Bumblefoot interview with TheGnrSyndicate.com, Feb 2009
GnR's Bumblefoot gives the lowdown on the creative process, fans, and of course Chinese Democracy.
The GnR Syndicate: Is it Ron or Bumblefoot? Is there any deciding factor on which one we get?
Ron: Either is fine. I guess Ron. “Bumblefoot” is more of the solo band name, the solo artist quirky music thang, but you can call me whatever, all good. Call me Shank, haha. (Axl nicknamed me that in the last two weeks of the European tour in '06, haha...)
The GnR Syndicate: You’ve always seemed very approachable and open. Do you find it difficult to stay centered after playing all these shows and being on the receiving end of endless accolades from fans? What keeps your ego in check?
Ron: We’re all human, and as far as I'm concerned, the only thing that matters is how you treat others and what you contribute to this world. If you do good things, you matter, you deserve respect. If not, you're just wasting food and air, the world will probably be better off without ya. I’m glad there are people that enjoy what I’m doing, what I’m part of, and am grateful to be able to bring some pleasure to people. But what makes a man is how they live when they’re not on stage. I don’t make music for the attention and adoration. I do it because if I don't I'll turn into 'Shank'.
The GnR Syndicate: Has music been a form of escape, a way of dealing with inner turmoil, a form of expression or a little of all? What happens inside when you strap that guitar on? Or maybe even, what proceeds or follows it?
Ron: A little of all. I always had this imagery in my head of a big meat grinder where shit goes in, and beautiful things come out - that’s how it is, making music sometimes. You take all the bad stuff in the world, you internalize it, roll it around, and spit it out as a song that people enjoy. Music detoxifies things, it's medicinal, therapeutic, energizing, it intensifies the spirit, and brings you to a better place. For me, what happens on stage is all a blur - you're just a tunnel that everything races through. Afterwards, I usually can't remember exactly what happened on stage, and don't want to. It's one moment, and when it's over, it’s over, you’re now living the next moment.
The GnR Syndicate: What is the most satisfying aspect of playing guitar or creating music? Are there any particular moments that may stick out? Or is it the sum of all parts, i.e. the end of a concert or listening to a finished CD?
Ron: I love the studio. Unlimited creativity, anything is possible, for me that’s the place where I do want to capture a moment forever. Whether I’m making my own music, collaborating, or producing a band and bringing out their best, I love it. It feeds the civilized side of things. On stage, it’s all about the primal uncivilized side, I’m volatile, come near me and I'll kiss you or bite you, or both. Together, creating in the studio and playing on stage satisfy the two sides and keep things balanced. No 20 particular moments stick out, it’s the entire state of being when you're fully immersed that satisfies.
The GnR Syndicate: Are you excited that Chinese Democracy has finally arrived? Are there any late night TV shows we may want to pay particular attention to by chance? Are there any plans for 2009?
Ron: I’m just real happy for the GNR fans that finally got the legitimate release in their hands. Plans for '09? There are always plans, but all the pieces need to be in place in the right way at the right time with the right people to make things happen. All it takes is any one person in the chain to not do what they should and the whole thing can unravel. I can only hope for the best.
"I love the studio. Unlimited creativity, anything is possible, for me that's the place where I do want to capture a moment forever."
The GnR Syndicate: It seems that fan interaction is important to you. Is it a two way street in that regard? Are you getting just as much out of it as they are?
Ron: Yes, I always felt that a band and their fans are a team, they’re connected. Would always like finishing a show and then 20 of us would hit a diner at 4am, band, friends, audience, and hang out for hours. I get something out of it just like anyone else, when we’re all just being 'normal', whatever that is.
The GnR Syndicate: You’ve played all around the world, while this may seem rather broad, what have been some of your most memorable shows? Fan experiences?
Ron: I usually remember everything that surrounds the show. The food mostly, haha. Playing Madison Square Garden meant something extra personal, growing up in NYC, seeing my first concert there, and finally getting to be on that stage. Fan experiences...in England, going back to a fans house after a show and just hangin' out drinking tea. In Mexico, a group of people that ran for a half-hour following our van to the hotel, hangin' with them and just talking, taking photos and signing stuff. Such a cool bunch. Times of enthusiasm, times of calm, and lots of crazy stuff in between.
The GnR Syndicate: It’s just a hunch, but I’d guess that you have a rather eclectic taste when it comes to music. What music might your fans be surprised that you are into?
Ron: The Partridge Family.
The GnR Syndicate: If you weren’t playing guitar, what would you be doing?
Ron: Playing bass.
The GnR Syndicate: Was there an authority figure growing up that encouraged you to play guitar? What initially sparked your interest in music?
Ron: It was my idea. I was 5 years old, and all the old kids in the neighborhood got the new KISS album that just came out, 'Alive!' I heard it and knew immediately what I wanted to do.
The GnR Syndicate: On the front page of my website I have a charity set up for my friend to assist with her cancer treatment and living expenses. I can relate to her, and am driven to help, as I recall my Mother’s ovarian cancer as a young boy. What charities are you currently a part of and what inspired you to do so? How important is helping others to you?
Ron: The main one is the MS Research Foundation, MSRF.org. It was started by my friend Ralph Rosa, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1997. Everyone involved volunteers their time for free, and everything goes directly to research. When people buy autographed CDs and merch from my site, $5 of each item is donated to MSRF. I’ve been involved with other fundraising organizations and events, charities to help with disaster relief, but MSRF is the one I'm most involved with.
The GnR Syndicate: Despite our economic woes, you sure can’t say it’s a boring time to be alive can you?
Ron: Definitely not. Never is...
The GnR Syndicate: Was there a time in your life when you realized being anonymous may be a thing of the past?
Ron: I'm reminded pretty often, haha. When ya see your name in a Doonesbury cartoon, things like that.
The GnR Syndicate: Without being too cliché: What guitarists revolutionized rock and roll to you?
Ron: For me it's Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. My two favorites, two biggest inspirations, both were so creative and innovative.
The GnR Syndicate: Any young/new bands out there you really are into?
Ron: Have new albums from The Binges and Chelsea Smiles in my car right now...
The GnR Syndicate: Are there any artists that you would like to work with one day?
Ron: Yes, there are.