth finger on the fretting
hand. The doctor wanted to put me in a cast up to my elbow, instead
I exercised the muscles in the wrist and hand with light weights and
it healed up fine - recorded the Chopin thing a few weeks later.
Guglielmo Malusardi: You have
the copyright of one of the craziest title songs ever: "Every Time I
Shake My Head (It's Like Christmas)" off the "Hermit" CD (the last
track). A very big shampoo company gave you a big check?
Guglielmo Malusardi: What
is the meaning of the song "Children Of Sierra Leone" (off the
Bumblefoot: I was talking with Vernon Reid at the time
about donating a song to an album that would raise funds and
awareness about the problems in that country. Never came together,
so I put the song on my own album.
Guglielmo Malusardi: I know you
finished the mix of your next CD. Let's talk about it.
Bumblefoot: The album "Normal" (available online in
December of 2005) tells the story of a musician who took brain meds
to make himself normal. The only downside was that he lost the music
in his head and couldn't write songs anymore. Eventually he had to
choose between being normal and being musical - he chose music, went
off the meds, became a nut again, and wrote this album. The music is
considerably normal, sounding a bit like Green Day or the Foo
Fighters some say, but still with the fancy-shmancy guitar noodling
stuff. There's an MP3 sample here if you wanna hear
a few clips.
Guglielmo Malusardi: Talking
about your live dates, I know you've just toured
Bumblefoot: Yes, just got home. Played Russia, the UK,
Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy - had a great time!
Guglielmo Malusardi: You often
play gigs in Europe (not so easy for a U.S. guitarist) especially in
France. How would you explain your excellent relationship with
Bumblefoot: Man, I don't know. I appreciate it though.
Guglielmo Malusardi: Do you
have a permanent live band?
Bumblefoot: I play with different folks in different
places, but things are starting to solidify, especially after this
last tour. Been playing with Dennis Leeflang on drums
for 3 years, Joe Nerve on
bass for a year - it's seeming more permanent, but everyone still
does their own thing and it's all a big expanding family. There's
also Fanalo (guitar) and Elmobo (bass) from the band Plug-In , Randy Nerve
(guitar) from Joe's band The
Nerve, Chris Ptacek, Hugh Floyd, Lindsey Tims and Paul Warren at
the RMA school
that played on the DVD of the clinic I did down there... close band
friends I've jammed with like 24-7 Spyz and Freak Kitchen. One big
Guglielmo Malusardi: Let's talk
now about your friendship and musical partnership with french
guitarist Christophe Godin (Mörglbl Trio, Gno and Metal Kartoon) and
Swedish guitarist, Favored Nations artist, and Freak Kitchen leader
Bumblefoot: OK, let's.
Guglielmo Malusardi: Did you
plan any "four hands" CDs in the future with one of them?
Bumblefoot: Been talking with Mattias about doing some
kind of Freakfoot/BumbleKitchen collaboration for years, but we're
both so busy touring and doing our own thing that we never have time
to make it happen. Some day... I added a solo on Metal Kartoon's
newest CD - great album - Chris Godin is a sick player.
Guglielmo Malusardi: You played
a great guitar solo as special guest on Italian keyboard wizard
Mistheria's CD "Messenger Cf The Gods". How was this bath in the
Bumblefoot: Warm and bubbly. Mistheria is a great
keyboardist - was a pleasure to contribute to his CD.
Guglielmo Malusardi: The
situation for guitarists is not so great nowadays. What's your
opinion about the fact that millions of people are ready to buy the
last releases from George Michael, Robbie Williams, Cristina
Aguilera, or Fifty Cent (just to name a few) and millions of guitar
fans worldwide are not ready to do the same - even now that it's
quite easy to find CDs via the Internet from Internet shops, or
directly from the musicians?
Bumblefoot: Guitar music isn't for everybody. Can't expect
to sell as much as pop vocal music, and that's OK. Guitar music is
for those who enjoy it, and it's great that Guitar Nine Records
gives us a place where we can easily get it. Thanks Dan.
Guglielmo Malusardi: What about
radio stations? In your opinion, do you think they don't broadcast
guitar-oriented music because not so many people buy that kind of
music, or because people don't buy that kind of music, so radio
stations don't broadcast it?
Bumblefoot: Perhaps a little of both... but does guitar
music really need radio? We have the Internet - anything can be
streamed or downloaded at your convenience - that's better than
Guglielmo Malusardi: Ten years
have passed since "The Adventures Of Bumblefoot", your first
release. Are you happy with your career? What's changed after ten
Bumblefoot: I'm happy. Learned a lot, plenty of surprises.
If you asked me 10 years ago where I'd be 10 years later, I don't
think I would have predicted the producing, the film/TV publishing
music stuff, the teaching (SUNY Purchase College) Not sure what I
would have said. Probably something about spaceships, or broccoli.
Guglielmo Malusardi: What's
your plan for the next ten?
Bumblefoot: I stopped planning. We make plans, and God
Guglielmo Malusardi: Tell us
about your activity as a producer.
Bumblefoot: Bought an old house in Princeton NJ three
years ago, gutted the rooms and turned it into a studio. Recorded a
lot of cool bands there - 24-7 Spyz, Most Precious Blood, Q*Ball,
and my own stuff. Local bands too - everything from Brazilian music,
rap, jazz, pop, a capella, all different types of stuff. Studio's my
Guglielmo Malusardi: My musical
curiosity... what kind of music do you like to listen to?
Bumblefoot: Motown mostly - The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder,
Guglielmo Malusardi: Which
instrumental song would you have liked to have composed?
Bumblefoot: "Sleepwalk" (Santo and Johnny).
Guglielmo Malusardi: Tell me
the three best guitar solos ever.
Bumblefoot: Hmmm, this is tough, and I know I'm gonna miss
something. I don't think I can answer this one - but I'm gonna say
three that stand out. One is the intro to "Mean Street" (Van Halen),
another is the guitar throughout the song "Going For The One" (Yes),
and the solo to "Detroit Rock City" (KISS) They each add something
pretty special to the songs.
Guglielmo Malusardi: That's all
man. Thank you very much for the interview . Leave a final message
for the Guitar Nine readers.
Bumblefoot: My pleasure, thank you! And thanks to
the artists on Guitar Nine for the music, and those visiting Guitar
Nine for your support.