During Hellfest, we had the chance to sit down and talk to Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal from Sons Of Apollo about the current tour, the new album, and so many other things, you can read the whole conversation below and view the photos from their performance.
Metal Bell: Thank you so much for this opportunity to chat during the first show in Europe, it was a great show, congratulations.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Thank you so much.
Metal Bell: So how does it feel to play your first show at Hellfest?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Oh it is a great way to start a European tour, that’s for sure, no better way to start so we are very happy, to start a tour in front of 30,000 people I guess it’s ok (laughs).
Metal Bell: Have you ever played Hellfest before?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Yeah six years ago with Guns, we headlined it, it is nice to be here doing it with people that are close to you, friends with whom we wrote together, we recorded together, and it’s great.
Metal Bell: Your tour started in February, how is the reception so far?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Oh it is wonderful, this is our 42nd show I believe, it’s been great. We started off on the cruise to the edge, and then from there we went to the east coast and did like a week and a half of shows. And then April and May we did a big US tour, actually, we did South America, Mexico, Canada, and all around in the US. Nothing beats getting on the road, that’s what every band used to do to become who they are, being together every night and do it.
Metal Bell: How do I put this question, tell me how did
you come up or assemble The Avengers of Prog?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: (laughs) That was very easy, we all knew each other and played together over the years.
Me and Billy were playing for years doing these jams with Ray Luzier from KORN and with Mike. Me, Mike, and Billy would be this core band and we’d play like big events in New York, with guys from Anthrax and Kiss joining us. I laid guest solos on Metal Allegiance’s first album with Mike and another album that Billy produced for Madame Mayhem, a great artist that I laid 4 guitar solos for her album.
Me, Mike, Derek, and Billy played together at Prog Nation 4 years ago, so we all have this background and we’ve done things together, so it was a no-brainer. When Mike wanted to do this band, he sent me an email, it was January 2017, he said: hey, how we always talked about putting a band together! Well me and Derek have this idea and we want to go into the studio in March and just write on the spot, record on the spot, we all play together and mark it, record it the way bands used to do it, the right way, it’s the real thing. And we’ve written spontaneously, we did that, we spent 10 days at the studio, we wrote, recorded and made the album in 10 days.
So it was me, Mike, and Derek in the studio, and then Billy cut off his Mr. Big’s tour halfway through and joined us, then we all just recorded. Jeff finished his touring, then he recorded his vocals at my studio where I laid my
guitar solos on everything, and that was it. And then we just waited for the right moment to go out and announce the band and put out the album. The label is wonderful (Inside Out), they’ve been a fantastic record label, so supportive and really a good team.
Metal Bell: So basically You, Mike, and Derek wrote the majority of the album?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Yeah it started with us and then Billy joined, then Jeff wrote everything you hear sung, that’s Jeff, he was really the key ingredient to turn it from a cold prog album to songs, things you can sing along you know, melodies that stick, that’s what Jeff does, he’s the guy.
Metal Bell: Today the band is less than a year old, considering all of your projects and involvements, will Sons Of Apollo be a long-term project?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: That’s the question everyone has, is this another quick project or is it a band that’s gonna be around.
Our intentions are for it to be a band that’s gonna be around, but at the same time, we can’t completely neglect everything else we have, we can’t do that. It is also not fair for the other people in our life that are waiting for us so we still have to do other things. This year we’ll do a lot of Sons Of Apollo, next year we’re gonna have to do some other things, but you know we are already writing for the second album, it really goes down to business, not amongst each other, but we can’t just afford to be in a start-up band, put everything else aside, and get this off the ground. We are not 20-year old kids in a van you know, so it’s tough, but we are giving it our best and our intentions are to be a band that puts out a lot of albums and keeps on going and going. So as long as everyone on our team does the right thing, you know we are depending on managers, the label and on each other, all it takes is one person to fuck it all up and then we are all screwed, it could be anybody that we are depending on if they don’t do the right thing.
What we want for this band is to continue and we are doing everything possible to keep that going even when odds are against us, we want to keep going, we do.
Metal Bell: We do hope so too, you know how prog fans are so attached.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Sure yeah, and we made a pact with them, we said this is a band, we are obligated to keep our words to them and to ourselves.
Metal Bell: The history between Derek, Mike, and Dream Theater, would you ever consider a tour with them?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: I would love to do it, I have such tremendous respect for Dream Theater as a band and individuals. I love John Petrucci, we’ve met before, we’ve chatted, he’s a wonderful guy. I also played on Jordan’s solo record in 2009, he was just incredible. That would be a wonderful thing.
And honestly I feel like there would be no Sons Of Apollo if there was no Dream Theater, you know you have to respect where this came from and everything that leads up to it, the influences and the history, and I do, I tremendously do.
It’d be wonderful to play together, I doubt it would ever happen, that would be really something interesting to the fans to see that. I would love it to be taken not as a competition in any way, we are all branches of Dream Theater’s tree and I’m grateful to them, I respect and admire them.
Metal Bell: Your second album is called Sophomore, is there already a date in mind?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Well I mean Derek has written things, he sends me videos and things like hey check out this riff I came up with, and we’ve talked to the label about it but nothing is definite yet. Right now, it’s just let us finish up what we have here and once it’s all clear and done, everything goes ok, we will then think about the next step. Even though now is the time to think about it, we are just staying focused and looking ahead, so we are thinking about this leg of the tour, then the next leg, and the leg after that so there’s no definitive time. We’ve talked about November going into the studio but I know Mike has something to do in November so it might be January, but hopefully not too far too long.
Metal Bell: Well thank you very much for the chat, it’s been wonderful talking to you and the best of luck for the rest of the tour.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Thank you very much. It was an absolute pleasure.
Interview and Photos by Sharbel Kanoun