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ART OF ANARCHY: Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal On Bringing A Rock Powerhouse To Life!

ART OF ANARCHY: Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal On Bringing A Rock Powerhouse To Life!

Art of Anarchy (AOA) is truly a force to be reckoned with as it is one of the rare rock bands where each member has a strong identity and together create something special. The band evolved organically out of an 18-year friendship between Bumblefoot and the Votta brothers. Jon Votta came to Bumblefoot with the idea of putting together a new band with a diverse group of talent and a uniquely melodic and aggressive sound. 

It seemed like a match made it heaven. Collectively, the members have sold tens of millions of albums worldwide and have a rock pedigree most artists would be content to rest their laurels on. Lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal hails formerly from Guns N’ Roses, while bassist John Moyer rose to fame as a member of Disturbed. Twin brothers Jon Votta (guitar) and Vince Votta (drums), meanwhile, first gained renown as fixtures on the New York music scene. Art of Anarchy burst onto the radar of rock fans around the globe with the release their self-titled debut album, “Art of Anarchy,” in June 2015. The album featured the late Scott Weiland on vocals and showcased a gritty hard rock edge balanced by a focus on innovative songwriting and skillful musicianship.

However, after a tumultuous start stemming from the departure of the late Scott Weiland, the band soon found themselves without a frontman and unsure of their future. It seemed all hope was lost. Until 2016 when the members of Art of Anarchy crossed paths with Grammy Award winner Scott Stapp, the founder and lead singer of Creed. After a solid jam session, the addition of Stapp was inevitable and would open the door to an electrifying new musical direction. While AOA possess the star power and flash of a rock supergroup, the band’s focus is on meaningful songwriting and creating music with undeniable power. No filler, just raw talent and dedication to the music and being true to who they are. Art of Anarchy’s upcoming album, “The Madness,” is set for a March 24 release via Century Media Records.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal to discuss the making of Art of Anarchy’s powerful new album, the challenges they have faced along the way and what the future holds for them in the days to come.

What went into finding your creative voice as an artist?

When I first started playing, I was so young that all of those questions hadn’t even entered my head yet. I know I love the Beatles, KISS, YES, Blondie, AC/DC and Billy Joel. There were all of these different influences. You just draw from what you know. I was a 6-year-old kid and I heard “Fox On The Run” on the radio and the next thing you know I’m writing a song that sounds similar. It’s almost like the world gives you little building blocks to build with and the longer you live the more blocks you receive and the more you can build. However, at first, you have a limited set of blocks. Early on everything I was writing sounded like early KISS albums, whatever might have been on the radio at the time or whatever albums I discovered from my neighbor’s older brothers and sisters. I think the actual moment that created guitar awareness for me, even though I was a big Angus Young and Ace Frehley fan, was hearing Eddie Van Halen when I was 12 years old. I heard the intro to “Mean Streets” and I had never heard anything make a sound like that before, let alone a guitar. It was the coolest sound I had ever heard in my life and it probably still is! [laughs] That made me rethink guitar playing and made me realize there was more to this thing. I realize it was not just about laying the backdrop to telling a story.

We’ve followed your adventures online for sometime now through social media. It’s been exciting to see the places your career has taken you around the world. How has your exposure to other places and cultures impacted you as a musician?

I think, more than anything, it impacts you as a person. You learn so much from traveling. It’s a great education on reality, perspective and people. It’s an education on culture, architecture, history, food and everything in-between. Understanding people is a big part of it. You may go to one place or something you do might be taken as an insult but in another part of the world it might be a compliment. It really makes you humble in certain ways. It makes you realize you’re not the center of the universe. You really do learn a lot and it truly broadens your horizons. With that, it changes how you make music, the stories you want to tell, what you want to say and how you want to say it.

Your most recent project is Art of Anarchy. Last time we spoke, this thing was just getting off the ground. For those who don’t know, how did the ball get rolling?

It goes back to the mid ‘90s when I had a studio in the boroughs of New York City and some local guys, named John and Vince Votta, came into the studio. They’re twin brothers and, at the time, were teenage kids who played guitar and drums. They would come into to the studio with whatever band they had at the time and I would record them, as well as do some producing for them as well. They always kept in touch throughout the years. In 2011, they said they had written 10 songs, just the guitar and drums, and wanted to make the album they had always dreamed of making. I brought them into the studio and recorded them. As we were doing that, they said, “Hey Ron! Why don’t you lay down the guitar solo in the spot?” I said, “Yeah. OK!” I would just bust something out and then they would suggest adding another guitar part somewhere else. I soon found myself becoming the third part of this thing!

Scott Stapp and Bumblefoot in the studio!

The original idea was to get different singers to sing on different songs. Scott Weiland was the first person to do it and he did the song ”’Til The Dust Is Gone.” Nothing was written vocally, melodically or lyrically. The idea was that whoever was going to sing would get to do whatever they wanted on the song. That is what Scott wrote for it and came up with and it was great! From there, it evolved into him doing the whole record. Then, John Moyer (Disturbed) joined us. Now, this dream album they wanted to make was becoming something much more and had taken on a life of its own. The next thing you know, we got the album out on Century Media. At that point, Weiland very publicly distanced himself from everything. For us it became a question of if we just wanted to call it a day or find a new singer. Next thing you know, two months after the album came out in August of 2016, we were meeting up with Scott Stapp. We hung out in the rehearsal room and jammed a bit. We just made some stuff up on the spot and started jamming to see how it felt. It went well! A month later, he came up to New York.

It was just the five of us in a room building from scratch and rebuilding this thing. It actually evolved into a band in the way you would traditionally think of it, where it’s five guys in a room writing from scratch together. Half of the album happened that way. Half of the album happened in that we can have two weeks where it was just the five of us slogging away in a room. We were busting out a song or two every day with a little recorder in the corner of the room capturing all. From there, it became a whole lot of us trying to get our schedules to align for the next year-and-a-half. Everybody is on tour at different times and it was difficult to find the time where we could get everyone together to shoot a video or do recording and writing. That happened all the way until this past January.

As we all know Scott Weiland passed away in 2015. What did you take away from working with him as an artist?

Any dealings I had with him were good. They were friendly and I felt like they were good. It’s tragic how it all ended and disappointing what happened with the band and all. Honestly, I kind of have a hard time talking about him. I have so many … there is just so much to say that I don’t even say. I just wish things had ended up differently, just him, his wife, his family and his world.

Were there reservations about bringing Scott Stapp into the band in light of what you experienced with Scott Weiland?

Anytime you bring someone into your life, I think it’s normal in any circumstance that everyone is going to enter into it with a bit of caution. I’m sure he was extremely cautious and concerned about us as well. He was bringing four people into his life that he didn’t really know. How’s that going to work out? For us, it’s the same.

Understood. How did the addition of Scott Stapp alter your vision for the band?

I knew when he was going to come into the band that he was going to bring what he does naturally, which is bring ear friendly melodies and a very identifiable sound within his voice. It came down to putting all the ingredients into the bowl, mixing them up and baking it! It’s really that simple! We’re letting everyone be who they are. If we’re being as much of who we are as we can possibly be, then this thing is going to be pretty interesting!

What did members of Art of Anarchy bring to the project and “The Madness?”

What was interesting, and I didn’t realize it until after-the-fact, was that my whole life all I ever wanted was to be in a band where everybody is known on a first name basis and their name means something musically. For example, John, Paul, George and Ringo or Gene, Paul, Peter, and Ace. These names made up the bands that were my first loves in music. We can’t forget Axl, Slash and Duff! And let’s not forget Izzy and Steven! I wanted to be in that kind of band. I realized, after doing this album, this was the first time in my life that I actually had something like that, where everybody was contributing and what they contributed was never diluted or whittled down. We all got to contribute to who we were and you can hear it in the music. It’s not reinventing rock or anything. We just made songs together but in those songs you can hear Scott being Scott, me being me and Moyer being Moyer with all the grooves and everything. You can hear John and Vince being themselves, which is like this old school kind of attack with the way they play and the riffs that they come up with.

What can you tell us about the writing process for the album?

It was all just a long growth process. There was a lot of digging deep, tasting the floor, re-writing and moving things around. In the beginning, like I said, it started with us jamming in the room and throwing out ideas. Then we took those ideas and started building them out. Once the vocals are on the songs, you have to start changing things up, letting the song take on a life of its own and being careful not to get in its way. There were times we said, “Okay. We thought this was the chorus but it works better as the verse. Here’s a new chorus that works even better because of these lyrics.” There was a lot of re-writing and re-structuring the songs. I wouldn’t say any of it was easy. A lot of work went into it! In a year-and-a-half, we found ourselves having to have the growth of other bands that might normally be around for a few more years than that and we did it!

As an artist, what was the most satisfying part of working with these other talented musicians?

