Italy’s Rock Rebel magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Paul Gilbert and bassist Billy Sheehan of MR. BIG. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the difference between touring with MR. BIG versus their solo projects and side bands such as THE WINERY DOGS:
Paul: “MR. BIG, there’s more people in the audience, which is nice. It’s MR. BIG music; we all sing together, which is great. There’s a lot of harmony vocals in addition to the bass and guitar wildness. And, for me, it pushes me to be more intense. There’s sort of an energy level requirement that MR. BIG has that if I was just on my own getting out of bed in the morning at my house, I might not ever get to that energy during the day on my own. But with MR. BIG, it brings me up to a higher energy level than I ever would on my own. That’s nice to be pushed and push myself that much.”
Billy: “Similarly, it’s a pretty intense show. It seems sometimes it’s just a regular rock or pop song, but we’re doing a lot and singing a lot and all kinds of things are going on. MR. BIG has been, for all of us, our most successful band for all of us, all of us in the band. We’ve played all over the world as I already mentioned and it’s incredible to play. We play in South America and they sing the guitar solos. They sing along with the guitar solos, so the fact that the fans are so familiar with what we do and they sing along, we’re really locked together with the audience in a really incredible way, which means a lot to us. We have dear friends and wonderful people all over the world, no matter where we play, somebody’s there and they got a record or a MR. BIG shirt, even if they got to make it themselves, they got a MR. BIG shirt. It’s quite a wonderful thing. We both do a lot of things outside of MR. BIG, but I would dare to say that not necessarily to speak for Paul, Pat [Torpey, drums], Eric [Martin, vocals] or [fill-in drummer] Matt [Starr], but MR. BIG is a very special thing for all of us.”
On Torpey, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, joining MR. BIG on their current European tour and whether the band considers themselves “one big family”:
Billy: “You could say that, yeah, absolutely. Pat, unfortunately, ran into a bad situation and as a band, we wanted to make sure that he knew that we were with him 100 percent. It’s a tough thing for everybody, but Pat has demonstrated incredible courage and strength. He’s inspiring to so many people all over the world. I get e-mails from people every day who maybe don’t have the same affliction, but have something similar and Pat inspires them to get out of bed and get going and push back a little bit more. I think that’s a wonderful thing in itself. The American military, the Navy Seals and their motto is ‘No Man Left Behind.’ So for the beginning of this, we adopted their motto to a rock band and [it was] ‘No Man Left Behind’. A lot of bands are out there now and they don’t have all the original members. Sad, sometimes you can’t. People pass on and situations, but we really want it to be Paul, Eric, myself and Pat. Matt is incredible at helping out. I have to mention how awesome he is and how wonderful a job he’s done to do Pat‘s parts the way they should be done. Really wonderful.”
On whether MR. BIG ever writes material they know they wouldn’t be able to replicate live:
Billy: “I think everything we do is designed to be performed live. I think that’s where some bands get into trouble. They get into the studio to do all of this fancy stuff, but they can’t do it live. So they get live and it’s not that good. I’ve seen that happen with several very famous bands, too. When we designed this band way back when we first began rehearsing at Alleyway Studios and when we were in there rehearsing and we were just playing live and when we put this band together, we kept ‘live’ in mind completely. When I heard Eric sing, I thought, ‘That guy’s got a great voice.’ I heard some live things of him, he’s amazing. Paul, of course, I had seen him for several years before we started MR. BIG and he just killed live. Pat Torpey, I saw him perform live, just great. I really wanted to build the band as a live band so it would be ‘real.’ A lot of bands, they faked a lot of stuff. They can do it in the studio, they can’t really do it quite live. We really wanted to make that connection true and honest. I think it makes a big difference to the fans. Sometimes when we sing, we break in the middle of ‘Green-Tinted [Sixties Mind]’, we just sing the middle harmony part with no music. ‘Is that recorded?’ Sometimes we go live, ‘There aren’t any tracks playing!’ It’s not fake. We keep that in mind. Then, it’s a challenge when we do something that’s difficult, we got to perform it live. We have to figure out a way to do it. It’s a good challenge.”
MR. BIG‘s ninth studio album, “Defying Gravity”, was released on July 7 via Frontiers Music Srl. The effort is available at traditional retail and all digital service providers, as is a deluxe-edition version with CD and bonus DVD that features music videos and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album.