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DEFYING GRAVITY: Billy Sheehan Discusses The Past, Present and Future of Mr. Big!

DEFYING GRAVITY: Billy Sheehan Discusses The Past, Present and Future of Mr. Big!

When Billy Sheehan began gathering the players for a new creative outlet back in 1988, he had no idea they would still be hard at work almost three decades later. In 2017, MR. BIG is not only thrilling audiences around the world but creating some of the best music of their career. Their latest record, “Defying Gravity,” is the band’s ninth original studio album and a testament to the boundless talent of the group. Set for release on July 21st (with a Deluxe Collector’s Edition Box Set due on August 18th) via Frontiers Music Srl, the powerful new album features original members Eric Martin (lead vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitars), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Pat Torpey (drums). The album also reunites the band 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 at Ocean Studios in Burbank, California. “Defying Gravity” 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 #1 smash “To Be With You”) to the barn-burning slide-blues closer, “Be Kind.” “Defying Gravity” is evidence the only thing MR. BIG remains tethered to is their ongoing pursuit of achieving creative excellence. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with the legendary Billy Sheehan to discuss the process of finding his creative voice as a young artist, the formation of MR. BIG, the keys to the band’s longevity and what the future may hold for the band.

What can you tell us about your early years in music and finding your creative voice as an artist?

Good question! I started early on by learning songs by ear off the records so I could play along with the records. Then I went right into a band and started playing songs with other musicians. There was no theorizing, no lessons or study. Basically, I walked up to the airplane, got in the cockpit, taxied down the runway and took off! Even though I didn’t know how to land, I took off! I like to try to encourage people to consider something like that. I know that was then and this is now, so things are a little different in that respect, of course. I do like the idea of taking the bull by the horns and just starting. If you want to learn another language, fly to the country and immerse yourself in the culture. You will end up with a much more organic feel to the language than if you learn it out of a book. Music being a language, to get the sound of your voice, your voice is dependent on all of the influences you soak up. It’s the distillation of all those things together with your personality and life added into which makes someone have a voice, I believe. I do believe everyone has a voice, even from the first time they pick the instrument up. It’s just really difficult to tell what that voice is until you have been playing for about 10 years. Another thing I like to stress is to give it time. Have patience! Some people call it “The 10,000 Hour Rule” but I’m not necessarily sure that is applicable in all cases. You have to give it five or six years until you are up and running properly. During those five or six years, you will learn so many important things that you will carry on with you for the next 50 years. It’s important to just start to roll! Dive into the deep! You will take a couple mouthfuls of water but it is really a great way to begin. A lot of people are hesitant about that and say, “I’m not ready to play a song.” Sure you are! The first thing I ever did was pick up a guitar and play “Gloria” by Shadows of Night. It’s three chords and I think every guitarist in the world played that as their first song or at least 90% of them! [laughs] You learned an E chord, a D chord and A chord, played it in sequence and there you were playing the song. It gives you great satisfaction to know you can play a song! That’s pretty much what I did and I try to encourage people to take some part of that or all of it and mix it in with a little bit of study or a good teacher. Whenever you are taught by a teacher, you have the liability of finding a great teacher who is really going to move you forward or you will find a horrible teacher and end up hating doing it and you’ll quit. You can take the reigns by yourself, start to learn and start to launch. You can find 10 songs you love and figure out how to play them. That’s worth its weight in platinum shavings!

I’m sure you learned lessons along the way as a part of the music industry. Which of those lessons had the biggest impact on you?

Connection to the audience is really important. When I started, generally, clubs had no dressing rooms. There was no security barrier or anything. When you were done with your set, you would step off the front of the stage and walk out into the crowd. After three or four weeks, everyone in the crowd was your friend and you knew everybody. When you’d look at the clock and knew it was time to get back up onstage, you would say, “I’ll be back in an hour!” You’d get right back on the stage and do a set for an hour. There wasn’t a really big divide between the audience and the band, which I actually love quite a bit. I think that serves me to this day on how I deal with the audience and how I naturally want to take care of people. If someone needs an autograph, a photo or anything like that, we always go way out of our way to accommodate them anytime we can. I think that was a good lesson to learn early on. Having a great connection with your audience and considering the audience to be your friends more than your fans is a good thing. You can put your thumb on the pulse of what is going on and get instant feedback as to whether or not what you are doing has any value or worth or if the song you are playing is liked or not. That was a great, great lesson to have early on. With the internet, I’m now able to communicate with people all over the world instantly, all the time! I spend a lot of time every day just answering email, responding to people and doing what I can to communicate with them!

