(Fall 2007) by George Dionne
Ron Thal is more accomplished than
you might think. In the 1990's alone he released seven albums and a
live DVD. In addition to that he's appeared as a guest musician on
numerous albums, contributed as a studio musician, composed
soundtracks and jingles, produced and engineered albums, composed
classic orchestral pieces, and much, much more. Ron doesn't limit
himself to one genre either, you can find him playing, pop, rock,
hip-hop, alternative, progressive, and anything else he's in the mood
Thal recently started his own record
label with his good buddy Ron Scalzo (Q*Ball) called
Music, which employs musicians just as diverse as
Bumblefoot himself. Thal recently landed a gig as touring guitarist
for the current Guns N' Roses line-up. After their tour of Europe,
Thal took a break to give a guitar clinic and impromptu performance at
LocoFest in Mansfield, Massachusetts. That's where we caught up with
RIL: If I knew absolutely
nothing about Bumblefoot, how would you describe your music to me?
BF: Iím the wrong guy to ask. I would just
be like, "it's pure crap, donít listen to it, run the other wayÖ."
Well, a lot of people say it reminds them a bit of Mike Patton-y
ďFaith no MoreĒ type stuff. Itís a little quirky and slightlyÖÖ
RIL: A little left of the
RIL: Would you say itís a
little Primus like?
BF: Yeah, itís got some funky moments. If you
listen to Primus and you listen to Faith No More, things like that,
thereís a chance that you might find something that you like in what
RIL: If I were to buy your
current album Normal, what songs should I pay particular
attention to and why?
BF: I'd say you gotta listen to the whole thing
and take in the whole thing as one entire story from beginning to end
to really get the vibe and get the whole side of whatís happening
here. As for one song, I donít know, I might have to say the song
ďRealĒ the second song, the one we did the video to. Did that video in
RIL: Bumblefoot isnít just
the name of the band, itís also the moniker you go by. How did you
come up with the name?
BF: Bumblefoot actually means ulcerative
pododermatitis, itís an animal disease. My wife was studying to become
a veterinarian and I was helping her and we saw it in there. I thought
it was such a silly name I wanted to write a song about it and
eventually it became the name of the band and shortly after people
started to call me ďBumblefootĒ.
RIL: You actually have a
guitar that is a foot mixed with a bumblebee. Does such a guitar get
you a lot of strange looks or comments?
BF: Oh yeah, you should see in airports putting
that thing on the conveyer belt. It stops and comes back out a few
times. Then security looks at me and looks at the guitar then at me
RIL: Has anyone from Stryper
contacted you about the guitar?
BF: (Laughs) yeah, I get it, yellow and black
RIL: How did you land the gig
as the guitarist for Guns Ní Roses?
BF: It was actually Joe Satrani that shot me an
e-mail and said that they were looking for somebody, and recommended
me to them. We eventually got in touch started talking and then we
started touring and recording and here we are now.
RIL: Were you a student of
BF: No, just a friend.
RIL: Was it tough to follow
in the footsteps of the great Buckethead? I mean Slash.
BF: (Laughs) All I can say is that I hope people
enjoy the shows and like what they are hearing and like what they are
RIL: Do you think there is a
bit of pressure put on you because the band has changed members and
the fans are expecting one thing and getting another?
BF: There is no pressure on me, I have
music to make I donít worry about that shit.
RIL: Axl Rose has the
reputation for being a very private person. Do you get much time to
hang out together?
BF: I really enjoy his company; I like hanging
out with him.
RIL: You guys just got off a
tour in Europe right?
BF: We did, actually we just finished a tour in
Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Was a lot of fun.
RIL: Do you think the fans over seas are a little crazier for
heavy metal music than they are here in the states?
BF: I donít know, we have some crazy mother
fuckers here today. (Laughs)
RIL: Have you learned
anything from Axl?
BF: Yeah definitely. I donít know if I can ever
be as pro, I mean the things that he can do; I wouldnít last 5 minutes
in his shoes. For 2 and a half hours of entertaining the fuck out of
people, and the energy that guy has, I donít have a tenth of it. I
donít know how the hell he does it, it amazes me, and just to watch
him do his thing is like, itís some good shit.
RIL: Do you know whatís
holding up the release of Chinese Democracy?
BF: (Laughs) Next question, I donít talk
RIL: Youíre a co-founder of
Bald Freak Records, how did that venture get started?
BF: I was recording an album with Q*Ball, he was
having a bit of success, and he decided to legitimize and do it for
real. He was putting out his stuff so we said let's also put out mine.
We then met these crazy pirates (Swashbuckle) down in Jersey when I
was checking out a friend playing, saw these guys playing and called
up Q*Ball and said "you got to check these guys out," and here we are
RIL: When they hit the stage,
how do they perform?
BF: Itís the most intense mind blowing fucking
shit. They completely rip this place to shit when they play.
RIL: What was your worst on
BF: Going back a few years ago I was playing
with Q*Ball at Six Flags and we were going to open for Avril Lavigne,
she ended up canceling for some reason, and Mya ended up playing.
With Mya we weren't musically matched. So being the total wise
ass that I am, I went on stage just in my boxers. It was a hip-hop
audience, I walk out there, and I'm looking at them thinking "Iím
gonna just nail this coffin shut" and said ďwhatís up everybody, Iím
Mya, and itís great to be hereĒ. There was just dead silence from the
RIL: And you got out of there
BF: (Laughs) Yeah they threw a couple of pens
and some threw coins, but I had worse shit thrown at me at Guns N'
RIL: What was your best show?
BF: It had to be Madison Square Garden. I
saw Kiss there as a kid, I was inspired by that and strived to make it
there myself one day. And finally getting to do it was a big thing.
RIL: Now getting back to opening for Avril Lavigne; you played
guitar on a Jessica Simpson single...did you get to meet her?
BF: It was really cool. I didnít get to meet
her. The guy who was doing it was a friend, and I laid all the guitar
parts for everything, and we spent 2 or 3 days together mixing it. He
went to the studio himself and got the vocals, and brought them back.
RIL: Whatís next as far as
your Guns N Roses work is concerned?
BF: Iím sure there will be good things in the
Ron is also on the Board of
Directors for the MS Research Foundation; an non-profit organization
for Multiple Sclerosis research. Ron and I had talked about his work
with them, but the interview was drowned out by the concert
performance in the background.
for more into on the MS Research Foundation.