By: ~Tanya Vece

Photo By ~Stephanie Cabral


Full Metal Rock's Tanya Vece had the chance to interview musician, and friend, Ron Thal (Bumblefoot) recently about his latest project Barefoot.

TV: Tanya Vece

RT: Ron Thal (Bumblefoot)

TV: 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 time...

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...

TV: 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 sweethearts!

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 ahead?

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 cds?

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, anything goes.

TV: Do you have any plans for teaching future music clinics the readers of Full Metal Rock may be interested in attending?

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 not-too-far-off future.


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 tanya@fullmetalrock.com or call 206-650-9234


Originally posted at http://fullmetalrock.com/bfi.html