PAUL GILBERT Talks About MR. BIG And His Early Influences

September 20, 2006 recently conducted an in-depth interview with former RACER X/ex-MR. BIG guitarist Paul Gilbert. Several excerpts follow: Is there any chance of RACER X releasing any new material?

Paul: "With RACER X, whenever we have time, we try to put a record together. And that's always fun because the guys in the band are great friends and I don't think I ever laugh as hard as I do when I'm with the RACER X guys. When we started that band, none of us were really known and we just sorta built it from nothing into something. That sorta made us friends for life. That was a great experience…coming up through the L.A. scene and being a band that nobody really knew about. MR. BIG was amazing, too, but by that point, we had all done albums and were known somewhat in our various areas. It was a little easier. We instantly had a high power manager and a major record company. It was probably the most amazing ride for me because I was the youngest and hadn't done a lot of that stuff before. With RACER X, we really did it together and it was a great experience. It was a lot of fun back then." Who first came up with the idea (for MR. BIG) to record an acoustic track? Was it a mutual decision?

Paul: "Initially, it was us because the songs were Eric's. When we Eric played them for us, we thought they were great, but we knew we still wanted to be a big, heavy and powerful band. …So we put 'To Be With You' last on the record after an album of huge, hitting the snare drum as hard as you can songs. We figured we could get away with putting a quieter song at the end. And that song went on to become a number one hit and this giant song. People would come to see us expecting to hear an entire set of stuff like that and would end up watching us play guitars with drills. In general, it was nothing but a blessing. It really exposed us to a lot of people. And after the initial shock, I think a lot of people enjoyed the guitars being played with drills, so it was alright." I definitely grew up with a lot of people that never would have picked up a MR. BIG album had it not been for "To Be With You"

Paul: "It was a good billboard for us and I still like the song. It had good harmonies…it was a good BEATLES-y tune." What was the main motivation behind you leaving MR. BIG?

Paul: "The music started to suffer because we couldn't get along with each other. We held on for a long as we could, but it got to the point where…we weren't writing together or really doing anything together anymore. We were trying to figure out how to make records without seeing each other and I thought that was just ridiculous. It was good while it lasted and I'm still really proud of the music that we did. And now some time has passed and we're much more civil towards each other. It's good that it ended well." Other than VAN HALEN, musically, what are you influences?

Paul: "Just about every rock band and every guitar player from 1964 to 1984. To me, that's the golden period of rock. From the first BEATLES album hitting America to the last VAN HALEN album with David Lee Roth. That's where all my favorite rock exists. More specifically, for guitar players, it would be Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Robin Trower, Pat Travers, Alex Lifeson, Angus Young, Tony Iommi, the guys from DEF LEPPARD, the guys from AEROSMITHNancy Wilson, Johnny Winter…the list just goes on and on and on." At first I was going to ask you why your list stopped at 1984, but I guess I already know the answer to that one…

Paul: "Sammy Hagar was good, too, but there was a certain intensity in the early stuff that was just unmatchable. Also, BON JOVI came out then…and to me, that was the end of metal… …And I love pop, but to me, pop should be more like BEATLES-influenced. To me, you had to have a least a couple of ugly guys in the band. That's why SAXON was great. I remember seeing SAXON and I had no idea who they were. They were opening up for TRIUMPH and they just sounded great. …They sounded great, they were really ugly and I didn't care. Maybe I was just jealous because all the girls were into BON JOVI. Plus, I could never get my hair that cool. It took me years to get my hair right…after years of perms, conditioning…NIRVANA came out and it wasn't cool to have big hair anymore. It was just a horrible injustice.'

Read the entire interview at

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