Bumblefoot Interview
GAFFA (Denmark)
SEPT 2010


Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: The continued adventures

After having been a member of Guns N' Roses for over four years, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal talks about, among other things, the re-release of his 1995 debut album, his take on Chinese Democracy, as well as the wide range of his musical preferences.

By Mikkel Elbech
Photo: Jarmo Luukkonen

Almost exactly three years after I first interviewed Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, a request arrived in my inbox, asking me if I'd like to do a follow-up to the first one. But of course I would. After the Rock 'N Rev festival in Sturgis, South Dakota, and before Ron once again headed to Europe with Guns N' Roses, modern communication allowed a direct link-up between Copenhagen, Denmark, and Ron's home in New Jersey.

Sitting on his couch with a little black and white cat squished up next to him, he was eager to talk about the re-release of his debut album, The Adventures Of Bumblefoot (originally released in 1995), along with bonus tracks originally made for the Sega game, Wild Woody, and the accompanying 200-page tab book, as well as his thoughts on Rock Band. Furthermore, Ron talks about his contributions to Chinese Democracy and its subsequent release in November 2008, as well as giving an insight into his musical preferences – such as who'd be in his dream line-up and what his favorite songs by various bands are.

Never free from the strain of controversy, the band's current tour was preceded by two Internet-fused rumors: One that claimed that Ron was out of the band, and another that the tour was canceled. The cause of the latter was Axl's Twitter-account being hacked, leading to an announcement, seemingly directly from the frontman, that the forthcoming 26 dates weren't happening. Obviously, neither were true, and the tour could kick off as planned. (Well, almost as planned – the first two shows at Reading and Leeds were affected by curfew disagreements, and the fourth show in Dublin was paused for 25 minutes due to objects being thrown at the band.)

Being from Denmark and having attended the show in Aalborg on June 14th  that ended the previous leg of the tour, I naturally started off by giving Ron my compliments for what I considered a great show. Turns out that Ron was specifically fond of that specific show:

– To me, that was the best show we ever played! There are certain shows where you just can't connect and plug into what's going on, and you feel like you're not there, no matter what you try to do. It's this separation between your brain, your body, and your soul! But there was something about that last show we did in Aalborg – it just felt like a perfectly functioning machine. Everything seemed solid, and we seemed so in sync. It felt like the perfect show. We were as connected as we ever were.

Are there specific moments during the show that you remember?

– I remember at one point I was on the ground, and it took me a while to get up! I remember thinking, “I need to sit here for a while”, and the head of security came over and asked me if I was okay, and I just gave him the thumbs up – “just taking a breather!”. And when you've got a 30 pound double neck guitar around your neck, it definitely wears you out a bit.

It's a town quite far from Copenhagen, which, being the capital, is naturally the city that most bands visit. As an audience member, it's often obvious that the crowds of smaller towns are different from big cities. Can you sense that when you're on stage?

– Sometimes it's crazier in a smaller town. Sometimes they're more into it. Maybe it feels like a bigger event if it's a town that most bands don't go to. I think that makes a difference.

Did it feel like that in Aalborg?

– Well, the crowd definitely kicked fucking ass! They were loud and really into it. But it's hard to say. If I played Aalborg and Copenhagen back to back, I could probably have a better opinion about it, but even from other gigs I've done, there's definitely something about playing smaller towns. I have nothing against the big towns, and I don't want to stereotype things here, but it almost feels more personal.

Climbing the personal Everest

What made this year the perfect one to re-release your debut album?

– The label finally decided to do it! Shrapnel Records own all the rights to that album and the one that came after it, Hermit, so I can't release it on my own. It's solely up to them what they want to do with it, and after I left the label in 1997, they never reprinted the album, so nobody could get it – except if you'd find one at some obscure store or on eBay. So they contacted me last year and said they'd like to re-release the album, and I was happy as hell! You wanna see all your music out there and available for people, so we got started re-vamping the artwork and adding the Sega tracks.

I read that it took you 6 months to transcribe the whole album for the accompanying 200-page tab book. Was it harder than you thought?

– It was harder than making the album! Just for the hell of it, in 1997, I decided to take every guitar track and put them all on a cassette, and then just listen to a few seconds at a time – remembering and learning everything I played, writing it down and putting it into the software. This year I fixed them all up – aligned them and took care of all the typesetting – and then put them into PDF-files, did artwork for them and so on, and that had to be another six months. So it was a huge undertaking, but I'm really glad I did it. It was my own personal Everest that I climbed!

Were you surprised at some of the compositions, in terms of how you've developed as a composer?

– Not really. Going back and looking at all that stuff, it all kind of made sense in my own twisted brain. “Alright, I put that #9 there to bring it into this”, and “I kind of understand why I augmented the 11 to give it that sense of something impending” – it all made sense!

You're donating five bucks for every cd sold to Multiple Sclerosis research. Why this specific disease?

– It became a personal thing when one of my closest friends was diagnosed – also around 1997, so it was quite a year. At that time, he was a guitar player in a band, and he just shifted his priorities and started this non-profit organization to raise money that goes directly to the labs doing research. And his friends and family all volunteered, and we just took our time to arrange concerts and different events that would raise money. And nobody takes a salary – we make sure that every cent really goes toward research. His site is msrf.org. Also, with anything I do that's autographed – whether it's a photograph or a cd, but if I sign it – five dollars goes towards MS research.

To what extent do you feel obliged, as someone who's done quite well for himself, to donate money to charity?

– I always felt that if you have something to give, it doesn't hurt you to give it. It takes very little effort to do something kind in this world, and if you can – just do it. When my friend was diagnosed, it raised my awareness – and it's a shame that it takes things like that, but we're living our lives and all these things exist, and we can't just randomly pick between them.

You started releasing songs to the Rock Band Network in June. Doesn't it bug you that the guitar playing doesn't really resemble reality at all?

– No! I like it! 'Cause it's not just about playing guitar – it's about connecting with the music. It's about getting to know songs that these kids would never hear – maybe not using an analogue guitar, but a digital one. And it does make kids want to become even more connected and start playing the real thing – and making the music that ends up on the games, instead of just playing what somebody else made. And I could be wrong, but I think that by the end of the year, we'll have the next version of Rock Band where you can play real instruments. So that's gonna completely change everything – we're gonna see some crazy players out there!

Can you play your own songs on the hardest difficulty setting?

– Aw, dude, I suck at it so bad! I can get five seconds in, and then I'm destroyed!

Not the new guy anymore

You became a member of the band but a few years before the release of Chinese Democracy, but you ended up playing on all the songs. To what extent did you add new parts to them, and to what extent were you redoing existing parts?

– I didn't redo anybody's parts. I only added my own things. And then in the studio they would make the decisions – let's keep this in, let's leave this out, let's make this louder, let's make this lower – but everything I played was my own stuff, whether it was rhythm chords or a solo.

Did you or anyone make a special effort to make sure you were on all the tracks?

– We just did a whole lot of time in the studio, and I kept playing and playing and playing – until we ran out of songs! I played on the stuff that wasn't released, too. I mean, there's a whole big chunk of music from that era, and I played on pretty much everything. Then they decided what to put out, and I'm sure something at some point will happen to the other existing songs. But I'm hoping we could write some music now, with the current line-up, and do something completely fresh.

You're pushing your five year anniversary as a member of the band. How is it different to be a member of Guns N' Roses today than it was when you first joined?

– Well, I'm not the new guy anymore! In the beginning, they didn't know what the hell to make of me, but now I think they get it. The good and the bad. And the ugly. And the very ugly! When I first joined, I'm sure they thought, “who's this dude that the stork just left on our doorstep?” Tommy, who was always a punk guy, knows I grew up with a lot of that stuff, and we connect on that level. Me and Richard will be jamming and talking about old Yes music. And actually, the first song that me and Richard both learned to play was Rock N' Roll Hoochie Koo! We all e-mail, call and text when we're on different sides of the continent, and when we're on the same side, we hang and jam. Frank brought his drums to my house last week and we just jammed for a few hours, and the week before that we went over to Sebastian Bach's house and jammed.

How is he doing?

– He's doing well! He's gonna be very missed on this next leg of touring. He's phenomenal live. He's so fucking good. And everyone he's had in his band was always great. But we've got some good bands coming with us, so it's cool... But it would be nice to also have Sebastian.

How did the atmosphere in the band change after Chinese Democracy was finally released?

– Oh, man! It was like having wandered in the desert for forty years and then finally crossing the border! It was very soon after that we all congregated back in LA and started rehearsing. At that point, Robin had moved on, but since then he and I have probably become even closer. I've seen him every time he was in town with Nine Inch Nails, and we've gotten to hang a bit. DJ had joined the band, and we spent a lot of time really making sure that when we started touring again we'd be very prepared. We made sure the guitar parts were perfectly coordinated, and that our tones and sound and gear were complimentary to each other. That everyone would stand out in their own place without stepping on anyone, so the sound wouldn't get too messy. Compliments to the front house guys, 'cause they're a big part of that. They put something a little forward and something a little back, making it as good as it could ever sound.

From Moscow to Athens via Seoul

What's your take on the reception of Chinese Democracy?

– It's like any album – some people are gonna love it, some are gonna hate it, and some are not gonna care either way. Production-wise, you can look at it two ways. Either it's The White Album, or it's Pet Sounds – a big, personal statement. There was so much production, and it was such a fine, fragile balance of getting everything just right. To me, it's more like an orchestration. It wasn't the typical raw rock recording, and I think it took people a minute to understand that, 'cause I think a lot of them were expecting Appetite II. With the Use Your Illusion albums, things were already heading in this direction, and if you take all these years of growth and suddenly you come out of the cocoon with this thing, it's definitely a shock to people. But now that people are more familiar with it, I see them singing along to all the new songs. And that's good. I like that certain ones stand out for people. Like Catcher In The Rye, for instance. There's so much going on, and it's a beautiful song with so many nice melodies in there. And speaking of Yes, one of my favorite Yes albums is Going For The One, and the things going on at the end of Catcher In The Rye remind a lot of me of the title track on that album. It just keeps going and coming around again and building and saying more. There's improvising on it, and the guitars and vocals sort of dance around with each other. And that's fucking cool!

Is Axl a Yes fan?

– You know, I don't know. I never asked him. I should text him. “Do you like Yes? This is a yes or no question!”

Chris Cornell has talked about how he thinks albums should be reviewed ten years after their release, 'cause that's when they will be seen in the proper context. Do you think he has a point?

– Oh, totally. When Chinese Democracy was released, it still had all the baggage attached to it. “It took this long to make, and rumors say it was this expensive! And it doesn't have the original band members on it!” And it biases people's opinion of what they're listening to, when they have all that stuff on their mind. But if you give it time and look back on it, all those things are no longer relevant, and you're just looking at it for what it is – an album, a collection of music – and you'd get to review it with a fresh take. So I think as more time goes on, people are gonna start appreciating that album more.

Is there something a critic wrote that really bugged you?

– Just the usual stuff. Everyone wants their opinion to be the truth, and then they'll voice it as if it is the truth. It's what they believe, so it's the truth to them, but it doesn't mean it's the truth to you, and you just have to agree to disagree.

You've got a big European tour coming up. What shows of the 26 are you especially looking forward to?

– All of them! There are certain places that I'm curious about, 'cause I've never been there. Like Serbia, Croatia and Belfast. And I love being part of the first incarnation of Guns N' Roses to play at a place. Like Seoul, South Korea, and Moscow.

Where have you been in the world that have made you think, “just let me stay here”?

– Moscow. I've been there a good couple of times, and it feels more and more like home and I have more and more fun every time I come back. And Japan.

