Sunday, November 30, 2008
Editor Tanya Vece's interview with Bumblefoot of Guns N' Roses!
TV: Tanya Vece
TV: Ron Thal, where did "Bumblefoot" come in. I know it was a band name that became a nick name, but how did the name itself come about?
RT: It was the early 90s, my girlfriend was in veterinary school and I was helping her study. One of the diseases was Ulcerative Pododermatitis, also known as Bumblefoot. It was a disease that turkeys get, and one of the treatments was to rub hemorrhoid creme on its feet. It inspired me to write a song for my band at the time about a superhero called Bumblefoot, and when I had my first record deal in the mid-90's, I called the debut album "The Adventures Of Bumblefoot", with an album cover showing this apocalyptic scene of mayhem and destruction with this winged striped foot flying overhead. When the deal finished I started my own band, called it "Bumblefoot", that was around '97, '98. Over the next 10 years of putting out albums and touring, the name 'Bumblefoot' was connected to everything I was doing musically, and it went from band-name to nickname.
TV: There is a couple of lines in your biography "They tried to medicate me - I threw the shit out. I cured myself by doing the opposite of what I was telling myself to do. If I didn't want to talk, I'd call a friend. If I didn't want to go out, I'd hit the mall.". This caught my attention because I feel it captures what a lot of teenagers have but don't have the balls to do, such as yourself. I find myself often doing the same thing. MS challenges me daily with depression. I find myself having to force myself to call friends, or go out. Do you think a lot of people, musicians, writers, artists, share this experience and choose to self-medicate oppose to taking the prescribed drugs or cutting themselves off from the world? AND if so, what do you think is the more evil of the options?
RT: It's hard to say what's best overall, it's up to the individual, and if there's something more going on than an emotional thang, if it's a chemical balance issue. There are things beyond our control, and beyond our ability to fix with just the power of positive thinking. I'm no expert, I'm no spokesperson, but my 2-cent opinion would be to try and have as much faith in yourself and acceptance of the world for all its good and bad, don't care about anything *too* much to the point it cripples you, and *stay busy*. Build things, have interests, educate yourself, exercise, put time and energy into things that you'll benefit from in the future. And if you're at the point where you're exhausted from fighting some unrelenting internal agony you can't pinpoint but just feel, and are ready to end it all, talk to a pro - ya may need meds to get through it. There's no shame in that - sometimes a cold kicks your ass for a week and then it's gone, other times it ends up being something more and ya hit the doctor and get meds. Same thing. Making art is a healthy way to take in the bad, sort it out and make something good of it. Lemonade is the best revenge against the lemons, haha.
TV: To quote your biography again, "I tasted reality: there's no such thing as job security and stability." .What would you say to those who have been working at music for a long time now , toggling that day job and working gigs at night, and are feeling the frustration of not getting their music careers to where they want them to be? What advice or insight could you offer to my readers who are going through this?
RT: You're not alone. Keep going. The day you're complacent and "where you wanna be" is the day you start to lose your edge, your spirit. Everything in life is an endless road, and life itself is a challenge to see how far you can get on that road. It's a challenge we propose to ourselves. Enjoy the journey, don't give yourself a final destination point, there *is* no end point, the journey is the destination. Just keep going, and leave your mark as you go, do good things along the way.
TV: Your work with M.S.R.F. has a special meaning to me. I have Relapsing Remitting MS and am sure you know the challenges people with MS go through. One day you look fine, the next day your blind, the next day ok. It is a tough disease. Your on the board of M.S.R.F.and have raised a lot of money for the cause and for a cure. As a touring musician do you talk to a lot of people with MS? Have you found being an advocate who doesn't have MS challenging? Do you have plans for any future fundraiser's my readers may want to be a part of or donate to?
RT: MS makes its own rules, it's so unpredictable, not easy. I don't try to speak for people with MS, this isn't about me - if anything I'm just one person in the group of millions who has someone in their life they care about that has MS. All I can do is give my support and do what I can when I can. I'll keep donating from autographed CDs and photos to MS research, and soon I'd like to auction off a guitar for MS research. Hopefully I'll be able to do more than that in the future.
