Interview With Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal Part III

You got a point there, but when you’re playing long songs as Metallica did on their last album you need a drummer who can accommodate that to keep things interesting. He isn’t exactly a Mike Portnoy (ex Dream Theater) or Sean Reinert (Cynic).

I disagree. He plays Metallica stuff great. We jammed a bit and he played some Guns stuff and he played that great too. So it comes down to taste and the choices made while writing and recording Death Magnetic. I don’t know man, I think he’s a great drummer. Look at the stuff he’s done all the way back to Kill Em All, Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets. The guy is a fuckin’ legendary drummer.

Let’s talk about your activities in Guns N’ Roses. How do you balance your own activities with being a guitarist in GNR?

It’s like having a testicular problem. You’ve got two balls and one of them of is humongous and you have to figure how to walk with that. It’s basically having one big ball and a bunch of other smaller balls, so walking becomes very difficult. It’s a challenge sometimes with how to budget time and be in multiple places at once without an army of clones. It’s not easy. When Guns needs me I’m there and when my time is free I run like the wind, haha. Right now I’m using Skype for giving guitar lessons, because I miss the hell out of teaching. I’m also getting back into producing other bands, I’m doing some guest spots here and there and I’m busy with releasing my own music. Next week I’ll by flying out to Israel to play with death metal band Salem and play on a bunch of their songs. That’s going to be fun.

By judging your various musical activities you’ve got a broad taste in music.

Yeah, like releasing a clean poppy version of “Yellow Brick Road”… I just love making music. The core of who I am is really in old school metal. If I had a pick to band to play in ’til I die it would be Manowar. When I started playing guitar I was very inspired by Kiss. When their Kiss Alive album came out I wanted to be on stage with all the bombs and the lights and whatnot. Listening to The Beatles as a kid really made me love music and love the production of music and everything you can do with a song.

You certainly succeeded in the bombs and lights department with GNR. I watched some clips of the band’s performance of Rock am Ring back in 2006..

Oh yeah we had the big ol’ stage and the big ol’ light show and all the pyro. When I saw Kiss in ’79 I still clearly remember the awe of it all. It was at Madison Square Garden and I was back by the second balcony and can still remember feeling the heat on my face from the flames on the stage. Now when I get on stage and we play “Live And Let Die” I run within two feet of the flames and let ‘em burn my face and it’s like “yeah I’m doing it!” I hope that Kiss feels some kind of gratification about how many people and bands they’ve inspired. They put the light in somebody and 20 years later they’re doing it and doing the same for somebody else.

With Guns N’ Roses you performed on the biggest festivals and venues often in front of thousands of people and it also gives you somewhat of a celebrity status. How do you cope with that and what’s keeping you grounded?

Probably because I don’t think I have celebrity status at all and most of the people don’t think I do either, haha, so that helps. Honestly, I’m not a kid anymore. I’m set in my ways and I know who I am so shit doesn’t go to my head. I’ve been beaten down enough by life to know what’s important and what isn’t. I have a pretty healthy perspective of what’s going on. I enjoy what I’m doing on stage and giving people a good time. After the show I walk off the stage I shake hands and say “another day at the office”, haha. Then I wipe my sweat off and go to the meet and greet room and hang out with everyone and sign some stuff, take some pictures, eat some spicy foot and burn a hole in my stomach, hang some more and go to bed at some point. It’s no big deal. I’m still doing the dishes, taking out the trash and cleaning the cat box. When I go to work it’s just a lot of people watching. It’s all about giving people a good time and that’s why I got into performing in the first place.

Time for the final question. What’s the biggest Spinal Tap moment with GNR?

Jeez, I’ve blocked them out of my brain, so I can continue functioning, haha. A true Spinal Tap moment was when we performed at Wembley in London (UK) back in July 2006. We’re doing the intro to “Rocket Queen” and we suddenly see the crew bringing out these low long platforms on either end of the stage and we’re looking at each other like “What the hell are they doing?”. We head into the main part of the song and the crew comes back out and takes them away.  We were a bit baffled by that. Then we noticed there were about two dozen ‘little people’ dressed up in red and blue outfits hangin’ out along the wall back stage. Turns out that management wanted us to play an extended intro to “Rocket Queen” and have all the li’l folks get on the mini-stages behind us and dance throughout. Just nobody told us. A little breakdown in communication, so yeah that’s a Spinal Tap moment, haha.

Alright Ron, thank you very much for this really entertaining story and ditto for the interview. It has been a blast.

No problem, it was my pleasure. Thank you very much!

Interview part I

Interview part II

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Welcome , today is Wednesday May 4, 2011