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Artist Profile: A Q&A with Guns N’ Roses’ Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

May 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Interviews

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On a recent assignment, I had the opportunity to meet Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, a guitarist, songwriter, recording artist and producer – and since 2006, lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses.

Ron is not just a prolific artist – he’s also a terrific guy, intensely committed to philanthropy and non-profits, supporting a broad range of causes including multiple sclerosis, autism, burn victims, diabetes, cancer, blindness, and victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, drought, and hurricanes.

And when not writing/performing with GNR, Bumblefoot has a rich solo career; he collaborates with other artists; has a multitude of song-writing projects for TV, movies, video games; produces music; conducts music workshops and clinics worldwide; has done television acting; and is an entrepreneur with a line of hot sauces and guitar cases.

Check out what he had to say in our Q&A.
Interviewed by: Ilya Mirman

 
You have quite an eclectic body of work – are there some common threads that connect your various projects, compositions?
One common thing I see when looking at it all is a tendency to take a light-hearted look at life’s difficulties. Like pointing out a funny face in a storm cloud. I guess its my own way of taking power away from the dark side by twisting it into something that lifts the spirit. On the surface someone may see ‘funny lyrics’ but it’s often touching on deeper subjects that we all deal with in some way. Instrumentally on the guitar, I might do the same, adding moments of technique or intellectuality to a simple form. I like the contrast, but it’s really the completion, a balance of duality.

 
Aside from touring with GNR, what music projects do you have going on in parallel now?
I’m working on my next Bumblefoot album. It’s been long-overdue, but creativity happens when it’s meant to. That can be an easy way out, so keep in mind that sometimes you have to force yourself into the zone, and when you do this it’s also because you were meant to at that moment. I’ve always found it difficult to write while touring, I don’t get the down-time needed to re-charge the creative batteries and build momentum. On the most recent South American tour with GNR I forced myself to find a way, I’d be wandering the stairways of hotels for hours staring into space and writing words. Digging deep into yourself and allowing the needed emotional free-flow for songwriting, while being on the road where everybody wants your time and attention…   the two conflict each other, volatility and patience, it was torment. But that’s where the good stuff comes from, you need to feel, and that’s not a smooth road.
I have an upcoming US solo tour in June/July. It’s part of the “Guitars Gods” tour, featuring Yngwie Malmsteen, Gary Hoey, Uli Jon Roth and Bumblefoot. I’ve been touring around the rest of the world for 17 years but this will be my first full US tour. I have info on tour dates as well as special VIP meet-n-greet packages at www.bumblefoot.com

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You do a lot of various workshops and clinics around the world – how did that start, and what about this is particularly rewarding for you?
It’s become my favorite kind of performing. What I like about performing is connection and interaction. There’s something a little awkward to me about the separation between the audience and stage, it sometimes feels like I’m a movie being watched, and that can lead to a disconnected robotic performance. At Bumblefoot shows I like to have people sing along, strum my guitar, I’ll come play in the audience, that’s what I like, being face-to-face and making a show together. And with workshops, it’s the most spontaneous and interactive of all performing. Audience Q&A leads the events in different directions, we all get to meet, we’re taking photos, signing merch, chatting, it’s very personal and sometimes go for over 6 hours, I have to be forced to stop, haha, prying the guitar from my hands… these events are not just for guitar players, it’s a personal performance with backing tracks, sometimes including a jam with a live band and audience members get to jam with us, sharing experiences and the things I’ve learned along the way. Teaching is the most gratifying, to inspire others, to give what you’ve received.

You’re a self-professed huge KISS fan. Can you tell us about KISS as an influence, and the all-star tribute band you helped form recently?
It all began with a KISS tribute album A World With Heroes launched by journalist Mitch Lafon, with proceeds going to a cancer hospice. I sang and played guitars on a cover of the song “Detroit Rock City”, with Rex Brown on bass and Brian Tichy on drums. Rex Brown sang and played bass on a cover of the song “Larger Than Life” with Mark Zavon on guitar and Brian Tichy on drums. After the album was released promoters began to ask, “So when are these guys gonna play live?” We started getting offers and we formed a band called “A.L.I.V.E.” where we’d play KISS songs from the albums Alive! and Alive II. We did a few shows in LA and Vegas in July 2013, just for the fun of it, as fans. I don’t know if we’ll do more shows, tricky to get all our schedules sync’d up. For me, being a KISS fan started at age 5, when I first heard the Alive! album. My first concert was KISS at Madison Square Garden NYC in 1979. They inspired me, along with many others, to do what I do. I only hope I can do the same for others.

Regarding your philanthropic endeavors: how do you decide which causes to back, and what motivates you?
Making music solely to entertain people has never been enough for me. Music can motivate people to do good things for one another, and it seems wrong to not act on this potential. I do what I can, when I can. It’s important to pick the right organizations and situations. I’ve seen too much failure in small charities where a lot of people’s time, effort and money are wasted on events that are unable to deliver proceeds where they’re intended and needed. I’m becoming more selective, I have to, the time just isn’t there and I have to make choices.