TV: For the Normal Album, you state you couldn't write due to the meds you were on and then were able to write for yourself and the album once they left your system. Would it be fair to say the Normal Album was truly about finding your true self? If so, then what would you attribute the "Abnormal" title to, which followed the "Normal" disc Do you believe creativity really is what is behind what clinicians classify as bi-polar and other disorders and it is not understood by those lacking creativity and magical thinking (the majority of society) so the pill is not suppressing a disorder, but suppressing true artistry?
RT: The Normal album touched on making the choice, whether to continue on meds and sacrifice creativity, or get off them so I can do what I love, making music, at the risk falling back into Hell. In the end you realize you're not powerless, it starts with your perception of things and how you choose to react to everything. It's where life was at self-discovery-wise, learning to give up control and not try to change what we can't, and to just roll with it all, to learn, and draw from your experiences. I think an emotional charge can push creative moments, I think it's a personal expression, a look inside a person, I think free thinking helps creativity flow, but I don't think artistry completely coincides with mental disorder. But I'm the wrong guy to ask, haha. Abnormal was the second chapter, it touches on where life is at now, with the intensity knob turned up, some of the new highs and lows that come with being in a band with name recognition, and how the world suddenly sees you differently.
TV: Who are the top 3 bands you think influenced your style today, and who are the top 3 bands that currently get played the most in your house?
RT: That's a tough one, there are so many! Guitar-wise, the main influences were Angus Young, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen. Musically, the Beatles are up there, and KISS were the inspiration to play music as a kid, hearing the KISS Alive album for the first time when I was 5. The last things I listened to in the house were Queensryche, Manowar, and Judas Priest. I'm an old-school metalhead.
TV: How did you end up getting the GNR gig? and is Axl easy to work with? Did you have creative input while working with GNR, or was all the creative juice reserved for the Abnormal disc?
RT: In the Summer of 2004 I started talking with the GNR folks about getting together, started touring in May 2006. Axl's a friend, always havin' a great time on and off the road. People have so many assumptions, people always want to think the worst. They don't want truth, they want entertainment. I can talk 'til I'm blue in the face about how I was brought into GNR to be myself, and that's what I do, I do my thing, I speak my own words, no puppeteer with a hand in my back, yet anything I say and do there are those who respond with "oh, he *has* to say that", haha. Ya can't win, haha. I've been completely creative in GNR. In my solo band, where I write everything, play everything, sing everything, sure I have more to add, but that's because it's a solo effort, not a band. GNR is a band, where everybody does what they do, together. I gotta say, it's been a fuckking blast.
TV: Is it challenging to work on the GNR album and release Abnormal?
RT: It wasn't a problem, was able to juggle it all and make it work. The GNR bizz folks were busy taking care of bizz, and I was able to lock myself in the studio and bust out the 'Abnormal' album, and an EP of acoustic versions of songs from my last few albums. Calling the album 'Barefoot', should be available before the year is up.
TV: What do you think has been your biggest learning experience musically within the last five years?Musically?
RT: hmmm.... well, in the studio, it was about finding ways to make things sound less sterile, more alive. Ribbon mics will capture the true tone of your amps, and room mics in a good sounding room will keep your drums as powerful in a recording as they are in real life. It's so important. What else... comparing a concert for an audience of 20 people to an audience of 150,000, it upped my appreciation for what you can give at each. There's the personal bonding experience you can have at a small show, there's the pyro and light show and big stage to run around on at a big show. And at both, you're doing the exact same thing, it still comes from within, you're opening yourself up to connect with everyone. With playing so many different types of shows over the last few years, with GNR and on my own, now I know what it's like to play on all types of stages, the big and the small, and they're all a good time. I've learned that you have as good a time as you wanna have.
TV: As a writer of music, what has been your biggest challenge? Some say writers block, others say life getting in the way, is there one defining thing that has always been a distraction from writing?
RT: Writing for my own albums has always been a strange thing. I'd be dry for a year, no ideas, I'd spend the time touring, producing other bands, writing for or co-writing with other artists, laying guest solos on other albums, a guest guitarist at other people's shows, writing music for TV shows, just keeping real busy doing things other than for my own albums. Then suddenly it would all hit at once, like a bright pale white flash, and half-a-dozen songs start flying out of my head, complete, arranged, instrumentation, melodies, beats, everything. I'd spend two days in the studio writing down the lyrics and demoing the songs, then over the next month I write the rest of the album as I'm laying the tracks to the first half-a-dozen songs. It's been like that for years. The same challenges are there though, trying to stay focused while being bombarded with distractions.
