National Rock Review recently caught up with Bumblefoot to talk about his latest album “Little Brother Is Watching”.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review.
Thal: Thank you, pleasure.
NRR: So you are just starting your UK tour and you just played in Newcastle tonight. How did the show go?
Thal: It was fun, it was great. God, it was a long day. We started off at the college talking to the students there, playing to some backing tracks and some crazy guitar stuff, and then getting to hop up on stage and do it all live. As you could tell it was purely live. It was just great and I had a really good time.
NRR: How do the crowds compare in the UK to those in the US?
Thal: Ahh, how do they compare. I think UK crowds donâ€™t stand for bullshit. Itâ€™s like you better deliver or you are going to get something thrown at you. You better do the right thing, but you know thatâ€™s how it should be, like you should be doing the right thing and if youâ€™re not then there is a problem.
NRR: You just mentioned there about the master classes. It must be very rewarding to share your knowledge with other budding guitarists. How did that experience go for you?
Thal: Oh it absolutely is. I would say itâ€™s one of my favorite things about doing what I do. People have done it for me thatâ€™s how I learned, and to pay it forward or just share it and help nurture the continuation of it all it feels like the natural right thing that you should be doing and itâ€™s great when you see students or former students that go on to do great things with their music.
NRR: You just mentioned that a similar type of thing happened to you. Which guitarists inspired you when you were starting out?
Thal: Lesson wise I had a lot of different teachers, jazz teachers, classical, one on one and music theory, but as far as just like the idols definitely Eddie Van Halen when I first heard him. Before him it was Angus Young, it was Jimi Hendrix, Ace Frehley and Brian May.
NRR: What advice would you give to anyone starting out in the music industry now?
Thal: Donâ€™t lose sight of why you started making music and just keep it about the love of making music. If you are looking to get rich, do something else, thatâ€™s not why you are a musician. You are a musician because you have this need to create and perform and share and thatâ€™s what itâ€™s about, and thatâ€™s all its about everything else is just whatever.
NRR: You just released your latest album Little Brother Is Watching, can you tell us a little bit about it and your inspiration behind it?
Thal: Oh I can tell you a whole lot about it. I could spend the whole night talking about it. So yeah, the latest album it just came out last week. The first copies for anyone to hold in their hands are right here in the UK that I brought with me because the rest of them were first to be mailed out from the merchâ€™ company and these were the ones that I had that I brought so they were here first. The album is more melodic, spacious and a lot more in the production subtleties but a lot going on. The songs are very personal. I mean they always are but thereâ€™s something about this album. I guess the stories they run a little deeper.
NRR: Besides your solo album youâ€™ve also been working on the Art of Anarchy album, you produced that as well. Can you tell us a bit about that and the band?
Thal: Yeah, so that started out in 2011 with two brothers Jon and Vince that Iâ€™ve been producing them since like the mid-90â€™s and weâ€™ve always been friends and they started a music company. They wanted to put out this album. They wanted to make their dream album, the super-group album bringing people together from all different walks. It started with just their songs that they wrote and from there I brought them into the studio and I laid down my guitar parts, just overseeing the whole thing. John Moyer came in on bass, came to the studio and just stayed there, laid down all his bass parts and it sounded great, and then Scott came on board and he wrote and recorded everything for the album and it should be out in May.
NRR: Do you have any plans to tour with them at all?
Thal: At this point letâ€™s just get that album out and then see what happens after that.
NRR: You mentioned about the super-group concept there. If you could collaborate with any artist in particular who would be your dream collaboration?
Thal: Is this a live or dead thing or just live?
NRR: Everybody always asks that, I would say live.
Thal: That would an interesting one. I think it would have Dave Grohl, John Sykes would be in there. Oh, Iâ€™m trying to think bass wise, whoever I sayâ€¦ it will be like it should be this guy, it should be this guy. Maybe Flea on bass. I would just sit back and watch the band play.
NRR: Quite often you play the Pink Panther theme as part of your set, you also released it as a single. I just wondered what made you chose that track in particular to cover and to put out?
Thal: You know itâ€™s funny because it was 2009 and Guns was about to start touring and I needed a new guitar solo for my guitar solo spot and I just didnâ€™t know what to do. I was just procrastinating the whole year, like Iâ€™m not taking a solo, screw it and then finally it was like a few days before the tour, the gear was all being shipped out to Taiwan. So I said to the guys, has anyone done the Pink Panther theme, and they were like I donâ€™t think so. I was like alright, Frank (mimics the drum intro), Tommy (mimics the bass intro), and just put it together. It was just spontaneous, just like alright letâ€™s do that.
NRR: It sounds great, itâ€™s so cool, I love it. So besides being an incredible guitar player you also do a lot of charitable work and you are on the board of directors at the MS Research Foundation.
Thal: Unfortunately they had to shut their doors about a year ago, because the head of it he has MS and it just became too much for him. So we had a good 10 years and accomplished things I think.
NRR: When you are out on the road do you get to listen to much music yourself and if so which bands are you listening to right now?
Thal: Usually when Iâ€™m on the road a lot of local bands will give me their cd. So I listen to those, I listen to every one of them as soon as I get home, because I donâ€™t have a cd player in my laptop. They stopped doing that. So I wait until Iâ€™m home and I put them in my car and I just have a stack of cdâ€™s in the car that I listen to, just going through all of them driving to the studio or back wherever I go. So I just listen to all of the local bands that give me their stuff.
NRR: So the last question Iâ€™ve got for you is what are your plans for your solo band throughout 2015?
Thal: Well I want to keep getting people familiar with the new album. I just want them to know about it, and I thank you for that because you are helping me make that happen, so thank you. Then Iâ€™m going to book a tour, definitely come back here at least I will have a better sense of what kind of places to play, what the demand is and what kind of tour to book.
NRR: Ok, thatâ€™s brilliant, thanks for taking the time to speak to us at National Rock Review.