see also: Bumblefoot - Hands (CD Review)
Bumblefoot - Uncool (CD Review)
Bumblefoot - 9/11 (CD Review)
This month we decided to brave the turbulent seas of... er... just you try coming up with an analogy that works with "Bumblefoot." How's this: We're branching out into the land of honey and striped-feet to bring you an interview with one of music's most innovative and downright wacky artists - the inimitable Bumblefoot.
Eric: We should get the basics out of the way first - what are your biggest musical influences? Have you pretty much always been into music?
Bumblefoot: Hello sir. The basics - yep, always into music. Grew up on the Beatles and old Kiss, alot of metal Manowar, Maiden, 70s prog stuff like Yes... not alot of guitar music though. Also listened to alot of punk music and was in a punk band as a kid. The closest thing to guitar music I really was into was Van Halen. Listened to early Malmsteen, but my biggest influence was George Martin, the Beatles' producer that flavored up all their stuff with cellos and sheeit...
Eric: How did you start developing your unique guitar style? Were there any particular guitarists or other musicians that inspired your guitar lunacy?
Bumblefoot: The eye-opening moment that fucked me up for life was the first time I heard the intro to "Mean Streets" from Van Halen. Didn't know what tapping was before then... but mostly, it all happened from *not* listening to what guitarists were doing, and just entertaining myself. I had an overactive brain and too much time. So I'd try and play all the parts to a song at the same time, and that pretty much did it...
Eric: What sort of music do you listen
to in your spare time?
Eric: Alright, let's move on to your second Bumblefoot album. Uncool features a lot of your great singing and vocal harmonies - the diversity of vocal styles across songs and even within them is impressive. How do you decide what types of styles to fit into each song?
Bumblefoot: I don't set any guidelines or make any rules - art is the only place where you don't have to have rules. It's a necessary balance for how structured life can get. So I just picture something in my head and try to translate it into music, trying to capture the same feeling. I write everything in my head without touching the guitar - this way I think about the song as its own thang without getting caught up in the self-indulgence that can happen when it becomes about the physical playing of the song.
Eric: Your latest album, 9/11, was a big departure from Uncool and was a lot more guitar oriented. Songs like "Lost" and "Raygun" feature solos that make sounds that you'd expect from synthesizers, not guitars. What do you think is the most important thing when writing a solo?
Bumblefoot: Most important thing is to listen. Be a listener when you're playin'. I don't write solos - I keep em spontaneous so they stay more of a true expression. The end of "Raygun" is about as close as I get to planning a solo - even the song after it was made up on the spot as I was recording. It becomes a problem later on when people wanna hear the solo note for note and I have no idea what I did. Then I have to go back and figure it out and practice it for a month or two.
Eric: Can you give us some insight into
your live performances? How much do you stick to the original music? I've
only heard the free "T-Jonez" unplugged mp3 to judge your live music by
- and I still don't know what to think! Where did the punk song come from?
Eric: Are there any guitar pieces you're incapable of playing? Curiosity demands that I ask this, but don't worry, I won't list any answers in the reviews. "Hey everyone, listen to Bumblefoot! He can't play any of the following songs..."
Bumblefoot: Sure, there's tons of stuff out there. But I'm not out to prove anything to anyone. I mean, anyone can do anything if they dedicate themselves. But given the choice of spending quality time with people I love or learning an Alan Holdsworth solo note-for-note, I'm not gonna work on the solo...
Eric: Have you ever considered a career in opera?
Bumblefoot: I've thought about it. But I think I look like a fat opera singer more than I sound like one.
Eric: Let's recap: the first Bumblefoot
CD was Hands, and it was full of quality experimental rock music
with impossible guitar solos. Then came Uncool, a largely indescribable
experimental rock meets 70's lounge album; and it was focused on your singing.
Lastly we've got 9/11, a mostly guitar oriented foray into strange
music. I have no idea what you might come up with next. Have you started
work on new material? What can you tell us about it?
Eric: Is there anything else you'd like to share with your fans/critics/bemused-observers?
Bumblefoot: Yeah - visit www.msrf.org - my best friend Ralph was hit with Multiple Sclerosis in 97 - it ended his music career. Instead of giving up, he started a fundraising group run entirely by volunteers and all the money goes to research - for real - he's not looking to get rich, he's looking to walk again. Go to the site, get to know him, then email him and let him know ya care. He's my inspiration - he proves that your spirit doesn't break unless you let it.