Billy Sheehan — An unstoppable musical force!

We are here today to talk about a brand new album from MR. BIG. Before we get to the latest chapter, let’s go back to the beginning. What can you tell us about where you were creatively at the time and what got the ball rolling on the project all those years ago?

I just stepped out of the David Lee Roth Band, which was a huge success. It was the biggest thing that had happened to me up until that point, certainly. I came to a point where I had to re-evaluate. I thought, “OK. If I’m going to start a band, how do I want to do it and how do I not want to do it?” As much as I loved Dave being in charge, I think he’s a great person to be in charge and I was happy with him being in charge of the band and doing what his requests were. I thought, “That’s good in this particular situation and if you’re David Lee Roth, that’s one thing but I’m not David Lee Roth. I’m just a little bass player, so I don’t think I could necessarily tell my other musicians what to do. I don’t have the kind of track record David Lee Roth has, so why don’t we make it more of a democracy or an idea-ocracy, where the best idea wins no matter who it comes from. Everyone would have an equal voice and we all contribute to the forward motion of the band as a unit.” I knew Paul Gilbert and I knew he was a hot guitarist but I also knew that he had more going for him than just being a hot guitarist. He had a real song-sense and a sense of real music. He was a TALAS fan. I remember him standing in front of me in the audiences at some of the early shows we did back in Pittsburgh when we played there. His band eventually ended up opening up for TALAS way back when. Then I knew our drummer, Pat Torpey. I knew he grew up very much like me, so I knew we would have great common ground. Much like me, he got his instrument and immediately got in a band and started playing live. He was based in Phoenix and doing all the clubs and cover bands that all of us from my generation went through. He was an automatic choice too! Then we needed a singer. I really wanted someone who was a little different than what I was hearing. At the time, people were judging vocalists on how high of a note they could hit. Singers would advertise, “Five octave range!” Okay! But what do you do in those five octaves! [laughs] A five octave range can be utterly useless depending on what you do with it! I wanted somebody who could really sing a la late ‘60s/early ‘70s Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company), Steve Marriott (Small Faces, Humble Pie) … that type of voice. Those guys actually sang and could take a C- song and turn it into an A+ with vocal quality. Sure enough, my friend Mike Varney, up in the Bay Area, played me this Eric Martin character. I said, “That’s it! That’s the voice I’m looking for!” I let Paul and Pat know. Paul loved the idea instantly and Pat absolutely fell in love with it as well. The idea was actually having a band with an actual singer, singing songs that were part of all four of us and all of us being together on it as opposed to one guy telling everybody else want to do. It worked out pretty well. We got lucky! There are many instances in life where you have to choose somebody for something, whether it be your wife or husband, an employee or an employer. If you make the right choice, you are in good shape. If you make the wrong choice, you’re in hell! [laughs] We got lucky and we got along really well. From the beginning, any troubles we ever had in MR. BIG pale markedly in comparison to any troubles any other bands had. I hear some of the troubles other bands had and I go, “Oh my God! How did you guys even live through it!?” [laughs] But we had a problem because one guy got up and was a little grumpy today! [laughs] That’s as bad as it ever got, ya know!

MR. BIG will release “Defying Gravity” on July 7, 2017. What made now the right time for an new album?

We are all busy with a lot of other things and MR. BIG is always there. It’s never gone away, since 2009 when we came back to play. We all consider it to be our main band. We give a little time between a record and a tour. We all went out and did our things outside of the band. Coming back, it was just a couple of years since the last one and it felt like the right time. It wasn’t really dependent on anything other than we all had a spot where we were free and were all looking to get out and play as MR. BIG. We knew before we did that we needed a record to pave the way for us. We got to work on that right away and while that was coming together, they were blocking out times for us to book shows and that’s where we are now. The record is done and the shows are booked for the most part, not completely. We have a great couple of months ahead of us now!

