RON 'BUMBLEFOOT' THAL On Leaving SHRAPNEL RECORDS In 1997: 'It Just Wasn't What I Signed Up For'
December 31, 2018
Former GUNS 'N ROSES and current SONS OF APOLLO guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal says he left Shrapnel Records after his first two solo albums because "it just wasn't what I signed up for." The Mike Varney-created label is widely considered to be the preeminent home for experimental and shred guitar players and released Thal's 1995 debut solo album, "The Adventures Of Bumblefoot" and 1997 follow-up, "Hermit". Thal launched his own label, Hermit Inc., in late 1997 so he could license his albums on his own.
Asked why he split with Shrapnel, the label responsible for launching the careers of notable players such as Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Vinnie Moore and Tony MacAlpine, Thal told Skyler Isaac of Shakat Journal (see video below): "It just wasn't what I signed up for. It wasn't what I thought we had agreed on what it would be. Artistically and everything. It just wasn't. So I needed to get out of that contract and start doing things differently. So I started my own label and started licensing out. I had different distributors in Japan, in Europe, and things progressed."
During the same chat, Thal spoke about how he first got into music, saying: "When I first started developing an interest in music, I was five years old and the KISS 'Alive!' album came out in the mid-'70s. As soon as I heard that, I just knew that's what I wanted to do and I started working toward it. I put together a band [and] was writing songs. We would make demos using multiple cassette recorders and figuring out how to multi-track using them, just as kids using whatever was available to us in our imagination, our creativity. That was it, but I didn't want to be a guitar player. I knew I wanted to make music. I just didn't know how and what tool I would be using or tools to make that happen, so I originally wanted to be a drummer. My brother wanted to be a drummer, so he was older, [and] he got to be the drummer. I wanted to be a bass player. I went to a music store to start taking bass lessons, but I was this tall and the bass was this tall and there was no way I could handle it at that age. I was too little; they didn't have kid-size stuff there. They lied to me and said in order to play bass, you have to play a kids-sized acoustic, nylon-string acoustic guitar for two years. After that, you graduate to bass. So, I did it and I stuck with guitar and eventually I figured out how to play bass on my own. Yeah, I got tricked into playing guitar."
Although Thal has scored music for shows such as "Hogan Knows Best", "The Real World" and "The Osbournes", mainstream recognition has largely eluded him. "You know, my music isn't exactly on the radio every day," he said. "It's been on TV almost every day and people don't know it, but it's been on TV a lot and I think that's the thing about my music is that it's always been geared more for TV and film and it gets in a lot of that stuff, but it's not radio-formatted, it's not the usual thing."
Thal joined GUNS N' ROSES in 2006, replacing Buckethead. He played with the band for eight years and performed on "Chinese Democracy". He has also released nine full-length solo albums over the past 23 years, most recently 2015's "Little Brother Is Watching", which was reissued on CD and vinyl in August 2017 by MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson's EMP Label Group.
SONS OF APOLLO will record its sophomore album in January, but due to the busy schedules of the group's individual members, the record is not expected to be released until 2020.
SONS OF APOLLO's debut album, "Psychotic Symphony", was released in October 2017 via InsideOut Music.