An Interview With Bumblefoot About His South African Master Class Tour

Bumblefoot South Africa

Bumblefoot South African Master Class Tour 2019

Award-winning vocalist, songwriter, producer, and world-renowned guitar virtuoso, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, is heading to South Africa on his Master Class Tour. Bumblefoot has been releasing music, playing international festivals, headlining tours, and gracing magazine covers for over 25 years. Now he is heading to South African for the first time where he will be hosting two Master Classes (Cape Town and Johannesburg), as well as a full band show in Cape Town.

Bumblefoot is the lead singer and guitarist of the legendary progressive rock band Asia, and guitarist of progressive rock band Sons Of Apollo. He is also the former lead guitarist of rock groups Art Of Anarchy (2011 – 2017, including STP/Velvet Revolver vocalist Scott Weiland, Creed vocalist Scott Stapp and Disturbed bassist John Moyer) and Guns N’ Roses (2006 – 2014), He’s toured sold-out shows all over the world, headlining festivals with crowds up to 150,000. His unique ‘fretless guitar’ can be heard throughout Guns N’ Roses’ 2008 Chinese Democracy album.

Bumblefoot is also an accomplished composer whose music is often heard in TV, film and
video games, including the theme song to VH1’s ‘That Metal Show’.

I caught up with Bumblefoot to find out more about his tour to South Africa and what he has been working on lately:

You are coming to South Africa in October. Have you been to SA before and what made you decide to visit our shores?

This is my first time coming to South Africa… finally! Been wanting to for the longest time and am grateful for the opportunity. I hear so many good stories from people about the nature, the food, and of course, the people and the cool music scene. I look forward to experiencing this.

You’re definitely in for a treat and I’m sure your SA fans can’t wait to see you! You have had a massive career so far. What would you say have been a couple of major highlights in the last 25 years?

The highlights are more ‘overall’ things than individual. Sure, playing at Madison Square Garden in NYC was a highlight (that’s where I saw my first concert, KISS in 1979…), but the highlights are that I have the diversity I wanted (solo career, bands, producing, teaching, music for TV/film…), that I can do what I do to help others (charity fundraising gigs, visiting children’s hospitals and orphanages…) It’s most important for me to be serving a greater purpose than entertaining, to also teach, inspire, lift spirits, bring people together, and to experience all this as well – I learn, I get inspired, my spirit gets lifted, and feel togetherness.

That’s truly incredible! You have also been part of many bands through the years. Do you prefer working as a band or solo?

Each has its pluses and minuses – in a band you’re collaborating with people that have ideas and directions that you’d never consider, things that together makes something bigger than any one person can do alone. That’s what makes every band special. And when solo, you can fully express yourself in every way – the songwriting, performance, production, you can give 100% of yourself. It’s important to have both. If not, you can have a band member trying to turn a band into his/her own solo project, and that can kill a band.

At this stage in your career, do you believe in sticking to a specific sound or technique, when it comes to playing instruments, or are you constantly experimenting and evolving?

Do what’s natural, real, honest. If sticking to the formula is natural for you, don’t force unnatural growth. If you love to challenge yourself and push your limits and explore, go for it. A balance of both is good, I always like to keep one foot just outside the comfort zone – that’s how we grow.

That’s great advice. So, you’ve worked with many other big artists in the industry through the years. What would you say are some of the challenges one face when so much talent, but also different styles, come together?

The biggest challenge is EGO. For all people, in every way. We all need ego to function, but the challenge for all people is to know when our ego is poorly navigating our actions. If someone is talented, and someone asks them to play something differently, they could easily have a reaction of “no one tells me how to play”, but if they put their ego aside and try it, they may learn something new or develop a better idea. Only our ego gets insulted, and we shouldn’t act like we’re being disrespected if someone wants us to try other ideas. Unless they are being disrespectful – keep in mind that your idea is only ‘your idea’ and that talented person should be allowed to express themselves, they’re not your personal utility. Sooooo, have a balance, and everyone in the room should be humble and acknowledge that we’re all ‘forever students’, and every moment with others is an opportunity to learn and grow. Just watch out for the toxic narcissistic sociopaths, plenty of them out there.

Tell me about your Master Classes. What can those that attend expect from these classes?

There are so many things we can get into, if enough time I’ll show a different way to see the string, techniques to go beyond the limits of the fretboard, defining sounds from an emotional angle to shape the moods of your music, ways to always hit the right notes and make beautiful melodies for songwriting, soloing and improvising. I just did the second Bumblefoot Music Camp and in four days of teaching morning ’til night there was still so much more we could have covered.

I build each topic starting with basics up to advanced, so that players at any level can get something out of it. It’s all very comfortable, casual, down-to-earth, laughing, interacting, it feels like a big guitar-player hangout.

Bumblefoot

And for young guitarists, or any musician for that matter, just starting out, what would you say is the recipe to getting to your level?

Be the real you, be open-minded, be on time, don’t be controlling when you collaborate, make efforts every day, always try to find solutions… and use a metronome. There’s an old saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, I’ll spend four of them sharpening the axe.” Don’t get frustrated if results aren’t coming quickly enough – you’re still at the part of sharpening the axe. The rest will happen when the Universe decides. Until then, embrace the sharpening process you’re in. As no matter what the world does with your efforts, you should always keep in that process.

For you, music is an incredibly big part of your life. Besides other music and artists, what inspires you to get up and make music every day?

Eggs. I wake up and have perfectly soft-boiled warm cage-free farm-fresh eggs with dark orange yolks from happy chickens. I roll them in pink Himalayan sea salt and black pepper.  That alone makes me want to get out of bed in the morning. But the first thing I do when I roll out of bed is hit the floor and do 101 push-ups. I tell myself I’ll do 100, and then I do one more. That’s how I wake up, and start with the mindset of ‘going the extra push-up’. Then the eggs. After that, I’ll spend an hour reading articles and learning… Then I hit the studio where I can create, practice, and do it all. Remember that inspiration is within us at all times, and around us at all times, in every moment of consciousness, waiting for us to recognize it and act on it.

That’s amazing! What a perfect way to start the day! So, besides preparing for the tour, what are you currently working on? Can we perhaps expect a new album soon?

At this very moment, Sons Of Apollo is mixing album #2 to be released in January 2020. My line of hot sauces is going back into production, the bottle labels are being printed. And I’m producing this great garage rock duo, The Dodies. Fantastic band, great songwriters The singer/guitarist has a Kurt Cobain vibe, the drummer plays the full kit with his right arm while playing synth bass with his left hand and singing backing vocals.  e’re mixing their album now. And I have some instrumental solo songs marinating, that I need to record. The last one came out in April 2019, a song called “Cintaku”.

Finally, do you have a message for fans in South Africa?

I’m so happy to finally be seeing you all! Hopefully, many more times to come, thank you!

 

Details of tour

For tickets email: Kris.Xen@gmail.com / 064 682 3733

Bumblefoot

24 OCT – (FULL BAND) LIVE at Mercury CPT 18 +

Tickets: R200 presale

R250 door

Doors 6 pm / Show Stars 7:30 pm

 

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: 6 pm / Doors 7 pm /Show Starts: 8 pm

 

26 OCT – Masterclass & Jam at Baileys JHB All Ages

Tickets: Standard – R350

Meet & Greet: R450 (Limited to 20)

Jam with Bumblefoot plus meet & Greet: R650 (Limited to 10)

Meet & Greet: 5 pm / Doors 6 pm / Show Starts:7 pm

 

WIN A CORT GUITAR SIGNED BY BUMBLEFOOT

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