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‘Defying Gravity’: Paul Gilbert Discusses Mr. Big’s New Album and His Improving Improvisational Skills

Photo by: William Hames

The call went out: It was time for a new Mr. Big album.

And with that, original members Eric Martin (vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitars), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Pat Torpey (drums)—along with Matt Starr (drums)—convened in a Los Angeles recording studio. In a matter of six days, the band’s ninth original studio album, Defying Gravity. was born.

Produced by Kevin Elson, who’s worked with Mr. Big on their classic albums from the Eighties and Nineties, Defying Gravityfeatures inspired songwriting, virtuostic musicianship and most importantly, tasty fretwork. In fact, most of Gilbert’s solos were tracked live with the band, showcasing the development of his improvisational skills in both melodic and face-melting ferocity.

I recently spoke with Gilbert about Defying Gravity (which will be released July 7), gear and the upcoming G4 Experience.

Where did the idea for Defying Gravitybegin?

We really wanted to do a new album and tour, and it was just a matter of coordinating our schedules. Back in the early days, Mr. Big was the only thing any of us did. Now that we all have different solo projects and bands that we play in, it’s a bit trickier to coordinate. We wound up having six golden days where everyone was free.

On the last album [The Stories We Could Tell], we did a lot overdubs and later realized the best way for us to work is live in the studio. There was a good energy and it was quick enough where we didn’t overthink things. It put us in a good state of mind and we had such an enjoyable time.

Did your approach to guitar change much for this album?

I’ve been working on my improvisational skills, and I think that’s something that’s starting to show on this record. When you record an album in six days, you don’t have time to work out a lot of stuff. So a lot of the solos were improvised. But it’s not necessarily about flashy licks. It’s also about harmonically locking in and playing the right note at the right time. I think I was able to do that more than ever before.

What was it like working with Kevin Elson again?

It was fantastic. We had so many good memories of working with him on those four classic albums. Kevin has a great ear and is very mellow, but he’s also very supportive. Because we worked so quickly, a lot of times we didn’t even have time for demos. So when you brought a song to the band you had to do a buskers version for the first time in front of everyone. It can be scary because you’re thinking, “What are they going to think?” But at the end, everyone said let’s work on it. So it went from that raw, one-man band version to a complete track within a few hours.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Paul Gilbert By Clicking Here

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‘The Stories We Could Tell’: Super Group Mr. Big Returns With New Studio Album

MrBigAlbumAfter forming in 1988, Eric Martin (vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitar), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Pat Torpey (drums) immediately began to solidify their place in music history by combining inspired songwriting with trademark “shredding” and awesome vocal harmony.

Now, hard rock’s original super group Mr. Big is back with a vengeance and a new album, ‘The Stories We Could Tell’. The band’s eighth studio album is slated for release on September 23rd via Frontiers Music SRL.

Over the course of their 25 year career, Mr. Big has produced songs that have traversed the spectrum of rock genres – be it ballads, heavy metal or blues rock. Their hits, including “Alive and Kicking,” “Just Take My Heart” and the chart-topping ballad “To Be With You” propelled the band to international success and multi-platinum record sales.

On ‘The Stories We Could Tell’, the original lineup returns with some of their strongest material to date. The new album is the follow-up to the band’s 2011 release ‘What If’, another critically acclaimed album that marked the band’s return to their signature hard rock sound.

The new album was produced by Pat Regan, known for his work with bands like Deep Purple, Warrant and Keel.

Mr. Big

Mr. Big

In sadder news, Mr. Big recently announced that drummer Pat Torpey has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and the diagnosis has left him unable to perform his normal drumming duties on the band’s upcoming World Tour. Mr. Big intends to announce a drummer in the near future who will handle most of the band’s drumming duties on tour and expects Torpey to jump on the drums on suitable live songs as well as participating in the group’s acoustic set.

“To me, this is the album that we’ve threatened to make decades ago” says Eric Martin. “A classic, groovin’, blues-rock record with the spirit and spark of our Rock & Soul idols from the 70’s. Whether you’ve been with us from the beginning or are just starting, you’re going to dig where we are coming from and where we’ve been.”

The track listing for “The Stories We Could Tell”:

Gotta Love The Ride
I Forget To Breathe
Fragile
Satisfied
The Man Who Has Everything
The Monster In Me
What If We Were New?
East/West
The Light Of Day
Just Let Your Heart Decide
It’s Always About That Girl
Cinderella Smile
The Stories We Could Tell
Addicted To That Rush (Live – Exclusive Bonus Track)

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