Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal Interview
Happy New Year to you all , what better way to start than Ron
Thal, guitarist of Guns N' Roses, is currently on the
road for a mini tour in France with his Bumblefoot group.
The opportunity for us to ask him some questions before the last
date in France, Sunday, Jan. 12 at Le Forum in Vauréal.
It's been so long since you've been in France, last time it was
for Abnormal, is this show announcing something?
It's been too long! The last Bumblefoot tour through France was
actually back in 2005 for the Normal album, it's good to be back.
It's something I never should have stopped doing, and hope I can
keep coming back, the way I used to.
If you're working or launching a new record, can you tell us more
It's been a long time since I did an album. I did singles in 2011
but haven't done an album since 2008. With all the touring it's been
hard to build momentum, but I'm starting to write. I don't have a
plan, a direction, I'm just writing, and will let it shape itself...
What are you doing when you're not working with GNR?
Writing, recording, releasing, touring, doing clinics, teaching,
making music for TV, film, video games, guest vocals & guitar solos
on albums, guest performances with bands, collaborating and
producing artists and bands, and often being my own manager, record
label, promoter, publisher, publicist, booking agent, legal &
accounting, everything. Charity is most importnt, and the biggest
motivation for me, making music doesnt have much meaning and purpose
to me without it going to a greater good. I do as much as I can to
make music to help others.
There was always something special between you and your French
public, certainly due to your relationship with the musical school
of Nancy (MAI) are you still teaching there?
The relationship with France goes back to when my "Hermit" album
was released on Roadrunner Records in France. They brought me out
for my first clinic tour in '97 and I made many long-lasting
friendships that I'm happy to still have today. Most of the touring
I did was throughout France, I played with French bandmates,
produced French artists and collaborated with many French bands. And
I play French guitars...! (Vigier) There are a lot of personal
Can you talk to us about your gear, guitars, amps, effects and
recording softwares, what makes this gear particular to you to use
I use Vigier Guitars (http://www.vigierguitars.com/) for 16 years
now... they're the best guitars my hands ever felt, and they're
crazy enough to make custom guitars for me – the 'Flying Foot'
guitar, the 'Swiss Cheese' guitar replica, the signature Bfoot
guitar & my favorite, the DoubleBfoot fretted/fretless double-neck.
I use Engl (http://www.englamps.de/) Invader 100W tube head, it has
the classic warmth in the mids I like, and at the same time it has
modern energy & drive. I use TC Electronic
(http://www.tcelectronic.com/) effects – great sounds, you can go
very deep into the parameters and controls, and they're always
progressing with the technology. Been using the same Steinberg
recording software for the last 10 years, I should probably upgrade, haha. But sometimes it's more productive to use what you know well.
The recording of Chinese Democracy was almost done when you
joined GNR, can you talk about your contribution on the album, was
I'd spend 14 hours each day hearing songs for the first time, and
would experiment with different ideas and directions – fretless,
fretted, wah, clean, heavy, bluesy, melody, rhythmic, technical. I
wrote my own parts, never copied or re-played anyone else's, we'd
mute other tracks and I'd create my own parts. 100 tracks for a
song, with two people yelling opposite directions in my ear at the
same time. In the end Caram (producer) and Axl would decide want
they feel was best for the songs.
Are you using the same type of gear with GNR than with Bumblefoot?
Almost the same. With GNR, I use a Dunlop rack wah (http://www.jimdunlop.com/product/dcr2sr-cry-baby-rack-module)
going to the amp head, and my amp speakers are in an isolation
cabinet made by Hermit cabs (http://hermitcab.com/) with two AT4050 mic's going to the Front-Of-House PA. With Bumblefoot I have
multi-FX in the front and that's it.
Have you some material (songs) for an eventual GNR album?
Haven't written anything together with the GNR guys, would rather
write together than bring my own songs in, I want to write 'with'
GNR, not 'for' GNR, I want things to be as authentic as possible.
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal