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We caught up with Ron (Bumblefoot) Thal just before Gun N' Roses headlined the Rock 'N Rev festival in South Dakota, prior to the kickoff of the next leg of their European tour. We spoke with Ron about his solo career; what it's like to be a member of, and tour with, Guns N' Roses; and the re-release of his debut album The Adventures of Bumblefoot.
Ron's debut album is available through his website's store and includes 5 additional bonus tracks that the original album didn't have. Purchases of the re-release through his website also come autographed with proceeds going to MS research.
TH: Let's talk about your debut album set to be re-released this month. Is it only going to be available to fans online or will they be able to pick it up at their favorite retail outlet?
RT: It will probably be available in stores through Shrapnel Records, that's the label that's putting it out, but the ones through my site are autographed with $5 going towards MS research.
TH: Are there a limited amount that are going to be autographed or will all that are purchased going to be autographed?
RT: I have the first batch that I got from them that I signed, and if those run out I'll just keep it going. I think I'll just keep it where all that are purchased are signed.
TH: And you're making a 200 page transcription book available with the album, is that going to be in the retail stores too or just online?
RT: That's just going to be online. So, with that, you can get the book, CD, or both, and that will only be on my site, or if I do a public appearance somewhere.
TH: That must have been a pretty daunting task to put together. How long did you have to work on it?
RT: Oh man, that was six months of work. I would just solo track one of a song and play it and record it onto a cassette, and then track two and play it on a cassette, and do that for every song and get every guitar part onto a cassette. Then I would listen to a few seconds at a time with a guitar in hand and relearn how I played, and what I played, and then I would go to the computer and use notation software or just write it down. Altogether, to do it for the whole album, it took about six months.
TH: At one point during the process, did you think "why am I doing this"?
RT: Oh yeah, yeah, like, why the hell am I doing this? It's one of those things where you just say, you know what, just do it. There's a reason and the reason will show itself some day, but it's not a waste of time. And it's just some bizarre labor of love that I just felt like I needed to do. It was just one of those things that was a challenge and I just needed to do it.
TH: Now, your debut album was released in '95, how would you say your musical style has changed since then?
RT: Good question. Well, the album is all guitar instrumental stuff and it's very Zappa-ish. Since then, I would say that a lot of my music, and since playing with Guns, has become a little straighter, a little more of the roots of what I used to listen to as a kid, which is classic rock stuff and punk. Also, anytime I do instrumental songs, they still go right back to that sound. Even instrumental stuff on my later albums sound like they could have been some kind of an extension off of this record, just better technology, better recording gear.
TH: A little bit more evolving then.
RT: A little bit, a little bit, but it definitely sounds like it's coming from the same place.
TH: Your last solo album was released in 2008, do you have any plans to work on a new album in the near-future?
RT: I would like to, I actually had some music I did last year that I'm just looking for a singer for. I'm looking for the right singer to get on. There are a few people that I need to get in touch with, but I'm hoping that during the next batch of touring that I can actually get music written. Because it's been too damn long. I can never write on the road, I don't know, I get a little burned out. I lose inspiration, but I'm going to really try to make it happen in the next few months.
TH: Speaking of being on the road, you're going to be at the Rock 'N Rev festival with Guns N' Roses this weekend, are there any particular bands you're looking forward to seeing there?
RT: I always love seeing Alice in Chains. Definitely looking forward to that, hell yeah.
TH: That's the only U.S. concert for 2010 scheduled for right now, are there any plans to play the U.S. later?
RT: I hope so, but right now that looks like all we've got. I guess we'll see what happens after that. Right now it's just looking like we're playing in Europe, then we have a one-off in Australia, and we'll see what happens. Hopefully in 2011.
TH: As you mentioned, you're in the middle of a pretty long tour right now with Guns N' Roses, what's been your favorite stop along the way so far and where are you most looking forward to playing?
RT: Well, I always love Japan. That's always a great time, I just love it. Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, were probably the best times I've had on tour. South America is just as intense as fuck, the fans are fucking nuts down there, and it's great. Each place has its charming thing about it. I'm definitely looking forward to hitting Croatia and Serbia, I've never been there before, and returning to some of the places in the UK and Spain and France. Hopefully we can add a few more shows.
TH: You've mentioned before that you really enjoyed playing in Russia, what is it about playing there that you really enjoy?
RT: Definitely the people. I used to tour there myself with my solo band, before Guns, in 2004 and 2005. So by going out there and seeing old friends, it was a real good time. Maybe it's the fact that I've got a little bit of Russian blood in me. Maybe it's that too, there's just a little bit of bonding going on. I've got a little bit of Polish and Lithuanian blood from the grandparents, so maybe it feels slightly like home.
TH: And the Russian vodka probably doesn't hurt.
RT: You know, I don't drink on the road, but when you're in Russia you've gotta have the vodka. You have to, and damn that's some good shit. It just warms you the fuck up.
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