 
You’ve recently become a cultural envoy for the United Nations. What does that actually mean, and how did you get involved?
There’s a wonderful organization, theHDI.org with U.N. humanitarian and diplomacy programs, we work with U.S. Embassies around the world to make events that bring people together through music. I simply go, be myself and do what I do. I’ve had the pleasure of making music with fantastic local musicians playing rock, traditional cultural music, and have made good friends. I’ve been to Albania, Malaysia, Indonesia and Belarus over the past year, integrated as part of my own tours, with more plans for the near future. It’s been a blessing to have these experiences.

 
You have several entrepreneurial projects in the works – can you tell us about them? How did they come about, where are you seeing success? Are there things in the works?
I have a line of hot sauces with Cajohns Fiery Foods ranging from mild Bumblicious to extremely hot BumbleF**KED. I love to eat. Haha, who doesn’t? I love spicy food, often to the extreme, and when you’re passionate about something, you want to share the passion.   I had lots of ideas, flavor profiles and simple recipes for hot sauces, the good folks at CaJohns turned it into reality. We have more products we’ll be rolling out. I have some unusual ideas sometimes, haha.

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I also teamed up with Eastsport, makers of gear bags and backpacks, to launch a line of signature guitar cases.  We started with twelve custom cases in the collection, with my personal favorite the Deluxe Electric Roller Case.  I thought about all the years of lugging guitars around airport terminals, carrying gear to gigs, and anything that could have made it more practical, and put it all into a guitar case. Extra padding, deeper pockets, wheels, an attachable/detachable gear bag with dividers and cable ties, and a clear window to put your flyer in to advertise your band, gig, teaching. And now we just launched the BumbleBabe line of acoustic guitar cases . We’ll continue to expand on both lines of cases with different designs and materials.

The next goal I have is to create a worldwide music festival that will bring attention to indie artists all over the world in a unique way. There’s so much talent out there that deserves to be recognized and nurtured, I want to help make that happen.

 
Any television work on the horizon?
I was born with a natural cartoon voice, haha. I’ve looked into doing voice-overs and would like to pursue that. I’ve done some acting in indie films, been a guest on TV shows over the years, but mostly have provided music for TV and film. To quote one of my songs, (“Rockstar For A Day” from the “Normal” album) “I’ve got a face that’s made for radio, and a voice that’s made for I don’t know…”, haha.

For more info on Bumblefoot, check out:
www.bumblefoot.com
www.twitter.com/bumblefoot
www.facebook.com/bumblefoot
www.instagram.com/bumblefoot
www.youtube.com/bumblefoot
www.reverbnation.com/bumblefoot

Getting To Know: Varga

Varga group shot hi resDan Fila of Varga
Interviewed by: Roger Scales

Dan could we get a quick lesson on the history of Varga for metal fans that may be not quite familiar with the band?   

It was founded in 1989 by bassist/vocalist Joe Varga and myself (drummer Dan Fila).  We had been friends since elementary school.  Joe and I started our first band together in grade 7 and we called it “The Golden Phoenix”.  Our first gig we stole shopping carts and brought all of our equipment to school in shopping carts. Adam (Alex-guitars) joined the band by grade 9.  Sean (Williamson-guitars) joined a few years later.  Read more

Michael Wilton of Queensryche

December 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews, Rock

QR-Picture-50It’s been a year of change for Queensryche. From the exit of vocalist Geoff Tate and the addition of Todd LaTorre to their latest self-titled release reaching No. 23 on the Billboard 200, Queensryche has reinvented themselves.

We recently caught up with guitarist Michael Wilton to talk about the whirlwind of a year it has been and what the future holds for the rockers.

Interviewed by: Roger Scales

Your S/T record was released in June and the response from the fans in the US especially has been overwhelming.  You charted #23 on Billboard and most critics have been extremely favorable in reviewing the record.  I believe the public has more than accepted vocalist Todd LaTorre into the band and the crowds are feeding off this positive energy that was enveloped and surround Queensryche at this time.  Do you agree?

Yes. It’s evident with the release of our album the reviews have been totally positive.  It’s encouraging to read what the magazines and online sites are saying but what’s great is what we have heard from the fans.  That’s the ultimate approval that we look for.  We also appreciate what our peers are saying as well.  Other bands seem to have really accepted our direction with the addition of Todd as well.  Read more

Bobbie Brown Talks ‘Dirty Rocker Boys’

November 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Music News, Interviews

81zW7nwfc0LAs the “Cherry Pie” girl, women wanted to be Bobbie Brown and men wanted to be with Bobbie Brown.

In her new book Dirty Rocker Boys  – the original video vixen lays it all out on the line. Brown speaks candidly about her colorful life and career, reflecting on everything from her marriage to Warrant frontman Jani Lane and his tragic passing to her tumultuous relationship with Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee. Brown has led a remarkable life and she shares both the highs and lows throughout her new memoir.