I was there for every step because I was pretty much the producer, the person doing the mixing and mastering, along with being a band member doing the writing and the playing. There was so much to do on this project. Building everything from nothing was a challenge. We literally started with nothing. It was just all of us looking at each other like, “Okay! How do we start this?!” [laughs] Someone would start playing the groove and Moyer might say, “Check this out” as he starts playing a beat. Then we all jump on that! Meanwhile, Scott is hanging out on the couch with the microphone. When something peaks his interest, he starts singing some melodies to it. Seeing it go from that to having the entire album done and knowing how much went into the production of it is amazing. For instance, the intro to “Afterburn.” There is so much going on in that song as far as different sounds and layers of things. There’s a little scream in the background that fades off into something else with a different sound on another track. It’s very detailed. Seeing it all done, knowing what it took to get to that point and having us get to that point is pretty amazing! [laughs]

Art of Anarchy – ‘The Madness’

Just to be clear, for fans who may be wondering, there was no material from the Scott Weiland era of Art of Anarchy which came forward into this new age, correct?

No. With that album, it was just those 10 pieces of music that became that first album. There was nothing else. That’s the thing, it wasn’t like this is this new second album. This new album happened truly like a band. That’s nothing against the first one. Things happened however they happened and you can’t change that. With the first album, everything evolved into a band. With this new album, we truly started as a band.

You have been focused on this album for Art of Anarchy. Have you looked to the future?

We have to do another video. We will be shooting that at the end of March. We have touring to do as well! We are starting to get some shows together for April, which should be announced soon. Then we will take it from there. At this point, it’s hard to think about next year or anything down the road because there’s so much to do in the next four weeks. However, I can assure you, there will be more videos, touring and everything a band should do. We’re really looking forward to getting out and playing.

When you look back at the making of the album and bringing it to life, what are the biggest lessons you took away from the experience?

Ya know, I think I learned all the lessons in the past, before doing this record, and they all came into play. It’s things like, “Don’t force it, just let it happen and it will all fall into place the way it’s meant to. As much as you would like to rush it, you can’t rush it.” Things like that.

Was there anything you wrote during these sessions that didn’t make the album and we might hear in the future?

Musically, we had like 20 other things that we just decided not to move forward with. If we didn’t use them for this, we probably won’t at all. Any writing we do moving forward will probably be fresh writing; at least that’s what I’m guessing.

Which songs from the album resonate with you the most and which are you most looking forward to sinking your teeth into in a live setting?

For a listening standpoint, I like “Won’t Let You Down,” “Changed Man” and “A Light In Me.” When it comes to playing live, I’m thinking “Echo of A Scream” and “Somber.” I’m just looking forward to getting all 10 songs out there!

You experienced the music industry from all sides. What is the best part about being a working artist in this day and age?

The Internet! It’s a double-edged sword in so many ways. Having Internet available has decimated the old structure and economy of everything. However, this is what we dreamed of our whole lives — having the means of getting in touch directly with your fans all across the world. To get them to hear your music and have a relationship with them that is so one-on-one is an amazing thing. That was impossible in the past. In the 1980s and early 1990s, if you wanted people to hear your music was a difficult task. Getting your music into a store meant that you had to get a record deal, put it out and have a distributor who was going to spend $500 a month for every little listening booth in the front of one music store in one place for one month. It was a ridiculous amount of investing in hopes of capturing the attention of someone and having them take a listen. Almost no one got to hear your music and now everyone can hear it instantly. That is an amazing thing!

What else do you have in store for 2017? It’s been awhile since you released solo work. Any movement on that front?

It’s been two years since the “Little Brother Is Watching” album came out; the last Bumblefoot album. I think this year I would like to do another solo record. I’m thinking maybe something along the lines of an instrumental album. I’m not sure but definitely something that’s a lot more about the guitar. Will there be time to do it? I have been thinking there would be for the past 12 years but something always comes up! [laughs] I have been wanting to do another guitar album for a long time but right now my focus is on the Art of Anarchy.

You lend your voice and talent to great charities. What can we help shine a light on?

I just came back from playing in Thailand. There is a big Sturgis-style biker festival that happens out there. It’s called Pattaya Burapa Bike Week in Pattaya, Thailand. I headlined it doing solo stuff. I think it was 50,000 people there in the week. It all goes toward a children’s charity called Jester’s Care For Kids, which provides a safe place for children who come from unsafe environments. It gives them a way out and a place to go where they won’t be hurt and will be taken care of. They provide education, clothing, food and everything so that they will have a better life. All the proceeds from this biker festival go to support the charity. I have visited the kids and seen to work that they do and it’s wonderful! Locally, I support Calling All Cats! It’s an animal rescue in New Jersey that’s really worth checking out. They are a wonderful organization that has done a lot for New Jersey. Those are two great charities to check out!

Awesome! As always, we appreciate your time and are excited to spread the word on all you have going on!

Thank you, Jason! Have a great one and I will talk to you soon!

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Art of Anarchy Pays Tribute To Late Vocalist Scott Weiland With Free Download of Debut Album

Art of Anarchy Pays Tribute To Late Vocalist Scott Weiland With Free Download of Debut Album

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'Art of Anarchy'

‘Art of Anarchy’

Art of Anarchy is paying tribute to the late Scott Weiland with a free download of their self-titled debut album, originally released in June of 2015.

In a post to their social media accounts, the band said: “In memory of Scott Weiland, we would like to offer the Art of Anarchy record digitally for free to the world during this holiday season. We hope everyone enjoys listening as much as we enjoyed creating it. – Art of Anarchy”

Fans can go to http://anothercentury.com/host/ArtOfAnarchy/download/ for an instant download of the record.

The ‘Mega Group’ featured Scott Weiland, along with lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses), bassist John Moyer (Disturbed) and introducing twin brothers Jon Votta (guitar) and Vince Votta (drums) on a worldwide deal with Century Media imprint, Another Century.

 

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SCOTT WEILAND: Legendary Rock Icon Dead At 48

SCOTT WEILAND: Legendary Rock Icon Dead At 48

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Legendary rock icon Scott Weiland, the former lead singer of a number of rock bands, including Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, died in his sleep Thursday night. He was 48 years old.

A message shown on Weiland’s official Facebook page said he had died in Bloomington, Minn. while on tour a tour stop with his latest band, Scott Weiland and The Wildabouts. The message reads:

“Scott Weiland, best known as the lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, passed away in his sleep while on a tour stop in Bloomington, Minnesota, with his band The Wildabouts. At this time we ask that the privacy of Scott’s family be respected.”

Weiland’s manager, Tom Vitorino, told the Associated Press he had learned of Weiland’s death from the singer’s tour manager, but did not provide further details.

Weiland fronted one of the most successful grunge bands of the 1990s in Stone Temple Pilots, but was also dogged by problems with substance abuse throughout his career.

Stone Temple Pilots’ 1992 debut, “Core,” has sold more than 8 million units in the United States. Their hits include “Vasoline,” ”Interstate Love Song” and “Plush,” which won a Grammy in 1993 for best hard rock performance with vocal.

Amid the band’s stream of successes, Weiland had a long string of drug and alcohol related arrests and stints in rehab. In 1995, he was arrested after deputies found him carrying crack and heroin. He pleaded guilty to felony heroin possession in 1998. And his arrests for drug possession and stints in rehab led the Stone Temple Pilots to cancel tour dates and contributed to their 2003 breakup.

After the band split, Weiland joined former Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum and former Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner to form the supergroup Velvet Revolver. Weiland departed Velvet Revolver in 2008 to join the reunited Stone Temple Pilots.”The story’s not finished,” Weiland told The Associated Press at the time. “There’s more to be revealed and more to be told.”

In 2011, Weiland released his autobiography,“Not Dead & Not For Sale”. The title was taken from the lyrics of “Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart”, one of Stone Temple Pilots’ best-known songs.

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ART OF ANARCHY: Megagroup Inks Worldwide Deal With Another Century Records, Album Art Revealed

ART OF ANARCHY: Megagroup Inks Worldwide Deal With Another Century Records, Album Art Revealed

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ART OF ANARCHY, the ‘Mega Group’ featuring legendary vocalist, Scott Weiland, along with lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses), bassist John Moyer (Disturbed) and introducing twin brothers Jon Votta (guitar) and Vince Votta (drums) have signed a worldwide deal with Century Media imprint, Another Century. Their debut self-titled album will be in stores and online June 8th, 2015.

The band states, “We’re all excited our album will be released worldwide on Century Media/Another Century Records and the public will finally hear what this band stands for”.

