BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
RON “BUMBLEFOOT” THAL
Ask Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal to describe his band Art of Anarchy and, depending on what time of the day it is, you might get a dissertation in food.
“It’s like spices,” Thal mused. “You know, a little bit of nutmeg, some pepper, a little pinch of paprika…you can picture the band members as individual spices and their special combination makes this an entree that you can hardly wait to taste! Wait, no. It’s like a cake that you don’t know what it’s going to look like until you take it out of the oven, and then you take it out and it’s this cake that came out great and then you have to decide what kind of icing it should have. And then it turns out to be this colossal cake that everyone wants a piece of.”
“I love food,” Thal sheepishly admitted. “I might be a little hungry right now. I don’t even have any chips around to munch on.”
Okay, let’s help the man out here.
After the untimely death of Scott Weiland, who vocalized on the band’s debut album, Art of Anarchy is now getting a chance as a second course with former Creed vocalist Scott Stapp. So, if one combines the flavorful vocals of Stapp with the zesty blends of former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Thal on guitar, throws in chunks of bass courtesy of Jon Moyer from Disturbed while stirring in some sounds of pure raw talent in the form of Jon Votta on guitar and his brother, drummer Vince Votta, you get this goulash of a band that is quite delectable to the palate and one that can serve many.
Seriously, Art of Anarchy is a recipe that has so far served the music world well. The band’s second studio album, The Madness, was released this past March. Quite simply, Art of Anarchy is ready to bring its musical cuisine to the masses.
But Seriously, Folks
Thal and the Votta twins knew each other through the New York music scene, and it was Brother Jon who soon approached Thal with an idea to start a band. Thal, of course, agreed, and with Moyer and Weiland eventually joining the ranks, Art of Anarchy officially formed in 2011. The band’s self-titled debut album was recorded while Thal was in-between touring with Guns N’ Roses, and Weiland wrote and recorded his vocals via file sharing.
While Art of Anarchy was released in June 2015, the drug-induced and well-known erratic behavior of Weiland raised its head, starting with claims that he was “never in the band.” Thus began a back-and-forth war of words that unfortunately ended when Weiland was found dead on his bus on December 3, 2015 while touring with The Wildabouts. In memory of Weiland, Art of Anarchy made the album available on line for free.
“Personally, I just wanted to donate all proceeds from the album to organizations that would help people who are on that path to find a way out,” Thal said. “But, the band, our label, and management ultimately decided it was better to just make it available free to the fans. I’m okay with that.”
Thal stated that when Weiland originally distanced himself, the members knew they didn’t want the band to end.
“We knew we wanted to get another singer,” Thal said. “There really was a very short list of people we were considering, and Scott Stapp was high on that list. We met him two months after the debut album came out. We went down to Florida (where Stapp resides), hung out in a rehearsal room and jammed, just to see how it all gelled. We then all talked at great length about how it felt, and if we felt if it was something that could work out for all concerned.”
Stapp then came to New York a few weeks later. Again, the band assembled in a room and began to record ideas on a “little recorder.”
“It didn’t start off as a band, but it became one, a real band,” Thal stressed. “Just five guys in a room, just plugging away, letting things happen. We started fresh, from the ground-up.”
Starting With A Blank Slate
“Every band, every musical situation that I have found myself in has always brought out a different side of me,” Thal said. “I sort of went into recording The Madness with a blank slate. I figured that the blanks would be filled in as we went along. A lot of things we just stumbled on to. The music comes whatever it’s going to become.”
The success of The Madness, according to Thal, is its honesty.
“Scott’s lyrics are so autobiographical and personal,” Thal stated. “Everything we did on this album, it came from a real place, a very honest place. We just want people to feel invigorated and everything else that you feel when you hear music that you like – like someone increased the wattage of your internal light bulb!”
And from Thal’s standpoint?
“If anything, I found my work as a guitarist to be more structured, more refined and polished. More together. I’m in my 40’s now,” Thal said. “I know who I am. I’m not trying to prove anything. If anything, it probably wouldn’t hurt me to become a lot more immature and get back to that youthful, chaotic energy I used to have 20 years ago! I started off playing guitar like an untamed puppy, running around the room. Now I’m just a big sleeping lump!”
What You See Is What You Get
There is nothing mysterious about Thal, at least according to the man himself. Whether it’s being vocal about his time in Guns N’ Roses and the like, Thal said he is an open book for all to read at their leisure.
“I’m pretty open about everything,” he laughed. “I don’t know what people don’t know about me. I’m not Mr. Mystique or anything like that. I’m the guy who, after a show, always grabs a bunch of people, goes to a local diner, and pigs out.”
Thal is tired of discussing his time with Guns N’ Roses, but expressed his sincere appreciation for the fans of the band.
“The fans were absolutely wonderful,” he said. “I’m still friends with so many of them. That part was such a blessing, to be able to connect with so many people all over the world. That was really and truly enriching for me.”
Despite the success he has had with his musical career, Thal also added that there is “probably every day, at one moment or another” when he feels like quitting.
“Yes,” he admitted, “there are times that I dream about selling coconuts in the South Pacific. The music industry is very intense and involved, probably more than the human mind was meant to take on. The love of music usually squashes out the rest. That is,” Thal added, “until you get so depressed and broken by it, and then you need a rest, which happens. People burn out on whatever they do for a living, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just what you do about it. You give yourself that break you need to become fresh, invigorated and challenged, come back renewed. You ignore it and you can get yourself in a pretty bad hole.”
Art of Anarchy just wrapped up a headlining tour in April, with hopefully more to come.
“It’s been great,” Thal said. “We are who we are, and it’s up to the rest of the world to decide what they want to do with us. We have been fortunate to let people know the band exists, what we do. All we ask is the chance for people to explore the band and check us out.”
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