Full Metal Rock's Tanya Vece had
the chance to interview musician, and friend, Ron Thal (Bumblefoot) recently
about his latest project Barefoot.
RT: Ron Thal (Bumblefoot)
Barefoot (Released in December of 2008) is your latest project. It is your first
acoustic album featuring versions of songs from various Bumblefoot albums
performed in an intimate, revealing way "unlike they've ever been heard before".
What made you want to do an acoustic album?
RT: I wanted to take
songs, strip away the grit and show what they were made of. I had never released
a batch of acoustic music, which is funny because most of the time I'm playing
it's on an acoustic, lounging around watching TV and playing along with the
background music and commercials. Usually to entertain my wife - a commercial
will pass, I'll pick up the guitar and play the music right after, chords and
melodies, it makes her laugh. So yeah, it just felt like it was
TV: Did you have any musical influences for
Barefoot apart from the influences noted on http://www.bumblefoot.com/(Kiss, Stones,
Ramones) for your harder stuff?
RT: I love the purity and
nakedness of Dave Grohl's acoustic versions of Foo Fighters' songs, that was
somewhere in my head. As the vocals were being tracked I started feeling some
kind of swagger in the adlibs, a Plant/Zeppelin inspired thing. Don't know if
anyone else hears it or feels it, but it felt like it was moving into this 'What
Is & What Should Never Be' loose vocal flow in adlibs of 'Shadow'... and in
'Dash' some of the background vocal adlibs seemed to be heading towards that
'Whole Lotta Love' trippy place a little. You listen to a band and it gives you
a certain sense of being. I don't know if I've ever done that for anyone, but
there have been plenty who've done that for me...
From a writer's prospective did you have to fight the urge to write a whole
other acoustic album while doing Barefoot? Can we expect new acoustic material
from you anytime soon?
RT: Ya know, I never really got that urge
while working on the album to write new acoustic songs. I was so focused on
reconstructing the heavier songs as acoustic ones, it just stayed there. Not
sure when the urge to do it again will come, or if a spark to write new acoustic
songs will light up, I guess it'll depend on where life leads - maybe I'll meet
someone I want to collaborate with that wants to do acoustic music, ya never
know... in March I did a gig with a vocal duo from Nashville, Jess Alicia - we did an acoustic
set of their songs, and it was a similar approach, taking their songs which had
a country vibe and making an acoustic guitar version that would uphold the
foundation but also include elements of the song, the melodies, dynamics.
They're incredible singers with great songs, and they're total
TV: I know prior to your international
acclaim touring was hard. Your biography references times where you would tour
and come home with $300.00 in your pocket (such as when you were touring with
Dennis Leeflang) . My two parted question is as follows. A) What advise would
you give to musicians who are touring and in the same position as you once were.
At what point do you think someone should honestly evaluate if their dream is
going to solidify? B) Did situations, such as cited above, ever make you rethink
if you were really going to break through? In other words did you ever question
your creativity & if so what was it that made you forge
RT: My philosophy was to invest yourself more in the areas
that are succeeding, and don't waste time on the things that aren't, we don't
have that kinda time. I'd look at everything I was doing - writing, recording,
releasing albums, engineering, producing, licensing, teaching, hired gun gigs,
overseas touring, look at what was working and what wasn't, and ride the better
waves as they'd come. Don't ever doubt yourself, instead realize there's more to
you than just one wave - ride them all and keep hopping to the good ones so you
can keep moving forward. That's my best advice - diversify your stock and ride
the good waves.
TV: You have done some instrumental
videos. Being you just had an acoustic album come out - what would be your
advise for some one who wants to, but never has, picked up a guitar? Should they
start with acoustic? Can they hit electric right away? Any good tips for our
rock readers, and rising rock stars?
RT: If you're more into
acoustic music, start on an acoustic so you can jump into the music you like.
Same with an electric, get straight to what you're aiming for. When you're
comfortable and progressing, check out other variations of the instrument -
electric guitar, steel-string acoustic, 12-string, nylon-string classical, an
old hollow-body jazz guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, ukulele. Being focused
doesn't mean being rigid - experiment, make your own rules.
TV: You're diverse and all of your projects, and the projects you
have worked on, have such a varied culture taste within the music industry. At
one point you worked as the guitarist/co-engineer on Jessica Simpson's
"Irresistible" club mix. Obviously as a professional in the business, and as
someone with a bouquet of talents, working in different genres comes naturally.
Do you think it is important for musicians who are primarily into heavy metal to
work on different genres of music? and if so why?
RT: Yes, it's
good to do. You'll get inspiration for rhythms, harmonies, different
instrumentation that you can add to your music, whatever style that might be.
Examples from some of my songs, all heavy songs with something from the outside
brought in... Tibetan monks in the song 'Meat' (Forgotten Anthology cd), opera
singers in 'Objectify' (Abnormal cd), bagpipes in 'Thank You' (Normal cd),
cellos in 'Mine' (Forgotten Anthology cd), didgeridoo and xylophone in 'Mafalda'
(Forgotten Anthology cd), cellos and piano in 'Time' (9.11 cd), clean jazz
guitar in 'T-Jonez' (Uncool cd). Each of those outside elements came from
exploring other types of music. These examples are more like embellishments in
the production, but songwriting and production do work together, one lends
itself to the other. While producing a lot of rap music in the late 90s, it got
me into writing songs like 'Kiss the Ring' and 'Dominated' (Uncool cd).
Listening to old 60s lounge music inspired songs like 'Delilah' (Uncool cd) and
'She Knows' (Forgotten Anthology cd). Checking out music from different cultures
and time peroids is always inspiring and leads you to making music that
otherwise never would have happened.
TV: You also did
the theme for Vh1's 'That Metal Show' with Jim Florentine. Along with that theme
I know you have written the theme song to the SpikeTV show "MXC", the music for
the NY Islanders hockey team 2008/2009 season, all the music for a SEGA video
game, and even a did a jingle for the Oxygen Network. Is there a different
approach to how you write the music for television shows, or is the creative
process the same when you approach writing music for your own
RT: There's a set of boundaries when making music for
something visual that doesn't need to exist for your own cds. There's someone
else's vision that you want to nail, there's a certain length of time you need
to stick to. It's easier because there are strict guidelines to stay within, and
it's harder because there are strict guidelines to stay within. Sometimes an
editor will take the music and edit the arrangement to fit what they need, other
times it's up to me. When writing for my own cd, there are no boundaries,
TV: Do you have any plans for teaching
future music clinics the readers of Full Metal Rock may be interested in
RT: No clinics planned right now, but if that changes
I'll post a schedule at bumblefoot.com. The next thing I'd like to do is some
instructional DVDs - been wanting to for years, need to just put everything
aside and make time for it. Hopefully can make that happen in the
For a full list of Ron's accomplishments and projects,
please visit his website,
bumblefoot.com. Links to his MySpace page, and other social media networks,
are listed as well as links to buy his latest project, Barefoot! Ron also has an
upcoming cameo appearance in the movie The
Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll. Look for it soon! Ron Thal (Bumblefoot) is
Tanya Vece's first interview as a contributor to Full Metal Rock. She has
interviewed Ron once before for her own publication (The Horse Chronicles- an
alternative arts magazine). Tanya has written articles for Rolling Stone, The
Steamboat Local, and The Coyote Press. She is the author of Itch, Love Stories
about Heroin based on her experiences with former Alice in Chains front-man
Layne Staley. Tanya owns an international entertainment & music public
relations firm handling both developmental and a-list clientele. For more
information, or to submit story ideas for future interviews, please email email@example.com or call