A teaser featuring songs from the upcoming album can be heard below:

The band started out of an 18-year friendship between Bumblefoot and the Votta brothers, dating back to the local New York music scene. Jon Votta approached Bumblefoot with the idea of putting together a unique new rock band that would have people talking. They knew Weiland would be the ideal singer to handle the band’s musical diversity. Once Weiland was on-board, the band was completed by the aggressive, precise, melodic bass of career-rocker John Moyer.

'Art of Anarchy'

‘Art of Anarchy’

ART OF ANARCHY has emerged as a band willing to eradicate musical borders in pursuit of something brilliant. For these legendary members, it’s all about songwriting and musicianship, which the band proudly displays on its self-titled debut album. The band also sees Weiland returning to his hard rock roots with a harder-edged sound than any of his previous efforts.

Bumblefoot shines not only as the band’s co-guitarist, but also as the producer and engineer on the album. His world-class guitar playing ranks him as one of rock’s most innovative guitarists.

John Moyer, self-proclaimed hitman from Texas, brings a punchy bottom end that rounds out the sound of AOA. His in the pocket style can be heard throughout the whole album.

Jon Votta, the grand architect behind Art of Anarchy, co-wrote the album and shares lead responsibilities with Bumblefoot. According to Votta, “This is the record I always dreamed of making since I started playing guitar”. Vince Votta came up with the band name based upon these principles: it had to be extreme, uncompromising, and make a bold statement- much like his drum playing.

2015 will be a big year for ART OF ANARCHY.
Rock was never dead– just dormant– and ART OF ANARCHY is planning to wake it up. They’ll break all the rules and leave you wanting more Anarchy!

ART OF ANARCHY online:
www.facebook.com/ArtOfAnarchyBand

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LIVIN’ THE DREAM: Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal Talks Career, New Solo Album & More!

LIVIN’ THE DREAM: Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal Talks Career, New Solo Album & More!

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Guitar virtuoso, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal has experienced success on every level imaginable. For over 20 years he has been thrilling fans and critics alike by releasing cutting-edge music, performing at international festivals, headlining solo tours, winning many album of the month/year awards and appearing on the covers of numerous music magazines as a solo artist. As lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, Bumblefoot toured sold-out shows all over the world, headlining festivals with crowds up to 150,000 people. Bumblefoot’s unique ‘fretless guitar’ can be heard throughout GNR’s 2008 ‘Chinese Democracy’ album. Even with all of his success, Bumblefoot is one of the most down to Earth people you could ever meet. His passion for music and sharing it with the world is undeniable!

On February 24th, he will unleash his 10th CD entitled “Little Brother Is Watching.” The album is an eccentric, upbeat collection of modern epic rock with haunting melodies, huge choruses and witty lyrics about life in the digital age and beyond. Specifically, his own life and coming to terms with what we all face – beginnings, endings, and moving on. The album was composed, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Bumblefoot at his studio in New Jersey, and also features drummer Dennis Leeflang and a crowd of 100 fans stomping, chanting and singing backing vocals recorded at a listening party in New York.

Bumble foot keeps forging his own musical path but relishes and chance for collaboration. His current projects include collaborations with Darryl McDaniels, aka DMC from the iconic rap group RUN DMC, and Scott Weiland in the supergroup Art Of Anarchy. Thal’s spirit of giving doesn’t end with amazing music, as he  also works with U.S. Embassies around the world on cross-cultural music programs, has his own line of award-winning hot sauces, and works with dozens of international charities visiting orphanages and children’s hospitals with guitar in hand.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal to discuss the challenges of bringing “Little Brother Is Watching” to life, his recent collaborative efforts with a plethora of artists, his line of award-winning hot sauces, his philanthropical work and much more!

Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

Going back to your youth, what are some of your first memories of music?

I still remember hearing “KISS: Alive” for the first time, the feeling I got from it and just how exciting it was. It made me want to do that! I can still remember borrowing the logo for my first band, when I was 6 years old, called Viper 5. There were five of us and vipers were cool snakes and we were kids! [laughs] We had a big white window shade that we were drawing the logo on! The next band, I can remember cutting circles out of paper and taping them to the walls in the basement because our band was called Target! That was our logo! We took the rest of the paper and cut it up into cups of confetti for the audience to throw at the end of our show in the basement! I remember it all, man! [laughs]

Sounds like quite the production!

It was! It was! There was confetti everywhere! I am still finding pieces of it! I will occasionally find a piece of confetti in between my toes and think, “Wow! That is from that show in 1977! What the hell?!”

Who influenced you along the way both as a musician and a person?

Musically, KISS and the Beatles were my two first loves. From there I got into a lot of the progressive British stuff like Yes, Jethro Tull and things like that. There was also lots of classic rock from bands like Queen, AC/DC and whatever else was coming out from Blondie to the Ramones to Billy Joel. I was just a music lover! All of that played some kind of role and served as some kind of building block. There was certainly a lot of classic rock and punk. It wasn’t until the later years that I started taking interest in more of the technical guitar players, guys like Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. I have to say that Eddie Van Halen was really the one who changed the way I thought about guitar and expanding the limits of what could be done. That had a huge impact on me. Hearing the intro to “Mean Streets” for the first time was mind-blowing. Of course, my father had a big influence on me, as well. He was cool as hell!

When you picked up the guitar for the first time, did you ever think it would take you to the heights it has?

Yes! I did! I had no doubt! I was 6 years old. I put the guitar in my lap and started playing it like a drum. I thought to myself, “I’m going to be a rock star! Woohoo!” [laughs] Had I known how much hard work and abuse would go into that, I would be an accountant right now! [laughs] For some reason, I am a glutton for punishment and I stuck with it and here we are having this conversation! Thank you very much! [laughs]

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You experienced success on many levels in your career. To what do you attribute your longevity?

You have to keep your heart in the right place. You can’t let it get corrupted with all of the business crap and everyone trying to pull you in their own direction for their own gain or agenda. You have to keep it very simple. You have to be that 6 year old and say, “I love this. I love what I do.” Like I said, I love the feeling I got from hearing “KISS: Alive” for the first time and want to pay it forward to everyone else! I want to make other people feel the uplift of spirit that I was given. That’s it! It is really that simple!

You have a brand new album on the way this February. What can you tell us about “Little Brother Is Watching” and what we can expect this time around?

'Little Brother Is Watching'

‘Little Brother Is Watching’

What can you expect? This album, compared to some of the other solo stuff, is a little punkier. Every album, you have the songs and you start laying them down. They eventually come out however they are going to. You have an idea of what you are going to get but you can’t really control it. It is kinda like throwing ink at a canvas. You can choose the color but it isn’t going to end up the way you predict. You have to step back, look at it and say, “OK, this is what it is. Let’s take it from here.” It is the same situation with this new album. I ended up being very melodic with very long songs, where a lot of the earlier stuff was more in your face and aggressive. It is more about the musicality, the melody, the harmonies and the guitar lines dancing around vocal lines and all that good crap! [laughs] It is a lot more melodic and, even with those melodies that are in there, they are all spontaneous. It was stuff that I just laid on the scratch track as Dennis [Leeflang], the drummer, was playing his drum tracks. They were just spontaneous, improvised melodies. Listening back to it, I said, “Yeah, I am not going to overthink this. This is what I felt in the moment, the first time I played with this stuff and it left my head and hand to be recorded. I like it! I am sticking with it!” A lot of those melodies are very organic, natural first impressions of my songs and what I was inspired to do guitar-wise.

What songs from this album resonate with you at this point in time?

The song, “Don’t Know Who To Pray To Anymore.” It starts off with a really singable guitar line and the words just really hit home. I think people are really going to get it when they hear what I am singing about.

Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

What made now the right time for a new Bumblefoot solo release? Was there a particular catalyst for it or just an overwhelming creative need?

The need! I have had the need for a long time and it has been a battle or race against the clock trying to find time to get my head in the right place to focus and do it. With all of the touring, it is really hard. You can write but to get in the studio, commit, devote and keep the momentum going can be very tough. It was something that was long overdue. For me, if I am not being creative or putting out music, it is like having a bag over my head and I am suffocating. I need to do it. It is the only reason I feel I should be on Earth and, when I am sharing music with people, I truly feel alive.

Looking back on breathing life into this project, what inspired it and what did you take away from the experience?

I think there are always experiences to share. Doing this album, there have been more of them. Usually, for me, it takes some type of tragedy to make you feel and get in touch with yourself, so you have that story to tell. Any of those kind of things that hit, for me at least, get the words following. With this album, there was everything from a cancer diagnosis to my father dying to having to choose between two lives to facing some of the mistakes I have made.

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Art of Anarchy

 

You never seem to slow down and always appear to have those creative juices flowing. One of the new projects you recently announced is Art of Anarchy. What can you tell us about how it came about?

