Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Icon Vs. Icon: You have a brand new album on the way this February. What can you tell us about "Little Brother Is Watching" and what we can expect this time around?
Thal: What can you expect? This album, compared to some of the other solo stuff, is a little punkier. Every album, you have the songs and you start laying them down. They eventually come out however they are going to. You have an idea of what you are going to get but you can't really control it. It is kinda like throwing ink at a canvas. You can choose the color but it isn't going to end up the way you predict. You have to step back, look at it and say, "OK, this is what it is. Let's take it from here." It is the same situation with this new album. I ended up being very melodic with very long songs, where a lot of the earlier stuff was more in your face and aggressive. It is more about the musicality, the melody, the harmonies and the guitar lines dancing around vocal lines and all that good crap! [laughs] It is a lot more melodic and, even with those melodies that are in there, they are all spontaneous. It was stuff that I just laid on the scratch track as Dennis [Leeflang], the drummer, was playing his drum tracks. They were just spontaneous, improvised melodies. Listening back to it, I said, "Yeah, I am not going to overthink this. This is what I felt in the moment, the first time I played with this stuff and it left my head and hand to be recorded. I like it! I am sticking with it!" A lot of those melodies are very organic, natural first impressions of my songs and what I was inspired to do guitar-wise.
Icon Vs. Icon: What made now the right time for a new Bumblefoot solo release? Was there a particular catalyst for it or just an overwhelming creative need?
Thal: The need! I have had the need for a long time and it has been a battle or race against the clock trying to find time to get my head in the right place to focus and do it. With all of the touring, it is really hard. You can write but to get in the studio, commit, devote and keep the momentum going can be very tough. It was something that was long overdue. For me, if I am not being creative or putting out music, it is like having a bag over my head and I am suffocating. I need to do it. It is the only reason I feel I should be on Earth and, when I am sharing music with people, I truly feel alive.
Icon Vs. Icon: Looking back on breathing life into this project, what inspired it and what did you take away from the experience?
Thal: I think there are always experiences to share. Doing this album, there have been more of them. Usually, for me, it takes some type of tragedy to make you feel and get in touch with yourself, so you have that story to tell. Any of those kind of things that hit, for me at least, get the words following. With this album, there was everything from a cancer diagnosis to my father dying to having to choose between two lives to facing some of the mistakes I have made.
Icon Vs. Icon: You never seem to slow down and always appear to have those creative juices flowing. One of the new projects you recently announced is ART OF ANARCHY. What can you tell us about how it came about?
Thal: Sure! There are two brothers, John and Vince Votta, and I have been producing their bands for 18 years. We have always been friends. They finally said, "We want to put our own company together. We want to start a label and do this thing. The first thing we want to do is put out a supergroup type of album where we bring in people from all different backgrounds to come together and create music together for a really cool album of good rock music." I brought them into the studio and they had 10 songs to start with and we laid them down. I laid down guitar. The amazing John Moyer came in and laid down his killer bass. He is truly amazing! He does what he does and makes it great! As we talked to different singers, Scott [Weiland] agreed to do a song and then he agreed to do the whole album. We did this album together and are hoping to have it out by the beginning of the year. It is all about the music. I know that right out of the gate there was a little bit of, I wouldn't say controversy, but maybe some unnecessary confusion about things. However, it is about the music, about the album and putting the album out. Anything beyond that remains to be seen. We don't know what is going to happen. We don't know if, after the album comes out, people are going to want to see something live. If they do, Scott is very clear that his focus is his solo stuff and mine is too. Scott wants to just do his solo thing and isn't looking to do any live dates with this. Then we would find a new singer, if we did any live shows. Who knows what would happen with that new singer and if it would become a permanent thing or if it would just be for the live setting. We don't know! Whatever is going to happen is going to happen organically and is going to come together the way the pieces fall at that moment. For now, let's just take this music that we made together and share it with the people. I really hope they enjoy it!
Icon Vs. Icon: From the one song I heard around the time of the announcement, it sounds very promising! I know a lot of people are anxious to hear what you all came up with as a unit.
Thal: Cool, thanks! Everything was recorded in my studio, except for what Scott wrote and recorded. He recorded his vocals on his own and sent them to me. I did the final mixing and mastering, so that is a little of what I have going on production-wise. The other thing I am doing is with a good friend of mine, Rob Dukes. We have been friends for years and he sang with EXODUS. Now, he has this band called GENERATION KILL. It is really cool, nasty metal band. Good stuff, good stuff! They teamed up with Darryl McDaniels, aka DMC from RUN DMC, and are doing this rap metal thing together. Rob hit me about about being part of the fun, joining in and playing a couple of guitar parts, mixing and doing the production for it. We just have one song we have finished up so far but I'm sure as we get more stuff finished we will start putting out the little teasers and sharing everything. So far, we are having a blast and a great time together doing it!
Read the entire interview at Icon Vs. Icon.