During the recording process of the new album, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and his wife, Jennifer (Mrs. Bumblefoot), produced teasers for the album that give valuable insight into the recording process, how much work is involved in what he does, and how things are sometimes done much differently than what you’d expect. It’s an opportunity to grow with an album, watch it develop and get each layer added on. And in Bumblefoot’s case, these teasers (and the finished product – available NOW as of February 24, 2015) show his sheer passion and artistic brilliance in creating something completely unique and impressive… just like he’s done with his other 9 albums.
As such an accessible, kind and truly giving musician, Bumblefoot extends and connects himself to his fans in unique ways. He loves getting people involved and will live stream so the fans can watch him tracking.
Ron phoned in to the conference call, we did a quick introduction and asked him how he was:
“Wonderful! Everything is cool! Freezing – New Jersey!”
We asked him how long he had for the call and he replied “15 hours!”
When Natalia asked him if he could understand her accent, he replied, “Je comprends. Qui.” (French for “Yes, I understand”)
When Bumblefoot asked about her accent, and she explained that she’s Russian, he surprised us again by saying “Привет, Меня зовут Бамблфут. Как дела?” (Russian for “Hi. My name is Bumblefoot. How are you doing?”)
After switching back to English, we discussed his unconventional method of acquiring group vocals and noises. Bumblefoot spoke about his recently held album listening party/crowd recording session which he described as “the icing on the cake” for his recording.
“An album is something you share with everybody, and, for me, I like when everybody is a part of it. So in this album, there was a lot of personal songs where I wanted to have group chants, people stomping their feet, people singing along, big crowds. We got a venue in Brooklyn, New York, and we had the first 100 people that wanted to be a part of it to give us their information, and we all met there. I would play a song, we would talk about the song and do a little ‘question & answer.’”
Bumblefoot told the crowd funny stories about things and while people were laughing, he took their laughter and put it into one of the album’s songs. He would also show them the parts to sing, and then they all would sing together. He recorded it and went to the studio the next day to take all those parts that everybody sang and synch them into the song. He actually ended up using the contributions of the crowd on over half the album’s songs and the album credits now include Dennis Leeflang on drums and a “Backing Vocals” list of a hundred names.
“LITTLE BROTHER IS WATCHING”
The discussion turned to how the new album’s general theme seems to revolve around technology, the digital age, and the concept of “Little Brother”:
“It comes from the old George Orwell Book 1984 (circa 1949), where in the book, there is a whole concept of government watching everything you do and it says “Big Brother is Watching You.” I thought about how that was what they predicted years ago.
But… they didn’t predict that the people will get the technology and the people to do the watching, and that we will be able to watch over the government, watch each other, and will be exposing ourselves… and that makes us “Little Brother”.
So for me, it’s the next generation, the next revolution of it all – the little brother is watching! And that is what we live now.
We live in a time when we do all the watching, exposing, it all goes on YouTube: the good, the bad, everything in between. This is how we live now. We choose to upload and show everything that we are doing, or sometimes someone does it against our will, or someone does it for us, and we just live in age where everything is available for the word to see. And it could lead to a lot of pressure on people – like they need to be perfect. Or it could make you feel like you know there is nothing that… you can’t fight it, so might as well just enjoy it and be yourself and not worry about it. It kinda makes us look at ourselves a little bit, and our reaction to this technology. The telling about who we are forces us to look at ourselves.”
ALBUM TEASER VIDEOS:
TRACK BREAKDOWNS (Bumblefoot breaks down the 11 tracks on the release)
NOTE: Mrs. Bumblefoot, whom he first went on a blind date with 25 years ago yesterday (very cool!), shot and edited the following videos to document the album’s recording process. When asked about her talents and involvement in the project, Bumblefoot said, “She deserves an Emmy!”
“Like a punky Queen song. Clots is similar to, I guess, my last album “Abnormal” – sort of melodic, but a pinky edge to it. That one was the first song I wrote with this album in mind. This is the first song that I just wrote specifically thinking in my head: “NEXT ALBUM!” It was about a cancer diagnosis and the doctor visits.”
“A very interesting song… That one I had from a year before – its something I started writing as a collaboration for Guns N’ Roses, but it never happened, so I kept it for myself.
I had the first part of the song – an epic kind of thing that reminded me of a tango, and I had the melodies, and I one line to the song. Now I know what it’s like to live two lives and have to choose. I didn’t have the rest of the song, then as I continued writing, it all just built itself and became like love story tragedy kinda of thing.”
The first section is about abandoning all reason and logic and jumping in to something. Part two is more about not seeing eye to eye, misreading each other, not understanding each other, thinking something differently then what it was and be imbalanced. The third part is about how things end, how love turns into scorn – that thing that passion becomes when it instead of something beautiful it becomes something just about trying to hurt the other person.”
We romanticize our pain and justify our rage, we excuse ourselves, we remove ourselves from all the wars we wage. We call it love.
DON’T KNOW WHO TO PRAY TO ANYMORE
“It’s about when life has challenged you so much that you just start to question your faith, or you’re too angry to have faith and know you need to get pass that anger, but you’re just not there yet!”
LIVING THE DREAM
“A great example of life on tour – what it’s like, the things you miss, the things you love, and what the whole experiences is like. It tells the story well about it all. It’s not about all the partying and all that stuff. It’s about emotions and sort of living that double life.
It’s in the lyrics, talking about that first flight when you leave home – taking off at 2 a.m. as who I am and land as who I need to be.”
“It’s about gossip and comparing the life cycle of gossip… how it gets its source – a little seed that gets planted under your skin, festers, turns into a monster, and eventually comes out, and spreads like a parasitic fly.”
“An interesting song about enjoying life right now. You know there is never gonna be another NOW for you, and you owe it to yourself to make this moment something that you’re gonna look back on as a good memory, and also how a song is usually a soundtrack to that moment, when you hear a song on a radio, and it takes you back to that moment and it makes you remember it again.”
WOMEN RULE THE WORLD
“Let’s be honest, everything men do and try, control and conquer, is all to impress women. And we stumble and being fools around them. It’s their world and they just let us act like we own it.”
“A song about when you’re living life,and you’re sort of, not necessarily in denial, but you’re not really facing who you are, what you are doing and where you are at. It’s like you’re just avoiding what you need to really look at.”
“Eternity is a love song about how you can’t wait to go to sleep just so you can wake up with the person you love.”
“A song about caring too much to the point that it’s doing more harm than good. You say I’d never do that again , but it’ll happen again.”
LITTLE BROTHER IS WATCHING (TITLE TRACK)
“I listened to a lot of Iron Maiden on a tour bus while doing a tour with Yngwie Malmsteen called Guitar Gods playing around the world. And that’s when I wrote that one.
I’ve done albums where I produced people where I’d just keep a live stream going as we’d be laying tracks and doing everything, so people could just watch – going back to (laughs) the whole concept of little brother watching.“