What are the things that have made your trips there so enjoyable?

– Um, probably none that I should say! A lot of these places I just go to with my wife, and we experience things together, and that's really what does it. She's come out to so many of the shows, when I'm on tour – like London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Sydney, Milan, and Athens. I loved Athens! I had a great time there. Just one day last year, when I was on tour with Lita Ford, and my wife came out, and we just spent a day walking around the whole city and had a beautiful dinner on this rooftop restaurant overlooking the Acropolis. That was one of those moments, definitely.

Playing with Mozart, Bonham and Dio

You have a lot of fans that have been very excited about meeting you. Which artists have you yourself been the most excited about meeting?

– The guys in Kiss. I've met Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley a couple of times, and that was really cool. Also the guys in Avenged Sevenfold and Dream Theater. And Fozzy. All of them were a pleasure to hang out with. But who have I met where I definitely had to keep my cool? Um... Steven Tyler! That was last year at Sturgis, and we were both watching Toby Keith. Steven was standing right next to me, so I introduced myself, and we chatted just for a brief second. He was the nicest fucking guy.

If you could play just one concert with your dream line-up, who – alive or dead – would be in it? And you can't mention any GN'R members.

– I think I would put Amadeus on keys. He was just a fun guy and such a wise-ass. At least according to how he's been portrayed. On drums, I think I'll go with John Bonham. I'm gonna go with all dead people here. On bass? Jaco Pastorius. He was insane – so fucking good. One of those guys who inspired a whole generation of bass players. And the singer? I'm thinking... 'Cause I wanna have John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin in there, too. This is becoming a big fucking band! But who would be a good, dead singer? No, wait, I'm gonna go with an alive one. Tony Harnell from the band TNT.

And then yourself on lead guitar, I assume?

– No, I'm just gonna sit down and watch them and be, like, “I'm not worthy!” I don't even wanna be in the band – I just wanna assemble them and listen to them! But no okay, I'll be in there on, I guess, guitar. But I'll probably spend more time listening than playing.

Where would you play?

– I guess in the underworld, since they're dead! But wait! Fuck! Dio!! Tony would have to be excluded from the band, 'cause I'm going “bring out your dead!”, and he'd go, “I'm not dead yet! I feel fine!”. So it's Dio on vocals instead. And we would play in my living room every fucking night. No, okay, we'll do the Garden. Madison Square Garden, New York City. That's home.

What's the song that you just can't get out of your head these days?

– Okay, this will make you laugh, and it'll be completely unexpected. It's a song called Bat Macumba by Os Mutantes from their self-titled album, which came out in 1968. It's this Brazilian psychedelic rock band, which was very “Cream meets psychedelic-era Beatles”, and I have that song stuck in my head. Probably because I listened to that album eight times in a row. It goes like this: (plays guitar and sings) “Bat macumba, ê ê, bat macumba, oba, bat macumba, ê ê, bat macumba, oba...” Like that, over and over. It's been in my head for a good couple of weeks now.

What's your guiltiest musical pleasure?

– The one thing that I'm ashamed to admit that I love to listen to? I don't know if I'm ashamed. I'm proud to say that I think the Bee Gees were fucking amazing songwriters and singers.

What made you think of them?

– I started just listing bands, starting from A, and I didn't wanna say ABBA, so I got to B and came up with the Bee Gees! But let's add to that: Dusty Springfield's “You Don't Have To Say You Love Me”. And “Misty Blue” by Engelbert Humperdinck. “With These Hands” by Tom Jones. But this is stuff that I'm absolutely not ashamed of in any way. Actually I'm rather proud to share this information. Yet most people might not consider it cool.

Do you have a favorite joke?

– Oh boy. I'm trying to think of the words to the one in my head. Um... “How many e-mail responses do you have to make before people believe the tour isn't canceled? A thousand!” Twitter-gate! There were also rumors that I was quitting the band, and that's not true either. I'm still here. The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated! But what's my favorite joke? “I'm a tee-pee, I'm a wig-wam, I'm a tee-pee, I'm a wig-wam! Relax, you're two tents!” And I saw one with a picture of two snowmen standing next to each other, and one of them says to the other one, “do you smell carrots?” They're so stupid. And then, of course, there are the raunchy ones. “What's the best thing about fucking twenty(-)four-year-olds? There's twenty of them!” But that's too terrible.

Favorite tunes

Finally, I'm gonna mention a bunch of bands, and then you tell me your favorite song by them – is that cool?

– Sure. But it might take me a second to come up with my favorite.

Led Zeppelin?

– Dang, that's a fucking tough one. I'm such a huge Zeppelin fan, and I love every fucking song! The first one that comes to my mind is Friends.

The Beach Boys?

– God Only Knows. Do you know that song? (starts playing it on guitar and singing along) Now I can't stop playing! (reaches the minor 6th chord) That's what does it! That's the chord that goes right through me and makes the song my favorite! Like in What It Takes by Aerosmith!

So that's your favorite Aerosmith song?

– No, it's Nobody's Fault. That one and S.O.S. (Too Bad).

The Beatles?

– Holy fuck. Every fucking song they ever touched. But I'm gonna go with Strawberry Fields Forever.

Pink Floyd?

– Holy shit, another tough one. But I might go with Shine On You Crazy Diamond.


– Blondie! Nice! Parallel Lines is one of the first albums I got. Dreaming is a great song, but let me think. Not the disco-y stuff like Call Me or Heart Of Glass. 11:59 is a good song... Sunday Girl... But you know what, for now I'll go with Dreaming, 'cause that's first one that popped into my head.


– Verse Chorus Verse.

Black Sabbath?

– The first thing that popped into my head was Fairies Wear Boots. But there are so many great fucking songs.

The Rolling Stones?

– Gimme Shelter.