What can you tell us about the recording process for “Defying Gravity’” and how the songs took shape?

This one was quick. We did all the basics of the songs in six days, which is really fast. We came in with not a lot of complete songs. I don’t think anything was really complete, so we created a sense of urgency because we really only had those six days. I forget who it was, Paul or Eric, had to be elsewhere. If we didn’t have it done in those six days we were going to be in trouble. That pressure and urgency is a good thing! When you are at a live show, you can’t do a second take. If you sing the part flat, you can’t go back to fix it. At a live show you have that kind of pressure because people are standing right there watching you, so you better get it right! That is a good kind of pressure to have because it really forces you to dig deep, play it right, push hard and make it happen. I think the quality of playing you get out of that, I think, is the best you will ever do as a player. In the old days, people didn’t have unlimited budgets and unlimited cash when they were in the studio. I had a conversation with Robert Fripp one time and he told me the first King Crimson record, “In The Court of the Crimson King,” they did in a week in someone’s living room and it was done! I’ve done records in two days, so I know it can be done. We went in there with that sense of urgency. We aimed to do it like real men — Do your homework so when you come in you know how to play the line and not do multiple takes. That was a real cool factor to enter into the equation. It made us have to hustle, get it all together and think on our feet, very much like a live show. That’s pretty much how the recording went down. Like I said, I don’t think we went in with any songs complete. Some of them were near completion and needed some changes or arranging. Some of the things we went in with were almost like the outer skeleton of what might be a song and then we created it on the fly. It came out really well! I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised because between the four of us, we have done hundreds of records, so we should know how to do it by now! [laughs] If we don’t, we’re way worse off than we thought! We are real pleased with the way it came out. Another factor that was a big help was the fact that we had our original producer Kevin Elson. He did our first four records including the “To Be With You,” “Lean Into It” stuff. He did all the Journey hits and Lynyrd Skynyrd, who he grew up with and worked with them right to the end. He’s got quite a set of ears on him and is a joy to work with. Working with Kevin was kind of like going back home again because he is a dear friend and a sweet guy. He made the whole process already more comfortable than it already was.

You worked with the other members of the band for decades. What did they bring out in you creatively?

I think it comes down to songwriting. I was always a songwriter. I wrote all the songs on the “Sink Your Teeth Into That” record and a lot since then but they had different styles of writing songs. It was really interesting to see how they approached it. Sometimes I take parts of that and sometimes I don’t but it’s good to see other songwriters in action. It’s just like sitting down with another musician to play music together. You will see how they will play this or that and it will inspire you to pick a different way, finger something a different way or think of a different way of playing something than you already do. It’s always inspiring! Similarly, with a songwriter who really knows his stuff, like Eric does and Paul has certainly come into his own as well, you start watching them work and compare it to your own methodology. Along the way, you will start picking up little pieces of it to incorporate into what you do. I think I am better equipped as a songwriter now than I was in the past having worked with the guys in MR. BIG who all have a great song sense.

When you look at the songs created for “Defying Gravity,” which resonate with you the most?

I love “Be Kind.” It’s kind of a quirky song. It’s really blues based and has a great message to it. It’s the very humane idea of “Be kind and try to understand the situation because you don’t know what the other person has been through.” We could certainly use more of that in this world today, by far! I love that kind and message but I also love the way the song works. It just falls together really well. “Forever and Back” is definitely a hard pop song. It has a lot of singing and it also has the word love in the song. I made it a thing on all my solo records never that I would never use the words “Love,” “Heart” or “Baby” or say “My spirit” or “My soul.” Those were illegal words and terms because they are so overused! [laughs] On this song, the word love shows up but it’s great. It’s a big, sing-a-long pop song and the lyrics are really cool and tell a little story. I love that song as well! It’s hard for me to pick my favorites because it’s like saying, “Which one of your kids do you like best?” [laughs]

You stay busy when it comes to your career. Is it difficult to switch gears, in the creative sense, between projects? For example, coming straight from The Winery Dogs back into MR. BIG?

