An Interview with Ron Thal, a.k.a. Bumblefoot
Band Photo: Bumblefoot (?)
Ron Thal, also known as Bumblefoot, is an artist in the true sense of the word. It is not about fame or ego for Ron, it's about the music. He brings a unique and refreshing twist to every thing he does. His wild sense of humor, telling it like it is attitude, and his generous heart make him one of the more endearing artists of our time and the Rock Against Diabetes team is thrilled to have Ron on board.
Ellie Timms: How did you hear about Rock Against Diabetes (R.A.D.) and why do you wish to be a part of this cause?
Ron Thal: It was earlier in the year, Darrin and I started speaking about it. I saw that the organization had integrity; I wanted to do what I could to help. Wish I could do more...
Ellie: What you're already doing is wonderful, Thank you!
Ellie: Your moniker is "Bumblefoot." From interviews we have learned you discovered this name, which is an animal ailment, from your wife's veterinary studies. Why do you feel such an affinity for the name?
Ron Thal: Man, I don't know if I have the same affinity as I did ten years ago. It was my band name, it still is, but as my nickname, I don't know if it really fits anymore. I need a new fuckin' name. Maybe "Ron." Or "Bumblefuck." I don't know man.
Ellie: In 1998 Vigier Guitars presented you with "The Bumblefoot Guitar," a custom guitar that is shaped like a foot, painted like a bumblebee, and has decorative wings that extend from the body when activated by the tremolo bar. Did you have any knowledge or input in it's making prior to the presentation?
Ron Thal: Yeah, we (Patrice Vigier and I) sat down over dinner thinkin' about what we could come up with. We took the character from my first album, the flying foot thing, and Vigier came up with a way to make the wing move. Wasn't expecting the wings to happen, that part was a nice surprise, haha.
Ellie: Yes, it is a real crowd pleaser, haha!
Ellie: The first guitar you bought was an Ibanez Roadstar. You drilled holes in the body and painted it yellow, was it a prototype for the "Swiss Cheese Guitar," and if so what is the next design? Is there anything in the works?
Ron Thal: I had a few guitars before then, and was getting into modifying guitars a lot at the time. I stopped buildin' my own guitars - Vigier does it way better. But back then I built and re-built all my own shit. Check out the "gear" link on my site, there's a bunch of info on there about all the guitars and the abuse they went through.
Ellie: Speaking of cheese, do you have any strange dietary likes and dislikes?
Ron Thal: haha, nothin' strange... well, strangest thing is an obsessive love for spicy food and hot sauces, that's about it.
Ellie: June 2008 marks the release of your 8th solo CD, titled "Abnormal." Do you see it as a companion piece to your 2005 release, "Normal," or is it a separate entity to express where you are at this moment in time?
Ron Thal: In a way it's a sequel, or maybe a counterpart. Or maybe it's like Evil Spock with the goatee in the parallel Universe. "Abnormal" definitely references "Normal" in ways. "Normal" was life on the meds. "Abnormal" is life off them. Seems like all the albums have different personalities to each other and within themselves. Or is it strong sides to one personality. It's a bit polar. And that's fine. I have no interest in doing anything to "fit" what an album or song traditionally is. I have to do what's honest to me, whether good or bad.
Ellie: On May 12, 2006 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC you made your debut with Guns N' Roses. How has your life changed and is there anything that presents an unexpected challenge like lack of sleep or fear of large crowds?
Ron Thal: All good, nothin' I can't handle.
Ellie: That is great to hear!
Ellie: You have always been an artist who thinks outside the box. You are open to all aspects of the business of music. Was that advice you were given early on or was it a gradual learning process and why it is so important to you?
Ron Thal: I always preferred to make my own mistakes and learn from them. Best thing to do is to experience life in its fullest, make your mistakes, learn from them, figure out what works for you.
Ellie: I agree, it is an excellent perspective!
Ellie: You're among a select few artists who play fretless guitars. What was it that drew you to that type of guitar? What is it you like about playing a fretless?
Ron Thal: It's shiny. The neck is shiny.
Ellie: There has been a great deal of diversity in the musical styles you have played. What style is closer to your heart that you enjoy playing the most?
Ron Thal: I grew up listening mostly to rock, but I love everything. Shit, it's all just a bunch of sound waves, we just play dress-up with them and call it rock, rap, jazz, whatever... I like playin' jazz and classical, but it's hard to initiate a jam to Vivaldi. Haha, doesn't always work out. So yeah, mostly rock.
Ellie: The way you play requires tremendous dexterity. How do you get your hands / fingers ready to shred for many months out on the road?
Ron Thal: I stay off the computer. Typing makes my hands go numb, it's bad...
Ellie: What countries have given you the warmest response? Is there a favorite place you like to perform?
Ron Thal: Everywhere's been great, but I really found something special in Japan, had some unique experiences there. Europe and Australia/NZ, US and Canada - everyone's been cool. No complaints.
Ellie: You have recorded and performed with a wide variety of artists. Is there anyone that you haven't worked with that you would like to?
Ron Thal: Anyone who's not a dick. Anyone that believes in working together without the ego and competitive insecurity that drives people apart. Doesn't matter what kind of music it is, if the people are good-hearted, that's what matters most to me.
Ellie: What are you doing outside of guitar playing? Are you still teaching or some other creative endeavor?
Ron Thal: A lot of studio stuff, recording, mixing, mastering, producing, writing, teaching whenever I can which isn't often enough. I used to do some photography, but over the last few years I've gotten into home improvement stuff, love it.
Ellie: When all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
Ron Thal: Have written and erased 20 different things, from "as an isosceles triangle" to "as a musician, not a fucking rockstar", to "I DON'T" to "I'll let ya know when the time comes...", to "it aint up to me" to "as something purple", to "as long as the music is remembered, I don't need to be". Pick whichever you like. Or "as some guy you interviewed." Thank you for the interview - have a good one.
Ellie: Thank you so much Ron it has been a pleasure and I look forward to meeting you in Las Vegas!
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