In a new interview with The Sessions, former GUNS N’ ROSES and current SONS OF APOLLO guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal discussed the business skills he acquired through being involved in the music industry for more than three decades, both as a solo artist and a hired musician in one of the biggest rock bands in the world.
“The music business, 99 percent of it are people that are just full of crap,” Thal said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “I’m telling you straight up. Let me stare into this camera: 99 percent is B.S. … The music business is full of people that are just these manipulative survivalists that prey on passionate people, and there’s a whole lot of that. So you learn by getting screwed. [It’s] the best education you can get. You can take four or eight years of college, but until you’re getting screwed by the music business, by some nonsense record label, by a manager, some producers that aren’t really producers — they just get paid to sit on the couch while you’re doing all the engineering and they just sit back, eating on someone else’s dime, saying, ‘Do it again.’ ‘Well, what should we do different?’ ‘Just do it again’; you know, without a creative bone in their body — you learn what not to do. And it’s important — it’s very important.
“You should understand what every job, what every task entails so that you know when someone’s not doing their job,” he continued. “You should know how to manage; you should know how to book; you should know how to be a tour manager; you should know how to be a publicist; you should understand publishing and song placement and pushing that — you should understand all of it, and you should have some experience in it so that you know when someone is not doing their job. Because what you really want, what you hope for is to be the dumbest person in the room, surrounded by people that are experts and so much more qualified than you in all the tasks that you’ve delegated to them. At the same time, you have to be very careful — do not hand them the keys to your kingdom, because they will take advantage, and they will steal.”
Thal joined GUNS N’ ROSES in 2006 and appeared on the band’s much-maligned 2008 album “Chinese Democracy”, an effort 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 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.
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.