Not really. No matter what, the bands are going to be different. I think a band is really dependent on the personality of the individual members, which you can never duplicate. It’s obvious to me as a fan, anytime a band changed members, it was never the same for me. Sometimes it might have been better but if I was used to the original lineup, it was always tough for me! As much as I loved Richie Kotzen and as great as I thought he was in MR. BIG, I just didn’t want to do a different guy. We had to at the time with Richie because Paul had left the band back in the ‘90s. As much as I love them both, it just wasn’t the same band. Band to band, personality to personality, the dynamic is always quite different. Mike Portnoy is quite a different personality. He’s an up-front, caffeinated go-getter, who has his shit supremely together! He comes in and knows exactly how the chords in the songs go. I stopped arguing with him. I’d say, “Does the chorus go for 12 bars?” He’d say, “No, it’s only eight.” OK! It’s only 8! [laughs] I’m not even going to ask if he is sure because if Mike says it’s eight, I know it’s eight. That’s his thing! He knows what he’s doing. It’s a great little rock foundation of information to have at your disposal. Richie is a whole other personality. He’s a dear friend and I love him like a brother. I enjoy playing with him very much. It’s a totally different dynamic than Paul, who is one of the sweetest and most wonderful people I know. He is also like a brother to me but in a much different way. You just let nature take its course and things kind of settle out a little differently with who you are working with.

There a several bands, peers of Mr. BIG, who put out great albums in the past several years. As a guy who sees this first hand, are these releases getting the attention they deserve?

Well, it’s hard to say deserve. I think that the fans of bands are getting it. Sure, we would all like to see the whole world exposed to every band or at least get the chance to. There is no more MTV and there is really no more rock radio at all, as we know. It’s tough out there but it’s up to every band to get out there, start playing, find your fans, get to them, reach out to them and rally them. Like I said, I am on Facebook and social media every day responding to people. It’s on us now! In a way, that’s good because we can control it now. Before, MTV could make you but MTV could also break you, whereas if you make you, you aren’t going to break you. I think that is a good thing. It’s smaller in scope of course, by a lot, but it’s sincere, it’s real and it’s honest. I’ve never been money motivated. Yeah, I’d like to sell a million or 2 million records. That would be nice! If we see 10K, 50K, 75K and people are supremely happy with the record, I’m good with that! I don’t need to be a rich guy. I have a nice life that I’m very thankful for. Everybody who bought a ticket, T-shirt or a record contributed to that and I’m forever grateful, so I will do my best for them. However, I don’t necessarily think I deserve to be heard. I think it’s up to me and all bands to work to be heard and do your best to reach as many people as possible. You have to tour your ass off and do your shows as great as you possibly can so people come out to see you, they will tell their friends and maybe someone else will buy your record. I think it’s really on us now.

For someone who is just discovering your body of work, where should they begin?

“Eat ‘Em and Smile” was my first big successful record. I just did some bass clinics and music seminars down in South America and I must have signed 100 of those album covers! That record went everywhere! I was in Indonesia one time and someone walked up to me with that record for me to sign. That record went far and wide and is a good representation. Other than that, the “Lean Into It” album from MR. BIG was my most successful record and I had a lot more to do with that than I did with “Eat ‘Em and Smile,” thankfully. Then there is the first album from The Winery Dogs. Those would be the top three. The first Winery Dogs record for me was really a milestone for me in that I couldn’t wait to play that record for my friends. It was very much like the other two records I mentioned in that I couldn’t wait for someone to say, “Oh man! Wait until you hear this new record! You’re going to love it!” I was excited about it like that! Those three records are probably the three records I was most excited about in my life. They represent three different stages of my life and I think they would paint a good picture for someone new!

Where do you see the journey taking you in the near future?

This record is about to come out and we just did two videos for it. All that will be coming out in due time. Then we tour until the end of the year. Then I will be starting some writing for the next Winery Dogs record. I’m just hoping that I’m recording a bit and touring a lot for the next 50 years! [laughs] That would make me a very old man and I’m just an old man now! As much as possible I love performing live and I’m supremely grateful that I got to do it so much with great bands and great musicians who are friends of mine. I couldn’t be in a better spot as far as that goes and I’m so grateful for that!

Awesome! Thanks so much for your time today, Billy! It’s always a pleasure and I look forward to spreading the word on “Defying Gravity.”

Thank you, bro! Take care!

MR. BIG will release ‘Defying Gravity’ on July 21st via Frontiers Music Srl. Visit the official website for the band, located at www.mrbigsite.com, for all the latest news and tour dates!

