"Hands" is the third CD release from Ron Thal, and his debut as BUMBLEFOOT, playing experimental hard rock that combines intense music with humorous lyrics. Fans of groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mr. Bungle or Primus will enjoy this record. Musicians and enthusiasts of progressive rock will also appreciate the performances on this record, as well as anyone looking for atypical lyrical content. The album art is a collection of artistic photographs of twisted and malformed hands.
In April 97 Shrapnel Records agreed to negotiate the release from my contract with them. It was time to get back on track and have a band again, like I did before the solo records, and this CD was gonna be the starting point. I took the songs recorded for the Hermit CD that Shrapnel rejected (Dummy, Vomit, Dirty Pant'loons,) and then finished the unrecorded songs that Shrapnel also rejected (Swatting Flies, What I Knew, Shrunk.) From there I wrote Chair Ass - I was drinking a can of Path Mark ginger ale, and half way through recording the solo I grabbed the half-full can and wedged it against the strings and played the rest of the solo with one hand. It made a bit of a mess all over the guitar - I think it improved the sound. Funny thing about Path Mark ginger ale - if you drink it at least a half hour before going to bed, you get the most vividly detailed and disturbing dreams, where you feel everything that's happening. Maybe it's just me.
The title song Hands came to me while I was driving home from the studio the night before leaving to tour France (May 97). I never wanted to tour in support of my solo records - I didn't feel like they were really me, and I wasn't going to pretend or misrepresent. I got no fulfillment from music anymore - my identity was censored and diluted for so long that I was numb. But by recording this CD I remembered what music was - it was my medicine. My peace. Kept me sane. And the freedom to be myself brought back the spirituality I had lost. I dedicated this album to it. By the time I got home from the drive, the entire song was written in my head - I always write songs in my head first. I played the opening guitar riff while scatting with a kazoo.
While returning back to Paris after performing in the town of Nancy, we (me and the good folks at Roadrunner) spent all night driving and talking, and I told them I had a gut feeling that someone close to me was going to die. The next morning I called home and was told she had died that night, and within 5 minutes I wrote Tuesday In Nancy - a song I had for years, but couldn't find the right words for. What a fuckin' eventful tour. The first night there, I went to bed and noticed a red bump on the side of my leg. "Hey - I got bit by a French mosquito" I thought. After a few days, and that jetlag feeling not going away, the bump was multi-colored and about 4 inches in diameter. "Serious mosquitoes out here" I thought. I won't go to a doctor or hospital until I'm about to drop dead. So at this point, my leg is stiffened up and numb, and I can no longer bend my knee. "The swelling should be going down soon" I thought.
After 7 days, it was 6 inches in diameter and rock solid, my leg was starting to turn black, and was starting to shrink. So I finally mentioned something to the kind folks at the label. I showed it to them, and they jumped - they took me to a pharmacist who saw it and jumped - he sent us to the hospital, where the doctor saw it and jumped. That's when I got concerned. They were going to cut my leg open, but I opted for anti-biotics. That's when the 2 weeks of multi-colored sauce started to ooze out of the bullet-wound-like inch-wide open hole in my leg where the skin melted away. As the feeling returned to my leg, the painkillers, even with their illegal potency, weren't strong enough to hold back what felt like a toothache throbbing from my toes to my crotch. It helped me gig. The last show I did, the blood soaked through the bandages and through my pants - don't think anyone noticed. It took 2 months for the hole to close up. I don't think it was a mosquito.
I had just returned from seeing the play "Rent" when my brother called me up and told me about a botched night out with friends he had at this steakhouse his friends' girlfriend had been wanting to go to for months. They showed up late (had to pick someone up from the airport) and as they walked in, the restaurant was in the process of putting the chairs up on the tables and closing - but they served them anyway. The food was nearly raw, and their plates were taken away before they finished eating. The place only accepted cash which they didn't expect, so everyone had to empty what little money they had in their wallets. That's where the song Brooklyn Steakhouse came from. It was the first guitar solo I recorded after coming home from the tour with my new Vigier guitar (signed an endorsement deal with them out there.) Next I proceeded to record Backfur, where I turned up the amp and beat the guitar with my cock until I got the sounds I want. If it wasn't for that, I probably would have left the song off the record.
Next, I went looking for people with unique hands and photographing them for the album art. After 2 months of searching, I was out of time and had to prepare for manufacturing, even though it didn't get enough different pictures. I was in the studio working with some rappers telling them about the CD art and how I wish I could have found one more hand, when one of them yelled to someone in the next room "Hey, Stubbs - come here..." The kid reached out to shake my hand, and I found the last hand I was looking for. Fucking fate.
Everything about this album is legit - the lyrics, the hands in the artwork (no digital editing,) and I kept the recording dry and natural sounding - no doubling of vocals or guitars. I engineered the record using 24-track ADATs and a Mackie board. I made a point to include all the lyrics and had the mixes mastered by Mark Wilder (Sony Studios NYC). The release from Shrapnel was finalized in September 97. In December I started the production company Hermit Inc and began talking with distributors in Japan and Europe. Then the search began for the right people to make this band grow. Long search. Alot of mistakes - some couldn't devote time, and some were just backstabbing pieces of shit - ya don't find that out until you're depending on them. While working with different people trying to get the right line-up, the record was released mail-order March 98 and in stores in France in June 98. Bumblefoot's first gig was a showcase for TVT Records. Our second gig was gonna be opening for Van Halen June 17th in Paris, but the show was cancelled. The third gig was in Nice, France for an audience of a few thousand. That's where the writing began for the "Uncool" CD...