Paul Gilbert is a name you should already know in the music world and if you don’t, then shame on you times two. I have grown up listening to him since 1985 with Racer X and then in Mr.Big, his current band, as well as his 14 solo albums. Yes, I said 14. Yes, he’s been around that long, and he’s probably one of the most underrated guitarists of all time. I finally got the chance to speak to this legend about the brand new Mr. Big album Defying Gravity, as well as some other cool things.
Shockwave: Thanks for speaking today Paul.
Paul: No problem Mike. Fire away. What do you need?
I’ve listened to new album and it is great. Can you tell me about it? You got this all recorded in six days I read somewhere?
Well thank you first off for the kind words on the new album. We did all of the basic tracks and most of the solos and got everything ready in six days but after that, Eric did some things with the vocals, and we fined tuned some things so yes, the majority of the album was done in six days but there were still some little things to be done to it. We did everything live in the studio too. Kevin (Elson, the producer), then mixed it and did what he knows best to it and it all came together. We are very happy with the way it came out.
Speaking of Kevin, what was it like to have him back in the fold?
Oh man, it was great to see him and work with him again. I don’t know why we waited so long. It might have been the scheduling, I don’t know. He’s a busy guy. It was wonderful of him to captain our ship once again.
“Open Your Eyes”, how did that song come about?
I brought that one in to the band so I should know the answer to this. My last solo tour I had a riff I would play at soundcheck and I would wonder why it sounded like that. So I played with that riff here and there and had some fun with a repeated note off this riff I was playing. That song came about from that riff and repeated note I kept playing and messing with. I was real happy with the way it came out. “1992” is another song that was written the same way, in that manner.
That was my next question. “1992.” It’s one of my favorites.
We have been playing that one live and it’s really cool sounding played live. The chorus is really vocal harmony heavy and that is such a payoff live.
When playing live, is there a difference in your opinion from playing live now than back in 1992?
Back then I could hear symbols [laughing]. I’ve always been filled with gratitude when anyone shows up for any of my shows, now or back then. I’ve always loved playing live.
Cruises are a big thing now to do. Are you or Mr. Big a fan of them?
I’ve only done one so far and I couldn’t stay for the cruise itself and only did the show but the thing that I’ve been doing are camps though and not focusing on the 80’s and 90’s but focused on the guitar and I really enjoy those a lot. There is a barrier with the fans playing a show but with a camp, I can be more one on one with someone and hang out a lot more. Plus with just playing guitar, that’s speaking my language and I’m more than in my element. I love talking guitars. I could do it all day.
Going back to touring, it has to difficult for Pat (Torpey, drummer) to play with what is going on with him.
He is doing it as best he can with a smile on his face now. He has a great attitude about it. What we told him is that we want him there for what ever you can do and he’s been pretty consistent with playing at least one song. If can do more, he does more. We will take anything he can give us. He’s still involved 100% in Mr. Big. I don’t have to worry about him.
Would you guys do M3 again one day?
I would love to come back to do that festival again. I was sick as a dog doing it last time and would love to do it healthy.
Is Racer X dead?
[Laughs] It’s hard to do three bands at the same time, with Mr. Big and my solo stuff and then throw them in the mix. I was emailing Jeff (Martin) the other day too. I love those guys. I can’t predict the future, but it would be cool to play with them again one day in that future.