www.GuitaristHeaven.com (Italy)

Guitar's mad scientist comes back with an exclusive interview on his playin' style, his next release and some interestin' stuff on how to find your own voice on the instrument. - Max Menegale - 25 OCT 2002

Hi BBFoot, how are you?

Fine.  And you?

What about your next cd? Which direction is it goin' to take? Any release date yet?

The next CD should be out early next year - nothing new, everything old.  I'm taking unfinished/unreleased songs and I'll be finishing/releasing them.  It was some very good music, but either the label objected to them, or they just "never fit" the final release.  So I'm taking all those songs and putting them on a "crap-ology" - I will probably call the cd "Thumbs Down"

If there's anybody visitin' the site who's never heard you before (shame on him!!!), which song would you recommend him to listen to understand who Bumblefoot is?

Hmmmmmmmm...    maybe "You Are the Sunshine Of My Life" from Stevie Wonder?  oh, a *Bumblefoot* song...    maybe "Lost".

One really strikin' thing about your playin' and composition is the ability to fuse diffrent styles and still havin' a great flow and continuity between a reggae section and a hardcore chorus... Do you have some suggestions for the folks who would love to try to break some rules? A point to start from?

Don't play when you write.  Think the sound in your head.  If it sounds good, go for it.  If you play, it might be fun for the fingers, but not for the ears.  So *listen*.    Then realize that music has no rules (theory is an explanation, not a set of rules...)   If you try to break rules, you're still confining yourself to a set of boundaries.  Remove all rules and do what you want.

Your musical fingerprints (Mattias Eklundh word for "personality") are AMAZING!! Your use of dissonance, the thimble tappin' thing, the bar dives and the percussive noises sets you way apart from the mass of "I wanna be Yngwie or Steve or John" guitarists... Some suggestions on how to find your own voice on the instrument?

It's important not to focus on the guitar.  The guitar will be your vocal cords, your playing will be what you say with your voice - to say something with strong personal identity, you must develop strong personal identity as a person.  Otherwise you'll have nothing special to say.  With every new experience in life, it should add to the depth of what you're expressing with your guitar.  My suggestion is - don't play too much - you'll miss out on life.

What happens if someone is tryin' to be original and tries to play what he hears in his head, but all he can hear is somethin' already written, or the Baywatch theme as played by Yngwie Malmsteen?

Then he should probably exchange his head for a new one.  Or, don't try so hard.  It should be something that happens naturally.  If you try to control anything that should happen naturally, it won't function at its full capacity.

So how did you develop such control on the instrument? You totally master the horned piece of wood: did you developed such technique without actually practicin' that much? Is there any way to avoid the borin' "exercise" part?

I definitely practiced alot, but not repetitious scales.  I practiced songs and things I would be playing.  If you practice alot of patterns, your first instinct when improvising might be patterns.  I always found it better to just turn on the radio to any station, try to play along with the music, practice harmonizing with vocal lines and taking solos over the music.  It kept the brain thinking at the same rate as the fingers moved.

Can you give us a suggestion on how to play some dissonant stuff? Where can we start if we have a c chord or tonality?

Hum something dissonant in your head, then find the notes on the guitar.  (I'm not being very helpful, am I?)  I'm serious though - find it on the guitar *after* your brain hears it.

So what happens when you jam or improvise: do you have perfect pitch or just go crazy? And if you have perfect pitch, do you know some way to develop it?

I do have perfect pitch, but I don't know if it's something you're born with, or develop, because it was something that improved over the years.  The best way to develop it is to really *listen* - listen not just for pitch but for tone, for the interraction of clashing soundwaves, everything.  I used to do this thing where people would play any chord anywhere on the guitar neck, and just by listening (without looking) I could tell them which of their fingers were on which frets of which strings.  When you look at something, you accept that there is more than what you see on the surface.  It's the same with sound - all you have to do is accept this idea and *listen*.

Do you want to tell us somethin' about the thimble? When i started usin' it I was just hittin' octave intervals, then i found there's a whole new world between the 22nd fret and the bridge... Are you workin' on some new tricks or noises?

I needed to find a way to access the notes that continue up the string above the fretboard - using the thimble seemed to happen without planning it, and turned out be the very practical...   not working on any new tricks or noises.  All the best things happen by accident - maybe I'll slip on a banana peel and stumble onto a new trick or noise...   :)

Could you tell us if you have any favorite guitar players?

Hmmmmmmmmmmm....   my first favorite guitarists were mostly because of the music they made with their bands - Angus Young & AC/DC, Ace Frehley & Kiss, Tipton/Downing & Priest, Steve Howe & Yes...   I liked Malmsteen with Alcatrazz and his first 2 solo albums...    I guess my all-time favorite would have to be Eddie Van Halen, because he was the first one to open my eyes about what is possible on the guitar.

You play a lot of percussive stuff and hammer-ons from nowhere... How did you develop this? Was it just a matter of sound ?   Where you inspired by Greg Howe?

Just a matter of sound.  Never heard Greg Howe until I was given some guitars cds years after I released "The Adventures Of..." cd.  I developed my sound from listening to The Osmond's Family Christmas album backwards.

Many people compare your style with Frank Zappa's... I never thought you sound like Zappa, even if you have the same sort of dissacrant attitude he had... I think you sound much more like a genetic mutation of Van Halen, a mad drummer and long nails on a blackboard...

I agree with you.  Except the long nails on a blackboard.  My *singing* sounds like long nails on a blackboard.  My guitar playing sounds like metal forks scraped down a blackboard.

You love raw fish... How does it taste like?

If it's uncooked properly, it should taste like nothing.  Otherwise, without proper uncooking (raw-ing?) it will taste alot like fish.

You have now the chance to say the most stupid thing ever said... Don't miss the opportunity!!!

"The most stupid thing ever said."   Thank you for the opportunity...   :)

Some news about the instructional video ?

Hopefully I'll be able to begin in about 2 years.  Probably never. 

Is Vigier plannin' to have a signature model for you? If so, We would expect somethin' very eye-strikin', shouldn't we?

I spoke to them about it - they want to stick to the standard body style.  So what I want to do is draw my own design on every guitar, so that every single one is an original.  As long as they don't manufacture more than 10 guitars, as I might run out of art ideas...

You even played guitar for other artists than you: do you wear a different hat when you do this? Is it difficult to avoid all the wacky stuff that are expressions of your being?

I wear different hats with different artists - sometimes I don't wear a hat at all. Depends on the weather. Seriously, I don't need the wackiness - I enjoy playing music more than guitar, and being part of the complete sound.  I don't need to be self-indulgent or even be noticed, I just have to like what I hear when I close my eyes and listen...  :)

Thank you, Saint Max, for letting me into Guitarist Heaven.  Take care....    BfoOt