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BUMBLEFOOT Looks Back On His Time With GUNS N' ROSES: 'I Was Inexperienced At Being A Hired Gun In A Stadium Band'


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Former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal has described his eight-year stint with the band as a "very intense" experience.

 

Thal joined GUNS N' ROSES in 2006 and played on 2008's "Chinese Democracy", an album which contained music that had been written before he came into the group. The disc took 13 years to make and was only a modest seller, moving just around half a million copies.

 

Thal looked back on his time with GUNS N' ROSES during a March 12 appearance on FaceCulture's "Behind The Music" livestream. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "My dream was always to be in a John-Paul-George-Ringo, not John-Paul-George-and-a-hired-guy," he said, referring to THE BEATLES' classic lineup. "Not to put it down and not to understate the eight years that I had with [GUNS N' ROSES] — and I did write and play my own parts on 'Chinese Democracy' — but for me, I need to be a founding member and a writer of the music and a creative part of it.

 

"When I played with GUNS, it was cool playing all the big stages and everything," he continued. 'Yes, that was wonderful, and it's what you aspire to as a kid when you start out."

 

Asked to describe his years with GUNS N' ROSES with one word, Thal said: "Intense. It was very intense. It was high highs, low lows and everything in between. And I made a lot of good friends. I hate to say I learned a lot of things, 'cause it's not supposed to be an education — you're supposed to be there 'cause you don't need an education, but you never stop learning, and that's the truth. And I got experiences and learned things that I didn't do yet. So that was good. But at the same time, I was touring a lot before GUNS — a good 10 years of international touring. I mean, I played Russia before GUNS did, doing solo stuff — things like that. So it's not like I was completely inexperienced. I was just inexperienced at being a hired gun in a stadium band or an arena band. So with that, that was a whole new thing. 'Cause for me, bands were your friends that you played together and you had this familial kind of relationship, and you're not just brought in to play with strangers. And I have done that kind of thing as well, where I've been called in to play gigs, but never on something on such a big scale and where it would be something that really is the biggest thing of notable name recognition or anything that I had done. So that was different. And there's lots that come with that that you didn't expect."

 

Asked if he still speaks with GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose, Thal laughed and said: "He's doing his thing, I'm doing my thing, and I wish them all the best. And I'm so happy to see how great they're doing with [classic-lineup members] Slash and Duff [McKagan]. I'm very happy for them."

 

Thal never officially announced his departure from the GN'R, but a source confirmed to Detroit music writer Gary Graff back in 2015 that the guitarist had been out since the end of the band's second Las Vegas residency in 2014.

 

Thal later revealed that he was focusing on his solo career and other projects after spending eight years playing in GUNS.

 

In a 2017 interview with Meltdown of the Detroit radio station WRIF, Thal said that it would feel "kind of weird" if he went to see the reunited partial classic lineup of GUNS N' ROSES perform in concert. "I quit the band and they moved on and I moved on. It's not like we quit pretty," he explained. "And also, what am I gonna do? I'm gonna stand in the audience and everyone's gonna be, like, 'Hey, you used to be there.' It's too weird, man.

 

"I wish 'em well and all, but to actually physically go [and see them], after hundreds of times on the stage with them, it just feels very surreal," he continued. "I always describe it like going to see your ex-girlfriend's wedding. And I don't mean any disrespect by that, and I do wish them well and I'm happy that they're doing so, so good. But for me to go and see it, it would just stir up a lot of stuff. So it's better that I'm just doing my thing, they're doing their thing and everybody just wishes each other well from afar. And I get lots of good reports from friends and everything and I'm still in touch with people in the camp. I'm real happy for them — they're on top of the world right now, so good for them."

 

Back in September, Thal told Jam Man that he "sometimes did" and "sometimes didn't" get along with the members of GUNS N' ROSES while he was in the band. "When a bunch of dudes are living together for months at a time, traveling from place to place and living such an intense life while you have this whole other life that's happening back home that needs you, there's a lot of things that can wear a person down, individuals," he explained. "And when that person gets worn down, they're not gonna be at their best. And other people, depending on who they are, the way they react to people who are worn down and not at their best, it will trigger things in them and maybe not bring out their best. And it's very easy for the stress to get the best of people in a group environment — whether it's a band, whether it's an office, whether it's anyting. That's just the nature of human beings. The way we feel is very contagious. If one person is foul, everyone gets foul. If one person is happy, everyone can get happy. If one person is laughing, everyone starts laughing. So it's very easy for us — and when I say 'us,' I mean any group of people — to react to each other in any direction.