Sure! There are two brothers, John and Vince Votta, and I have been producing their bands for 18 years. We have always been friends. They finally said, “We want to put our own company together. We want to start a label and do this thing. The first thing we want to do is put out a supergroup type of album where we bring in people from all different backgrounds to come together and create music together for a really cool album of good rock music.” I brought them into the studio and they had 10 songs to start with and we laid them down. I laid down guitar. The amazing John Moyer came in and laid down his killer bass. He is truly amazing! He does what he does and makes it great! As we talked to different singers, Scott [Weiland] agreed to do a song and then he agreed to do the whole album. We did this album together and are hoping to have it out by the beginning of the year. It is all about the music.

Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

I know that right out of the gate there was a little bit of, I wouldn’t say controversy, but maybe some unnecessary confusion about things. However, it is about the music, about the album and putting the album out. Anything beyond that remains to be seen. We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know if, after the album comes out, people are going to want to see something live. If they do, Scott is very clear that his focus is his solo stuff and mine is too. Scott wants to just do his solo thing and isn’t looking to do any live dates with this. Then we would find a new singer, if we did any live shows. Who knows what would happen with that new singer and if it would become a permanent thing or if it would just be for the live setting. We don’t know! Whatever is going to happen is going to happen organically and is going to come together the way the pieces fall at that moment. For now, let’s just take this music that we made together and share it with the people. I really hope they enjoy it!

From the one song I heard around the time of the announcement, it sounds very promising! I know a lot of people are anxious to hear what you all came up with as a unit.

Cool, thanks! Everything was recorded in my studio, except for what Scott wrote and recorded. He recorded his vocals on his own and sent them to me. I did the final mixing and mastering, so that is a little of what I have going on production-wise. The other thing I am doing is with a good friend of mine, Rob Dukes. We have been friends for years and he sang with Exodus. Now, he has this band called Generation Kill. It is really cool, nasty metal band. Good stuff, good stuff! They teamed up with Darryl McDaniels, aka DMC from RUN DMC, and are doing this rap metal thing together. Rob hit me about about being part of the fun, joining in and playing a couple of guitar parts, mixing and doing the production for it. We just have one song we have finished up so far but I’m sure as we get more stuff finished we will start putting out the little teasers and sharing everything. So far, we are having a blast and a great time together doing it!

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Clearly, you’re a guy who isn’t afraid to take on challenges when it comes to new projects. Is there a part of the process you are more drawn to or intrigued by?

I love doing it all! Each one keeps everything else fresh! You learn from each aspect that adds something to all of the everything else that you do. You become a better songwriter when you are producing other people and helping to shape their songs. You get better at engineering from that, which makes you better at laying your guitar tracks physically because you have other things in mind as you are playing about dynamics. It is good to do it all because you just keep learning and applying what you learn to all the other aspects of what you are doing musically. My favorite thing is definitely producing and collaborating and making music. That has always been my favorite thing.

Do you have any thoughts on the musical territory you hope to explore in both the short and long term?

I don’t know. I have done everything from producing hip hop to opera to jazz to latin stuff to speed metal. I have done so many types of things and it has all been so much fun! I have also met a lot of cool people along the way!

Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal

Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal

So, I am assuming we can expect a Bumblefoot country album? [laughs]

Good question! [laughs] It is something that I should do! I definitely haven’t done that and I would love to do some kind of country thing! I don’t make plans, I just wait for the unexpected to happen and it always does!

It seems to be working out great so far!

Yeah! Just leave your doors open and let the unexpected things come! I love when something I never planned on happens. That is what makes life so amazing! That is when you are living, when you are not in control and just letting it happen! It’s like you are on the rollercoaster and you have your arms up, just letting it go.

One of the other stops on your unconventional journey is your line of hot sauces! Very cool stuff! How did you get into that world?

I have always loved spicy food. It’s like music in a lot of ways. You buy a few albums, listen to them and like it and, before you know it, you want more! You learn there are different flavors and you like them! It eventually reaches a point where you want to share that as well and want to start making your own! It was something I had wanted to do for years and I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the good people at CaJohns Fiery Foods in Columbus, Ohio. They were crazy enough to take me on and say, “OK! Let’s do some Bumblefoot sauces!” They took my ideas and together we made it happen! I designed the labels on Photoshop and they were picking out the best peppers to use. We were experimenting in the kitchen with which berries to use. Some of my original ideas didn’t work and then they came forward with some great new ideas. It was a collaboration just like in the world of music. It has been a terrific experience! You know, I would say that hot sauce is the metal of food. That is why you find so many metal musicians, guitar players and people who play intense music wanting to explore that world. If you think about it, there is no other type of music that is in your face as much or knocks you on your ass the way metal does. It’s the same with hot sauce. There is no food or anything you can eat that is as intense as hot sauce. To give someone that intense a feeling, whether through music or food, is an amazing feeling. Some hot sauce is very much like metal. That is why you find many musicians offering hot sauces, from Zakk Wylde to Joe Perry to Michael Anthony to Eddie Ojeda. It is all great stuff!

We certainly can’t overlook the work you do for charity. What do you have going on in that realm at the moment?

Ron Thal: Keepin' Real Metal Alive

Ron Thal: Keepin’ It Real

The next gig that I am going to be doing for a charity is for Jesters Care For Kids. It is a charity out in Thailand that I will be doing a show for on the 12th of February in Pattaya, Thailand. I am headed out there in two days for a Bike Week and I am going to play the Bike Week and do the gig for charity. Then I am going to Bangkok, Thailand, where I have something planned at the US Embassy. I am going to do a workshop and a little concert! Then I am headed home! I love connecting with charities with my own tours and I love finding ways to do that. I was just talking yesterday with a promoter in India that works with an organization that builds houses for kids and the homeless. We talked about doing a fundraiser out there in the next couple of months as well. There are so many great causes all over the world and I am happy to do it!

“Little Brother Is Watching” is set for a February 24th release. What are you looking at in regards to a tour in support of the album?

I want to, yes. I want to put out the album, see how it does and then figure out where I should, when and what kind of venues I can play. Before booking the tour, I just want to put out the album and see how people react to it. Until then, I am just doing little things here and there. The next thing I am going to do, in The States, is Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. I am doing that March 26th through 29th at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. That is going to be a cool one! It’s going to be metal oriented! Michael Schenker [of UFO], Bill Ward [of Black Sabbath] and Glenn Hughes [of Deep Purple] will be there as well. It’s going to be a great time!

Ron Thal at play!

Ron Thal at play!

Before we let you go, I have to ask one more question. What is the biggest lesson people can take away from the story, so far, of Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal?

The lesson is so simple. Never lose your love for making music. That part of you that made you want to start making, playing, enjoying and sharing music. That is always there but other things get in the way and weigh it down, so don’t let them! Don’t let anything get in the way and keep your eye on that one simple thing. Then you will be good! Annoying things will happen. That’s life! You don’t have to let it squash your spirit and your relationship with making music. Keep it unadulterated! [laughs] Keep it shiny! [laughs] Keep it shiny and uncorrupted and never lose sight of that!

Thanks so much for your time today, Ron. We appreciate it and look forward to all you have in store for us in the years to come!

Absolutely! I hope everyone enjoys the new music coming out! Thank you, Jason! Talk to you again soon!

Get the latest and greatest news and developments from the world of Bumblefoot with at these social media outlets:

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ART OF ANARCHY: Scott Weiland, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, John Moyer, Jon & Vince Votta Launch Epic New Project!

ART OF ANARCHY: Scott Weiland, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, John Moyer, Jon & Vince Votta Launch Epic New Project!

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Presenting Art Of Anarchy, an album featuring Scott Weiland on vocals, John Moyer of Disturbed on bass, Jon & Vince Votta on guitar & drums, and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal as co-guitarist & producer. A video teaser can be viewed at this location: http://youtu.be/xL8CJfkLBo0

Poised to become one of the biggest new bands of 2015, Art of Anarchy is redefining the rock supergroup.  Meet the “mega group” – band members are rock legends in their own right with over 150 million in sales.  Promising over-the-top songs that break rock music boundaries with an all-or-nothing attitude, star power and bring-down-the-house performances, this mega band promises to transform a new generation into rock enthusiasts and die-hard “Anarchists”.

Art Of Anarchy members are some of rock’s heaviest hitters and most versatile musicians.  Iconic front man, Scott Weiland with his instantly identifiable voice needs no introduction.  He is known as one of rock’s most adroit and ever-evolving vocalists.  Lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot Thal from Guns N’ Roses, bassist John Moyer of Disturbed and twin brothers Jon Votta on lead guitar and Vince Votta on drums promise extreme, uncompromising musicianship that rings in a new era for rock music.

The band started out of an 18-year friendship between Bumblefoot and the Votta brothers, dating back to the local New York music scene.  Jon Votta approached Bumblefoot with the idea of putting together a unique new rock band that would have people talking.  They knew Scott Weiland would be the ideal singer to handle the band’s musical diversity.  Once Weiland was on-board, the band was completed by the aggressive, precise, melodic bass of career-rocker John Moyer.