TWRY recently caught up with Brown to talk about the new book, her extraordinary  life and what she’s currently up to.

Interviewed by: Roger Scales

After reading your book Dirty Rocker Boys, it seems that it is as much an autobiographical sketch of your life story as it is a story of the LA Rock scene of the late 1980’s and early to mid 1990’s do you agree?

I do.  I totally do. Read more

Catching Up With Brian Korban of Heretic

Brian KorbanLet’s talk about the brand new Heretic box set from Metal Blade Records From the Vault…Tortured and Broken.  It must be very satisfying to finally have your original EP Torture Knows No Boundary (1986) and first full length album Breaking Point (1988) released remastered with bonus tracks for a new generation of fans that may have dismissed these back in the day or maybe were not even born yet upon their initial release?   

Yeah, you know it was one of the first things when we reformed that we thought of doing.  The EP and that first album were really hard to find.  You had to go to Ebay to try and find them and pay like $50.00 or more for each of them. They were totally out of print and our initial thought was to maybe just put them out ourselves.  After the release of A Time of Crisis (2012) Metal Blade contacted us about releasing them both and that started the ball rolling from there.  It’s great to finally get these out there in this box set for the newer fans and also for the fans that maybe had it on LP to now be able to have them remastered with bonus tracks.              Read more

Tom Keifer

October 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews

Tom Keifer of Cinderella performs on July 14, 2010 at the Hampton Beach Club Casino in Hampton Beach, NH.Tom Keifer
Interviewed by: Roger Scales

It’s been almost 6 months since the release of your first solo album The Way Life Goes and the reviews have been very positive both of the record itself and the shows in support of it.  Was it a scary concept to go out and be just Tom Keifer having been a part of a band setting with Cinderella for all of your career up to this point?   

Yes, there is a safe feeling being part of a band for that long.  The thought of stepping outside of it and starting something new with each step that I took was a little nerve racking and something to get used to.  It’s felt pretty natural so far.  We worked so long on this record and have been real pleased with how it came out.  It feels really good also to be out touring in support of it.  It’s cool.  But it did take a minute to get used to the idea.     Read more

Jeff Waters of Annihilator

October 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Interviews

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Jeff Waters of Annihilator
Interviewed by: Roger Scales

Annihilator are back with their new disc Feast and we caught up with Jeff Waters to talk about it:

It looks like Feast is yet another collection of assaults on the senses. Is the creative process any different now than it was 30 years ago?

Hmmm.  Good question I’d say no.  The results can be a lot different.  The actual process is pretty much the same.  I just sit down with what used to be a drummer years ago years and years ago or writing by myself writing guitar riffs and putting together an arrangement and then showing the drummer what to play and then the bass player what to play it’s evolved pretty quickly into me playing everything in my own studio.  I might also program a drum machine to jam along to while I’m putting together the guitar riff.   I just put the music together by myself now.  Slowly built it and record it from there.  Usually I write the lyrics myself and sometimes pawn some of the songs off to Dave (Padden, rhythm guitar and lead vocals).  It’s more or less the same idea as in the past.  When I’m writing the guitar riff I kind of have an idea of how I want the bass and drums to sound so it is in a sense a solo project really but in the last ten years it has been more of a Jeff and Dave band.  We decided this time to stop switching drummers and bass players (Mike Hershaw and Alberto Campuzano) out on the road and find a pair we like and keep them around.           Read more

Spotlight Interview: Lucas D’Agata of Serosia

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Serosia is:

Lucas D’Agata – Vocals
Anthony D’Agata – Drums
Derek Troxell – Guitar
Joseph Kuban – Bass Read more

Catching Up With…Laura Wilde

laurawildedean2Laura, you are currently out on the road with Ted Nugent playing around 40 dates or so.  How has the tour been going so far?
It has been fantastic!  We have really been enjoying the shows and being able to watch Ted every night and seeing how he performs is such a great experience.  To see the USA in all its beauty in different cities every single day, we are just so fortunate to have this opportunity.   Read more

Catching up with Paul Shortino of King Kobra

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Catching Up With Paul Shortino of King Kobra
Interviewed by: Roger Scales

Following the self-titled King Kobra album from 2011 does King Kobra II pick up right you left off as a band?
Yes.  I’m certain that’s why Carmine wanted to call the record King Kobra II.  I thought initially we might have called the record Have a Good Time because the attitude in that song pretty much describes life here in Las Vegas and how we all felt making this record.  The majority of the record was done right here in the Vegas area.  We did the video for that track at a place called Vamp’d which is one of, if not the only rock club in Las Vegas. Danny “The Count” Koker who has a show on the History Channel called Counting Cars owns the club and he let us shoot there.  That’s where we go even when we are not playing just to hang out.  They have some great acts come though and play there recently like Y & T, Michael Schenker Group and I think Saxon is coming sometime in August.  Read more

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