ERIC MARTIN Says MR. BIG Will Be 'Done' Touring After Completion Of 'The BIG Finish' Run Of Shows
September 27, 2023
MR. BIG recently completed the Asian leg of its farewell tour, dubbed "The BIG Finish", which sees the veteran band — singer Eric Martin, guitarist Paul Gilbert and bassist Billy Sheehan, along with drummer Nick D'Virgilio, who has taken over for deceased original member Pat Torpey — performing MR. BIG's 1991 album, "Lean into It", in full, along with other cuts from the group's history.
Martin discussed D'Virgilio's addition to MR. BIG during an appearance on today's (Wednesday, September 27) edition of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". Asked how the 54-year-old Nick is working out, Eric said: "He's great. He came in and he really picked up Pat Torpey's sound and tone on drums, but he sings just as good as Pat, if — I'm not gonna say 'if not better.' Pat used to have this Paul McCartney thing, and so does Nick. And he kind of emulates me too. There's a lot of times where I was on the road singing these… I go, 'Why the hell am I singing these choruses? This guy can do it for me.' I'm kind of cheating a little bit… I go, why am I busting my hump right now? He kind of emulated my voice and he took a lot of my lead vocal parts for choruses. Yeah, he's a really good guy. I'm so glad we got him. I didn't know of him before, but Paul Gilbert told me that he played with Paul, and then learning about him over these years, he played with TEARS FOR FEARS for a bunch of years and GENESIS. And he's just a really great asset to this band."
Pressed by host Eddie Trunk about why he and his MR. BIG bandmates are still insisting on calling it quits if everything is going so well with Nick, Eric said: "I kind of had to be talked into it a little bit. In the beginning, I kept saying, 'I don't wanna do this.' I didn't wanna end it for a long, long time. I didn't wanna call it quits. I always wanted things to be open-ended. Why quit? I mean, years and years from now, we could possibly get back."
However, Martin says that there will definitely be no more MR. BIG touring after 2024. "This is it. The fat lady will sing," he said. "We're gonna continue to do some records and do some projects, but we're not gonna tour anymore. MR. BIG is gonna be done… January, February, March, April, May, we've got USA, Europe. We're gonna go back to the USA, and then we play South America in May, and that's it. No more touring. That's it."
The first leg of "The BIG Finish" kicked off in Japan and Southeast Asia in July and August, where the band performed for hundreds of thousands of loyal fans at 11 sold-out shows, including Budokan in Tokyo, Japan. Now MR. BIG is ready to bring "The BIG Finish" to South America, Europe, and the U.S. The first batch of shows throughout the States will start January 12, 2024 in Houston, Texas at the Rise Rooftop.
In an April 2023 interview with Border City Rock Talk, D'Virgilio spoke about how he landed the gig as MR. BIG's new touring drummer, five years after the passing of Torpey. Nick, who has spent the last nine years working for the Indiana-based online retailer of music instruments and audio gear Sweetwater, said: "It stemmed through Sweetwater. I've known Paul [Gilbert, MR. BIG guitarist]; Paul was the one guy I knew most. I met Pat, and I met Billy [Sheehan, MR. BIG bassist] — Gosh — at a music trade show back in the day. And I was definitely a fan of the band. I listened to a lot of Pat's drumming way before I ever met him in person. But at Sweetwater, we do a lot of recording workshops and we get artists in to come and people pay to come to the studio and hang in the studio with the artists that come in. Paul does it quite a bit; he's been there a bunch. Billy was there a while back as well, but Paul's been there a number of times. And I've been able to play as his rhythm section for these recording workshops. And I also had Paul play on a song on my solo record called 'Invisible' that I put out in 2020. Through all of this stuff, we got to just jamming some more stuff. And I know Paul through Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse and a lot of circles of musicians. After the last thing we did at Sweetwater, Paul just sent me an e-mail and asked if I would be interested in going on tour with MR. BIG in Asia. Now, this was last July, when he first sent me the e-mail, so nine, 10 months ago or so. And I immediately said 'yes'. I think I said 'fuck yes', all in bold letters… So then I went sort of hog wild here in my studio and I videotaped and multi-tracked my drums. I kind of just went hog wild, sending back these demos of me playing and then singing all the parts. So I sang the lead vocal, and then I sang Pat's parts too. Since [it was an] audition, I figured I'd put my best foot forward. Long story short, they said, 'Yeah, we'd love to do it. And you're in,' basically. So that's kind of how it all happened. It came out of the blue."
As a session musician and touring artist, Nick has worked with many different kinds of artists and bands, from TEARS FOR FEARS, Sheryl Crow and Kevin Gilbert to Peter Gabriel and Eric Burdon and the ANIMALS. In 1996, Nick took Phil Collins's place in GENESIS and played on their "Calling All Stations" album. He has also carved out a major presence in the progressive rock world with his bands, SPOCK'S BEARD and BIG BIG TRAIN.
Before joining the Sweetwater team, Nick spent almost five years touring with Cirque Du Soleil's "Totem" as drummer, vocalist, and assistant bandleader.
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