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SA Music News chats to Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal ahead of his SA Masterclass Tour

We got to ask Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal some questions for you before he makes his way to SA to host two Guitar Master Classes (Cape Town and Johannesburg) as well as a full band show for those super lucky Capetonians. See below for full tour details.

Good day Ron, thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few for us, we can’t wait for your visit to SA!!!

Thanks so much! 😀

  1. How did the idea of a tour and masterclass in South Africa come together?

It happened through the efforts of Kris Xenopoulos and my good friend Kris Claerhout, who had brought Guthrie Govan to South Africa not long ago.  I’ve heard such wonderful things about it and am excited and grateful to be visiting as well!  Will be my first visit, hopefully not the last. 🙂

  1. What can aspiring South African guitarists expect from your Masterclasses?

It’ll be down-to-Earth, interactive, fun 🙂   There will be plenty of musical and technical ideas that I’m hoping will inspire everyone and spark their own ideas – each topic is explained starting from the basics and building up to super-advanced, so there’s something for every level of player.  There are so many topics we could get into, from ‘mental multitasking’ exercises to matching emotions to sounds for shaping your music, how to always hit the right notes and make beautiful melodies, to all kinds of playing techniques.

  1. How did it come about fronting legendary rock band (supergroup) Asia?

There was a band called Platinum Rock All Stars, it was Carmine Appice on drums, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Geoff Downes (Yes/Asia) on keys, Phil Naro (Talas) on vocals, Gene Cornish (Rascals) and me on guitar.  We did some gigs in 2016 and all hit it off really well 🙂

Soon after I was asked to join Asia on guitar but was so busy with Bumblefoot shows, Art Of Anarchy ‘The Madness’ (https://youtu.be/tNy_g6cMlIE) album cycle, and Sons Of Apollo just starting up, it wasn’t the right time.  This year the planets aligned, and I joined as guitarist and lead singer.  We toured the US this Summer as direct support for Yes, half-way through the Asia set I’d put down my guitar, Steve Howe would join us on guitar and I’d be a mic-wielding lead singer. (https://www.instagram.com/p/Byou18NBNph/)

  1. Apart from being a fulltime musician and Adjunct professor, you still find time to visit and play for children in orphanages. Tell us a bit about that.

It’s important that we make an effort to serve a greater good with whatever we do, when we can.  I love teaching, inspiring and being inspired, sharing what I’ve learned and am learning, but the best is when you can take the entertainer-side of yourself and use it to bring smiles to those who need it most. 🙂  So whenever possible, I try to include children’s hospitals (https://www.instagram.com/p/B10WZOKBjFo/), orphanages (https://youtu.be/pJHDBlcBLX4), whatever is possible. 🙂

  1. You had quite a bad car accident back in 2011. How long did this effect your career? Do you have any longterm issues from that horrible experience?

It was a big challenge to overcome, and lifelong physical issues, but it’s not about what happened, it’s what you do about it.  I worked hard and put myself in better health than I was before the accident, so maybe I should be thankful? 😉

  1. Which song did you have the most fun recording on Chinese Democracy (given its notorious reputation). Asking for a friend, lol.

There were plenty of guitar moments, fretless moments, in the title track, Shackler’s, Scraped, Catcher, Riad…  I think Shackler’s Revenge – I contributed a lot to that song, and was a fun one to play live. 🙂

  1. On a personal note, things were a little tricky when joining GnR. Issues surrounding acceptance being a thing, how did you get through this?

There was a getting-to-know-you period in the beginning, but we had 8 years of hundreds of shows around the world, releasing Chinese Democracy, Appetite For Democracy live blu-ray, a lot of good memories. 🙂

  1. Seeing as this is your first time in South Africa, do you have sightseeing & travel slotted in? What are you most excited about regarding the visit?

