Exclusive: Watch Guns N' Roses Guitarist Bumblefoot's Time-Tripping 'Little Brother Is Watching' Video
Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal admits that being part of Guns N' Roses since 2006 left him little room to continue what had once been a prolific solo career. "I just haven't been able to juggle the time where I could have the momentum and just devote nine months of my life to solely focusing on an album being a priority," he says. "I finally just had to do it."
Little Brother Is Watching -- whose title-track video Billboard is exclusively premiering below -- is Bumblefoot's first full-scale album in seven years, though he released an acoustic EP during 2008 and a series of eight individual songs in 2011. But he was still champing at the bit to sink his six-string teeth into a more all-encompassing project. "I know people say the album format is not as relevant or as mandatory as it once was, but there's still something about having an album, a physical, tangible product that still means something," Bumblefoot says. "That doesn't take away from other options; people can still grab one song if they want, or stream it. But it feels good to have a full album as well. I wanted to breathe again. When you're not being creative it feels like there's a bag over your head, and there's only so much time before you either rip the bag off or you whither."
Being in GNR, he acknowledges, "absolutely" had an impact on the sound of Little Brother Is Watching. "That absolutely had a big effect. There's no way you spend all those years playing epic rock songs and not have it make an impact." In fact, Bumblefoot conceived a couple of the album's songs -- "Argentina" and "Don't Know Who to Pray to Anymore" -- "with the intent of bringing them to the table for Guns, but we never got in the room to do it. By the end of 2013 I decided that their home should be on my own album,and I finished them up."
Little Brother's thumping title track, meanwhile, delivers modern-day social commentary about the invasiveness of cellular and other personal devices ("Paranoid, the lens is our weapon/Desensitized in our lust for attention/Democratized by a voyeur obsession"). But the video offers an old-school twist, with Bumblefoot as a Middle Eastern ruler ultimately undone by future technology, with a hint of Arab Spring references. "We talked about being very literal and very current or even being very futuristic and go for a Terminator or cyborg kind of thing," he says. "Instead we turned the lock back, like, 'Let's go to 1984 B.C.' That's about how long the struggle has been against dominating entities that rule and you have to answer to. The video shows people trying to provide the instant gratification that we still have a demand for today and trying to please the ruler until...everybody revolts and he suffers the same fate he's inflicted on others. We had a great time working on it."
Bumblefoot, who was out on the road last summer on the Guitar Gods tour, predicts that he'll do some touring to support Little Brother Is Watching. But he has plenty of other projects on his plate, including the all-star band Art Of Anarchy -- which briefly included Scott Weiland as its frontman -- and Generation Kill, a rap-metal project with Run-D.M.C.'s Darryl McDaniels. His current status with GNR, meanwhile, is purposely vague and something he's contractually "not [able] to elaborate on." But Bumblefoot adds that, "I think there's enough clues out there for you to figure out what I'm up to now. I'm a real busy guy and really enjoying everything I'm doing, and I think that everything I'm doing has a future and a bigger plan -- the solo stuff, the other bands, the producing, the charity and educational things I'm doing. These are all the things I love that I've really missed, and I'm very happy to be putting my time back into that. It's really what I should be doing."