Art of Anarchy has emerged as a band willing to eradicate musical borders in pursuit of something brilliant.  For these legendary members, it’s all about songwriting and musicianship, which the band proudly displays on its self-titled debut album.  The band also sees Weiland returning to his hard rock roots with a harder-edged sound than any of his previous efforts.

Bumblefoot shines not only as the band’s co-guitarist, but also as the producer and engineer on the album.  His world-class guitar playing ranks him as one of rock’s most innovative guitarists.

John Moyer, self-proclaimed hitman from Texas, brings a punchy bottom end that rounds out the sound of AOA.  His in the pocket style can be heard throughout the whole album.

Jon Votta, the grand architect behind Art of Anarchy, co-wrote the soon-to-be-released album and shares lead responsibilities with Bumblefoot.   According to Votta, “This is the record I always dreamed of making since I started playing guitar”.  Vince Votta came up with the band name based upon these principles: it had to be extreme, uncompromising, and make a bold statement- much like his drum playing.

2015 will be a big year for Art of Anarchy.  Rock was never dead– just dormant– and Art of Anarchy is planning to wake it up.  They’ll break all the rules and leave you wanting more Anarchy!

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CBGB Music & Film Festival 2013: Original CBGB Interior To Be Reconstructed for MTV President Van Toffler And Duff McKagan Keynote Addresses

CBGB Music & Film Festival 2013: Original CBGB Interior To Be Reconstructed for MTV President Van Toffler And Duff McKagan Keynote Addresses

CBGB-2013-wallsOn October 10, 2013; the original CBGB walls, the original sound system and more from the historic venue will be reunited with two longtime friends of CBGB; Van Toffler (MTV God) and Duff McKagan (Rock God) at the Landmark Sunshine Theater on Houston St. in lower Manhattan for the CBGB Music & Film Festival 2013’s Keynote Addresses.

CBGB owner Hilly Kristal and club talent booker Louise Staley carefully dismantled the interior of the famed CBGB & OMFUG in 2006 after being evicted by their landlord. The original CBGB stage walls and the original CBGB sound system haven’t been seen in public since then. “Hilly wanted them to live on. He saved them for exactly this type of occasion,” said Staley.

CBGB Festival 2013

CBGB Festival 2013

Delivering the keynote speech on the state of the music industry in 2013, Van Toffler is a pioneer and visionary in the ever-changing media landscape. Overseeing a collection of the most successful and vibrant brands in music and entertainment as President of Viacom’s Music and Logo Group, Toffler is responsible for all of Viacom’s music services, including MTV, MTV2, CMT, VH1, VH1 Classic, Palladia and CMT Pure; their affiliated screens, businesses and online sites; and Logo, the network originally created for the LGBT audience which celebrates one-of-a-kind personalities, unconventional stories and discovering what’s coming up next on the cultural spectrum. His speech will begin at 4pm on the 10th.

As the driving force behind some of the most successful rock bands in history, the festival is honored to have Duff McKagan deliver the Musicians Keynote Address at 1pm on October 10th at Landmark Sunshine Theater. Duff has been leading the charge in music for decades (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, Loaded, Walking Papers).

When McKagan isn’t killing it on stage, he effortlessly morphs into a respected journalist (SeattleWeekly.com, Playboy.com,

ESPN.com), an actor (Dead Pool, Sliders), a New York Times best selling author (It’s So Easy (And Other Lies)), a feature film producer and a dedicated husband and father. Outside of the arts, he founded Meridian Rock, a wealth management firm aimed at musicians to help educated them about their finances. His versatility and his impact are the epitome of what it means to be an artist today.

“Duff’s career should serve as an inspiration to anyone who wants to exercise their creative spirit and he is one of the f#cking coolest guys in the world”, said CBGB Festival executive producer Tim Hayes.
The CBGB Music and Film Festival 2013 will take place on October 8-13 in New York City and will feature hundreds of artists in venues all across Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The CBGB conference will also feature panelists including Guitarist Earl Slick, Mick Management’s Michael McDonald, Creation Records’ Alan McGee, Pledge Music’s Benjie RogersJeff Jampol from JAM Inc., and a total of more than 125 participants.  Panels will feature industry experts in agencies, record labels, digital marketing, songwriting, publishers, promoters, club bookers/owners, journalists, managers, and other music business veterans.  A simultaneous series of panel discussions about the film industry will also take place, with a keynote delivered by Magnolia Pictures’ Eamonn Bowles.  (Details about the film festival conference are available HERE.)
Among the 20+ panels at the music conference are:
Lumineers Case Study: The Lumineers’ debut album sold over 1.5 million albums worldwide, reached platinum status is multiple countries, peaked at #2 on Billboard’s 200 chart, and had massive airplay, all without the support of a major label.  Hear how one of the biggest breakout stories of the past 18 months came to pass by some of the people that made it happen.  The panel will be moderated by the Lumineers’ label President Paul Roper of Dualtone Music Group, as well as the group’s manager, agent, and will detail the story of how this Americana act on an independent label became one of the biggest success stories of the year.
Social Media Marketing – Turning ‘Likes’ Into ‘Cash’:  In a constantly evolving media and marketing world, the advent of social media has created a level playing field for more to compete and many to reach a target audience directly.  Focusing on the most effective methods of marketing music via social media, this panel will discuss how to take advantage of content and truly engage with fans and target consumers.  This panel will be moderated by Cornerstone’s Jon Cohen.
How To Get Your Name On A Guitar!  The Inside Scoop on Artist Endorsement Deals:  The ultimate honor for a musician is to have their signature on an instrument produced by a top company.  This panel will discuss ways young musicians can scale to that height and get invaluable road support, ranging from free picks and strings to scoring guitars, amps, and other goods at discounts designed for working/up-and-coming artists.  Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World, will explore this topic with other industry professionals.
Fan Funding – Pursuing The Independent Path:  Is crowdfunding forever?  This panel will tackle the particular attributes, strategies, and potential drawbacks of crowdfunded music projects.  Billy O’Connell of Cash Music will moderate and will be joined by other industry leaders.
A full list of music conference panels is accessible HERE, or via the CBGB Festival app, available from the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
Visit CBGB.com and CBGB on Facebook for constant updates.

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WALKING PAPERS: Jeff Angell Offers An Exclusive Look Inside The Band!

WALKING PAPERS: Jeff Angell Offers An Exclusive Look Inside The Band!

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Seattle’s Walking Papers, the much-buzzed-about new band featuring rock luminaries Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season), Jeff Angell and Benjamin Anderson (both of The Missionary Position) have signed with Loud & Proud Records and are gearing up for the August 6th release of their self-titled debut. Recorded in Seattle and mixed by veteran producer Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Mudhoney), Walking Papersfeatures a guest appearance by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who played on lead single “The Whole World’s Watching” and “I’ll Stick Around.” “The Whole World’s Watching”  hit rock and alternative radio in June.

Guitarist/vocalist Jeff Angell and drummer Barrett Martin formed the band last year and played their first shows inSeattle as a duo.  They became a trio with the addition of bassist Duff McKagan and a quartet when keyboardist Benjamin Anderson joined the fray. Angell and Martin also served as the album’s co-producers. Walking Papers show that a great song can be conveyed with thundering drums, rumbling bass, and a howling guitar just as easily as it can with percolating marimbas and shimmering vibraphone. The songs on this album can stand alone as individual stories, but taken together as a whole, they convey a much larger narrative with tales of wandering souls, the collisions of will, and the dark beauty of the American heart.

The band will celebrate the release of Walking Papers with a headlining slot on the second stage of this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. The tour, which features Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, and many more, kicks off August 9th at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA. The band has already received media praise from both sides of the pond, with noted Seattle Times rock critic  Charles R. Cross saying the band’s brightness rivaled the sun’s and, unlike so many supergroups, its future might be even brighter, and UK mag Classic Rock praising the band’s collection of songs as “a masterpiece of mood and tension.” Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Walking Papers frontman Jeff Angell to discuss his musical roots, the formation of Walking Papers, the creation of their powerful debut album and much more!

Music has been one of the biggest parts of your world for many years. Looking back, what are your first memories of music in your life and how did it become a passion of yours?

Jeff Angell

Jeff Angell

I think I was born with the built-in DNA to be into music but at one point, it is actually kinda funny, my Mom was a single mom with two rotten little boys. She had to stoop so low as to date an Elvis impersonator at one time! He brought over the “Heartbreak Hotel” 45. I remember that song with the desk clerks dressed in black and spinning that record. I think that record and Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” because my Dad was a cowboy archetype kinda guy. Those two songs and the imagery they held just fascinated me with songs in general. Really early, even before Kindergarten, I would listen to songs on the radio and I would change the lyrics. I would take something like Barry Manilow’s “Made It Through The Rain” and change it to be about some soldier coming back from Vietnam, who came back and made it through the war. Luckily, I learned that was a way to learn to start writing songs, by imitating the songs you like and moving on from there. It has always been an obsession of mine, songs in general, and how they can say more in three verses with what they leave out than what a novel can say in three hundred pages.

