Mikkel Elbech of the Danish music magazine Gaffa recently conducted an interview with GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Gaffa: Can you describe the transition from being a solo musician to quite suddenly being a member of GN'R, playing venues for thousands upon thousands of people?
Thal: Oh man… How is it different... Strangely enough, it doesn't feel that different. You know, I've been asked this a lot — how does it feel to be playing in front of a hundred thousand people after playing in front of, maybe, a thousand? And the funny thing is that the whole idea of playing music — everything you do when you play, it comes from within, and that doesn't change. So, in a sense, it's like I'm just driving the same car on a bigger road. If anything, you drive a little faster! (Laughs) But yeah, it feels the same. It never felt unnatural to play with these guys, especially because they're a good bunch of people, and that's what makes the difference in the band you're playing with, whether you're playing in some local band or with GUNS N' ROSES or a band like that. If you genuinely enjoy being on stage with the people you're on stage with, everything is okay.
Gaffa: So did you know any of the members of the band personally before you joined?
Thal: I didn't know any of them personally. Surprisingly, because a lot of us have backgrounds where we have the same friends. I'll be talking to Frank's friends about people I hung out with 20 years ago that I still talk to, and they still talk to them. Frank was around back then in the same circle of friends, and it's funny that we never met before we were playing together in GUNS. It's strange how that worked.
Gaffa: Do you have a story of how you became a member of the band?
Thal: Actually, I got an e-mail from Joe Satriani saying, "Listen, I just recommended you to GUNS. They're looking for a guitar player — so if they get in touch, just so you know, it's not somebody playing a joke on you or anything." I was like, "Alright, cool." And Chris Pitman e-mailed me this funny e-mail, I gave him a call, we talked for a while, and he was a great guy. Started talking to management, and everything looked like it was on track. And then some Internet rumors came out that sort of delayed the process, haha.
Gaffa: What have been your highlights of touring the world with GUNS N' ROSES for well over a year now?
Thal: Things that stand out… First thing that popped into my head when you asked me that was when we were playing in Poland. It was a little Mexican restaurant across the street from the hotel, and me and Frank and a bunch of us went. We sat down at the table and they brought Frank a nice bowl of black beans, and usually black beans are just the beans in a little bit of sauce. But this time they pureed the beans, and it was the most delicious black beans I've ever eaten! And he was saying that's how his mom used to make them. That's the first thing that popped into my head — the pureed black beans at a Mexican restaurant in Poland. Next thing that pops into my head would be backstage when we were playing in Oslo, Norway. They had this salad that had cashews and hot red peppers in it. It was a spicy, Thai-style cashew salad. It was very good. That's the second thing that popped into my head. In case you're wondering, yeah — I am a little bit hungry!
Gaffa: So, how did it feel playing with Izzy, who's kind of a bridge between the two eras of GUNS N' ROSES?
Thal: Izzy's a sweet guy, I really enjoy spending time with him. He's a cool guy to hang with. We always had fun playing on stage. It was funny — one of the last shows that we were doing together, we were backstage and we were working out a song — "The Devil Went Down To Georgia". It's a southern song from the late '70s, and it has this really fast violin stuff in it, and we worked it out. I was doing the violin part, and he was strumming the chords. It was cool, but we didn't play it on stage. He's a real nice guy and I definitely enjoyed his company.
Read the entire interview at Here Today… Gone To Hell!
Watch Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal's guitar solo spot filmed on June 2, 2007 in Monterrey, Mexico (with GUNS N' ROSES):