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MR. BIG’s ‘Defying Gravity’ Gets New Release Date of 7/21, Deluxe Collector’s Edition Box Set Announced

MR. BIG’s ‘Defying Gravity’ Gets New Release Date of 7/21, Deluxe Collector’s Edition Box Set Announced

Frontiers Music Srl announced full format details and a slightly delayed release date for MR BIG’s new album, ‘Defying Gravity’, pushing it back from the previously announced street date of July 7.

The album will be available on CD, LP, deluxe CD/DVD, digitally and a deluxe Collector’s Edition box set that includes: deluxe CD/DVD, LP, poster, numbered lithograph, T-Shirt, sticker. The box set is strictly limited to 500 copies worldwide.

The CD and LP contain the following tracklisting:
Open Your EyesDefying GravityEverybody Needs A Little Trouble / Damn I’m In Love Again / Mean To MeNothing Bad (About Feeling Good) / Forever And Back / She’s All Coming Back To Me Now1992Nothing At All / Be Kind

The DVD contents are:
Defying Gravity [music video] / Everybody Needs A Little Trouble [music video] / Making of Defying Gravity / Making of Everybody Needs A Little Trouble / Track by track interview. Total length is approximately 65 minutes.

The Box set includes: CD/DVD deluxe edition, Vinyl, Lithograph, Poster, Sticker and exclusive T-Shirt (L size only).

The first video from the new record, for ‘Everybody Needs A Little Trouble’, was made available on June 5 and can be seen here:  http://bit.ly/2s8c60k . The group are currently on tour in the U.S. and are planning European dates in the autumn.

“OK, we’re rolling.” With those three declarative words (spoken by producer Kevin Elson right after the music kicks in on ‘Open Your Eyes’, an instant callback to the beginning of ‘Addicted to That Rush’, the hard-charging lead track on the band’s self-titled 1989 debut), Mr. Big plants the flag between past, present and future with ‘Defying Gravity’, the band’s ninth original studio album.

Recorded in just six days at Ocean Studios in Burbank, California, the album reunites Mr. Big with the aforementioned Elson (Journey, Europe, Lynyrd Skynyrd), who is back behind the boards for the first time since helming the band’s first four albums. ‘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 nostalgia trip of ‘1992’ (recalling the days when the band was flyng high atop the singles charts with their international smash ‘To Be With You’) to the barnstorming slide-blues closing track, ‘Be Kind’. Overall, the album is prime evidence that the only thing Mr. Big remains tethered to is their ongoing pursuit of achieving creative excellence.

“It’s inspiring to work with Mr. Big,” observes guitarist/songwriter Paul Gilbert, who penned much of the material on the new album. “I know that any ideas I bring into the studio have to go through our long-established band filter, which means the songs all have to rock, have melody, and put a grin on the faces of all of my bandmates to make the final cut.” What that means is Gilbert, lead vocalist Eric Martin, bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Pat Torpey all have to agree collectively on the finished product — as does touring drummer Matt Starr, who also joined in on the studio proceedings this time around.

That tried-and-true “all for one, one for all” mentality is one of the main things that fuels Mr. Big to reach for new heights whenever they are recording. “That’s what makes a band a band,” believes Torpey. “I think we all feel that way. It’s not one guy’s vision that the other guys all just follow. We’re always kicking ideas around to come to some kind of consensus. And that makes Mr. Big music what it is.”

Adds Sheehan, “I like recording with a sense of urgency. Put a mic in front of us, roll tape, and that should sound like what you’re hearing from us live. When you can create that kind of pressure in the studio in a short amount of time, it makes for better songs — and better performances.”

Once Martin got in sync with Gilbert, the album took shape in a relatively short amount of time. “My music tells you more about me than I can actually tell you myself,” the vocalist admits. “And ‘Defying Gravity’ is about ignoring everybody in life who tells you it can’t be done; that it’s impossible to do what you love. You have to stand your ground whenever someone tells you to give up your dream to do anything your heart desires — whether it be as a musician, painter, dancer, or whatever you want to be — in favour of a life that’s safe and conventional.”