 

"So, yeah, there were times when we got along great, [and] some times when we really didn't, and everything in between," he continued. "But ultimately, when you get on stage, most of the time, you forget everything and you just get lost in the music and you're having a great time in that moment, just making music and being a part of something that's bigger than ourselves and more meaningful than whatever you're going through. And you're there for hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands or whatever it is, that many people, that are there to be happy. And it's hard not to be when you're part of that."

 

Thal is currently a member of SONS OF APOLLO, which also features drummer Mike Portnoy, keyboardist Derek Sherinian and bassist Billy Sheehan. SONS OF APOLLO released its second studio album, "MMXX" (pronounced: 20/20), in January 2020 via InsideOut Music/Sony.

https://www.blabbermouth.net/news/bumblefoot-looks-back-on-his-time-with-guns-n-roses-i-was-inexperienced-at-being-a-hired-gun-in-a-stadium-band/

 

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I really didn't like GNR as a 3 guitar band. I have an even stronger disdain for the 2 keyboardists!

I've long thought Dizzy's tambourine playing in You Could Be Mine is the highlight of any live GNR performance. 

The next GN'R album will absolutely feature some recordings that are 20 years old or older. They just won't use any guitar or bass parts from another who was in the band from 1996 to 2014 

He's a helluva player, Ron Thal. Kinda wish Axl had stuck to a 2 guitar line up, and utilised him more. We migh have even controversially seen an album released, but alas that was not part of the big plan. Oh no no no.

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8 minutes ago, 19AT5 said:

He's a helluva player, Ron Thal. Kinda wish Axl had stuck to a 2 guitar line up, and utilised him more. We migh have even controversially seen an album released, but alas that was not part of the big plan. Oh no no no.

Both Bumble and Bucket would have worked well in a two guitar lineup. And they both have the skills to deserve it. Shame it didn't happen. 

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48 minutes ago, ToonGuns said:

Both Bumble and Bucket would have worked well in a two guitar lineup. And they both have the skills to deserve it. Shame it didn't happen. 

I really didn't like GNR as a 3 guitar band. I have an even stronger disdain for the 2 keyboardists!

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5 minutes ago, 19AT5 said:

I really didn't like GNR as a 3 guitar band. I have an even stronger disdain for the 2 keyboardists!

If they went to one keyboardist would you not miss the sub-bass and bongos?

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20 minutes ago, ToonGuns said:

If they went to one keyboardist would you not miss the sub-bass and bongos?

I've long thought Dizzy's tambourine playing in You Could Be Mine is the highlight of any live GNR performance. 

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3 hours ago, StayofExecution2020 said:

Former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal has described his eight-year stint with the band as a "very intense" experience.

 

Thal joined GUNS N' ROSES in 2006 and played on 2008's "Chinese Democracy", an album which contained music that had been written before he came into the group. The disc took 13 years to make and was only a modest seller, moving just around half a million copies.

 

Thal looked back on his time with GUNS N' ROSES during a March 12 appearance on FaceCulture's "Behind The Music" livestream. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "My dream was always to be in a John-Paul-George-Ringo, not John-Paul-George-and-a-hired-guy," he said, referring to THE BEATLES' classic lineup. "Not to put it down and not to understate the eight years that I had with [GUNS N' ROSES] — and I did write and play my own parts on 'Chinese Democracy' — but for me, I need to be a founding member and a writer of the music and a creative part of it.

 

"When I played with GUNS, it was cool playing all the big stages and everything," he continued. 'Yes, that was wonderful, and it's what you aspire to as a kid when you start out."

 

Asked to describe his years with GUNS N' ROSES with one word, Thal said: "Intense. It was very intense. It was high highs, low lows and everything in between. And I made a lot of good friends. I hate to say I learned a lot of things, 'cause it's not supposed to be an education — you're supposed to be there 'cause you don't need an education, but you never stop learning, and that's the truth. And I got experiences and learned things that I didn't do yet. So that was good. But at the same time, I was touring a lot before GUNS — a good 10 years of international touring. I mean, I played Russia before GUNS did, doing solo stuff — things like that. So it's not like I was completely inexperienced. I was just inexperienced at being a hired gun in a stadium band or an arena band. So with that, that was a whole new thing. 'Cause for me, bands were your friends that you played together and you had this familial kind of relationship, and you're not just brought in to play with strangers. And I have done that kind of thing as well, where I've been called in to play gigs, but never on something on such a big scale and where it would be something that really is the biggest thing of notable name recognition or anything that I had done. So that was different. And there's lots that come with that that you didn't expect."