What made you pursue music as a career rather than following a different path?

Kids! [laughs] I mean, I just really liked it. I was fascinated as a career so much as when I first started, it was more of what I wanted to do to kill my time doing, listening to records. Then I got a little starter guitar because my brother had a guitar but he broke it pretending he was in KISS or something! [laughs] I did a lot of begging and pleading to get one and they finally got me one at Christmas when I was in the fifth grade. I don’t know, I without getting too melodramatic, I think I kinda had a troubled childhood and having an instrument where I could see the benefits of putting time into it just made me feel better. Rather than sitting in the living room and fight with everybody, I would just sit in my room and play guitar. It became a really good friend to me and it just seemed like a natural thing to do to put a band together and keep playing like that. I guess I always had aspirations but it is so a part of who I am and who I have always been. I guess I always figured I would grow up and move to LA or something but then I was fortunate enough to live in Seattle. Some girls talked me into going to a show. One of them said “My boyfriend is in a band.” It turned out the boyfriend was Mike Starr from Alice In Chains. One of the first local shows I saw was Alice In Chains and Mother Love Bone at a Kent Skate King. There weren’t a lot of people there but I could tell the bands were just as good, if not better, than the bands I was listening to. Instantly, I was like “I’ve got to put together a band and start playing here!” Before that, I just played by myself and expected to move to the big city when I grew up and graduated high school. I just skipped all that and jumped right in!

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Who would you cite as some of your biggest influences as an artist?

Musically, I think some of that stuff changes through the years as you grow up. At first, it was anything on the radio. Certain bands that stood out to me were The Cure, The Fixx and that sorta pop radio. Where I lived, we didn’t have the best rock radio because we were out in the sticks. Pop radio could get there and I heard some of the early Cure singles, Tom Petty and stuff like that. It had a big influence on me. One of my brother’s older friends brought home an Ozzy [Osbourne] record, “Speak of The Devil, which was the one with all the hits of Black Sabbath on it. When I heard that, I was like “That is my record right there!” It was blues based with the flat five, the devil’s interval and needed that in my music. I think the lyrics to some of those songs, like “War Pigs” and songs like that and how they relate to religion and politics. As young guy, I already had suspicions that a lot of the stuff they were teaching you was bullshit. Finally, there was an adult telling me this and shooting straight — not saying one thing and doing another. So that had a huge influence on me and Black Sabbath had a huge influence on me. Then, as I grew up, watching the Seattle bands really influenced me. I was in my pre-teens and early teens when I was seeing those bands play and watching them evolve into who there would become, with Mother Love Bone into Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains having four originals to writing a couple of records that definitely changed the way music harmonies sound on rock radio forever. They had a big influence. I can’t forget Jane’s Addiction. I was fortunate enough to go on tour with them. Their album “Nothing’s Shocking” was a big influence. I have always loved the Rolling Stones ever since I can remember. I think my Mom was listening to it and it fascinated me early on. Now, they have so many records, you can really dig into the different eras and that is very cool. When I started getting a little bit older and thing “Man, I’m 27 and I don’t think I am going to make it.,” my ex-wife had brought home Tom Waites’ “Big Time,” which is a video of him playing. I saw that and thought “Wait a minute! This guy is forty-something and he is cool! He is like Keith Richards, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and all these other guys put into one dude!” He was an older guy so it kept the whole idea of being obsessed with youth obsolete. I felt I had a lot more time to find my own thing and I could embrace blues, which I fought for a long time. I think in the early 90s, there was a lot of really heavy rock and it was getting really dark there. I still liked country songs and blues songs, so I think what Tom Waites showed me brought me right back to “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Rhinestone Cowboy”.

All those influences and years of experience brought you to the point you are now. Tell us a little about Walking Papers and how it got off the ground initially.

Walking Papers

Walking Papers

Duff [McKagan] had actually seen a band I was in and asked me to try out for Velvet Revolver before they found the guy who sold 40 million records. [laughs] He took the job but Duff and I remained friends. We recorded some demos and I kept those for myself, I didn’t play them for people to get notoriety or anything. It has been only recently I have been telling people I auditioned for the band. I always kept it a secret out of respect for our friendship, ya know? Duff started talking about it, so I guess it was OK! Since then, we have established a trust and a friendship for around ten years now. I had another band going called The Missionary Position, which I played the keyboard player from Walking Papers, Benjamin Anderson. We have made a couple of records over the last couple of years and gigged really hard. We played a show with a band Barrett [Martin] was in and I think he was looking for some people to play with and get the piano in there and open up some different things besides just a guitar/bass combo. He had him come down and play some percussion stuff on one of The Missionary Position records and we made friends. Then he just called me up and asked me one day if I wanted to do something. I said “Sure! Let’s get in a room and se what happens naturally!” We jammed a little bit and the first guy we called was Duff. The Missionary Position doesn’t have a bass player, so it was kinda nice to start playing with a bass player again. We put it together like that and it all fell together really fast. We actually recorded the record after about eight rehearsals. I had a few songs hanging around and then we did these jams. I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I know I have the best rhythm section I am ever going to play with here, so I worked really hard at making the rehearsal tapes, refining the parts and putting them together to make them full songs. When we did go into the studio, I had worked really hard at home on my own to make sure I knew where the changes were going to be and the structures were complete. I had lyrics for about six of the songs when we went into the studio and the other ones I knew how they were going to go, so I just brought them home and sang them.

How did you guys choose the name Walking Papers for this project?

Originally, we were going to call the band Red Envelopes, which are the bills you get. The first one is a white envelope asking you to pay it nicely. Then you get a yellow one saying “Hey man!” Then you get the red one that says “Listen here! We are going to take your TV back if you don’t pay this thing!” [laughs] Then we found out there was some kind of card company, like a Hallmark type of company, called Red Envelopes. We tried to come up with something like that and came up with Walking Papers. We were kinda surprised there wasn’t a band called that already because it is American slang. The funny thing is though, in the rest of the world, no one knows what Walking Papers are! Even in the United Kingdom, they are like “Walking Papers? You guys are psychedelic with your imagery!” [laughs] We get asked all the time in Europe, “Papers that walk? What is this!” We have to explain it to them! We thought it was good because it is kinda catchy with everything that was going on with all the Occupy Wall Street protests and things like that going on.

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What can you tell us about the writing process for the album and how it all came together?

I had a few songs I had ideas for already but a lot of the stuff, Barrett would just jam a drum beat and I would play over the top of it. We would record everything. I think the key to a lot of stuff in writing is to make sure you listen, so you are not just feeling but listening to it. We would listen to those ideas and go down and jam for a couple of hours and develop eight or nine ideas. We would make little MP3’s of each one and talk about which ones we wanted to pursue. After four or five times jamming, we would have enough ideas. Then, with the couple of songs I had, I would say “Oh, I have this thing. Do you want to try it?” He would play along to it. Then, Barrett had some studio time and then we got in there and did the last three rehearsals, really worked and took the ideas we were trying to play, listen to the adjustments we made at home and tried to solidify them. We had the basics in about three days. As a writer, writing becomes more of a lifestyle. To be any good at writing, you don’t sit down and say “I am going to write a song today.” It is more like you put our antenna on and a filter in front of your life where you are constantly looking for new ideas all of the time. You might write them in a journal, scribble them on a napkin or sing it into your voice recorder. You compile those ideas and then when you don’t have any ideas, reviewing all of these things you have come up with, find a good one and put some sweat into it. Whether I am reading, watching something on TV or having a conversation with a friend, I am always looking for a lyric or a concept for a song. It’s the same thing with music. Ideas might jump into my head or if I am in the rehearsal room where two bands are practicing on opposite sides of the room and there becomes one song together, I am always listening to that.

You are working alongside some very talented musicians on this record. Is there anything you picked up along the way from this great musical collaboration?

