Mr. Big: In-depth Interview With Paul Gilbert
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal, May 23rd 2011, Los Angeles CA: It is on days like this that I feel like I'm a fortunate human being, getting to have one-on-one conversations with my favorite musicians. Today was another such day, as I got a chance to speak to my favorite guitar player, Paul Gilbert.
In the interview we discussed a whole variety of topics starting with the Mr. Big reunion, new album and tour. I also asked him about what it's like working with bassist extraordinaire Billy Sheehan, after which I touched upon some aspects of Paul's guitar playing and stage persona. We end the interview by talking about his future plans, and a band that we both love, The Doors.
Andrew: You said in a recent interview that while writing the "What If..." album, you had the live show in mind. So when you were ready to play in Los Angeles on the 2nd of April, was the rehearsal process easy for you as a result?
Andrew: You did a solo show at the House Of Blues on February 28th 2009, and I was there. You invited members of Mr. Big to join you for the encore. Was that the very first time since announcing the reunion that you performed together on stage?
Andrew: That show was a special treat for fans, because you also performed with Richie Kotzen, who replaced you in Mr. Big 12 years back. At the time when you were on stage with him, did that cross your mind at all?
Andrew: The band has been incredibly huge in Japan. What do you attribute that success to?
Andrew: How long did it take for you guys to write this album and how much of a challenge was it to write again as a group after such a long time?
Andrew: Which of the songs came most naturally to you while writing?
Andrew: Billy Sheehan is a very unique bassist in the sense that he can give lead guitarists a run for their money! In a way, does that take the pressure off you because of the fact that his bass is often the lead instrument in Mr. Big's music, specially on the new tracks like "Still Ain't Enough For Me" and "Around The World"?
Andrew: Would you say this is the most diverse album you've ever done? I certainly think so, as it has tunes of greatly varying styles and tempo.
Andrew: You are unique not only musically but also in your appearance. While performing, you always wear headphones and use coiled guitar cables. How did that become a part of your on-stage persona?
Andrew: Another unique attribute of yours is the facial expression that accompanies your guitar playing. I know that you give importance to it, but do you feel some guitarists overdo it?
Andrew: What does the future look like for Mr. Big from here on? Can we expect you to put out new material as frequently as you did back in the early 90s?
Andrew: Does this place a hold on your solo career, and is there an update on the status of Racer X?
Andrew: I was at the Hollywood guitar clinic that you did in the summer of 2009. You played a cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire" that night. Does their music still remain as a huge influence on you?
Andrew: When people talk about The Doors, it's always about Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, and hardly anyone talks about the guitar riffs. Do you agree that guitarists of the earlier times are often underrated just because their riffs weren't exactly "complex"?
Andrew: Final question. I've been noticing a resurgence in vinyl these days, with people wanting to buy vinyl again. Are you the kind of person who still enjoys collecting vinyl? If yes, which was the first ever vinyl you bought?
Andrew: Thanks a lot for your time, Paul. It was an honor and a privilege to get to interview you.
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