 

Asked if he still speaks with GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose, Thal laughed and said: "He's doing his thing, I'm doing my thing, and I wish them all the best. And I'm so happy to see how great they're doing with [classic-lineup members] Slash and Duff [McKagan]. I'm very happy for them."

 

Thal never officially announced his departure from the GN'R, but a source confirmed to Detroit music writer Gary Graff back in 2015 that the guitarist had been out since the end of the band's second Las Vegas residency in 2014.

 

Thal later revealed that he was focusing on his solo career and other projects after spending eight years playing in GUNS.

 

In a 2017 interview with Meltdown of the Detroit radio station WRIF, Thal said that it would feel "kind of weird" if he went to see the reunited partial classic lineup of GUNS N' ROSES perform in concert. "I quit the band and they moved on and I moved on. It's not like we quit pretty," he explained. "And also, what am I gonna do? I'm gonna stand in the audience and everyone's gonna be, like, 'Hey, you used to be there.' It's too weird, man.

 

"I wish 'em well and all, but to actually physically go [and see them], after hundreds of times on the stage with them, it just feels very surreal," he continued. "I always describe it like going to see your ex-girlfriend's wedding. And I don't mean any disrespect by that, and I do wish them well and I'm happy that they're doing so, so good. But for me to go and see it, it would just stir up a lot of stuff. So it's better that I'm just doing my thing, they're doing their thing and everybody just wishes each other well from afar. And I get lots of good reports from friends and everything and I'm still in touch with people in the camp. I'm real happy for them — they're on top of the world right now, so good for them."

 

Back in September, Thal told Jam Man that he "sometimes did" and "sometimes didn't" get along with the members of GUNS N' ROSES while he was in the band. "When a bunch of dudes are living together for months at a time, traveling from place to place and living such an intense life while you have this whole other life that's happening back home that needs you, there's a lot of things that can wear a person down, individuals," he explained. "And when that person gets worn down, they're not gonna be at their best. And other people, depending on who they are, the way they react to people who are worn down and not at their best, it will trigger things in them and maybe not bring out their best. And it's very easy for the stress to get the best of people in a group environment — whether it's a band, whether it's an office, whether it's anyting. That's just the nature of human beings. The way we feel is very contagious. If one person is foul, everyone gets foul. If one person is happy, everyone can get happy. If one person is laughing, everyone starts laughing. So it's very easy for us — and when I say 'us,' I mean any group of people — to react to each other in any direction.

 

"So, yeah, there were times when we got along great, [and] some times when we really didn't, and everything in between," he continued. "But ultimately, when you get on stage, most of the time, you forget everything and you just get lost in the music and you're having a great time in that moment, just making music and being a part of something that's bigger than ourselves and more meaningful than whatever you're going through. And you're there for hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands or whatever it is, that many people, that are there to be happy. And it's hard not to be when you're part of that."

 

Thal is currently a member of SONS OF APOLLO, which also features drummer Mike Portnoy, keyboardist Derek Sherinian and bassist Billy Sheehan. SONS OF APOLLO released its second studio album, "MMXX" (pronounced: 20/20), in January 2020 via InsideOut Music/Sony.

https://www.blabbermouth.net/news/bumblefoot-looks-back-on-his-time-with-guns-n-roses-i-was-inexperienced-at-being-a-hired-gun-in-a-stadium-band/

 

This surely can’t be accurate?  I know some sales figures just factored in how many Best Buy purchased etc.....but the total sold regardless must have been more? I mean, I don’t think it’s ever been publicised how many Best Buy actually sold?

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12 minutes ago, DTJ80 said:

This surely can’t be accurate?  I know some sales figures just factored in how many Best Buy purchased etc.....but the total sold regardless must have been more? I mean, I don’t think it’s ever been publicised how many Best Buy actually sold?

I think it's just US mate. I think you only get the Platinum for sales once you exceed 1 million copies, though happy to be told otherwise!

