September 6, 2008
Jai B: First of all, thank you for agreeing to talk with me today. Do you prefer to be called Ron or Bumblefoot?
Bumblefoot: Call me whatever ya want... Ron, Mr. Foot, Bumble, haha, anything's good, thanks...
Jai B: I have to tell you, I feel like I already know you. Your biography on your website provides quite a bit of insight into your world. Many have the perception of rockers that are on drugs, drinks a lot, and just totally wild out. That’s not you? How do you resist the temptation, or is it not even a temptation?
Bumblefoot: I have a responsibility to the audience to give them my best, I take it seriously. I never get tempted to stray from that. That's not my nature anyway - I'm the guy that gets ya back to your hotel room when you're shitfaced, not the guy ya find face down in a pile of his own puke. Or someone else's.
Jai B: Do you have a favorite song or one that has a lot of personal meaning for you on the “Abnormal” cd?
Bumblefoot: They all kinda do, and I tend to see the songs as part of one entity, like chapters of a book. Don't have a favorite chapter, but overall the book definitely took some deep digging to pull things out. Don't know if someone would listen to it and call it deep, but the process was, and when I listen I hear the journey that led to the song. Some songs happened in a night, others marinated for years waiting for the right moment to share them. I think Dash and Simple Days get pretty personal...
Jai B: What inspires you and what was the motivation behind the “Abnormal” release?
Bumblefoot: You inspire me Jai. I only breathe so I can exhale your name. (I just read that to my wife and she groaned "OHHHH, that's just UGLY...!" haha...) I was planning a new album and was going to start working on it in early 2007, but drama was attaching to it all, and I canned it. I can't have any kind of crap corrupting the process, gotta keep the spirit pure, focused, undistracted... I held off on it indefinitely. Recorded more with Guns, toured, then towards the end of the year outta nowhere songs started flyin' out. Got together with Dennis [Leeflang, drummer] and jumped into laying tracks. Finished all the recording, mixing and mastering by May '08. The overall motivation is that you just gotta make music. If you don't you suffocate.
Jai B: What does your tour schedule look like and how do you balance your workload being a member of Guns N' Roses vs. your schedule for your Bumblefoot projects?
Bumblefoot: Everything in life is a juggling act, anything is doable. I'm pretty booked for the next four years with things I need to get done, not including Guns. And Guns is a pretty big ball to juggle, haha. So it's a constant race against the clock, a big chess game planning for efficiency, wanting to do everything but not being able to, and hoping at some point you can.
Jai B: A lot of your fans seem to like your solo work over your work with Guns N' Roses. What’s your take on that as far as your creative freedom and range on your “Bumblefoot” solo projects vs. being a member of Guns N' Roses?
Bumblefoot: (A lot of my fans = my mom) Well, no one has heard what I've done with Guns yet, other than the live shows. They'll be hearing some things soon, happy to say. With Guns, I'm part of a team, I'm there to be myself and contribute all I can. The solo stuff is my own place to get all my rocks off - writing, singing, bass, recording, mastering, everything. Each has something special about it. My solo stuff is about total personal expression, it's like an autobiography. With Guns, there are voices and ideas and performances that I could never dream up, that take music to places beyond what I could. Each is special, having both is complete.
Jai B: Obviously, you have your own sound and style. But playing with GNR, you have to play classic GNR songs. How do you feel about constantly being compared to Slash and Buckethead?
Bumblefoot: My concern is about giving people the best show I can, today. That's all that matters to me. I'm not in competition with anyone other than myself at my last performance, to try and make the next one better.
Jai B: How would you describe your life?
Bumblefoot: Not dull.
Jai B: What do you consider your biggest success so far?
Bumblefoot: Upping my tolerance for spicy food to the point that I can handle eating pepper spray (the weapon). Will have my own line of hot sauces some day.
Jai B: Outside of music, do you have any other passions?
Bumblefoot: Used to do photography, B&W developing... still enjoy it. I like home improvement stuff, building rooms - drywall, electrical, flooring... I like hiking around mountains, rivers... making some plans to go shooting with Navy Seals in San Diego, hopefully later this year.
Jai B: One source indicated that you play trumpet. Is this true and if so, can we expect you to surprise some crowd one day by breaking out into a trumpet solo?
Bumblefoot: haha, no *real* trumpet, just a bad imitation with my voice... do it a bit of that fake trumpet stuff on the "Uncool" CD - it's a "lounge metal" album, haha - we'll have to put that one out together, some good Tom Jones soundin' moments on there...
Jai B: Any special concert moments that stand out?
Bumblefoot: Always, every show there's somethin', big or small. One time jamming at the Stone Pony [NJ], there were some 10-year-old kids in the audience really diggin' it so we brought them on stage and had them work the wah pedals while me and the other guitar player traded solos... there was a show around Christmas time with Guns where I had a sing-a-long of The Grinch theme as my guitar solo, haha - had the words on big screens for the audience to sing along. Anything where ya really connect with the audience is special, that's the stuff I think back on and smile...
Jai B: Do you have a favorite venue that you really love to play and if so, why?
Bumblefoot: Madison Square Garden. Saw my first concert there as a kid, and growing up in NY you always hope someday you'll play there. Yeah, MSG.
Jai B: What would you like for people to know about the man Ron Thal that they don’t know or quite understand?
Bumblefoot: I'm pretty open, anything ya don't know is easy to find out. Got a forum at bumblefoot.com , everyone's welcome, if you have a question, just ask. :) As for what they may not understand, I don't know what that is, different things for different people - people focus on whatever fuels them, ya know? What can I tell ya - I am who I am, and the music is what it is - if ya connect to it in some way, cool, if not, no problem, it's not your thing, everyone's different, we're all not supposed to like the same things, like what you like.
Jai B: It looks like we need to finish up? What would you like to say to the Bumblefoot fans?
Bumblefoot: Thank you for being a great family to me, and always being there. Been a good ride, and it's only gonna get better.
Jai B: Thanks again for taking the time to rap with me!
Bumblefoot: Thank you Jai!