FAULT interviews Guns N’ Roses guitarist and virtuoso musician Bumblefoot

Lads and gents, please make a bit of space in your minds for the great, the talented Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal. If you’re a vet, you’ll probably be aware that ‘bumblefoot’ is some form of weird, little known animal infection. If you’re not, then you should know that Bumblefoot has been playing lead guitar for Guns n’ Roses since 2006; although when he’s not, he has a bit of time to kindly answer a few questions for his favourite magazine on Earth (FAULT). We caught up with Bumblefoot while he was in London for a masterclass for a quick interview and some exclusive live and backstage shots at the class, which quickly turned into a jam and then a full-on gig at London’s Caipirinha bar.


FAULT: Your guitar playing is simply stunning. Who was your teacher?

Bumblefoot: Thank you! I started studying at age 7, taking one-on-one lessons for eight years from different teachers. The focus was reading, music theory, and I’d learn songs on the side.


Virtuosos, and you are one, are more often associated with classical and jazz. Why did you choose rock instead?

I grew up listening to rock, punk, this was the music that surrounded me, and what I most enjoyed and felt a connection to. I studied and listened to jazz and classical as well, but my interest was mostly in vocal rock music.


Honestly, what happened to rock music in the 90’s?

New branches grew on the tree. There was a up-and-coming generation of society that felt like the current trend of music wasn’t speaking on their behalf.


They say Cobain killed it…

Cobain did nothing more than make his music, it was the rest of the world that decided what would happen with it. But I don’t think in terms of ‘OR’, that’s how you miss out on half of what the world has to offer. It’s about ‘AND’. Did jazz kill blues? Did rock kill jazz? Did metal kill rock? Of course not. Decades don’t kill decades. We have all these styles of music that add soundtracks to moments in time, and they all have something valuable.


Do you agree that the world is becoming increasingly insensitive towards refined and/or elaborate music?

That music is the popular music from another time. Along with technology and social changes, the style of music that’s considered ‘popular’ changes. But there will always be a section of people to continue appreciating and connecting and supporting different genres of music. We hear this music every day in TV and film, the music is alive and well, and perhaps flourishing more than ever.


Electro seems at the height of fashion at the moment (music sounding like bus doors opening in rhythm, in my opinion). Where do you stand on electronic music?

I’ve opened up to it more. I can’t learn and grow with a closed mind. If I don’t understand something, it’s because I can’t see in it what others do, and I need to broaden myself. I don’t have to like everything, but I at least try to find something I can potentially grow from.


Where has all the softness gone? (power-ballad forbidden area)

Everything is out there, just have to look for it…

 As a rock guitarist, how do you appreciate classical?

With my heart and my ears, just like any other person. :) I’m a person first, rock guitarist second…


What is your favorite Opera?

I love Tchaikovsky, maybe more for the concertos than operas, but even as a kid my favorite opera was Carmen – it’s bouncy, fun and melodically unforgettable.


Has contemporary music ‘evolved’ into something better or is there an argument for going back to good old-fashioned, western classical music?

Better is a matter of anyone’s personal opinion. There’s good in both. The world can have both. Something for everyone…


 Say you have a night with your wife/best friends and have to choose between seeing a Tchaikovsky concert, or a performance of Carmen, on the one hand and an arena gig of Metallica on the other. Which one are you going for?

I’d probably choose the opera. I like seeing rock shows, and playing them, but when given the chance to do something different, that’s what I usually go for, something that breaks the pattern.


Have you got anything to recommend to someone who hates guitars?



How would you describe your style of playing?

I just play how I feel and do what’s natural. If I start to analyse, it’ll get in the way of things….


 To finish with, do you have any guilty pleasures? I mean, what is your FAULT?

I love 60s/70s ‘lounge’ music – Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck… and horror movies, strange movies, “B” movies. I enjoy insanely spicy food, and have a line of hot sauces. But to be honest, I feel no guilt about these pleasures, I like quirkiness, it’s part of what makes everyone special!


Honestly, Bumblefoot, you’re pretty much like Santa Claus: You have that long beard, you’re full of gifts, and everyone loves you. Thanks so much for your time!



Interview by François Mauld d’Aymée
Images by Lill-Veronica Skoglund