To a man, Mr. Big couldn’t be more pleased to be working with Elson again. “Kevin Elson is really good at steering the ship through rough waters and making it seem like they’re not rough waters,” Gilbert notes. “He’s a very even-keeled guy — mellow, but he still gets it done.” Concurs Sheehan, “It was glorious and fantastic. Kevin creates an atmosphere of ease and creativity. He’s full of so many ideas. Really a wonderful man.” Torpey adds. “We’ve got a lot of history with him. He’s a great guy, super-talented. It’s not like having a dictator for a producer, just somebody who barks commands. He’s got so much experience, history and pedigree — and he’s also a really good friend, so the vibe in the studio was perfect.” Sums up Martin, “I always loved Kevin because of his musical sense, and I love singing in front of him. Kevin has a different approach that’s more cerebral. He has a lot of ideas like a musician and a songwriter would. Kevin’s a huge piece of our recording puzzle. He’s a musician’s friend. He gets good sounds, and I trust his insight and his criticism. Kevin has the golden touch, and he knows how to make great voices sound even greater.”

One of the key tracks on the album, ‘1992’, hearkens back to the glories of much headier days for Mr. Big – albeit with tongue planted firmly in cheek. “That was an incredible period in our lives, right when the rumblings of grunge were starting to happen,” Gilbert points out. “So here I am writing about and tweaking something that was so positive in just about every way, but it did open the world to us. Suddenly, we were playing stadiums in Indonesia, just going all over the place. And to this day, whenever we start a  tour, we end up going all around the world. That whole era, back when we all still had giant hair(!), really opened the door for us. Thankfully, people still gravitate toward the underlying thing that is still important, and that’s the music.”

Sheehan adds his own spin: “It’s a song about its own history. It reminds me of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’, a song where a band looks back and talks about how it all went down in a clever way. And ‘1992’ certainly pops for me from a philosophical point of view.” Muses Torpey, “Who would have thought we would actually be talking about something like this 25 years later? But I’ve had those thoughts myself. It’s really interesting to reflect back like that and actually have it come out in a song. It’s an epic kind of song that’s got the classic rock stuff, the crazy guitar-and-bass stuff, and the big vocals from Eric. It’s a Mr. Big song, no doubt.”

Speaking of the band’s inherent instrumental virtuosity, there is plenty of it on display during the middle section of ‘Mean to Me’, where Paul and Billy trade a score of hot licks back and forth. “That song came about very quickly,” Gilbert reports, “and the solo was a first take with no overdubs at all; it was done live with the band. The delay I used helped make it twice as fast, but you still have to be dead-on accurate, and play the notes super-staccato so that it doesn’t get sloppy. Billy, however, does it all for real where no effects were necessary. He battles my technology-aided solo with the pure fire from his hands.” Observes Torpey, “The songs themselves are always important, but we always want to come up with the right vehicle to have some gymnastics between those twin towers of rock, Billy and Paul. That’s a big part of what we do, and we utilise it. I hope the fans like it.”

Martin is proud that ‘Defying Gravity’ showcases the best of what Mr. Big has to offer. “There’s something about this band. We’ve been through a lot of stuff together,” he notes, “but there’s a spiritual bond we all share, no matter what. And that raises you up to give the best performance you can for a record that came together so quickly, like this one did.” Adds Sheehan, “This record really seems to fit in with some of my favourite times in music, which were right around ’68 to ’74. The other thing is, Mr. Big is really a singing band, and I love the fact we have that here with the background vocals we were able to add to some of the songs.”

For his part, Gilbert is very much looking forward to bringing ‘Defying Gravity’ to life for Mr. Big fans the world over: “We’re aware that we’re going to be playing this music onstage, and we’re no longer just going to be looking into each other’s eyes — we’re going to be looking into the eyes of the audience. We know our audience quite well, and we’re looking forward to seeing their reactions to the album.”

Torpey has the final word: “The title says it all: ‘Defying Gravity’. We’re still here, and we’re still keeping the ball rolling down that hill. We’re still doing it. The album has a positive message, and that’s what I like about it. We can still fly, even after all these years.”

Indeed, Mr. Big’s keen combination of their virtuosic nature with a DNA-infused sense of melody continues to enable listeners the ability to sing along to every word they hear. Not a lot of acts can do that as deftly as Mr. Big does, and ‘Defying Gravity’ finds this still-hungry band collectively leaning into it to push their music into new stratospheres. Climb aboard.