Walking Papers

Walking Papers

I learned some things when it comes to being in studio. Those guys are from the tape days. I was a Pro Tools guy, really early! I had a record deal before it was Interscope and the first thing I did with my money was go and buy Pro Tools. I understand how to use that as a tool and this and that. Through that process, it took me ten years to learn all the punching in and how this crap with editing just ruins your songs more than it makes them good. When I went in with them, to see that they don’t even look at the computer screen, they just have their head between the speakers and play things like performances — you start, play the whole song through and if there is a nip or tuck it is a minor little thing. There are no quick tracks or anything like that. Through that process with them, watching the way they recorded, sometimes I don’t know if Pro Tools has made anything better! It allowed people to make records but as far as the process, it seems like it kills more productivity than it helps it, unless you are dealing with musicians who can’t play. Those guys are from the era where you played it through and you played it right! You didn’t keep punching in parts, ya know what I mean? I learned that from those guys. I have a great relationship with Barrett because he really sees the whole forest but then I am really into staring at the bark on the tree! [laughs] We meet somewhere in the middle and then we are able to put together the whole thing. I think it is a good relationship like that! Playing live with the guys is a whole different thing! Duff is so relaxed in that situation because he has played to so many people and do done so many things. I am still going out there like it is hand-to-hand combat! He is just kinda like “Hey! Settle down. Just take a minute to get your guitar tuned, buddy!” [laughs] The first time I had a guitar tech, he brought a guitar tech with him and we played this show and there were a lot of people there. It was one of our first shows. I had broken a string and I was going to fix it myself, pull it off and finish the song without it or whatever. He comes up to while he is playing the bass part and says “Ok. Settle down. You’ve got a guy over there. Hand it to him over there and he will fix it for you and you will be right back to it! He is going to hand you another one.” It’s so funny to me that we are right in the middle of the show and I have all this panic and Duff is so cool about it! [laughs] I think he gets a kick out of exposing me to these bigger audiences. I mean, in the last European tour, I probably played to more people in a few weeks than I have in the last ten years in clubs! And that isn’t because I wasn’t playing a lot! All of a sudden you are playing to ten, twelve, twenty-four thousand people in a shot. It takes a lot of 100 people club shows to make up to that kind of thing!

You have been at it in the music business for quite a while now. What is your advice to aspiring musicians?

My personal opinion is that anyone who is playing for some type of financial reward — the jokes on them! Even if you are successful, it is still a lot harder than people think. You have tour buses, managers, t-shirt costs, hotels and planes. There are a lot of expenses going on and even when you get to that level it gets hard to rub two pennies together. If people start out with the wrong intentions, it can really screw things up. Just making good music and good records is key. If they keep their eye on that, good things will happen to them. Of better or worse, something good will happen to them. Everybody I know, all of my friends and even work I get outside of music is all based around my drive as a musician and music fans that I know.

What are your long term plans for Walking Papers?

We are going to move forward to make another record. We are already working on new songs but we are going to push this record as far as we can and get it into as many hands as we can. Hopefully, when that cycle ends, we will start recording the next one! We have already been playing new songs live but we are not passing out those cigars until the baby is born! [laughs]

Looking back on your journey as a musician so far, how do you feel you have evolved along the way?

Walking Paper's Jeff Angell

Walking Paper’s Jeff Angell

I think in some ways you evolve and then you devolve again. You start out by learning a couple people’s songs and then you start writing songs and get delusions of grandeur that you are actually inventing it and writing these songs, when it is the universe that is handing them to you, if you are smart enough to pay attention. Then I have been in these bands and in The Missionary Position, a lot of times we would have to all-night shows to make enough money to get to the next town, so we would be playing three to four hour sets. Then you go amazing Prince song with one repetitive lick or Rolling Stones song with two chords and you realize how great those songs are in their simplicity. I think the biggest evolution for my has been to keep it simple, not try to take myself too seriously and be humble in the way I go about it because the songs are all there if you tap into them. I think that is proof there is a higher power at work or something, the way chords resonate with each other and create emotions through the science of those waves going through the air and entering peoples ears. If a person can use that to communicate a lyric or an idea, the ability to touch people through that is way bigger than any human being or some guy with a notebook and a guitar. I think it comes down to communication and keeping your eye on that. That is the biggest evolution — realizing you ain’t all that special! [laughs] That is my biggest evolution! I just work hard and am grateful for the people who take care of us!

I want to thank you for your time today, Jeff! I has been a pleasure and I can’t wait to catch Walking Papers on tour! We will be spreading the word!

Thanks so much, Jason! I am grateful for your time! Thanks for you enthusiasm! Take care!

Don’t miss your chance to catch Walking Papers live. Uproar tour dates are as follows:

AUGUST

9 – Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion At Montage Mountain

10 – Hartford, CT – The Comcast Theatre

11 – Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center

13 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center

14 – Mansfield, MA – Comcast Center

16 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live

17 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center

18 – Wantagh, NY – Nikon At Jones Beach Theater

20 – Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre

22 – Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

23 – Nobleville, IN – Klipsch Music Center

24 – Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theater

27 – Oklahoma City, OK – Zoo Amphitheater

28 – Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavilion

29 – Woodlands, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

31 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheatre

SEPTEMBER

1 – Englewood, CO – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre

2 – Salt Lake City, UT – USANA Amphitheatre

5 – Nampa, ID – Idaho Center Amphitheater

8 – Ridgefield, WA – Sleep Country Amphitheater

11 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre

13 – Phoenix, AZ – Desert Sky Pavilion

14 – Chula Vista, CA – Sleep Train Amphitheatre

15 – Irvine, CA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

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PUSHERJONES: Velvet Revolver’s Dave Kushner Discusses His New Project!

PUSHERJONES: Velvet Revolver’s Dave Kushner Discusses His New Project!

Velvet Revolver guitarist Dave Kushner has never been one to shy away from exploring new creative ground. His latest outing is no exception to that rule and blends two of his loves, music and art. One might ask, “What is PusherJones?” Simply put, it is the brainchild of Kushner and ‘The Simpsons’ Creative Director Dave Warren, PusherJones is a virtual rock band originating from Los Angeles that is backed by real life musicians. The cast of real-life musicians includes Franky Perez of Scars on Broadway on vocals, Dave Kushner of Velvet Revolver on lead guitar, Joey Castillo of Queens of the Stone Age on drums, Scott Shriner of Weezer on bass and Dave Warren on rhythm guitar. The rock supergroup–whose members have sold over 17 million records worldwide, garnered 3 Grammy Awards and 8 nominations, 2 MTV Awards and 10 MTV Award Nominations — recently released their debut single “Count Me Out” on May 1 via Hollywood Records and iTunes as part of ‘Avengers Assemble’, the soundtrack for the star-studded film ‘The Avengers’. Co-creators Kushner and Warren currently have a TV pilot for the “PusherJones” animated series and a music video in development while the band is putting the finishing touches on an as-yet-untitled 5 song EP to be released in early summer 2012. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Dave Kushner to discuss the origins of this exciting new project, what fans can expect from it sonically and what the future holds for the world’s most kickass animated band!

Dave Kushner

We always like to give a little insight into an artists life. What are your first memories of music coming into your life?

My earliest memories of music in my life are from my parents. My mom used to have 8-track tapes, which her and my stepdad would listen to in the car all the time. I remember there was Neil Young, Boston and James Taylor. Those are my earliest memories of music. My mom actually had a record player that could record onto 8-track. It was awesome! I would get in trouble all of the time because she would have an 8-track of some band she actually liked, and I would stick a piece of tape on the little thing and record over top of it. The first record I ever bought was Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” I wanted to have it on 8-track, so I recorded over her Blood, Sweat and Tears 8-track and got in a whole lot of trouble! [laughs]

At least you put that love of music to good use! You crafted quite a career for yourself at this point. To what do you attribute your longevity in such a competitive industry?

Not really making any money until about eight years ago?! [laughs] I don’t know, I guess it has just been a matter of persistence, naive persistence.

There’s nothing wrong with that!

[laughs] Ya know, I grew up in Hollywood. I had gone to art school since I was a little kid, so I always knew that I would do something with visual arts or with music. I have really been fortunate in the last 20-some years that if I wasn’t playing in a band or doing something where I was making money doing music, I was building sets or doing something creative with visual arts. I have always been able to go back and forth and both have been good day jobs for me.

That is a great segway as your latest project, PusherJones, combines visual and musical elements. What can you tell us about the project and how it came about?