Here's what Wiki has to say: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Democracy#Certifications

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7 minutes ago, DTJ80 said:

This surely can’t be accurate?  I know some sales figures just factored in how many Best Buy purchased etc.....but the total sold regardless must have been more? I mean, I don’t think it’s ever been publicised how many Best Buy actually sold?

I don't know the actual figures, but it's safe to say it's much, much more than this. I think that was the number in america, but sure the album was certified platinum in the US alone, so already that number is incorrect. There are those that love to spread misinformation about that album though, saying nobody bought the album. 

Well, the album sold much less than all previous releases but it also sold in or around the mark of other legacy acts of 2008 releases.

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23 minutes ago, Tom2112 said:

Well, the album sold much less than all previous releases but it also sold in or around the mark of other legacy acts of 2008 releases.

I'm not sure that's accurate. Chinese Democracy did not perform as well as Metallica's Death Magnetic or AC/DC's Black Ice albums. Rock radio here in the UK certainly did not play all that many CD tracks for all that long comparatively to the other albums. I think most reviews in written press were generally favourably though.

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Half a million!?!?   That MUCH?

I am bummed.

Honestly guys, I hate to bring you the truth, but back in the day, billboard was bringing out facts about sales - down to the ticket.

outside US and London, they hardly exceeded over 2,500 tix on a solo gig basis. They played 10k Arenas that were 1/5 full

Do some research, those links were posted here back in the day

 

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24 minutes ago, 19AT5 said:

I'm not sure that's accurate. Chinese Democracy did not perform as well as Metallica's Death Magnetic or AC/DC's Black Ice albums. Rock radio here in the UK certainly did not play all that many CD tracks for all that long comparatively to the other albums. I think most reviews in written press were generally favourably though.

Both outsold it by a good bit, think they sold about 5 million while chinese hit about 3 million? 

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27 minutes ago, Tom2112 said:

Both outsold it by a good bit, think they sold about 5 million while chinese hit about 3 million? 

If you believe ChiDem sold 3mil I have a bridge to sell you. 

Probably 1mil worldwide tops.

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5 minutes ago, Towelie said:

If you believe ChiDem sold 3mil I have a bridge to sell you. 

Probably 1mil worldwide tops.

I have no problem believing pretty official calculations. Until I see numbers suggesting otherwise i'll be sticking with them.

End of the day in America there's registered sales of 1 million copies, so already you're wrong. Are you saying, nobody in europe or the rest of the world bought the record? Don't think so. I think 3 million sales is very modest for a band with a fanbase as broad as gnr...

A lot of people would have bought the record without knowing that it was stylistically different from the previous albums. So, while it may be unpopular those sales figures are still counted and add up. Bare minimum would be about 2.5 million worldwide, and I highly doubt it's that low.

 

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11 minutes ago, Towelie said:

If you believe ChiDem sold 3mil I have a bridge to sell you. 

Probably 1mil worldwide tops.

 

From wiki: Chinese Democracy won an IFPI European Platinum Award, having sold more than one million copies in Europe,[300][301] and had sold 2.6 million units worldwide by February 2009, according to Universal Music.

5 mil worldwide since its release isn't that much of a stretch, but I don't know where to find the total sales figures. :shrugs:

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4 hours ago, Frankfurt93 said:

Half a million!?!?   That MUCH?

I am bummed.

Honestly guys, I hate to bring you the truth, but back in the day, billboard was bringing out facts about sales - down to the ticket.

outside US and London, they hardly exceeded over 2,500 tix on a solo gig basis. They played 10k Arenas that were 1/5 full

Do some research, those links were posted here back in the day

 

Whatever you brought, it‘s not the truth... :lol: i saw them twice on a solo gig. First time in holland with around 12000people and second time in germany with 18000 people.. 

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2 hours ago, WARose said:

Whatever you brought, it‘s not the truth..:lol: i saw them twice on a solo gig. First time in holland with around 12000people and second time in germany with 18000 people.. 

As I said, that info was from the links posted HERE.   No need to be cynical, it wouldn't have to be too hard to search the internet for ticket sales of ie 2015, 2014, 2012...,given I already told you where to look.

Furthemore, I will tell you that booking Axl band in 2012 was already possible for under 200k. (and yes, I do know ppl whose agency booked 2 shows on the European leg 2012).