MR. BIG
Eric Martin – Vocals
Paul Gilbert – Guitar
Billy Sheehan- Bass
Pat Torpey- drums
with Matt Starr – drums
Produced by Kevin Elson

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MR. BIG Releases Video For “Everybody Needs a Little Trouble” Single From Upcoming Album

MR. BIG Releases Video For “Everybody Needs a Little Trouble” Single From Upcoming Album

MR. BIG has just released the video for “Everybody Needs a Little Trouble” from their forthcoming ninth studio album, DEFYING GRAVITY. Set for release July 7 on Frontiers Music Srl, it 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.

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.

DEFYING GRAVITY is the follow-up to 2014’s THE STORIES WE COULD TELL (Frontiers Music Srl), which Ultimate-Guitar.com described as “An exceptional offering of accelerated hard rock from one of the more dominant ‘supergroups’ of the late 1980s, MR. BIG return with a vengeance on THE STORIES WE COULD TELL.”

In an early album review of DEFYING GRAVITY, TheMusicUniverse.com praises: “MR. BIG aren’t afraid to stick to their guns in this ever changing world of music.   Throughout the album, the group of virtuosos play syncopated rhythms, lightning fast guitar solos, driving bass lines and pounding drums. The groups’s syncopated rhythms literally draw you in as they often match each other rhythmically, along the lines of prog rock bands. The group’s masterful harmonies that have always been a staple on their records continue here with nearly every song giving you prominent backing vocals.”

MR. BIG launched their latest worldwide tour May 31 in Milwaukee, WI. Check them out at any of the following stops:

Leg 1:

Wed 5/31 – Milwaukee, WI – Potowatami Casino
Fri 6/2 – St. Charles, IL – Arcada Theatre
Sat 6/3 – Wetland, MI – The Token Lounge
Tue 6/6 – Warrendale, PA – Jergel’s Rhythm Grille
Wed 6/7 – Newton, NJ – Newton Theatre
Fri 6/9 – Uncasville, CT – The Wolf Den/Mohegan Sun
Sat 6/10 – New York, NY – B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
Mon 6/12 – Nashville, TN – Basement East
Wed 6/14 – Lexington, KY – Manchester Music Hall
Fri 6/16 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live
Sat 6/17 – Houston, TX – Scout Bar
Mon 6/19 – Kansas City, MO – Knuckleheads Saloon
Thu 6/22 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
Fri 6/23 – Agoura Hills, CA – Canyon Club
Sat 6/24 – Pasadena, CA – The Rose

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MR. BIG To Release Highly Anticipated New Album, ‘Defying Gravity,’ On July 7th

MR. BIG To Release Highly Anticipated New Album, ‘Defying Gravity,’ On July 7th

“Alright, we’re rolling…” The call went out. Time for a new MR. BIG album. They convened in a Los Angeles studio and in a matter of six days, the boundless result of all that musical talent is DEFYING GRAVITY, with the release of their ninth original studio album and start of a new worldwide tour.

Set for release July 7 on Frontiers Music Srl, DEFYING GRAVITY 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. An official trailer for DEFYING GRAVITY can be seen here.

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 #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 guitarist Paul 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.”

DEFYING GRAVITY is the follow-up to 2014’s THE STORIES WE COULD TELL (Frontiers Music Srl), which Ultimate-Guitar.com described as “An exceptional offering of accelerated hard rock from one of the more dominant ‘supergroups’ of the late 1980s, MR. BIG return with a vengeance on THE STORIES WE COULD TELL.”

MR. BIG is gearing up for the launch their latest worldwide tour which starts May 31 in Milwaukee, WI at the Potowatami Casino. For all the latest tour dates, fans should check the band’s official website.

“2017 is filling up quickly with tour dates all around the world,” proclaims Gilbert. “I can’t wait to play the new songs, and of course our favorites from the old days like ‘Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy’ ‘Just Take My Heart,’ ‘Green Tinted Sixties Mind,’ ‘Wild World,’ and ‘To Be With You.’”

