Ron Thal – The Interview

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(Photographs used with permission)

Definitely ‘Adventures of Bumblefoot’ when Thal is rocking around the globe

Introducing RJT from NYC in the seventies; the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island being the early homes of one Ronald Jay Thal, aka Bumblefoot.

The man, the legend, who will soon be playing to a throng of north east music fans this coming Tuesday night in a one off O2 Academy special. However, it is Thal the legend that was embattled with the love of music in the eighties, and beyond.

Growing up Thal’s musical tastes can be attributed to the greats of the era, he said: “It was great to grow up in the boroughs of New York City, especially being exposed to so much great music at a young age.

“It was the late ’70s, and all the greatest music was coming out.  Imagine being five years old and being surrounded by new albums your neighbours just got from Kiss, Ramones, Paul McCartney, Yes, Pink Floyd, the Who, Queen, AC/DC.” It was to be the heavy side of music that would hit Thal, “Kiss and the Beatles that were my first inspirations.

“The Beatles for the musicality, Kiss for the energy.  Over the years, that expanded into progressive, and old-school metal, and started getting into guitar players like Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen.”

It would be in the late seventies that Gene Simmons and Kiss would embark on their Rock & Roll Tour, playing Maddison Square Gardens for the first time (February 1977), no doubt sparking a lifelong love affair with life on the road.

Early gigs for a young Thal would start as early as 1983 but the start of the name Bumblefoot is a hard one to pin down, everyone will have their own first time they caught him in the wind: “It’s hard to say, I mean, there’s different levels of that, ya know?” Thal continued.

“It could be in your city, or another country, it’s such a slow steady thing that you don’t really notice it.  You just find yourself doing more shows with more people in more places, and you don’t notice an exact moment.  I do remember the first time playing a real paid gig in a bar at age 14, playing old Rush, Ozzy, Maiden.

“I was such a shy kid, I stared at my feet the whole night and didn’t look up once,” who’d have thought that now, a stage shy Bumblefoot – not likely.

Gigging now though is a different concept for Thal, bigger venues, bigger crowds, and greater adoration or criticism to how things were back in the day.

“There are the biggest gigs, the best played gigs, the most meaningful gigs, it’s hard to say what’s the best though,” motioned Thal.

“The ones that I think back most fondly on were the charity gigs for kids, everyone in good spirits motivated to do good things.  Lots in the US, East Asia, those are the ones that I think of as ‘best’.”

Over the years, some thirty years’ worth of them, Thal has played music here, there and everywhere, countries and continents alike became perpetually enthralled by his musical genius, even hitting the top with a certain band that has spanned the ages of time. For what they brought, Thal brought extra, and took his music to another level.

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In the May of 1995 Thal released ‘The Adventures of Bumblefoot,’ his debut solo studio album, recorded in his parents’ basement of all places, and all tracks supposedly deriving from animal diseases with tracks such as ‘Strawberry Footrot’ and ‘Blue Tongue.’ Fifteen years later and a re-release was performed with a further five tracks added from the ‘Wild Woody’ soundtrack, a Sega CD video game.

“I remember it all vividly, summer of ’94, huddled with gear along the wall of my parents’ basement,” Thal said with fondness of the time.

“I had a rack of ADATs and compressors with a Mackie board on top, a blanket over the Marshall half-stack with the SM57 under it, sitting on a chair with a pair of headphones on and stomping on a record on/off footswitch. It was summer and the big loud air conditioner kept going on and I’d have to wait for it to shut off and quickly lay as much as I could before it kicked on again.”

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Now, as he tours the UK, thoughts turn to Tyneside, where has played twice previously, and moving things forward in relation to the ‘Art of Anarchy’ and further promotion of the recently launched ‘Little Brother is Watching.’

“Ah yes, in 2012 and 2006, always a great time, great high-energy crowd!” Thal recalls fondly.

“Looking forward to coming back where we can all be more face-to-face, more personal.  Going to do a workshop in the day and the show at night, I know it’ll be another visit I won’t forget  🙂  Looking forward to seeing everyone, and playing with Twister & Two Limbed Doll!

Not only on Tyneside, but around the UK and beyond will the legendary Bumblefoot not only entertain the masses, but he’s also set up some specially designed guitar masterclasses for some extremely lucky, musical hopefuls.

“We all hang out, I play wacky guitar songs to backing tracks, we all chat about anything and everything,” explained Thal.

“I love connecting with people that are passionate about playing, I hope together we all get inspired and motivated, have fun with the Q&A, the stories, the technical talk, the demonstrations, and the music. I really love doing these workshops. I’ll be doing a week-long music camp in Corfu Greece, August 1 – 8, looking forward to that too!  Check it out at www.CorfuRockSchool.com.”

With ‘Art of Anarchy’ however Thal’s hard rock super group consisting of himself, the Votta twins Jon and Vince, bassist John Moyer and a ‘guest appearance’ from legendary vocalist Scott Weiland.

“Ahhhh, this started in 2011 with Jon & Vince Votta, guitarist and drummer, I’ve been producing their bands for the last 18 years,” Thal continued on the friendship dating nearly two decades.

“They wanted to do a super group album as the first release of a music company they were starting, I brought them into the studio and we laid the songs down, then John Moyer joined on bass, then Scott Weiland joined, wrote and recorded his vocals for the album, we shot some videos, took pics, and are planning to release the album in a few months.”

As for Bumblefoot himself though, the tour has coincided with the release of his new album, a one he readily admits should have been done a long time ago and has taken a little while to put together.

Concluding he said of the recently released ‘Little Brother is Watching’ that: “It was long overdue to do another Bumblefoot album, been touring so much that it’s been hard to build the momentum to get an entire album done.

“This time, I did a lot of writing on the road, and then eased up by the end of July 2014 to get the recording done.  It was pretty involved, but the tracking itself flowed very freely, everything happened so naturally, it felt like an uninterrupted direct line from the inside out.  I did a lot of little “Making Of” YouTube videos, it was good sharing the process with everyone.

“The final recording for the album was to invite 100 people to a listening party in New York and have them all sing crowd chants and sing-along parts.  It hit iTunes and Amazon on Feb 24th – I hope people enjoy the album  🙂

Thank you, see you all very soon!”

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About petermannwriter

Freelance (Sports/Music) Journalist

Posted on 02/03/2015, in Music, Wraith Promotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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