|Q&A with Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal -
Appetite for Discussion, 17 August 2009
What's your favorite guitar and amplifier and why?
For clean stuff, old Fender Twins, Fender Reverbs... they have a punchy clean sound like no other, and when they get a little bit of juice, the tone just pierces through anything. A good ol' Marshall JCM800, maybe with a Tube Screamer. I've been using Engl amps, they have what I like about a Marshall but with ridiculous amounts of energy behind them, very heavy sounding amp. Used an Engl Invader 100 head with Lita Ford for a few Summer shows in Europe, using an E580 tube preamp with an E850 100W power amp, both modified with little tweaks. On Judas Priest's latest tour, one of the guys was using my personal preamp from my rig, that's pretty f**kin' cool...
If you were to pick a single concert from history, which would you have paid most to attend?
December 22nd, 1808, the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, the first time the world got to hear Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Imagine having no electricity, no recorded music, you only had live performances - they meant so much more. Now picture hearing the "Fifth" for the first time.
How high do you value the ability, as a guitarist, to be able to read music?
Knowing how to read music helps, but it's not a necessity. A pair of ears, a pair of hands, and a lot of spirit is all you need.
Where did you get that amazing green suit you have? (from pawnshop-guitars).
At a vintage clothing warehouse there used to be in Queens NY...
Before you joined Guns did you use Les pauls on a regular basis, and if not, did it take time to get used to playing with one? (from pawnshop guitars)
The Les Paul I used with Guns is a 1989, a reissue of the '59. I got it in '89, it has Les Paul's signature on the pickguard. I never put the pickguard on the guitar. I didn't use it often until Guns, only on special occasions.
Any plans for a second Vigier Bumblebee guitar? I miss the old one xD (from pawnshop-guitars).
Ah, the 'Flying Foot' guitar... it took the folks at Vigier Guitars five months to make that guitar, by hand. Don't know if they'd ever make another... the guitar still works, just the wings don't move as smoothly as they used to.
How has it been touring with Lita Ford?
Fantastic. There with lots of old friends, Dennis (Bumblefoot drummer) on drums, get to do a lot of spontaneous jamming and trading solos with Lita, been a great time.
I remember when you jammed with Zakk Wylde on Talking Metal. Did you guys already knew each other? And did you guys kept in touch? I'd love to hear another collaboration between you 2 (from gunner22).
Had some mutual friends, but never met. Enjoyed hangin' with Zakk, he's a good-hearted guy. I'd hang and jam again.
Do you have anything to say about Les Paul? (from gunner22).
This is a personal loss for his family, and I'm thinking of them.
Could you please play your song "Spaghetti" from Abnormal during your guitar solo on the next GNR tour? I'd love to hear it live (from gunner22).
Haha, cool man, thanks. I'd rather not even do a guitar solo, unless it's another GNR song - that's what the audience came there to see.
Are you on Dizzy's solo record? (from gunner22).
Is there any song on CD that are def. not going to be played live? Like, they were never meant to be played live (from gunner22).
Won't know until we hit the stage...
And could you please get Axl to sing on your next solo album?! (from gunner22).
Only if he lets me sing on one of his albums, haha.
I just watched your solo performance of "Don't Cry" at the Download in '06. Great performance and achievement turning that audience over! Was it tough getting on stage infront of a slightly hostile crowd and have you always been such a fearless and dedicated musician/team player?
Was it tough? Fuck no, I was even laughing at one point during it. Don't remember if it was my idea, I think I went backstage and got the 'Foot' guitar said 'I'll go out there and keep it goin'. Either that or they said 'Bumble, take a solo' and I said 'No prob' and got the guitar. Whatever it was... I'm a 'shit or get off the pot' kinda person, either do it or don't. And if you do, you better swing with everything you got or don't bother.
Have you seen Brüno, and did you like it?
Not yet. Saw the Hangover, and Funny People. Thought that was Adam Sandler's best.
Which concert did you attend last as part of the audience?
Chickenfoot. Gonna go see them again tomorrow.
Is it difficult dealing with unreasoable expectations from parts of the GN'R fanbase that still, in many ways, live in the late 80's early '90s?
There's nothing unreasonable about liking what you like, and wanting what you want. It's not difficult, and I have nothing against fans of the past line-ups. Unless someone's being a dick about it. And if they are, that's because they're a dick, they're probably a dick about most things anyway, fuck 'em. But no, I have no problem with the past, and no problem with people that have their favorite era of any music, or any band that I'm somehow involved in.
Can you tell us a little about the most recent songs you wrote?
They're heavier than the usual stuff, and I look forward to gettin' out there soon.
As a guitarist, what are you trying to improve?
Everything, always. Just never enough time to play as much as I'd like to. And being on the computer really fucks my hands up. Was having a hard time playing throughout the 2006 GNR tours because of it. Finally I had to force myself to stop answering emails and stuff and get some help with all that. I'm all about having a personal connection with fans, keeping them included with things and as 'part of the loop' - going to the Chi Dem listening party, doing stuff like this interview y'all put together (thank you!) I put videos on YouTube of my own album being made as it was being made, have had fans help pick songs, sing backing vocals, stuff like that. That's my own philosophy on how a band should be, it's just being myself to be that way, and i n my own band that's how it is. In other situations that aren't like that, I'm more considerate of what other people are comfortable with, and respect that they have the right to be how they want to be, as we all should.
Would you have wished to be part of the first incarnation of Guns N' Roses back in the hedonistic, decadent and crazy 80-90s instead of joining late when the band, and you, is all g rown up? Do you feel you have missed out on something? ;)
Fuck no, I had my 'fun' in the 80s and wouldn't go back. I have so much more fun now... (and what makes ya think I'm all grown up?) The question sounds like it's from someone younger who feels like *they* missed out on their vision of that era - as a boring old man to a young whippersnapper, haha, let me tell ya - decadence and craziness comes from within, and from what you choose to do with yourself. I guarantee you people were doing crazier shit 100 years ago, and they're doing crazier shit right now. The things I've seen, and done, I've missed out on nothing in life. But that has nothing to do with the LA scene 20 years ago, it's about who you are and how you choose to live.
What's your favorite track from Chinese Democracy; what about GNR in general?
Right now I think 'Scraped' From all GNR songs? Always changes, at the moment it's 'Used To Love Her' & 'Down On the Farm'.
I know you've been a music teacher for a while. Has a pupil ever inspired you enough to write a song for her? (from andyrose86).
It's inspiring to see students getting better, good getting to know them, but you also gotta keep a degree of emotional distance. So no, never wrote a song for a female student.
How does your wife deal with jealousy?? Doesn’t she get jealous of your fans or Lita Ford? (from andyrose86).
I've been with my wife almost 20 years - she's my best friend, partner in crime and everything beyond - there's no jealousy to deal with, we're way past that stuff. The female fans hit on her more than me anyway, haha.
Any plan about touring South America in the near future??? (from andyrose86).
Have a very strong desire to play South America, but no confirmed plans.
What future music projects will you be involved in?
I have a new band that's coming together quickly, we should be out there by the Fall. More info as soon as we have something recorded & shows booked.
Which is your favorite song to play live? Why? (from axlforever).
That always changes, but Jungle, Sweet Child, November Rain and Paradise are up there, it's the ones the fans go craziest for. Hopefully I'll be able to add more new songs to the 'favorite live songs' list - would love to play Shackler's, Scraped, Sorry...
Describe your dream/fantasy guitar?
My dream guitar would be my new double-neck fretless guitar, only 10 pounds lighter.
Any progress on your Scoville Units rating?
Jalapenos are around 3500. Pure heat is 16 Million. I'm at 7.1 Million. Ready to move it up to 10 Million.
Anything else you want to say to your fans?
Thank you, my friends :) I hope to see ya's...!!
Originally posted at http://gunsnroses.lefora.com/2009/08/17/qa-with-ron-bumblefoot-thal-appetite-for-discussio-2/