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Paul Gilbert – Guitars for Mr. Big

Date: Date: 3/7/11
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Mr. Big have come up with several creative titles in the past. Why call this album "What If"?

PAUL: Mostly, "What If..." Mr. Big got back together and made a new album! But "What If..." can be the start of any adventure or idea. I think most great ideas begin with someone thinking, "What If...".

2. "What If" captures your sound and style from the first few albums. Was it hard to get back to this place?

PAUL: The most important thing is that we are same original members as the band back then. We will always sound like "us". We can't help it! That's why a band is a band. Of course we work hard to write new songs and play them well, but our sound and style are always there.

3. I have read that this is Mr. Big’s hardest rockin album?

PAUL: It certainly does rock. I think we were all thinking about the live show and having some more songs that would be exciting to play onstage.

4. How would you compare this album to the debut, "Lean Into It", and "Bump Ahead"?

PAUL: We recorded "What If..." very live, in the studio. I think that added some excitement that we didn't have on previous albums. We always tried to record as live as possible in the past, but we got a lot closer to our goal on this one. Even most of the lead vocals were live!

5. Who wrote the music? The lyrics?

PAUL: Most of the record is written by us. My friend Linus came in and helped me finish a few songs, and Eric has his songwriting partner, Andre. But mostly it was written by the four members of Mr. Big.

6. Was the writing process different from in the past?

PAUL: We wanted to write together as much as possible, and we've certainly done that before. I think we've all grown as writers, so we had some new things to try, but at the core it's still "us" and our styles are still there.

7. Do you think Mr. Big didn’t get the recognition it deserved, both as musicians and songwriters, in some parts of the world (like the U.S.) from the critics and hard rock/metal listeners to some extent?

PAUL: We had a number one hit! I can't complain about that. There are so many great musicians that are not famous, so I feel very lucky about the success that I've had with Mr. Big, Racer X, and my own solo music. It would be great to be "The Beatles", but I'm pretty happy being me.

8. Your thoughts about "Get Over It" and "Actual Size" with Richie Kotzen?

PAUL: I really like Richie's song "Shine". I heard some other good things too.

9. Does Mr. Big perform many songs live from those two albums with Kotzen?

PAUL: We've been doing the songs from my era of the band. It seemed like the obvious thing to do since I am playing guitar now.

10. Plans to tour and does it include North America?

PAUL: We're trying to play everywhere. I hope that our managers and promoters can work it out. Our very first show is in Los Angeles, so that will be cool. It will be our first show with all original members in 15 years!

11. What other projects are you involved with?

PAUL: I just finished doing some Beatles tribute shows with Mike Portnoy, Kasim Sulton, and Neal Morse. That was a lot of fun. But mostly I keep learning new things on my guitar. I still love music and guitar so much. I always have new things to play and practice.

12. If you could put together a G3 type tour, who would you include?

PAUL: I'd love to play with some of my guitar heroes from the 70's... guys like Robin Trower, Pat Travers, or Frank Marino. But really, I love jamming with any good musicians. I did a brief tour a couple years ago with George Lynch and Ritchie Kotzen. We had some great jam sessions. And of course I loved jamming with Joe Satriani and John Petrucci on G3.

Official website: http://www.mrbigsite.com


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