Ryze-Up magazine recently conducted an interview with GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ryze-Up: Are you currently teaching music?
Thal: It's much harder to teach with all the touring in the last few years. Last year I gave some Skype lessons, which I hope to be able to do again. Between shows while touring, I had arranged a few clinics and master classes at schools and venues. I've done intemational clinic tours over the past 10 years, and lots of articles and videos for web sites and major guitar magazines in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. I've been a guest instructor/performer at schools and music camps, and was once a music coach on MTV's "Made". Teaching is important to me; I think the essence of it is sharing. You make a song, you share it. I was writing songs. I starting writing with other people too. I was making demos, I started producing people too. You acquire knowledge over the years from your own experiences and what others have passed on to you, and you do the same. It's being part of nature.
Ryze-Up: Being a guitarist for GUNS N' ROSES, solo artist, producer, teacher and songwriter, how do you balance your music with other obligations — mate, children, job?
Thal: It's not easy. It takes serious juggling skills and a willingness to live on the edge of the implosion point. The thing is, your life is yours — you make the rules, you choose your compromises and sacrifices, and evaluate and adjust as needed. You can't be rigid; you have to be a very fiexible structure. Make it work. [I've been] married for 16 years, going on 23 years together [with my wife] and it's better now than it's ever been. We adjusted our lives so that we can see the world together, and make it good for us. When I'm not touring, that's when I teach, record, put time into everything else.
Ryze-Up: What advice would you give to newbies in the music scene?
Thal: 1. Be on time. By "on time" I mean "be early." Make sure you're there for when you need to be — wait in your car, communicate, let them know 10 minutes early that you'll be there in 5 minutes, and walk in 5 minutes later. 2. Be prepared. By "prepared" I mean "overly prepared." Know more than you need to. If you're gonna lay guitar parts, know the drum grooves and where all the accents and up-beats and fills and breaks are, know the bass lines... When the bassist doesn't show and they freak out and you say, "I know the bass part. I can lay it down," you'll be the MVP 3. Be cool. And by that I mean, be a calm, relaxed, easy-going, soothing presence in the room. When everyone is contagiously breaking into panic and stress mode, you'll be their voice of reason without even trying. Players can be replaced — people are chosen by who others want to spend their time with.
Read the entire interview from Ryze-Up magazine.