On Saturday, June 10, BackStory Events and Guitar World presented an intimate conversation with Eric Martin, Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey and Matt Starr of MR. BIG at the Cutting Room in New York City. They discussed their upcoming album, “Defying Gravity”, and covered career highlights and raucous anecdotes from years of musical pursuits. The event featured a long-form interview, an opportunity for audience questions, a short acoustic performance and a meet-and-greet.
MR. BIG was interviewed by author and journalist Brad Tolinski. The event was part of the BackStory Events online series and was livestreamed by Guitar World magazine.
“Defying Gravity” will be released on July 7 via Frontiers Music Srl. The effort will be available at traditional retail and all digital service providers, as will a deluxe edition version with CD and bonus DVD that features music videos and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the new album. The album will also be made available on vinyl in the coming months.
“Defying Gravity” deftly showcases that patented MR. BIG blend of crunch and melody, from the freight-train ride of opening cut “Open Your Eyes” to the harmony-laden wonderment of “Damn I’m in Love Again” to the grateful/wistful nostalgia of “1992” (recalling the days when the band was flying high atop the singles charts with their international No. 1 smash “To Be With You”) to the barnburning slide-blues closer, “Be Kind”. Overall, “Defying Gravity” is prime evidence that the only thing MR. BIG remains tethered to is their ongoing pursuit of achieving creative excellence.
Original members Eric Martin (lead vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitars), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Pat Torpey (drums) reunited with producer Kevin Elson (who was behind the boards for the band’s 1989 self-titled debut, 1991’s “Lean Into It” and 1993’s “Bump Ahead”) for an intensive six-day recording session in Los Angeles. While Torpey was unable to perform some of the songs on “Defying Gravity” due to a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, Matt Starr has been filling in for him on a majority of the album. Starr also been touring with the band for the past couple of years, with Torpey able to play a couple of songs at each stop.
“It was great to get back in the studio with our original producer, Kevin Elson,” says Gilbert. “Kevin recorded all of our original classic albums from the ’80s and ’90s, and we immediately felt that magic chemistry with him on ‘Defying Gravity’. We basically played live in the studio.
“Over the years, we’ve all had a chance to experiment with every recording technique possible, but it’s still always the best just to play together as a band. Most of my guitar solos were tracked live with the band. I’ve worked hard on my improvisation in the last few years, and it really paid off on this record… both melodically and on the face-melting stuff.”