Dave Kushner Laying It Down On Stage

It all started a few years ago. There is a guy named Don Bernstein, who buys all of the memorabilia for The Hard Rock Cafe. Any of the guitars, instruments or outfits you see hanging in there, he is behind it. He had all of these really great stories and we became really good friends because he would buy stuff from Velvet Revolver. We became great friends and when he would come to LA, he would stay at my house. At one point, he said, “Oh, you have to meet these two friends of mine. They work on ‘The Simpsons.’” We went out to see Chad Smith’s [Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chickenfoot] band at this place called The Baked Potato. I met Ralph Sosa and Dave Warren, who is now my partner on this project. Again, we got along really great. We were swapping stories and hanging out. At some point I said something like, “Oh yeah, I would really like to do something like the Gorillaz because you could pick and choose your band.” I was in VR at the time. Obviously, growing up in Hollywood, I had a lot of favorite musicians. As a musician, you always look for an opportunity to work with different people and not have a big commitment. People shy away sometimes by saying, “Well, I can’t really tour now or I can’t do this or that … ” because everyone is busy and has so many things going on. We just started developing and from that experience with “The Simpsons,” I really got into developing story ideas and the story behind each character. We just kinda kept going with it and it became this idea for a TV show. We were always kinda working on one phase of it as we went along, whether it was drawing the characters, writing songs for it, recording music for it, getting different guys to play on it or writing different stories for the character backgrounds. It was a great experience because there were all of these moving parts and you could always jump to different things if you got stuck on one. We just kept going with it and going with it and then one of the old managers from VR sent me an e-mail a month ago asking if we had any songs for “The Avengers” soundtrack. I sent him our song, “Count Me Out” and they apparently liked it enough to use it on the soundtrack. That kinda kick-started everything! We were kinda at the point where were we going to start trying to debut this thing anyway as a show or whatever. There are just so many heads to it, we can kinda go in a lot of different directions.

What can you tell us about the characters who make up the band, both the animated form and the players themselves? How does it all tie together?

PusherJones

Well, that is a really good question because I don’t really have a good answer. Like I said, there are a lot of moving parts. The characters in the story — the story is very similar to my story. It is basically about a band that has been established for a while and they lose their guitar player. The singer has an old friend that he played little league with. There is a guy he knows that is a solid guitar player. This is the kinda guy who has been in obscurity for a while and they basically call him up from the minors to the big leagues, ya know? It kinda goes from there. There are different elements to it. It is basically a comedy but it is based on my experiences in Velvet Revolver, whether they are stories that I have heard or stories that I have experienced by being in a band at that level and for lack of a better term, being in bands with people with substance abuse challenges, drinking problems or whatever else. There are many trappings in being in a band at that level but it is kind of a funny way of putting it out there!

You are working on an EP. What can fans expect sonically?

Sonically, it is going to be like “Count Me Out” as far as the sound goes. We basically recorded the whole thing all at once with myself, Joey Castillo from Queens of the Stone Age and Scott Shriner from Weezer. We recorded all of the basic tracks for five songs at Josh Abraham’s studio, the guy who did the VR record. We did it a couple months ago and now it is at the point where I did vocals with Franky Perez of Scar on Broadway last night for a song. I think I have got just a few more things to fine tune as far as overdubs and vocals. It should be ready in the next couple of weeks.

It sounds like things are moving pretty quickly at this point. How long do you think it might be until this project is in full swing and might end up on TV or wherever it may take you?

I really don’t know. I am hoping it is very soon. Anything is possible. Fortunately, because of the “Avengers” attachment, it has happened so quickly that there are two or three directions we can go with this thing and now it is just a matter of picking which one is the best. At this point, it is like, do you go focus on the TV show aspect? Do you focus on the music because that is what is purely getting the attention right now? Do you just focus on finishing the EP and getting that out there? Like I said, it is like a two- or three-headed beast! [laughs] We also have to figure out how to do this thing live and we have a few ideas on how to do that. How do we present these characters to the world? There are just so many moving parts!

Dave Kushner of Velvet Revolver

That sounds like a pretty good place to be and having options is never a bad thing.

Yeah, it is great. I couldn’t be any happier.

Have you given any thought to potentially playing the EP live, even if it isn’t the full blown version of the band you are working towards?

I’d like to but it is a matter of not what is the best way but what is the coolest way. For example, I saw Dethklok on tour, you know, the “Metalocalypse” band?

Oh yeah, sure.

I actually went with Scott, our bass player. It was like a year ago at The Palladium. They had an interesting way of how they did it between having video on a big screen and having the band play in front but the band was kinda in the dark but you could still see them. Nowadays with technology there is so much you can do. In Japan, they are doing a lot of cool things with holograms live. Obviously, everyone has been talking about the Tupac thing but before that we had seen this more animated looking style in Japan. People are going to these sold out shows of this animated character, a girl singer. So we are just trying to figure out the coolest way to do it because that is where I come from. All of us are guys who have played in bands and there are certain things you enjoy about that but, then again, can you pull everyone together at the same time? If you can’t, then you figure out a way to present this thing live so that it is really cool and it gives people maybe a lot of what they are not expecting.

Sounds like you definitely have a full plate at the moment. Do you have any other irons in the fire musically?

Velvet Revolver

Right now, I am still kinda talking with guys in Velvet Revolver to see what is going on there. Still trying to figure out that stuff. I talked with Duff [McKagan] today about it and anything is possible. As far as other projects, I have been doing a lot of composing for television. I am actually doing music for Vince Vaughn’s production company for a show called “Sullivan and Sons,” which is on TBS. It is kinda like “Cheers.” So I am doing all of that and just trying to keep everything going!

I know we are short on time but thanks for talking with us today! PusherJones sounds like it is going to definitely be a project to keep an eye on! We look forward to spreading the word!

Thanks so much! I really appreciate it!

For the latest news and developments with PusherJones, visit the official website of the world’s most kickass animated band at www.pusherjones.com!

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PUSHERJONES: Group Debuts First Song “Count Me Out” On ‘The Avengers’ Soundtrack

PUSHERJONES: Group Debuts First Song “Count Me Out” On ‘The Avengers’ Soundtrack

The brainchild of Velvet Revolver guitarist DAVE KUSHNER and The Simpsons Creative Director DAVE WARREN, PusherJones is a virtual rock band originating from Los Angeles that is backed by real life musicians including FRANKY PEREZ of Scars on Broadway on vocals, DAVE KUSHNER of Velvet Revolver on lead guitar, JOEY CASTILLO of Queens of the Stone Age on drums, SCOTT SHRINER of Weezer on bass and DAVE WARREN (“The Simpsons”) on rhythm guitar. The rock supergroup–whose members have sold over 17 million records worldwide, garnered 3 Grammy Awards and 8 nominations, 2 MTV Awards and 10 MTV Award Nominations–will release their debut single “Count Me Out” on May 1 via Marvel Music/Hollywood Records and iTunes as part ofAvengers Assemble, a 13-track compilation of music from and inspired by this year’s highly anticipated new film”Marvel’s The Avengers.” Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, and Tom Hiddleston, with Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and directed by Joss Whedon, “Marvel’s The Avengers” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since. The film releases in theaters on May 4, 2012.  The compliation’s full track listing is below; for more information, visit: http://www.avengersalbum.com.

Starting today (Tuesday, April 17), fans can listen to PusherJones’ “Count Me Out” exclusively in full onRollingStone.com here: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/velvet-revolvers-dave-kusher-forms-new-cartoon-band-pusherjones-20120417. The pre-order for Avengers Assemble is now available exclusively via iTunes. In addition, fans who visit www.avengersalbum.com today can tweet and listen to a 60 second preview of “Count Me Out,” which unlocks an image of one of the characters in the forthcoming film “Marvel’s The Avengers.”

Co-creators KUSHNER and WARREN currently have a TV pilot for the “PusherJones” animated series and a music video in development while the band is putting the finishing touches on an as-yet-untitled 5 song EP to be released in early summer 2012.  “Dave and I had a mutual love of music and animation and wanted to mash up the two,” explains KUSHNER. “We asked ourselves, what if the Gorillaz were more like Guns n’ Roses? We took it a step further and merged a real band and music with a fictional storyline and characters that are entertaining, relatableand funny. The music, art and the story has to co-exist in the same world while being able to kick ass on their own.”

Co-creator WARREN adds, “Kushner has all these amazing, crazy stories about growing up in Hollywood, working atTower Records and eventually touring the world with Velvet Revolver. We’d get together and swap stories about themusic and television worlds and laugh our asses off. We realized this is our own life story, our experiences in thecrazy world of show biz and we started to imagine this ‘South Park on the Sunset Strip’ idea which became this imaginary band from Hollywood called PusherJones.”

www.pusherjones.com
www.facebook.com/pusherjones

@PusherJones
@AvengersAssemble

 

The full track listing for Avengers Assemble (Marvel Music/Hollywood Records) for music from and inspired by the film “Marvel’s The Avengers” is as follows:

1.  Live to Rise – Soundgarden
2.  I’m Alive – Shinedown
3.  Dirt and Roses – Rise Against
4.  Even If I Could – Papa Roach
5.  Unbroken – Black Veil Brides
6.  Breathe – Scott Weiland
7.  Comeback – Redlight King
8.  Into the Blue – Bush
9.  A New Way to Bleed (Photek Remix) – Evanescence
10. Count Me Out – PusherJones
11. Wherever I Go – Buckcherry
12. From Out of Nowhere – Five Finger Death Punch
13. Shake the Ground – Cherri Bomb
Additional track on the international release:
14. Pistols At Dawn – Kasabian


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