– To me, the Master Of Puppets album was the pinnacle of amazingness, and Disposable Heroes is one of my favorites. But there's a million old Metallica songs that I fucking love. Creeping Death. But it's a tough one. There are certain bands where every single song they'd play at a concert would make you go “yaaay!” But I'll go with one of those two I mentioned, or even Battery.

Bon Jovi?

– Bon Jovi?! Oh shit, let me think. Fuck. I might have to go with the big one, Living On A Prayer. I'm gonna get beat up after this! “He would rather be in Bon Jovi!!”


– Every fucking song they made, from the “fuck you” song all the way to now. I might go with The Day I Tried To Live.

The Jesus And Mary Chain?

– Oh shit, I don't know. What do you recommend?

The Darklands album.

– I don't know enough of their stuff. I gotta check them out.


– (starts playing Don't Look Back In Anger and Wonderwall) It might be Wonderwall. I know it's a cheesy pick, 'cause it's the popular one, but it's a fucking good song. And I'm a sucker for cellos!

Johnny Cash?

– A Boy Named Sue! That's a good one. And I loved his covers. Rusty Cage!

Sex Pistols?

– Who Killed Bambi?


– Oh, that's a tricky one, 'cause I was raised on that. 100,000 Years. But again, it's one where I could name fifty songs!

Guns N' Roses before you joined the band?

– I'll go with Don't Cry.

And then your favorite song from Chinese Democracy?

– I'm gonna go with Shackler's Revenge. Now I've got Kiss songs in my head. (starts playing and singing Let Me Know) And then at the end, they go into the whole jam! (plays on) And that was the coolest thing! What a great way to end it! Holy shit!


Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal: Eventyret fortsætter

Efter over fire år som medlem af Guns N' Roses fortæller Ron ”Bumblefoot” Thal her blandt andet om genudgivelsen af sit debutalbum ”The Adventures Of Bumblefoot” fra 1995, samt sine bidrag til og sit syn på den længe ventede ”Chinese Democracy”.

Af Mikkel Elbech
Foto: Jarmo Luukkonen

Næsten præcis tre år efter det første interview med Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, dukkede der en forespørgsel op i min indbakke – om, der var mulighed for og lyst til at lave et opfølgende interview med Guns N' Roses-guitaristen. Jo da. Så efter bandets veloverståede optræden på Rock 'N Rev-festival i Sturgis, South Dakota, og inden Ron tog med de øvrige bandmedlemmer på endnu en Europa-turné, tillod den moderne kommunikation en direkte forbindelse mellem København og Rons hjemstavn i New Jersey. 

Mageligt til rette i sin sofa med en lille sort og hvid kat ved siden af sig begyndte Ron ivrigt at fortælle om genudgivelsen af sit debutalbum, "The Adventures Of Bumblefoot" (oprindeligt udsendt i 1995, genudgivet den 19. august), som denne gang inkluderer en række bonusnumre, som Ron i sin tid lavede til Sega-spillet, "Wild Woody", ligesom der også udgives en 200 sider lang instruktionsbog. Derudover fortæller Ron også om sit syn på Rock Band-spillet, som han har leveret numre til, såvel som sine bidrag til "Chinese Democracy", der langt om længe udkom i november 2008. Endelig giver han et indblik i sine musikalske præferencer – såsom hvem, der ville være at finde i hans drømme-line-up, samt hans yndlingsnumre med en lang række klassiske bands.

Guns N' Roses kan som bekendt aldrig helt ryste sig fri af kontroversernes greb, og forud for den igangværende turné måtte bandet tage hånd om to Internet-baserede rygter: Dels ét, der hævdede, at Ron ikke længere var medlem af bandet, dels at turnéen var blevet aflyst. Sidstnævnte skyldtes, at Twitter-kontoen tilhørende Axl Rose var blevet hacket, hvilket førte til en annoncering – tilsyneladende direkte fra sangeren selv – der lød på, at samtlige 26 koncerter ikke ville finde sted. Begge dele var selvsagt usande, og turnéen kunne gå i gang som planlagt. Eller, næsten som planlagt – de to første koncerter på Reading- og Leeds-festivalerne blev indhyllet i problemer grundet uenigheder om, hvor sent bandet måtte spille, og den fjerde koncert i Dublin rummede en 25 minutter lang pause, fordi der blev kastet med ting på bandet.

Som tilskuer til koncerten i Aalborg, der afsluttede den sidste Europa-turné den 14. juni i år, indledte jeg naturligt samtalen med at give Ron et par oprigtigt rosende ord med på vejen. Som det viste sig, var Ron særdeles glad for netop dén koncert:

– Som jeg ser det, var det den bedste koncert, vi nogensinde har spillet! Der er nogen koncerter, hvor du bare ikke kan fornemme kontakten, og det føles som om, du ikke er tilstede, uanset hvad du gør. Det er den her manglende forbindelse mellem din hjerne, din krop og din sjæl! Men der var bare et eller andet over dén afsluttende koncert, vi spillede i Aalborg – det føltes som en perfekt fungerende maskine. Alt virkede solidt, og det føltes virkelig harmonisk. Det virkede som den perfekte koncert. Vi var så musikalsk forbundne, som vi nogensinde har været.

Er der nogen særlige øjeblikke fra koncerten, du kan huske?

– Jeg kan huske, at jeg på et tidspunkt endte nede på gulvet, og det tog mig lidt tid at komme op igen! Jeg kan huske, at jeg tænkte, "jeg er nødt til bare at sidde her lidt", og den øverste sikkerhedsansvarlige kom over og spurgte, om jeg var okay, og jeg gav ham bare to tommelfingre i vejret – "jeg får bare lige vejret!". Og når du har en 15 kilo tung double neck-guitar om halsen, så bliver man helt klart også lidt træt.

Det er en by et godt stykke fra København, der som hovedstad naturligt nok er den by, som de fleste bands vælger at spille i. Som tilhører er det ofte ret nemt at fornemme, at publikum i de mindre byer er anderledes end dem i de større. Kan du fornemme det fra scenen?

