It’s not that often when metal creeps its way into mainstream pop culture. So when metal/hard rock acts do actually pop up in beloved sitcoms, dramatic films, cartoons or even reality series, it’s kind of awesome. So in the weekly column Remember When, Metal Insider recalls the most random instances of metal’s elite appearing in front of the camera.
Most fans know Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal for either his solo work or work with numerous bands (most notably Guns N’ Roses but more recently the supergroup Art Of Anarchy). However, the virtuoso guitarist’s music has been featured in various TV shows, including The Real World and MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge). He even co-wrote and performed the theme song for That Metal Show. Even with his background in TV licensing, though, it’s still amazing to think that the beloved guitarist has actually appeared on an MTV reality series.
The reality series in question is MTV Made. The “self-improvement” show (which is being revived and expected to return this summer) follows teens as they attempt to achieve their goal of being “made” into something they’ve always dreamed of becoming with the help of “made coaches.” In 2004 (a few years before joining Guns N’ Roses), Thal appeared in an episode that focused on Scott, a “goth” teen whose goal was to become his school’s Mr. NorthStar (the school’s male equivalent to homecoming queen). Thal served as Scott’s “music coach”, helping him with the talent portion of the Mr. NorthStar competition. Granted, the most metal MTV Made appearance actually goes to Alissa White-Gluz (then of The Agonist, but now of Arch Enemy). But nonetheless, it’s still pretty awesome to see the former Guns N’ Roses shredder mentoring a youngster accomplish his dream.
Unfortunately, it’s been hard to track down footage of the guitarist’s appearance on the show (fingers crossed that MTV will start re-airing episodes in anticipation of the series return). Luckily for us, though, Thal took the time to chat with us in between hosting guitar clinics and shows with Metal Allegiance. Check out what he had to say about his time as a “made coach”, and how the whole thing came about in the first place, below.
How did your appearance on MTV Made as a “music coach” come about?
Throughout the late ‘90s and early 2000’s, I recorded and produced lots of hardcore bands in New York and New Jersey. One of the singers of an all-female hardcore band was also a TV producer and recommended me as a music coach. I was an adjunct Professor at SUNY Purchase College at the time, before that I had created and ran an entire music department for a school in New Jersey. Being a producer is like being a coach, it all turned out to be a great fit.
What was it actually like filming an MTV reality series? Was there anything about the filming process that in particular surprised you, or maybe something that viewers wouldn’t expect?
It was very normal, non-intrusive. No trying to create drama, telling us what to say. They documented what legitimately transpired between us.
Any fond memories or funny stories from the shoot?
I stayed in touch with Scott [whom I was coaching] for years after. Great guy, very nice family. Visited him at his 18th birthday party at his house, and would keep an eye and ear on the music he continued to make.
Is there anything you would’ve changed about your appearance on the show?
No. It captured a moment in time that happened as it was meant to happen.
It’s been a few years since this episode aired, and you’ve experienced a lot of amazing things since then. If you could go back and give any additional or new advice to the teen you were mentoring, what would it be?
Buy Apple stock.
If there was one movie actor you could serve as a “music coach” for, who would it be?
Ahhh, anyone! Teaching, coaching, mentoring is a big part of what I do, I’m happy to help anyone with it.
What other reality series would you one day love to appear on?
I’ve been on a few other shows, usually music-related, although one was as a relationship coach. I welcome the unexpected – anything genuine, fun, useful… people have reached out to me a few times in the past to have my own show, but I never had time to dedicate to developing it. Maybe it’s time to do it?