RON 'BUMBLEFOOT' THAL confirms end of SONS OF APOLLO
In a new interview with Thomas S. Orwat, Jr. of link text Rock Interview Series, guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-GUNS N’ ROSES) spoke about the status of SONS OF APOLLO, his project with bassist Billy Sheehan (MR. BIG, THE WINERY DOGS), former DREAM THEATER members Mike Portnoy (drums; also of THE WINERY DOGS) and Derek Sherinian (keyboards; also of BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION), along with vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (JOURNEY, Yngwie Malmsteen, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA). He said: “Everything has its lifespan, and you hope it’ll be a long one, and it just ends up being what it’s gonna end up being. And when you have a bunch of moving parts, if one of those parts is not on board, it can’t function. So, we did two studio albums, we did the live video and album, we did lots of music videos, did a good amount of touring. And now, after it has splintered off into other things where Jeff and I are doing ART OF ANARCHY… Derek and I, there’s all of Derek‘s music that I’ve been a part of, all his solo music, which is very much —his writing is half of SONS OF APOLLO; well, I guess you could say a third. You have Derek and I, we would do the music writing and then Jeff would write to that. So most of those albums, well, all those albums were done that way, where it was just shooting ideas back and forth. Derek and I, he would have an idea and I would send him a demo of an idea and we would make the music. And then with Mike, we would get together and arrange them into crazy-ass songs. And then Jeff would listen to these songs and start putting vocals to it and make them sound like something digestible.”
Earlier this month, Thal told We Go To 11 that there were no plans for SONS OF APOLLO to become active again. “It was on its way up with that second album. Things were going very well,” he said. “And we finally got our shit together and organized and everything was functioning well. And we were definitely on an incline. When the pandemic hit, not everybody was on board to keep moving it forward and doing more with it. And I do have new music with Derek. And I have (ART OF ANARCHY) with Jeff, so it’s kind of like it splintered off into other things.”
Pressed about whether he thinks it will be “a while” before we get any new music from SONS OF APOLLO, Thal told We Go To 11: “Well, we managed to put out two studio albums and a live album and video, and I hope everybody enjoyed it. Past tense.”
SONS OF APOLLO completed a South American tour in August 2022. Sheehan was unable to join his bandmates on the trek due to COVID-19 vaccine-related travel restrictions. His replacement on the tour was ANGRA‘s Felipe Andreoli.
SONS OF APOLLO‘s second album, “MMXX”, was released in January 2020 via InsideOut Music/Sony.
The follow-up to 2017’s “Psychotic Symphony” debuted on multiple Billboard charts dated, including Tastemakers (No. 10),Heatseekers Albums (No. 11) and Hard Rock Albums (No. 21).
At the time of “MMXX”‘s release, Soto told Billboard: “We absolutely jumped into this as an ongoing commitment from all of us that we were going to follow up on and treat it, with all intents and purposes, as a real band. With the caliber of who we have and what we could come up with, we knew we wanted to dive into this thing fully committed, and not as a one-off.”
Regarding the differences in the musical direction between the two albums, Soto said: “I don’t think we strayed too far. If you put both albums together as a double album, it would work. The only difference is that I feel that I put a little more personality into the vocal parts. It was a little homogenized on the first album, in terms of playing it safe. I didn’t toy around too much with straying from the main ideas.
“On the second album, I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” he continued. “I knew where we were headed as a band. This time, it was a no-brainer that I should just go for it. The first album was, again, the foundation and the skeletal embryonic stage of the band. Now it’s solid and I’ve watched it flourish, and I went in knowing what to do.”
More than five years ago, Portnoy told Let’s Rock about SONS OF APOLLO‘s chemistry: “I’d like to say that I was surprised by how easy it came together, but, to be honest, I kind of expected that. That wasn’t really a surprise. I knew it would work. I knew it would be easy once once we started playing just because I know the guys involved. So, I can’t really say there were many surprises. Everything kind of went according to plan. Everybody was kind of chosen for the band because I knew their personalities. And Jeff and Bumblefoot in particular are the two most easy-going guys, and (laughs) that’s very rare for a guitar player and a singer. But in this case, you couldn’t ask for two sweeter guys. That’s a huge part of the importance in picking band chemistry. A lot of times, it’s well beyond the music. It’s more about the personalities and in this case, it’s a great group of guys.”