MR. BIG Guitarist PAUL GILBERT - "These Are The 10 Guitarists That Blew My Mind..."
May 15, 2019, 2 years ago
Mr. Big guitarist Paul Gilbert recently spoke with Music Radar and revealed the 10 guitarists that made an impression on him and blew his mind. Following is an excerpt from the rundown.
Eddie Van Halen
Gilbert: "I think anybody who was 12 years old when that first album came out was probably knocked out by it. Everyone goes to the tapping thing, and of course that was stunning. But to me it was actually more about his tone and his vibrato. And his brother Alex!
Because the other rock bands that were around at the time - Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent - when those bands would go into the studio it was more this conservative '70s production style, whereas Van Halen played live in the studio, so just the overall feeling of those records had an energy and an excitement to them and a looseness, and a realness to them that really stood out.
To me, the secret of Eddie Van Halen was Alex Van Halen, because the way Alex played was so loose and the way the two of them locked together... Those two are connected so thoroughly they might as well be one person.
I was fortunate enough to see him live on their first headlining tour, which was 1979. I saw them every tour they did with David Lee Roth. They were so... What’s the name of this article? Mind-blowing? They were exactly that! I’d just come out of there like my world had been opened up in every way."
Gilbert: "I’m actually playing two Gary Moore songs in my set at the moment. I saw him live, probably in 1987, the era of the big hair, and he was just really fiery. Somehow he was really able to get across the anger in his playing in the studio, which wasn’t easy to do. When I saw him live, one of the things that really was memorable to me and a little bit shocking - but good shock - was the way he did the whammy bar.
Of course, later when he got into his blues thing I don’t think he ever used the whammy, but he was doing this song called 'Over The Hills And Far Away' and he grabbed the whammy and did it in time - it was a triplet. One-two-three, one-two-three... And that wasn’t the way Eddie Van Halen used the whammy. It was like this new whammy sound and it was really cool.
He’s just one of the most strong and masculine, and street! Even in a cape and goofy hair. You wouldn’t wanna mess with him in an alley."
Check out Gilbert's complete list of guitar gods here.
Paul Gilbert and Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group recently announced a May 17 global release date for a new studio album, titled Behold Electric Guitar. Pre-order the new album here, and watch a new video for the song "Things Can Walk To You" below.
Gilbert shares: "Yes! I am building a tradition of cantankerous rock songs. 'Get Out of My Yard', 'Everybody Use Your Goddamn Turn Signal', 'Enemies In Jail', and 'Atmosphere On The Moon' (a song about moving to the moon to escape from auto-tuned music on Earth) are melodious rants from my past albums. 'Things Can Walk To You' is the closing track on my new album Behold Electric Guitar, and although it is performed as an instrumental, the melody is based on my most recent cantankerous lyrics. Let me tell you the story.
"One of my goals in moving to Portland was to live in a neighborhood where I could 'walk to things'. I looked forward to getting daily exercise by walking to local restaurants and shops, and getting some fresh outdoor air. I found a website called “Walk Score,” which rated the walkability of any address, and the area where I moved was rated high, and seemed perfect. It turns out that walkability not only attracts exercising musicians, but also attracts homeless people with their shopping carts, brimming with garbage, and leaving a trail of hypodermic needles. This led me to comment to a friend, 'When you can walk to things… Things can walk to YOU'.
"So when you listen to my friendly slide guitar melody, if you want to add a dimension of cantankerous thought, you can hum along with my first verse:
Well, I bought my house for the high Walk Score
There’s a café, and a pizza, and a grocery store
What I didn’t realize
But I’m finding out is true
When you can walk to things
Well, things can walk to you
"Yes, yes. I know that it’s callous to call anyone a “thing.” (Even when they steal your license plates, and smash your car window to steal your son’s backpack.) I’m sure everyone has a story. And not everyone has the good fortune to be able to turn their story into a song. I certainly appreciate my station in life. So I used the power of music to transform a callous rant into a soulful slide guitar melody, and guitar solo that builds and builds until it earns its place as the closing musical statement on my album.
"Some of my other cantankerous songs offer not only a problem, but also a solution.
Problem: People don’t use their turn signals.
Solution: Everybody use your goddamn turn signal.
Problem: Auto-tuned music is annoying to me.
Solution: Terraform the moon, so I can move there, and get away from auto-tuned music.
“'Things Can Walk To You' offers no solution, because I don’t have one. For those who are struggling, I wish I had the answer. If I could help homeless people by showing them how to play patterns with the major and minor blues scales, then I think I could do some good. But I suspect they need help in other areas. So in the meantime, I guess we’ll all keep walking, and breathing the fresh air. And if it’s blues scales you need. I’m here."
After his recent move to Portland, Oregon, Paul set out to connect with the best and grooviest musicians in the area, and record an album in his brand-new hometown. Brian Foxworth (drums) and Asher Fulero (keyboards) were both obvious choices to play Paul's mix of rock, blues, jazz, and pop flavors. When Paul's regular Portland bassist Kelly Lemieux was unavailable (due to his touring with Buckcherry), Paul reached out to New Orleans bass legend, Roland Guerin. Roland came to Portland weeks before the recording dates for intense rehearsing and arranging sessions.
With the band complete, Paul enlisted legendary producer and engineer John Cuniberti. John is well known for his work with Joe Satriani, but Paul was primarily interested in John's expertise with "one mic" recording. Paul explains, "It's so easy to make albums with overdubbing and editing these days, but I really prefer playing live and just getting the music to sound right because the musicians, the songs, and the performances are good." After hearing Paul's band, John recommended a few more mics, but still agreed that the music worked best as live performances with no overdubs. "There is not one overdub on the record. Everything you hear is four guys jamming, listening to each other, and making room for each other. The music almost mixes itself that way! And it's just a great mindset to have. When you know that you won't be fixing or adding parts later... It keeps your mind very active to get things right!"
“I Own A Building”
“Everywhere That Mary Went”
“Love Is The Saddest Thing”
“Sir, You Need To Calm Down”
“Let That Battery Die”
“Blues For Rabbit”
“Every Snare Drum”
“A Snake Just Bit My Toe”
“I Love My Lawnmower”
“A Herd Of Turtles”
“Things Can Walk To You.
"Havin' It" video:
Paul Gilbert will be touring globally to support the release. Confirmed North American appearances are listed below.
31 - Westland, MI - The Token Lounge
2 - Cleveland, OH - Music Box Supper Club
6 - Ardmore, PA - The Ardmore Music Hall
8 - Poughkeepsie, NY - The Chance
9 - Annapolis, MD - Rams Head On Stage
11-13 - New York, NY - Iridium Jazz Club
17 - Nashville, TN - City Winery
(Photo - Jason Quigley)