– Nogle gange er det vildere i en mindre by. Nogle gange er der mere gang i folk. Måske føles det som en større begivenhed, hvis det er en by, som de fleste bands ikke besøger. Det tror jeg gør en forskel.

Føltes det sådan i Aalborg?

– Publikum var i hvert fald fuldstændig fantastiske! De larmede igennem og overgav sig virkelig til musikken. Men det er svært at sige. Hvis jeg nu spillede i Aalborg og København lige efter hinanden kunne jeg sikkert give et bedre svar, men selv fra den erfaring, jeg har fra andre koncerter, kan jeg sige, at der helt klart er noget over at spille i mindre byer. Jeg har ikke noget imod større byer, og jeg vil ikke generalisere for meget, men det føles næsten mere personligt.

Bestigningen af det personlige Mount Everest

Hvorfor var det lige i år, at dit debutalbum skulle genudgives?

– Fordi pladeselskabet endelig besluttede sig for det! Shrapnel Records ejer alle rettighederne til det album og det, der kom efter, "Hermit", så jeg kan ikke bare selv udgive det. Det er helt op til dem, hvad de vil gøre ved det, og efter jeg skiftede selskab i 1997, har de aldrig genoptrykt det, så ingen har kunnet få fat i det – med mindre de fandt det i en eller anden obskur butik eller på eBay. Men så kontaktede de mig sidste år og sagde, at de gerne ville genudgive det, og det gjorde mig pisseglad! Man vil jo gerne have at éns musik er tilgængelig for folk, så vi gik i gang med at arbejde på nyt artwork og på at få Sega-numrene med.

Jeg læste, at det tog dig seks måneder at transkribere hele albummet til den 200 sider lange bog, der også bliver tilgængelig. Var det sværere, end du troede?

– Det var sværere end at lave albummet! Bare for at gøre det, så besluttede jeg mig i 1997 for at tage hvert eneste guitarspor og optage dem over på bånd. Så lyttede jeg til et par sekunder ad gangen, mens jeg prøvede at komme i tanke om, hvordan jeg havde spillet det hele, og skrev det så ned og proppede det ind i softwaren. I år gik jeg dem så igennem igen – stillede dem pænt op og ordnede layoutet – og fik dem sat ind i PDF-filer, lavede artwork og så videre, og det tog endnu seks måneder. Så det var lidt af en bedrift. Det var mit personlige Mount Everest, som jeg besteg!

Var du overrasket over nogen af kompositionerne, sådan i forhold til, hvordan du har udviklet dig som komponist?

– Nej, ikke rigtigt. Da jeg gik tilbage og kiggede på alle de numre, så virkede det hele faktisk nogenlunde fornuftigt i mit forskruede sind. "Okay, jeg puttede den 9'er dér, så nummeret kunne gå dérhen", og "jeg forstår omtrent hvorfor jeg udvidede den 11'er, så der ville opstå følelsen af noget forestående" – det hele gav mening!

Du donerer fem dollars for hvert solgt album til dissemineret sklerose-forskning. Hvorfor netop dén lidelse?

– Det blev en personlig sag for mig, da en af mine nærmeste venner blev diagnosticeret – også i 1997, så det var lidt af et år. På det tidspunkt var han guitarist i et band, men han prioriterede helt anderledes efterfølgende og startede så en nonprofit-organisation, der skulle skaffe penge, som ville gå direkte til de laboratorier, der udfører forskningen. Alle blandt hans venner og familie meldte sig som frivillige, og vi har så lavet koncerter og diverse arrangementer, som kunne skaffe penge til formålet. Og alle arbejder gratis og sørger dermed at hver eneste cent går til forskning. Hans website er msrf.org. Desuden, for hver en ting, jeg sætter min autograf på – om det så er et foto eller en cd, så længe det er signeret – giver jeg også fem dollars.

I hvilket omfang føler du dig forpligtet, som én, der har klaret sig ganske godt, til at give til velgørenhed?

– Jeg har altid syntes, at hvis du har noget at give, så skader det ikke at give det. Det kræver meget lidt at gøre noget godt i denne verden, så hvis du kan – så gør det. Det højnede min opmærksomhed omkring sygdommen, da min ven blev diagnosticeret, og det er en skam, at det kræver oplevelser som den – men vi lever jo vores liv blandt alle de her ting, og vi kan ikke bare udvælge dem tilfældigt.

Du begyndte at udgive sange via Rock Band-netværket i juni. Irriterer det dig ikke, at guitarspillet slet ikke minder om, hvordan det rigtigt føles at spille guitar?

– Nej! Jeg kan godt lide det! For det handler ikke bare om at spille guitar – det handler om at føle en tilknytning til musikken. Det handler om at lære sange at kende, som de her unge mennesker aldrig ville høre ellers. Måske ikke via en analog guitar, men så en digital én. Og det giver dem jo den tilknytning og en lyst til at spille det rigtige instrument – og til at lave den musik, der indgår i spillene, frem for bare at spille den, som andre har lavet. Og måske tager jeg fejl, men inden året er omme, tror jeg, at den næste udgave af Rock Band, hvor man kan spille med rigtige instrumenter, vil være på gaden. Og det vil fuldstændig ændre alting – så får vi nogle vilde guitarister at se!

Kan du spille dine egne sange på den sværeste sværhedsgrad?

– Årh, nej, mand, jeg er pissedårlig! Jeg kommer fem sekunder ind i sangen, og så er jeg færdig!

Ikke længere ham den nye

Du blev medlem af Guns N' Roses blot et par år før udgivelsen af "Chinese Democracy", men du endte med at spille på alle sangene. I hvilket omfang tilføjede du nye ting, og i hvilket omfang genindspillede du noget eksisterende?

– Jeg genindspillede ikke noget. Jeg har kun tilføjet mit eget. I studiet har de så besluttet sig for, hvad der skulle blive i nummeret, hvad der skulle skrottes, hvad der skulle blive højere og lavere – men alt jeg har indspillet har været mine egne ting, om det så har været rytmeguitar eller en solo.