Here’s the complete track listing for DEFYING GRAVITY:

1. Open Your Eyes
2. Defying Gravity
3. Everybody Needs a Little Trouble
4. Damn I’m In Love Again
5. Mean to Me
6. Nothing Bad (About Feeling Good)
7. Forever and Back
8. She’s All Coming Back to Me Now
9. 1992
10. Nothing At All
11. Be Kind

Check out MR. BIG at any of the following tour stops:
Leg 1:

Wed 5/31 – Milwaukee, WI – Potowatami Casino
Fri 6/2 – St. Charles, IL – Arcada Theatre
Sat 6/3 – Wetland, MI – The Token Lounge
Tue 6/6 – Warrendale, PA – Jergel’s Rhythm Grille
Wed 6/7 – Newton, NJ – Newton Theatre
Fri 6/9 – Uncasville, CT – The Wolf Den/Mohegan Sun
Sat 6/10 – New York, NY – B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
Mon 6/12 – Nashville, TN – Basement East
Wed 6/14 – Lexington, KY – Manchester Music Hall
Fri 6/16 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live
Sat 6/17 – Houston, TX – Scout Bar
Mon 6/19 – Kansas City, MO – Knuckleheads Saloon
Thu 6/22 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
Fri 6/23 – Agoura Hills, CA – Canyon Club
Sat 6/24 – Pasadena, CA – The Rose

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Mr. Big To Release ‘What If…’ In February of 2011 On Frontiers Records

Mr. Big To Release ‘What If…’ In February of 2011 On Frontiers Records

MR. BIG is back to announce their highly anticipated new studio album entitled « What If… » on February 8, 2011 on Frontiers Records.

«What If… » is MR. BIG’s first all original album since the reunion of the four original members, Eric Martin,Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey back in early 2009. Sixteen years after the release of « Hey Man », the new recording is set to bring back MR. BIG on the height of the current Hard Rock scene.

Guitarist Paul Gilbert said: “This is the first MR. BIG album I have been a part of, since fourteen years and it was done in a snap. It was fun and we had really a  good time in making this one”. Continues Billy SheehanIt’s so great to be back with Paul, Eric and Pat too. We wrote this record like we did in the old days for the first 2 records. Jamming together in the same room to write songs”. Pat Torpey adds ““Some of the recording process is different now from what we were used to in the old times. But I think this record really managed to capture the performances of the band, not of the individual musicians”.

Eric Martin concludes: “I like to compare this to the first album, when we just got to know each other in a reharsal studio and cut it in 8 or 9 days. This is like chapter 2. We had so many years, so many records and so many things behind us. Now this feels like a beautiful brand new chapter starting for all of us”.

« What If… » was produced by Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Rush, Iron Maiden)  and the release will be followed by a World Tour which will kick off in South America in March and will hit Europe in early summer.

Formed in 1988, Mr. Big forged its place in hard rock history by combining trademark “shredding” musicianship with awesome vocal harmonies. The original line-up – vocalist Eric Martin, guitarist Paul Gilbert, bassist Billy Sheehan, and drummer Pat TorpeyMr. Big produced numerous hit songs that ranged across a wide array of rock genres – be it ballads, heavy metal, or blues rock.

Their hits included “To Be With You” (Billboard Hot 100 number one single in 15 countries for weeks, in 1991, propelling the band the band to huge international success and record sales in the multi-millions), “Wild World”, Green-Tinted sixties Mind”, “Just Take My Heart”, and a host of heavy metal songs that were played mostly during their live performances: “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy”, “Addicted to that Rush”, “Colorado Bulldog”, and “Take Cover”.

“What If…” will be released in a special edition CD + DVD in digipak, regular CD, vinyl and digital download and in a limited edition luxury box including the CD, DVD, LP and exclusive memorabilia.

“What If…” tracklisting includes: Undertow; American Beauty; Stranger In My Life; Nobody Takes the Blame; Still Ain’t Enough for Me; Once Upon a Time; As Far As I Can See; All The Way Up; I Won’t Get In My Way; Around The World; I Get The Feeling; Unforgiven (exclusive bonus track for Europe / North America – not on vinyl edition).

The DVD will include the videoclips of “Undertow” and “All the Way Up” plus a documentary “Making of” the album including interviews and exclusive behind the scenes features of the four members.

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