MR. BIG Guitarist PAUL GILBERT On Being Called A "Shredder" - "It Used To Bother Me Because I Felt That My Music Was So Much More Than Shred, But I Have Grown To Appreciate That Label"

September 22, 2023, 3 months ago

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MR. BIG Guitarist PAUL GILBERT On Being Called A "Shredder" - "It Used To Bother Me Because I Felt That My Music Was So Much More Than Shred, But I Have Grown To Appreciate That Label"

Positive Grid recently spoke with Mr. Big guitarist Paul Gilbert  about all things guitar, tone, and what inspired his new Spark Mini Limited Edition amp. Check out the interview below. 

On playing fast

Gilbert: "To me, that’s the cool thing about the rock 'n' roll do-it-yourself method with a lot of my guitar heroes — if you hear Yngwie (Malmsteen) or Eddie Van Halen playing fast, they don’t play the same. It’s not like, 'Okay, we both are doing exactly the same patterns.' No, that’s the method. They’ve all got their own fingerprint and when they get to that level, whether their own physiology and their influences gave rise to this particular way of approaching the faster stuff. And the same thing when you hear Neal Schon (Journey) play fast, and it’s a whole different animal... or Gary Moore or Michael Schenker. There might be overlap here or there, but essentially, you’re gonna be able to spot who it is. To lay down a rule like, 'Oh, it must be exactly…' to me, that’s like crippling yourself. Just take what works and run with it."

On being called a "shredder"

Gilbert: "It used to bother me because I felt that my music was so much more than shred, but I have grown to appreciate that label because of all the young guitarists who have been influenced by what I did, and it feels good to hear that I may have had something to do with their talent and inspiration; so, it's definitely a positive to me now."

Earlier this summer, Mr. Big - Eric Martin (lead vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitar and vocals), Billy Sheehan (bass and vocals), Nick D’Virgilio (drums and vocals) - put on their signature top hats and old shoes for the launch of their last worldwide tour, aptly titled The BIG Finish. Since the band’s original drummer and co-founder, Pat Torpey, lost his battle with Parkinson’s disease in 2018, the band now feels it’s time to mark the end of this chapter of their legacy.

The first leg kicked off in Japan and Southeast Asia in July and August, where the band performed for hundreds of thousands of loyal fans at 11 sold-out shows including Budokan in Tokyo, Japan. Now Mr. Big is ready to bring The BIG Finish to South America, Europe, and the US. The first batch of shows throughout the States will start January 12 in Houston, TX at the Rise Rooftop. More US dates will be announced soon. Ticket info can be found on the band’s official website.

One particular aspect of this upcoming final run that Mr. Big are excited about to a man is the decision to perform the entirety of their breakthrough Platinum-selling 1991 album Lean Into It from start to finish as a featured highlight of the live setlist. (To be sure, the full setlist will encompass Mr. Big’s entire career.) Fact is, Lean Into It is the perfect litmus testament to the band’s inherent dexterity at blending a variety of styles together, whether it’s the heady rocking brew of “Green-Tinted Sixties Mind,” the power-drilled and power-chorded identity checklist “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy,” or the truly heartfelt sentiments found within “To Be With You,” Mr. Big’s chart-topping, worldwide #1 smash hit single.

"I love playing the entire Lean Into It record,” says Paul Gilbert. “We've never done that until now, and the songs flow together really well. It's a first-class seat in the time-travel-machine back to 1992! I was amazed that during my guitar solo, the whole audience started singing along with me! That was the first time that has ever happened! That's what a live show is about!"

“We wanted to do a proper farewell, and this seems like the right way to do it,” asserts Billy Sheehan. Notes Eric Martin, “If we were in the movie business, we’d just put it all up in lights and say, ‘Welcome to The BIG Finish!’ Seriously, I’m glad we’re getting a chance to do it all onstage together as Mr. Big again and raise a flag to everything we’ve done as a band over the years.”

Joining Mr. Big on drums for this special final world tour will be longtime friend of the band Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard, Big Big Train), stepping in for founding drummer/vocalist Pat Torpey, who sadly passed away in 2018 following his heroic battle with Parkinson’s disease. “We found a wonderful drummer in Nick, and he’s got a great voice too,” confirms Sheehan. “Nick has a vocal range similar to Pat’s, and he’ll be able to do the parts Pat did with a similar finesse. It’s a big relief because Mr. Big has always been heavy on the harmonies. When the band began, we really relied on each other. We knew each guy would do exactly what he needed to do vocally and to do it righteously, on key, and in time. It’s difficult to find a drummer who sings in that range, but Nick has the voice we really need onstage.”

After 35 years of being addicted to that perpetually electrifying performance rush, the band feels it’s finally time to collectively hang up their top hats and shoes after coming together for one final, extended curtain call — a curtain call that will take them on an all-out world tour commencing in 2023 that will go for as long as, well, as long as Mr. Big fans demand it.

Make sure to catch them before they bring down that final curtain, because when it’s through, it’s through.

For details and tickets, head here. Dates are listed below.

12 - Houston, TX - Rise Rooftop
13 - Dallas, TX - The Factory In Deep Ellum
17 - Key West, FL - Rokisland Fest
20 - Orlando, FL - The Plaza Live
21 - Clearwater, FL - Capitol Theatre
23 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
24 - Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
26 - Cincinnati, OH - Ludlow Garage
28 - Warrendale, PA - Jergel’S Rhythm Grille
30 - Portland, ME - Aura
31 - Patchogue, NY - Patchogue Theater

2 - Sayreville, NJ - Starland Ballroom
3 - Ridgefield, CT - Ridgefield Playhouse
6 - New York, NY - Sony Hall
7 - Derry, NH - Tupelo Music Hall
9 - Glenside, PA - Keswick Theatre
14 - Wabash, IN - Honeywell Center
16 - Des Plains, IL - Des Plains Theatre
17 - Green Bay, WI - Epic Event Center
20 - Detroit, MI - Royal Oak Theatre
21 - Minneapolis, MN - Fitzgerald Theater
23 - Wichita, KS - The Cotillion
24 - Oklahoma City, OK - Diamond Ballroom

17 - Carlswerk Victoria - Köln, Germany
19 - Rock City - Nottingham, United Kingdom
20 - O2 Ritz Manchester - Manchester, United Kingdom
22 - KK's Steel Mill - Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
23 - O2 Shepherds Bush Empire - London, United Kingdom
25 - Ancienne Belgique - Brussels, Belgium
26 - Bataclan - Paris, France
28 - Sala Riviera - Madrid, Spain
30 - Razzmatazz - Barcelona, Spain

1 - Komplex - Zurich, Switzerland
3 - Live Club - Milan, Italy
4 - Kino Šiška - Ljubljana, Slovenia
6 - Majestic Music Club - Bratislava I, Slovakia
7 - Barba Negra - Budapest, Hungary
11 - Progresja - Warsaw, Poland
12 - Kasárne/Kulturpark - Košice Iv, Slovakia
14 - Muziekgieterij - Maastricht, Netherlands
15 - Rockhal - Esch-sur-alzette, Luxembourg

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