TV: What is your favorite guitar to play live with?
RT: Favorite used to be the "Flying Foot" guitar ( http://www.bumblefoot.com/gear/08-vigier-flying-foot-guitar.php ) , but lately it's been the Signature Series guitar... http://www.bumblefoot.com/gear/11-vigier-bumblefoot-signature-series-guitar.php
TV: How can my readers hear samples of your music, or buy one of your CDs?
RT:You can hear it all and get it all at my site, www.bumblefoot.com CDs, photos, shirts, stickers, guitar picks, mini- collectible models of my weird guitars, and new items on the way... you can hear more music at the official MySpace page, www.myspace.com/bumblefoot . CDs and soundclips are also at cdbaby.com and amazon.com , do a "Bumblefoot" search and the albums will pop up. Retail shops like Best Buy and FYE have my albums as well - if your local store doesn't have the CDs in stock, they can get them from BCD Distro in North America, Multicom Distro in France, Plastic Head Distro for the rest of Europe, Disk Union in Japan.
TV:Can you note any December or January gigs where the readers can see or meet you?
RT: Usually appearances come together at the last minute, people can always check my site - latest gigs/appearances are on the main page
You can find out more information about MS, and Ron's organization by visiting: www.msrf.org
Check out Bumblefoot's solo music at www.myspace.com/bumblefoot or www.bumblefoot.com
Nick Rozz is a twenty-something guitar player from Hollywood, California. The former guitar player for The Tattooed Millionaires took time out of his busy schedule, and upcoming project, to discuss music with our editor Tanya Vece.
More than words....
I became aware of Nick Rozz earlier this year at The House of Blues in Las Vegas. I was sitting at the back of an unfilled room with my brother and Dave Navarro. A pile of black haired and under fed looking guys were checking their equipment on the stage, preparing to warm up the room for the main event (Navarro). The band looked like a typical Hollywood band. All the members oozed trashy bad-boyness. As the lights went down the band all took their shirts off at once. I nearly spit my beer out. My brother looked at me and asked if this was a joke. Navarro and his girlfriend left the room.
As I stood and listened the band reminded me of Guns N' Roses meets The Sex Pistols. I also noticed one more thing, their guitar player was too talented to be mixed up with the rest of this dying breed of Motley Crue imposters. He played better than the rest, looked better than the rest and seemed to have the IT factor. The side of the stage near Nick Rozz was packed with girls as the rest of the stage front remained empty.
I tried to track down Mr. Rozz over the next couple of months. I missed him at The Rox Club, and then again at Prive. Unbeknownst to me Nick was getting ready to part from The Tattooed Millionaires and take off on an incredible journey making his own music. As I spoke to Rozz one Thursday afternoon I found his excitement for his new project and overall passion for music really stood out. He was eager to talk about his music. The interview lasted more than an hour and Nick often took over the conversation going into detail about everything from his opinion on Axl Rose, how MySpace isn't necessarily a good thing for musicians, and the Los Angeles club scene.
Nick Rozz's story starts off like many other aspiring musicians. At 18 Nick left the whole-wheat goodness of sleepy Connecticut for a chance to make it in plastic fantastic Hollywood. A place where bands like Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses and others all got their start. Like other musicians, Nick started playing Jam Nights and "met as many people as I could". Unlike the other aspiring musicians, Nick has never had to "have a real job". Rozz was able to support himself by playing in cover bands.
He eventually picked up a gig as the guitar player for The Tattooed Millionaires. A band with a dedicated street team of blind followers whose love for their lead singer Johnny Jetson somehow forgives Jetson for his lack of talent. In fact the times I have tried to contact him, Jetson was rude or busy asking his fans for money. Bails outs of Johnny's van, food, and other requests are often posted by Jetson on his band's Myspace.
I asked Nick about his two years with the Tattooed Millionaires, and referenced a post I read stating Rozz called the band a "toxic environment". Nick said "I was a hired man. The band held back my creativity. I was treated liked a hired guy which is fine but then I can't be a hired guy and creative with it is convenient." Rozz continued, "There were two schools of thought going on and creative differences. I don't have any bad wishes for anyone. It was just time for me to move on. It was time for all of us to do our own things."