Gjorde du eller andre en særlig indsats for at sikre, at du medvirkede på alle numrene?

– Vi brugte bare ret lang tid i studiet, hvor jeg blev ved med at spille og spille og spille – indtil vi løb tør for sange! Jeg har også indspillet spor på numre, der ikke er blevet udgivet. Altså, der er jo en ordentlig bunke materiale fra den periode, og jeg spillede på mere eller mindre det hele. Og så har de så besluttet sig for, hvad der skulle udgives, og jeg føler mig overbevist om, at der på et tidspunkt vil ske noget med noget af det. Men jeg håber på, at vi kan skrive noget nyt materiale med det eksisterende line-up og således komme med noget helt nyt.

Du har femårs-jubilæum som medlem af bandet næste gang. Hvordan er det anderledes at være medlem af bandet nu, i forhold til da du lige var kommet med?

– Ja, nu er jeg jo ikke ham den nye længere! I begyndelsen vidste de ikke hvad de skulle synes om mig, men jeg tror, de forstår mig nu. Det gode og det onde. Og det grusomme. Og det meget grusomme! Da jeg først kom med, er jeg sikker på, de tænkte, "hvem er den her fyr, som storken har efterladt på vores trappesten?". Tommy (Stinson, bassist, red.), der altid har været til punk, ved, at jeg voksede op med meget af den slags musik, og vi kommer godt overens på det plan. Richard (Fortus, guitarist, red.) og jeg jammer og snakker om gamle Yes-numre. Og den første sang, som både Richard og jeg lærte at spille, var "Rock N' Roll Hoochie Koo"! Vi e-mailer, snakker i telefon og sms'er alle sammen med hinanden, når vi er på hver vores side af kontinentet, og når vi er på den samme side, så hænger vi ud og jammer. Frank Ferrer (trommeslager, red.) kom forbi mit hus med sine trommer i sidste uge, og så jammede vi bare i et par timer, og ugen før tog vi over til Sebastian Bach og jammede.

Hvordan har han det?

– Rigtig godt! Han vil blive stærkt savnet på denne her turné. Han er fænomenal live. Han er så pissegod. Og alle, der har spillet med i hans band, har altid været fantastiske. Men vi har nogle gode bands med os denne gang, så det er fint nok... Men det ville have været rart også at have haft Sebastian.

Hvordan ændrede stemningen sig i bandet efter udgivelsen af "Chinese Democracy"?

– Jamen, det var jo ligesom at have vandret rundt i ørkenen i fyrre år og så endelig krydse grænsen! Det var kort derefter, at vi alle sammen mødtes tilbage i LA, hvor vi så begyndte at øve. På det punkt var Robin (Finck, tidligere guitarist, red.) jo ikke længere med i bandet, men vi er nok faktisk blevet tættere knyttet siden. Jeg har set ham hver gang, han har været forbi med Nine Inch Nails, og så har vi hængt lidt ud. DJ (Ashba, Fincks erstatning, red.) kom med, og vi brugte lang tid på virkelig at forberede os inden den næste turné. Vi arbejdede med perfekt at koordinere de forskellige guitarer, så vores lyd og gear ville komplementere hinanden. Vi sørgede for, at alle ville stå lydmæssigt frem uden at overdøve andre, så lydbilledet ikke ville blive for rodet. Og jeg må rose lydteknikerne, for de bærer en stor del af ansvaret. De skubber noget lidt frem og noget lidt tilbage og sørger for, at det hele lyder så godt, som det kan gøre.

Fra Moskva til Athen via Seoul

Hvad er din opfattelse af den måde, "Chinese Democracy" blev modtaget på?

– Det er, som det er med alle albums – nogen vil elske det, nogen vil hade det, og nogen er aldeles ligeglade. Produktionsmæssigt kan man anskue det på to måder. Enten er det "The White Album", eller også er det "Pet Sounds" – et stort, personligt statement. Det er blevet produceret så meget, og det var et fint, skrøbeligt balancearbejde at få alt til at fremstå helt rigtigt. Som jeg ser det, er det mere en orkestrering. Det var ikke den typiske rå rock-optagelse, og jeg tror, det tog folk lidt tid at opfatte det, fordi mange forventede "Appetite II". Men med "Use Your Illusion"-pladerne var tingene allerede på vej i denne retning, og hvis du så tager alle de års kreative vækst og pludselig udgiver det her album, så vil det jo chokere nogen. Men nu, hvor folk kender albummet bedre, så kan jeg se, at de synger med på alle de nye numre. Og det er fedt. Jeg kan godt lide, at enkeltnumre skiller sig ud for folk. Som "Catcher In The Rye" i mit tilfælde. Der sker så mange ting, og det er et smukt nummer med en masse nydelige melodier i. Og apropos Yes, så er et af mine yndlingsalbums med dem "Going For The One", og slutningen af "Catcher In The Rye" minder mig meget om titelnummeret på det album. Nummeret bliver ved og ved og kommer tilbage og bygger noget mere op, og der er improvisation på det, og guitarerne og vokalerne danser næsten rundt med hinanden. Og det er pissefedt!

Er Axl fan af Yes?

– Det ved jeg faktisk ikke. Jeg har aldrig spurgt ham. Jeg burde sende ham en sms: "Er du fan af Yes? Det er et ja-eller-nej-spørgsmål!"

Chris Cornell has snakket om, at han synes, at albums først skulle anmeldes ti år efter deres udgivelse, fordi det er dér, de vil blive set i deres rette kontekst. Synes du, han har en pointe?

