by Tahlia Greive | Friday, January 15 2010

*from July 2009 phone interview


BumblefootIt is hard to know where to start on this story. The man, the husband, the multi-talented musician, the everyman’s man; Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Tahl has had many lives and that is just in the last few hours.

“Today? Oh my god! What an insane day, actually everyday is an insane day this morning I drove out to Queens to rehearse with my band. Then I came back and worked on some tracks for an album I’m mixing. The whole time working out stuff with G n R (Guns N Roses) to get that revved up again. Then I was talking to Lita Ford’s husband (Jim Gillette) about some new tracks he wants to record. Then we got the mp3 of songs that are going to be covered down in Nashville at this awards show."

Given the lifestyle that he is living it's not surprising that Bumblefoot has been recording and touring for many years under different names. He has recorded many other artists too, using his skills in producing. He has written and performed the soundtracks to various American TV shows and movies. And of course most recently he has become known as the new guy in Guns and Roses. “I guess what tends to happen is, as you just keep experiencing a lot of life in a short amount of time, it tends to influence you and expose you to things. As time goes on, everything is just a building block for making you who you are, whatever you are in that moment."

As ‘life’ is often cited as the best muse for an artist, I asked Bumblefoot to share the ‘life’ story behind one of his songs. Happily indulging he launched into a great story with some philosophical thoughts at the end. It is a story best told by the man himself.

“While on tour in Japan, we were caught in an earthquake. I had gone to bed at 6 or 7 in the morning, then around 10, I remember I was dreaming I was on a boat, and I could hear the waves, crashing in this weird back and forth consistent motion. I’m thinking to my self ‘these waters are so choppy!’ Then I begin to realise that I’m actually moving 6 inches to the left, then 6 inches to the left every couple of a seconds. Then I realise I’m NOT on a boat… I’m way high up in a hotel and the hotel is really leaning back and forth. So I take my wife and we stand in the door way of the bathroom, cos that is the safest place to be. We stood there and just waited for it to pass, it was a very long 30 seconds.

Some of the last songs on the Abnormal album were about that experience. But the 14th track is called Red Eye, which was about the night before. We were hanging out in a club after a gig and we were having a good time with this girl who was very (pause for choice of words) full of life. It was very dark and it only had red lights. After the earthquake we met up with the friends from the night before. And they said ‘Did you see pictures of that girl?’ It turns out one of her eyes was really really red, like beyond bloodshot, like blood curdled. And because all the lights were red, you couldn’t see the discolouration of her eye.

"I began to get all philosophical and I thought ‘If I had died in that earthquake this morning with my wife, what would I have learned in life today? The day after I died?’ Because you do learn something new everyday. I was kinda bummed because I thought, the only thing I would have learnt would be that crazy girl from the night before had a red eye. So after Red Eye, I wrote a song The Day After, about those thoughts."

His final summary of what music and creating it is all about was that, “It is not just about other music styles or sounds that influence, it is about experiences and how you translate that into a song, it is writing in a way that you take other people there to feel what you felt in that moment. Then you have people sharing the same memories together, almost in the same body, it’s a beautiful thing."

Though he has played with many bands, he doesn’t owe all them credit for his musical success. One band in particular from his early twenties he can thank for his marital happiness. After much coercing his mates from that band set him up nearly 20 years ago with his wife. “I actually don’t see those guys anymore, the band broke up, as happens in your teenage and early twenties years. It is like everyone in the band is so passionate about it and all have ideas about what is right. It’s kind of like a marriage, but picture four of five guys married to each other in their early 20’s …it aint gonna work. The fact that it can work with any band is astounding, like Aerosmith, The Stones, the Four Tops, bands that stayed together and were able to keep it together from the beginning are one in a million."

The final obligatory question for Bumblefoot fans and Australian music lovers, when are you coming to Australia?

"I would love to (tour Australia) either with my own band, or with Lita (Ford) or with Guns. With G.N.R. we had such a good time going from Perth to Sydney, we made a lot of good friends. Some how, some way I gotta get myself back there!"

Originally posted at: http://www.thedwarf.com.au/nd/interviews/bumblefoot