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1 minute ago, Frankfurt93 said:

As I said, that info was from the links posted HERE.   No need to be cynical, it wouldn't have to be too hard to search the internet for ticket sales of ie 2015, 2014, 2012...,given I already told you where to look.

Furthemore, I will tell you that booking Axl band in 2012 was already possible for under 200k. (and yes, I do know ppl whose agency booked 2 shows on the European leg 2012).

 

2 hours ago, WARose said:

Whatever you brought, it‘s not the truth... :lol: i saw them twice on a solo gig. First time in holland with around 12000people and second time in germany with 18000 people.. 

When was this 2011, 2014...?  now I am totally bummed.   You guys in Holland DID know that Slash/Duff/Iz/Gilby/Matt were long gonne before purchasing the tickets, even though the show was marketed as GNR, right!?

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3 hours ago, WARose said:

Whatever you brought, it‘s not the truth... :lol: i saw them twice on a solo gig. First time in holland with around 12000people and second time in germany with 18000 people.. 

What shows did they do to 18,000 people in Germany? Not including festivals they were part of of course. 

They really struggled in the UK, especially after 2006. People say they 'filled venues' but they really didn't without free tickets and areas of the buildings being shut off. People often claim other than that, and that the shows were sold out (I've no idea why) but even as a huge fan of those years of GNR I couldn't possibly argue they were selling tickets at scale. It benefitted me though, selfishly, as you could always get in for free! 

 

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5 minutes ago, allwaystired said:

What shows did they do to 18,000 people in Germany? Not including festivals they were part of of course. 

They really struggled in the UK, especially after 2006. People say they 'filled venues' but they really didn't without free tickets and areas of the buildings being shut off. People often claim other than that, and that the shows were sold out (I've no idea why) but even as a huge fan of those years of GNR I couldn't possibly argue they were selling tickets at scale. It benefitted me though, selfishly, as you could always get in for free! 

 

 

They were really hit or miss in North America, in some cities they'd sell 15-20,000 tickets and in others they'd be lucky to sell 5,000 tickets. More often than not, they sold less than 10,000 tickets. Most of the European shows in 2006-10 sold between 10-20,000 tickets though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Democracy_Tour

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18 minutes ago, Gordon Comstock said:

 

They were really hit or miss in North America, in some cities they'd sell 15-20,000 tickets and in others they'd be lucky to sell 5,000 tickets. More often than not, they sold less than 10,000 tickets. Most of the European shows in 2006-10 sold between 10-20,000 tickets though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Democracy_Tour

I saw them at the Fillmore Detroit in early 2012. That place has a capacity of 2900, so I RAN to get tickets when they went on sale. Even though I knew GN'R wasn't a big draw at all by that time, I thought they'd sell out a 2900 seater for sure. 

Imagine my surprise when they were selling tickets 2-for-1 in the week leading up to the show and it still wasn't a sellout by showtime. 

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31 minutes ago, Gordon Comstock said:

 

They were really hit or miss in North America, in some cities they'd sell 15-20,000 tickets and in others they'd be lucky to sell 5,000 tickets. More often than not, they sold less than 10,000 tickets. Most of the European shows in 2006-10 sold between 10-20,000 tickets though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Democracy_Tour

I'd take that Wikipedia article with a massive pinch of salt. It's claiming shows as 'sold out' on there that I attended which had whole tiers of seats sectioned off and so were far from sold out. All the ones that were free ticketed are down as the same. 

I can only speak for the UK here- no idea what the situation was in other countries. 

 

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17 minutes ago, RussTCB said:

I saw them at the Fillmore Detroit in early 2012. That place has a capacity of 2900, so I RAN to get tickets when they went on sale. Even though I knew GN'R wasn't a big draw at all by that time, I thought they'd sell out a 2900 seater for sure. 

Imagine my surprise when they were selling tickets 2-for-1 in the week leading up to the show and it still wasn't a sellout by showtime. 

Wow- yeah that's crazy. I do wonder though to be honest how many tickets they actually SOLD at some of the shows I saw, once you took away all the free ones and offers. I always found it odd they continued to be booked into arenas, as someone, somewhere, must have been losing a lot of money. Axl even mentioned that fact in the interview he did to push Vegas sales as I recall. 

There's just no doubt about the fact the band were in financial trouble at that point. It's not even regarded as a 'secret'. 

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