– Ja, helt sikkert. Da "Chinese Democracy" udkom, havde det jo hele den her bagage med sig: "Det tog lang tid at lave, og rygterne siger, at det var dyrt at lave! Og de oprindelige medlemmer er ikke med længere!" Og det gør jo, at folk er forudindtagede, når de lytter og har alle de ting kørende inde i hovedet. Men hvis du giver det tid og ser tilbage på det, så er de ting jo ikke længere relevante, og så kan du anskue det for det, det er – et album, en samling sange – og så kan du vurdere det på ny. Så jeg tror, at jo længere tid, der går, jo mere vil folk værdsætte det album.

Er der noget, som en anmelder har skrevet, der virkelig har irriteret dig?

– Bare alt det sædvanlige. Alle vil gerne have, at deres holdning svarer til sandheden, så de udtrykker den gerne, som om den også er det. Og hvis det er, hvad de tror på, så er det jo sandheden for dem, men det betyder ikke, at det er sandheden for dig. Og så må man jo bare blive enige om, at man er uenige.

Du har en stor Europa-turné i vente. Hvilke af de 26 koncerter ser du især frem til?

– Dem alle sammen! Der er nogen, som jeg er særligt nysgerrige i forhold til, fordi jeg aldrig har været de givne steder. Serbien, Kroatien og Belfast. Og jeg elsker at være del af den første udgave af Guns N' Roses, der spiller et sted. Som for eksempel Seoul i Sydkorea. Og Moskva.

Hvor har du været i verden, som har fået dig til at tænke, "lad mig blive her"?

– Moskva. Jeg har været der en del gange efterhånden, og det føles mere og mere hjemligt og bliver sjovere og sjovere for hver gang, jeg vender tilbage. Og så er der Japan.

Hvad er det for nogle ting, der har gjort de ture dertil så behagelige?

– Øhm, nok ikke nogen, jeg bør nævne! Ofte er det bare mig og min kone, der besøger de steder, og det er vores fælles oplevelser, der er afgørende. Hun har besøgt mig så mange gange undervejs, når jeg har været på turné – London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Sydney, Milan og Athen. Jeg elskede Athen! Jeg havde det virkelig rart dér. Det var bare en enkelt dag sidste år, da jeg var på turné med Lita Ford, og min kone kom og besøgte mig, og så brugte vi dagen på at vandre rundt i byen, og vi spiste aftensmad på en smuk tagrestaurant med udsigt over Akropolis. Det var helt klart en af den slags øjeblikke.

En koncert med Mozart, Bonham og Dio

Du har mange fans, som har været begejstrede for at møde dig. Hvilke kunstnere har du selv mødt, som har gjort dig allermest begejstret?

– Fyrene fra Kiss. Jeg har mødt Paul Stanley og Ace Frehley et par gange, og det var virkelig fedt. Også dem fra Avenged Sevenfold og Dream Theater. Og Fozzy. De har alle sammen været en fornøjelse at hænge ud med. Men hvem har jeg mødt, hvor jeg virkelig var nødt til at styre mig? Hmm... Steven Tyler! Det var sidste år i Sturgis, og vi var begge to ved at se Toby Keith spille. Steven stod lige ved siden af mig, så jeg introducerede mig, og så snakkede vi lige ganske kort sammen. Han var en pisseflink fyr.

Hvis du kunne spille en enkelt koncert med hvem som helst – levende eller døde – hvem skulle det så være? Og du må ikke nævne Guns N' Roses-medlemmer.

– Så tror jeg, jeg ville få Amadeus til at spille tangenter. Han var sådan en skæg fyr, der altid spillede lidt smart. Det er i hvert fald sådan, han er blevet skildret. På trommer tror jeg, jeg vælger John Bonham. Udelukkende døde mennesker. På bas? Jaco Pastorius. Han var sindssyg – så pissegod. En af de personer, der inspirerede en hel generation af bassister. Og som sanger? Hmm, jeg tænker lige... For jeg vil jo også have John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix og Janis Joplin med. Det er ved at blive et kæmpestort band, det her! Men hvem ville være en god, død sanger? Nej, vent, jeg vælger en levende. Tony Harnell fra TNT.

Og så dig selv på leadguitar, går jeg ud fra?

– Nej, jeg har bare tænkt mig at sætte mig ned og betragte dem og sige, "jeg er ikke værdig!" Jeg vil slet ikke være med i bandet – jeg vil bare samle medlemmerne og så lytte til dem spille! Men nej, okay, så skal jeg nok være med – på guitar vel. Men jeg vil nok bruge mere tid på at lytte end at spille.

Hvor skulle I spille henne?

– I dødsriget velsagtens, siden de alle sammen er døde! Men, hey, vent! Fuck! Dio!! Tony er nok nødt til at blive eksluderet, for jeg er jo ved at råbe "bring out your dead!", og så vil han nok sige, "jeg er ikke død endnu! Jeg har det fint!" (som i "Monty Python And The Holy Grail", red.). Så Dio på vokal i stedet for. Og så skulle vi sgu spille hjemme i min stue hver eneste aften. Nej, okay, så spiller vi i The Garden. Madison Square Garden, New York City. Det er ligesom at være hjemme.

Hvilken sang kan du bare ikke få ud af hovedet for tiden?

– Okay, det her vil du nok grine af, og det vil være totalt uventet. Det er en sang, der hedder "Bat Macumba" af Os Mutantes fra deres selvbetitlede album, som udkom i 1968. Det er det her brasilianske, psykedeliske rockband, som er meget "Cream møder Beatles i deres psykedeliske periode", og jeg dén sang på hjernen. Nok fordi jeg hørte det album otte gange i træk. Den lyder sådan her: (spiller guitar og synger) "Bat macumba, ê ê, bat macumba, oba, bat macumba, ê ê, bat macumba, oba..." Sådan dér, igen og igen. Den har jeg haft på hjernen i godt og vel et par uger nu.

Hvad lytter du til, som du skammer dig allermest over?

– Jeg ved ikke, om jeg skammer mig over noget. Jeg er stolt over at sige, at jeg synes, at Bee Gees er pissefantastiske sangskrivere og sangere.

Hvorfor tænkte du lige på dem?

– Jeg begyndte bare at liste bands fra A, og jeg ville ikke sige ABBA, så jeg nåede til B, og så blev det til Bee Gees! Men lad os tilføje ting til den liste: Dusty Springfield, "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me". Og "Misty Blue" af Engelbert Humperdinck. "With These Hands" af Tom Jones. Men det her er sange, som jeg på ingen måde skammer mig over, at jeg godt kan lide. Faktisk er jeg ret stolt over at dele de her oplysninger. Men de færreste mennesker vil næppe synes, det er specielt sejt.

Hvad er din yndlingsvits?

– Åh manner. Jeg prøver på at formulere den, jeg har i hovedet. Hmm... "Hvor mange e-mails skal man besvare, før folk tror på, at turnéen ikke er aflyst? Tusind!" Twitter-gate! Og der gik jo også rygter om, at jeg var på vej ud af bandet, hvilket heller ikke er sandt. Jeg er her stadig. Rygterne vedrørende min død er stærkt overdrevne! Nå, men min yndlingsvits? "I'm a tee-pee, I'm a wig-wam, I'm a tee-pee, I'm a wig-wam! Relax, you're two tents!" (Uoversætteligt ordspil på "too tense", red.) Og jeg så et billede af to snemænd ved siden af hinanden, hvor den ene siger til den anden, "kan du også lugte gulerødder?" De er så åndssvage. Og så er der jo de beskidte. "What's the best thing about fucking twenty(-)four-year-olds? There's twenty of them!" Men den er for grusom.

Rons yndlingssange

Her til sidst vil jeg nævne en bunke bands, og så fortæller du mig din yndlingssang med dem – er det okay?

– Bestemt. Men det kan godt være, det tager mig lidt tid at komme i tanke om én.

Led Zeppelin?

– Jøsses, det var en svær én. Jeg er kæmpestor Zeppelin-fan, og jeg elsker hver eneste sang! Den første, jeg kommer I tanke om er "Friends".

The Beach Boys?

– "God Only Knows". Kender du den? (begynder at spille den på guitar og synge med) Nu kan jeg ikke stoppe igen! (når til den formindskede sekst) Det er dén, der gør det! Det er dén akkord, som går lige i hjertet på mig og gør sangen til min yndlings! Det er ligesom i "What It Takes" med Aerosmith!

Så det er din yndlingssang med Aerosmith?

– Nej, det er "Nobody's Fault". Den, og så "S.O.S. (Too Bad)".

The Beatles?

– Jamen, for fanden da. Hver eneste sang, de nogensinde har rørt ved. Men jeg vælger "Strawberry Fields Forever."

Pink Floyd?

– Endnu en svær én! Men jeg tror, jeg vælger "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".


– Blondie! Fedt! "Parallel Lines" var et af de første albums, jeg nogensinde ejede. "Dreaming" er en fantastisk sang, men lad mig tænke over det. Det er ikke det disko-agtige halløj som "Call Me" eller "Heart Of Glass". "11:59" er en god sang.... "Sunday Girl"... Men ved du hvad, lige nu vælger jeg bare "Dreaming", for det var den første, jeg kom i tanke om.


– "Verse Chorus Verse".

Black Sabbath?

– Det første nummer, jeg tænkte på, var "Fairies Wear Boots". Men der er så mange pissegode sange.

The Rolling Stones?

– "Gimme Shelter".


– For mig var "Master Of Puppets"-albummet topmålet af fabelagtighed, og "Disposable Heroes" er en af mine favoritter. Men der er en million gamle Metallica-sange, som jeg virkelig elsker. "Creeping Death". Men det er svært. Der er visse bands, som kan spille hvilken som helst sang til deres koncerter, og uanset hvad vil det få dig til at udbryde "jaaah!". Men jeg vælger en af de to, jeg nævnte, eller måske ligefrem "Battery".

Bon Jovi?

– Bon Jovi?! Åh, pis, lad mig tænke lidt. Fuck. Jeg er nok nødt til at vælge den oplagte, "Living On A Prayer". Men jeg får tæsk på grund af det her! "Han vil hellere være med i Bon Jovi!!"


– Hver eneste sang, de nogensinde har lavet, fra "fuck you"-sangen ("Big Dumb Sex", som Guns N' Roses indspillede og udgav på "The Spaghetti Incident?" i 1993 som outro til "Buick Makane", et T. Rex-covernummer, red.) og hele vejen frem til nu. Men jeg tror, jeg vælger "The Day I Tried To Live".

The Jesus And Mary Chain?

– Pis, det ved jeg ikke. Hvad kan du anbefale?


– Jeg kender dem ikke så godt. Jeg er nødt til at tjekke dem ud.


– (begynder at spille "Don't Look Back In Anger" og "Wonderwall") Det bliver nok "Wonderwall". Jeg ved godt, det er et lidt usselt valg, fordi det er det er så nemt at vælge den, men det er en pissegod sang. Og så elsker jeg celloer!

Johnny Cash?

– "A Boy Named Sue"! Den er god. Og jeg elskede hans covernumre. "Rusty Cage"! (Et Soundgarden-nummer, red.)

Sex Pistols?

– "Who Killed Bambi?".


– Den er lidt tricky, for deres musik voksede jeg jo op med. "100,000 Years". Men igen, jeg kunne nævne halvtreds sange!

Guns N' Roses før du kom med i bandet?

– Så vælger jeg "Don't Cry". 

Og så din yndlingssang fra "Chinese Democracy"?

– Jeg vælger "Shackler's Revenge". Men nu har jeg Kiss-sange kørende i hovedet. (begynder at spille og synge "Let Me Know") Og så til sidst, så går de over i hele det her jam-stykke! (spiller videre) Og det var så fedt! Hvilken fantastisk måde at runde af på! Shit, mand!

Originally posted at: http://gaffa.dk/artikel/42698