Metality.net recently conducted an interview with GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metality.net: Being the guitarist for a band like GUNS N’ ROSES is a great achievement and must have been a great experience. How did it all happen?
Thal: It was over eight years ago when GN’R reached out. At the time, I was releasing my own albums, touring, producing great bands, guest guitarist with cool artists, licensing music to TV shows and videogames, teaching music production at a university. My life was complete and gratifying and the thought of putting all this aside to join another band… I told them no. A year and a half later, they reached out again and we worked it out. I had to cancel an upcoming Bumblefoot tour from Russia to Iceland, stop teaching, put producing on hold as well as my own albums, and took a chance that I’d be able to juggle everything. We jammed seven times, I learned all the unreleased “Chinese Democracy” songs by listening on a laptop for a half hour with pen and paper in hand, and hit the road.
Metality.net: Do you have a special warmup routine before playing guitar or performing live?
Thal: Usually I just walk around the room with the guitar in hand, playing anything, just keeping the fingers warm. I might go over the songs I’m about to play, for my own confidence to make sure I know what I’m doing. But no specific warm-up routine, just noodling around…
Metality.net: What’s life on tour like? From what I read in your bio, it seems like you’ve had wonderful experiences but also experienced some hardships. I assume the experiences differ between your different projects, but tell us what the highs and lows have been like.
Thal: First, the lows… being sick or injured and trying to get through a show when you’re not physically able to. That’s the worst, not just physically but mentally — it’s a vulnerable helpless feeling. And when your family at home needs you and you can’t be there for them. The highs are about making people happy; that’s the primary reason that anyone entertains. When an audience surprises you and rolls out a huge banner over their heads spanning 100 people, it’s an incredible sight. When people reach out and let you know your music has gotten them through difficult times, when you can make music to help those in need, that’s what matters most. Those are the highs.
Metality.net: After reading your bio, it seems as though you went through various hardships in your life, and tried many alternative solutions, though they didn’t seem to work. Would you say that music was ultimately the source of hope and happiness for you this entire time?
Thal: Music was always this, yes. The difficulties are when the ‘business’ is killing your spirit and turning music into the source of your stress. That’s the hard part — when music is being stripped of its healing power, that becomes dangerous territory.
Metality.net: What projects are you currently working on, and can we expect any releases in the near future?
Thal: Last year, I released nine Bumblefoot singles, each with transcriptions, alternate mixes and recording stems. I produced and released debut albums from female rock artists Alexa Vetere and Poc and laid guitars and final mixing/mastering for rapper Scarface‘s soon-to-be-released “Work Ethic” album. Been touring since, and in breaks I’ve laid guest guitar solos for different albums, have done fundraising shows, and will soon be hitting the road again. I would have liked to have been writing with GN’R by now, but life has a way of getting in the way of plans. I’m hoping to start writing with them when we get together.
Read the entire interview from Metality.net.