Hopefully some sightseeing, there’s plenty to see!!  I’m a foodie, looking forward to eating traditional South African food…  I love spicy food, I have my own line of hot sauces since 2013, I’m a serious hot sauce guy.  So some spicy biltong for sure! 🙂

  1. Regarding your band performances, what can South Africans expect from your shows?

We’ll be playing originals, covers, it’ll be a good ol’ rock show 🙂

  1. Tell us about your Bfoot signature guitar. What inspired the design and what is it about the fretless guitar sound that you find so pertinent and fitting with regards to your music.

I started playing Vigier (http://vigierguitars.com/) guitars in 1997, their fretless guitars since 1998, and through the years the fretless took on a bigger role.  It got to the point where it wasn’t a choice of fretted ‘or’ fretless for a song, it was fretted ‘and’ fretless, I needed a doubleneck fretted/fretless for what I was doing musically.  In 2007 Vigier and I ran a contest for someone to design a guitar,  only two were made, one for the contest winner, one for me.  (A few years later it became a signature model available to all…  http://vigierusa.com/index.php/guitars/doublebfoot/)  I started touring with the guitar in 2009 and after a few years it had become my main guitar for everything I wrote with every band.  Every Sons Of Apollo song needs that guitar.

  1. Out of all the great musicians you have worked with in your impressive career, who would you say you enjoyed working with the most?

There have been so many people, so many great memories from the studio & stage, hard to say!  Hmmmm…   besides bands I’ve played in, there was Nancy Sinatra, Darryl DMC McDaniels (Run DMC), jamming with Peter Criss & Ace Frehley (KISS) together, with every member of Twisted Sister, every member of Kings X, jamming with the band Boston, with Blue Oyster Cult, 24/7 Spyz, Allen Toussant, with Lzzy Hale, David Ellefson, Tony Harnell, Frankie Bello & Scott Ian, Geoff Tate, John Sykes, many great jams with Portnoy and Billy Sheehan before Sons Of Apollo formed, jams with Ray Luzier, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Guthrie Govan, Lars Ulrich, drummer Kyle Hughes, jamming Beatles songs with Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), singing Deep Purple with Steve Morse, singing and playing Aerosmith songs with Joe Perry, the list goes on. 🙂

  1. Will there be an album coming our way in the near future? It’s been a while?

Future plans – Sons Of Apollo is mixing the second album, it’ll be out January 2020.  My line of hot sauces is in re, labels are being printed for the bottles right now.  Should be more Bumblefoot, Asia and Sons Of Apollo touring in 2020.  And I’m producing a great young garage rock duo called The Dodies. (https://www.instagram.com/the_dodies/)   The singer/guitarist has a real grungy Cobain vibe, the drummer plays the full kit with one hand while simultaneously playing synth-bass with the other and singing backing vocals, we’re mixing their full album right now.  I released a Bumblefoot instrumental song in April 2019 called “Cintaku” (https://bumblefoot.bandcamp.com/track/cintaku)  I have some more instrumental song ideas ready to record… 🙂

Thanks so much for your time.

Thank you!

By: Kieron Reeves for SA Music news magazine

Tour Details
24 OCT – (FULL BAND) LIVE at Mercury CPT 18 +
Tickets: R200 presale
R250 door
Doors 6pm / Show Stars 7:30pm
For tickets email: Kris.Xen@gmail.com 064 682 3733

25 Oct – Masterclass & Jam at Paul Bothner N1 City All Ages
Tickets: Standard – R350
Meet & Greet: R450 (Limited to 20)
Jam with Bumblefoot plus meet & Greet: R650 (Limited to 10)
Meet & Greet: 6pm / Doors 7pm /Show Starts: 8pm
For tickets email: Kris.Xen@gmail.com / 064 682 3733

26 OCT – Masterclass & Jam at Baileys JHB All AgesTickets: Standard – R350
Meet & Greet: R450 (Limited to 20)
Jam with Bumblefoot plus meet & Greet: R650 (Limited to 10)
Meet & Greet: 5pm / Doors 6pm / Show Starts:7pm
For tickets email: Kris.Xen@gmail.com 064 682 3733

WIN A CORT GUITAR SIGNED BY BUMBLEFOOT!!!!
Buy a ticket and share THIS here link to qualify!

Bumblefoot Hot Sauce 

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