By Andrew Catania
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ron Bumblefoot Thal backstage before Sons of Apollo North American tour kicked off in Orlando last month. We discuss Ron’s creative freedom he has in SOA.
Whose idea was it to form Sons of Apollo?
RBT: Derek and Mike’s. Billy and I get different versions of it all. Hear Mike say that, you know, Derek wanted to put a band together again and then Derrick will tell Mike wanted to put a group together. So it was the two of them. Mike sent me a message saying, hey, you know, how we always talked about putting a band together? I was like, sure? We got this thing in the works and think you’d be the guy for it, and they told me what they were picturing and what they wanted to do it, and it all worked out.
How did you guys start the creative process?
RBT: It’s funny because people would say with five egos in the room, how did you do it? It’s the opposite. There are five guys that respect and trust each other and they get along right? We have nothing to prove, nothing to show. A lot of people would have asked that and they would expect that we would be battling saying I want it my way. It was the opposite. One person would come up with an idea off the top of their head, and we would all say, cool, let’s run with it and just start jamming on it and make it become something. We’re here to make music and do what we do and just let the ideas flow. We had a great time just letting it happen. We just busted out song after song and started off as me, Derek and Mike in the studio, and we just hammered out, posting out everything. When Billy got off his Mr. Big tour, he joined us, and there was the four of us. Then at the end, Jeff got off his tour and put his vocals to the music. It was great.
How would you rate being in Sons of Apollo compared to your previous projects and bands?
RBT: I try to put everything to be at it’s best. Every album I’ve put out for the last 20 years I try to make the next one out do the others. Whether be songwriting, sound quality or whatever it is. Just every aspect of it. I want to surpass what I’ve done. I try to make it better than the last thing I did. That’s what I shoot for. Just keep raising the bar.
Are you surprised by the reaction to the Sons of Apollo album?
RBT: I did not expect it to take off as it has I thought it was just going to be cool to be doing a project for music lovers, but next thing I know there’s like all of these women hit me up saying they love the album. A lot of the Guns and Roses fans have come up to me and said they love the album. The best thing that came out of Guns and Roses was the friendships I made. I’m surprised how many people like this. I thought it was just going to be something that musicians wanted. Where ever I go in this world, people are excited about it Before the album came out, I was in Bangladesh, and many people were asking when are Sons of Apollo going to play here. Whenever I went in the world and any place, the first thing they would ask me was about Sons of Apollo. There’s this worldwide excitement and interest that was beyond what I expected.
Do you have more creative freedom with writing songs with SOA then you did with Guns and Roses?
RBT: I mean, in Sons of Apollo these songs are as much as mine as they are the other members, In Guns and Roses the goal was to take existing songs and give them to the audience the best I can in the way that they grew to love them. Pay proper respect to the legacy of the band. With Sons of Apollo, this is my creation along with them. I am one of the parents, and it’s something we made together from nothing. We’re already talking about album number two, and there was a bunch of ideas and were talking about what kind of mobile recording rig we’re going to put in the bus so we can be recording together while on tour. We’re already looking toward the future, which is important I think for fans to know as well because there’s the stigma that comes with a bunch of guys that have so many other things that they’ve done and might think we’re not going to commit to this. If we don’t invest ourselves into this, how can we expect fans to invest themselves into? So we need to reassure them that we’re invested in and we are.
Do you have a funny story that you’ve never told anyone?
RBT: There was a label that used to hire me to sing lounge versions of rap and metal, tribute albums, and I went under two different fake names. One was this Tom Jones, the guy that had a very crude kind of voice named Herbert Ruffles Lovecraft. And the other guy was this guy with a real gravelly voice that was borderline senile and yelling at his band all the time, just like that belligerent old school Tyron. This guys name was Checkers Goldstein.
I did three albums that I sang on and one of them that I did the all of the music and everything. One of them was called it Sabbath in the Suburbs.
Do the autograph seekers that sell your autograph on eBay bother you?
RBT: When it first started happening, I felt a little out of control. I felt like I lost control of my life, and that’s how a lot of people think. But then you just say in the scheme of life, big fucking deal. You know what? It’s not hurting me. He’s not taking anything away from me. And if someone is making twenty bucks by giving something to someone that they value fine, A problem I have is with these cattle calls they call meet and greets. People pay big bucks to meet you and you get all of twenty seconds to say hey and goodbye.
on Shiprocked, you get 20 seconds with each person and it still takes an hour and a half because there’s a line going across the entire height of the ship. It’s not cool to the fewer people to make them wait two hours because you’re having conversations with everybody. I would instead divide into two and have conversations with everybody because the true meet and greet, you want to feel like you met everyone the right. I meet with all of my fans after my solo shows. There the ones that pay to see us.
For more information on Ron Bumblefoot Thal please visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/bumblefoot/
Sons of Apollo at https://www.facebook.com/SonsOfApollo1/