Interview With Paul Gilbert
Interview By Keith McDonald
Most people know Paul Gilbert as the former axeman for the hard rock band Mr. Big. The
band had commercial success with their #1 hit To Be With You and sold millions
of records worldwide over their career. Yet the ride didnt last forever. Paul left
Mr. Big to concentrate on his solo career and was replaced by ex-Poison guitarist Ritchie
Kotzen. The band played on for a short while to only call it a day a few years later. I
caught up with Paul who gave me an update on his career. You can check out his website at
What have you been up to?
I'm on vacation! I've been taking yoga and studying Japanese. I'm still playing guitar
and writing music, but not for a record company deadline. My brain needs a break from
insane work and jetlag.
Why did Mr. Big call it a day?
It just wasn't fun anymore, so I left. I want to make music and have a good time. The
band continued for a few years after I left. I wasn't in the final breakup so I can't
really tell you what happened.
Do you still speak to any of the members?
Not often, but I see the guys once in a while.
What type of gear do you use?
Ibanez guitars. They make a Paul Gilbert model called the PGM. Laney amps. I like the
GH100L head. DiMarzio pickups. I like the Tone Zone. Ernie Ball strings. I like the RPS
Why do you think that there are no more 'Guitar Gods' around?
As long as Pat Travers and Robin Trower are still playing somewhere, Guitar Gods walk
Do you feel great guitar playing is missing from the newer bands that have been
I saw John Mayer on TV and he played pretty well. I saw some country singer playing
AMAZING guitar on Austin City Limits. I have no idea who he was. I just saw Ty Tabor with
King's X at a club and he played great. So it's around.
Many people don't realize that after Mr. Big's popularity died out here in the
States, that the band was still very big in Europe and Japan. Why do you think that was?
Japanese rock fans really like virtuoso guitar playing and good melodies. Plus the
photographers in Japan made us look really good.
How much of a difference do you think there is there between the US and Japan
For heavy metal, it's a huge difference.
Why are Japanese fans so loyal to their bands?
I don't know. I'm loyal to my bands. I still love the bands I grew up with.
Who were your guitar influences?
Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Lifeson, Robin Trower, Pat Travers, Pat Thrall, Angus
Young, Ted Nugent, Ace Frehley, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Pete Willis, Steve Clark, Glenn
Tipton, K.K. Downing, Billy Sheehan, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen, Gary Moore, Akira
Takasaki, Michael Schenker, Johnny Ramone, Allan Holdsworth, Jimi Kidd, and Rick Neilson.
Any advise for an up and coming guitarist?
Practice 100 hours a day. Find a drummer to play with. Learn these songs:
"Circumstances" by Rush "Come On and Love Me" by KISS "If I
Fell" by The Beatles "Riff Raff" by AC/DC "Mother Mary" by UFO
"Teenage Lobotoby" by The Ramones
Would you ever consider putting Mr. Big back together?
No thank you. I want to play new songs and have fun.
Will you record a new solo album? Are your solo albums still available?
I think you can still get all my solo stuff. Look on amazon.com. I've written a bunch
of new songs, but I want to write more before I make a record out of it.
What lies ahead for you?
I'm figuring that out right now. I'd like my life to be a little more normal for a
while. I don't want to go completely deaf, so I'm trying to find ways to work without
blasting my ears all the time. I want to make more good music. Lots of it. Thanks for