I will say if you look at the band's history the ever changing line up does say something about a temperamental lead singer who is larger than life in his own mind. Nick Rozz will be spending the next couple of months in the studio and pitching his newest project through his lawyer. The other members , including a singer from Atlanta, and a drummer from Boston, who have been working with Rozz via E-mailing completed demos back and forth from other cities, can not be named at this time. "Music really shouldn't be about how your hair looks" Nick said speaking of his new project.
"I grew up listening to Motley Crue and the like, but I dont think that waking up and doing an eightball every morning would really help my career right now. Kids today are young, dumb and full of cum." The guitarist said. Nick's new project is still a heavy rock album with modern influence and is really about where he is now at this point in his life. He wants the project to be right, and he has worked hard not to buy into the bullshit of Hollywood's self-promotion tactics. Nick then confessed an unknown rule of the current LA based nightclubs. "There are kids paying to play right now. They have no material, no idea what they are doing and to be honest, there are really no bands getting signed out of Hollywood circut right now. They pay to open for a semi-known band hoping to get noticed!"
Rozz is doing something different and his theory may have all the right combinations of talent and business to get him noticed. He has material. He isn't self-promoting a name or an image. He doesn't have leaked clips of his project on his Myspace and he isn't paying the clubs help him pave his way. Nick Rozz is actually working, silently and in the shadows of California's hills, with the help of modern recording technology to connect his musicians across the country. Nick has been busy developing a product that is worth more than a cheaply put together demo followed up by a glossy Myspace. Rozz's project promises to have roots to hold the rock to his roll. He says the new album, still untitled, has about thirty songs written by him. He will be spending the holidays of 2008 to go though the songs and see just what will make it to press, or digital these days.
"I don't like to listen to my own stuff after it is done, so it can get hard at times to really know what 12 songs I like the best out of so many demos." the guitarist said about the task at hand. "There is one song called City Fools. It is basically my view of Los Angeles." Nick went on to say "The cream always rises to the top" about his upcoming project and why he has remained reserved about it. "Art is art. Anyone can have a 16 track demo on Myspace. Kids think being in a band is easy and they can make it via MySpace or the internet. Myspace is almost polluting the music business and its growth. You have thousands of unsigned bands on there and maybe thirty of them are really good. Those thirty may never get noticed because of all the sixteen year olds on there with their photos replacing what is supposed to be a band."
"There is no Aerosmith these days!" Rozz went on to say about today's music. "I grew up listening to Appetite for Destruction. That doesn't mean I should try to re-create that record! I want to make something different that will stand the test of time like Appetite but I don't want to re-create Appetite." Nick and I discussed the state of music today and how something is truly missing. I hope with the return of Axl Rose's GNR arena rock will make a comback. As Nick and I discussed this, the conversation turned to the art of a performance.
"Kids like it when I spit on them. They want a show. I'm not anything like the person you see on stage. I'm pretty quiet, I like to stay home a lot. The person on stage is almost and alter ego. If I go to a show I expect to be entertained. I know from seeing it all over the country that kids today expect that from a live show as well."
Hopefully we all will get "spit on" by Nick Rozz soon. He teased a few surprises shows with his new band in Las Vegas and Los Angeles during the early first part of 2009. However his hesitation to guard the project still remained. I could tell he was still contemplating if he wanted the album to be picked up for a contract prior to doing any shows, but I could also tell Nick is a true musician and really wanted to get out there on stage and let his alter ego run wild.
I'm glad I finally got a chance to catch up with Nick Rozz and see what he has been up to since leaving The Tattooed Millionaires. After our conversation, and the various things Nick Rozz and I spoke about, I can honestly say this: Unlike the city Rozz calls home, unlike the other bands paying clubs to play, unlike most of the bands on Myspace who are more about self-promotion than music, and unlike some of the bands who currently have made it when they shouldn't (this means you The Killers and The Jonas Brothers) Nick Rozz's talent is 100% more than just words. One can tell after speaking to him and hearing the excitement in his voice that he will make it, and make it on talent not talk!
As soon as I know when Nick Rozz's project is inked - or when he will be coming to a town near you, of course I will let my readers know.
Check out Nick's MySpace page: