Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal interview for
Would you tell us some about how you join to Guns N' Roses? What has changed in
It was 5 years ago, Summer of 2004, Joe Satriani got in touch with me, he
said they were looking for a guitarist and recommended me. Soon after, one of
the band members got in touch, the manager, we also started talking and feeling
it out. Before GNR I was writing, recording,
engineering and producing, teaching, releasing albums, touring, playing as a
guest on other people's albums and shows. Now I don't have time to do everything
I used to do, being out of town for rehearsals and tours. It's not a bad thing,
just a trade-off. If I could be in two places at once, I'd be happy. No, I
wouldn't be happy, I'd be wishing I could be in three places at once, haha...
Was there any guitarists when you start playing, who became role models for you?
There were many, starting with Ace Frehley from KISS. Hearing the KISS Alive!
album when I was 5 years old made me want to be in a band, and do what they were
doing. Ace was an icon, and deservedly so. His guitar solos were the most
singable parts of KISS songs. Then there was Angus Young - pure, relentless
energy, no-bullshit rock-n-roll. I remember being 10 years old, was a bit of a
punk at heart into the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, and I was jamming
with some other kids, I took a solo and felt like I was tapping the spirits of Angus
and GG Allin, was just
going off, was shaking my head, jumping around, spitting all over. The other kids didn't get it,
and it bummed me out. I felt stupid for giving that much, only to feel
frustrated and misunderstood - I wasn't old enough to
have that attitude where if you get under someone's skin, you go deeper, haha.
Hell, you're supposed to get a rise out of people...! I think that moment
jamming in my basement may have altered the direction I was heading as a
performer, but maybe for the better, haha, I don't know... I was a fan of Hendrix too,
I liked guitarists that experimented and did their own thing. It was hearing
Eddie Van Halen that really had the greatest impact on how I looked at playing
guitar. He was a real inspiration. I started fooling around with guitar building
and modifying, and finding unconventional ways to get sounds out of the strings.
Guys like Eddie, Yngwie, they made guitar playing exciting, challenging, like a
puzzle you were solving.
What was the brand and model of your first guitar?
My very first electric guitar was a Les Paul knock-off, from a company called
'Pace'. I think it was $80. Before that I was playing on a kid-size
nylon-string acoustic for 2 years, just waiting for the day I could get my first
electric. The guitar had a black pickguard - I got a sheet of reflective 'prism
tape' and cut out the shape of the pickguard in forward and reverse, and put
on the guitar covering the pickguard and on the other side of the pickups like a
mirror image. I guess I always had the guitar-modifying bug, even when I was 8,
haha. Here's a pic of the guitar...
After a long wait Chinese Democracy has come out, the output of millions of GN'R
fans, include me, took the album. In my opinion, it was totally worth waiting
for, but why it took so long?
I don't know all the reasons why it took so long, I wasn't there for much of
those years. I started recording guitar parts in '06 and the album was
released in '08. It's a unique album, a lot of musical information in those songs.
Which one is your favorite song on the album?
I like 'Scraped', I think it would be great live... 'This I Love' and
'Catcher In the Rye' have some beautiful moments...
Although the album came out a long time ago why the videoclip didnít? Obviously
we want a new videoclip.
I'd love to see videos happen for those songs too...
Do you like video games? What's your favorite game?
I love old vintage games...
Atari 2600 'Adventure', haha...! Do a Google search, check it out...
http://www.google.com/search?q=atari+2600+adventure All the secret codes, the dragons looked like ducks, the
bat would steal your stuff and was such a pain-in-the-ass... there was a charm
to the lo-res pixelated graphics and lo-bit sounds. The simplicity was a
doorway, your imagination would do the rest.
In recent years, music-themed games are becoming increasingly common. Guitar
Hero and Rock Band series are of the most important of them. In these games
players can play guitar, do karaoke by creating their own bands. What do you
think about these games?
I love them, getting to physically connect to decades of different music.
Beatles Rock Band is fantastic. I'm a big Beatles fan, and experiencing the
music this way is something really special...
The new albums, can be downloaded digitally, and added to games such as Guitar
Hero and Rock Band. Do you believe contribution of music-themed games to music
I think it's a good thing. I'd love to make Rock Band versions of all the
Chinese Democracy album, was added to new Rock Band game. So, players could play
new Guns N 'Roses album. As a group, what comments did you receive? Did
you have the opportunity to play?
Yes, it was fun trying to play it, and screwing it up, haha...! I've gotten
positive feedback about it, the GNR fans that played it seemed to have enjoyed it.
Is there any offer for making a game that bears the name ďGuns Ní RosesĒ? Such
as Guitar Hero: Guns Ní Roses?
Would be cool if something like that happens.... sounds good to me... :)
Your latest come to Istanbul was in 2006 (Kurucesme Arena/Turkey). That was a
great night. November Rainís solo was the top point. The attendance were very
good at accompanying the songs. What do you think about this concert and
Istanbul? Do you want to come again? Because the Turkish GN'R fans, are
impatiently waiting for it.
Thanks! That was a fun show, the audience was real good to us. Turkey has
such deep history and diversity, beautiful architecture, and *great food*, haha!
Love the food... People were very welcoming, they made us feel at home...
would love to come back.
You worked together with Fahir Atakoglu for performing a music to CNNTurk . How
did you meet? How did this happen? How to perform?
I met Fahir through a mutual friend in NYC. I also played guitar with him for a
concert he arranged in Washington DC in late '99, to raise funds for victims of
the the big earthquake in Turkey that year. His composing is intense, it's
intellectual and equally passionate - I enjoyed working with him.
What's your favorite guitar and why?
Right now, my favorite guitar is the custom double-neck built by Vigier guitars in
www.vigierguitars.com ) One neck is fretless, one fretted - I've been using it a lot with GNR and my own
What do you think about Gibson guitars?
Gibson is the definition of classic rock guitar - Angus Young's SG, Ace
Frehley's Les Paul, I was raised on guitar players that played Gibsons.
I think you have a guitar modification interest? Do you have guitars which are
in a shape of hand and foot. How did this passion start? Could you please
mention a little?
I'd read interviews with Eddie Van Halen in Guitar World magazine in the early
80's, about the way he'd dip pickups in wax, things like that. It
inspired me to start experimenting with guitar modifications, internal and
external. I'd try different pickups and wiring, different body shapes, it was
another artistic outlet besides making music. I have pictures and stories about
the guitars I mod'ed, before and after pics, on my site at
http://www.bumblefoot.com/gear.php Eventually I slowed down with
it, now I leave it to the professionals, DiMarzio pickups (
www.dimarzio.com ) and
Vigier guitars, they do a much better job than I ever did...!
You can play Fretless guitar. Has a great sound, but what are the disadvantages?
Which guitars did you use for Chinese Democracy album? Did you use Fretless?
I used a good amount of fretless guitar on Chinese Democracy. You can hear it in
the title track, in the verses, those low chords dragging around... in the next
song Shackler's Revenge the first guitar solo is on the fretless, the solo in Scraped
is on fretless, there's a little break in Better with fretless. I used the Vigier fretless guitar, some Gibson Les Pauls and plugged 'em into a Marshall
stack. The challenge with fretless guitar is like that of a cello or violin,
where your fingers need to be in the exact right spot on the neck or the notes won't be in tune. It makes chords more difficult - but like anything, give it a little practice
and you'll be on your way.
Your song Mafalda has an interesting story. Do you have any other songs based on
real stories like this? Or/and do you plan to make more?
Most of my songs are based on real things I've experienced or felt. I've put
out 9 albums in the last 15 years, most of the songs have vocals and a
story to them. Here are some stories for a few of the songs from the 'Abnormal'
It's known that your voice is pretty good. Why werenít you on the back vocal in
Chinese Democracy? Will you be in future songs?
I offered, haha. I'll be singing back-ups live.
How is it to share the same stage with Axl Rose, and to work with him? How do
Being on stage with Axl, as well as everyone in the band, and the crew, they're
all good talented people that give a lot of themselves - it's great. But looking out at the
crowd, seeing them really getting into it, that's the best part of it. GNR's
fans make playing in GNR special.
10 OCT 2009
Originally posted at:
http://www.merlininkazani.com/review_screen.asp?GID=3402 (in Turkish)