Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Racer X)

So this is an interview I’ve been waiting to do since I first started this site…

…You were definitely on my checklist! Now to have the opportunity to feature on of my favorite guitarists, I have to say, a true pleasure! Maybe eventually I’ll feature more of my favorite drummers. Anyway…lets get on with it shall we?

AF: How did you first get started in the music business and what was your first “big break?”
PG: I sent a cassette of my playing to Mike Varney when I was 15. He called me and gave me a lot of encouragement.

AF: Since your start, you’ve played with some of the most unbelievable bands and players. With that said, what have been some of your most memorable moments?
PG: The first that Racer X sold out “The Troubadour” in L.A. was a great moment. I really felt like I had a chance to be a rock musician!

AF: Your setup has been well documented on the internet so I don’t really want to touch on that at all…but I’m sure the guitarists out there are curious to what is your favorite piece of gear?
PG: I have a lot of guitars that I love. Some of my favorites at the moment are my Ibanez Reverse Iceman guitars, my Ibanez PGM301, and my old Ibanez Rocket Roll II. I also love my new Marshall Vintage Modern 2×12 combo amp.

AF: This is in reference to my personal favorite page on your website. What was your favorite stage in your Fashion Evolution? I think one day you should do a hybrid of many of them. Say the bowling shoes with the velvet robe, dearskin hat, your “Just Say Moe” shirt and the yellow winger shorts. Then again, I have horrible fashion sense so I probably wouldn’t use my advise.
PG: My best fashion moment was when I was 8 years old. I had really long, straight hair, a headband, mirror sunglasses, and sandals. There aren’t any pictures, but I remember being cool.

AF: Lets touch on some more of your favorites… What are your favorite movies?
PG: “Amadeus” and “This is Spinal Tap”.
AF: Ah yes! Spinal Tap, a true classic. ” ‘ELLO CLEVELAND!!!” So many great lines in that movie.

AF: Okay…so how about some of your favorite albums?
PG: The whole Beatles catalog, especially “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Help”, and “With the Beatles”. The first five Van Halen records. And lots of records by Todd Rundgren, Rush, Enuff Z’Nuff, Cheap Trick, Pat Travers, Robin Trower, The Wildhearts, and my friend, Linus of Hollywood.

Photo By: Wayne DennonAF: Favorite food (my personal favorite question)?
PG: Fresh fruit in season. I need it every day.
AF: I have a bit of a poll on my website. One day, I’m sure I’ll do something useful with it. Anyway…In your years of touring, where is the best IHOP/Wafflehouse?
PG: I don’t know if their fruit is very fresh, so I don’t go there often.

AF: If you could play with any musician (who you haven’t already played with obviously), dead or alive…who would it be?
PG: I’m happy with my band now. If I could bring back Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhoads, or John Lennon, I wouldn’t want to play with them. I would just want to LISTEN.
AF: Cheers to that my friend.

AF: What are some of your touring essentials? i.e. ipod, faovirite movies, etc.
PG: The less stuff you bring, the easier it is! I really need my Extreme Isolation headphones for the stage to protect my ears, though.
AF: You did a few tribute bands with Mike Portnoy. Those being (for those who may not know), The Beatles, Rush, Led Zeppelin and The Who. Of those, which was your favorite? I have to be honest, I haven’t heard all of The Who set yet, but thus far, The Beatles has been my favorite. I think because its so hard to reproduce their sound and you guys did an AMAZING job. Great work man.
PG: They were all very fun. The Rush one was the easiest because I had learned so many of those guitar parts when I was a kid, and my own style is probably the most similar to Alex Lifeson’s. But learning the Jimmy Page parts for the Zeppelin one was very enjoyable. Man, his parts were COOL.
AF: That they were. It was Jimmy Freakin’ Page!

AF: When you’re not touring or recording, how do you like to spend your free time?
PG: I haven’t had free time in a long time! I hope I can walk around my neighborhood or ride my bicycle soon. I like to cook because I like to eat. And I like to design new guitars with Photoshop.

AF: Any new years resolutions?
PG: Learn how to play the songs on my new CD!
AF: Hahaha!

AF: If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would have been?
PG: I wanted to be a paleontologist. But I was never very good with a shovel.
AF: You should intern with the mob. Practice makes perfect!

AF: Where is your favorite vacation spot?
PG: Hawaii is good. Japan is good. Spain, Italy, France. All nice places. But mainly, I just need a bed!
AF: I hear Japan is awesome. My brother visited a year or so ago and he kept going on about it. One day…[sigh].

AF: What is your biggest touring pet-peeve?
PG: Back lighting. I want my FRONT to be lit so I can see my fingers!
AF: Who are you listening to right that you’d recommend to others?
PG: Bach Prelude no. 15 BWV 860
“Like Always” by The Association
“This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies
“When Your Light’s Turned On” by The Hollies
“Complain” by King’s X
“I Wanna Go Where the People Go” by The Wildhearts

AF: You have an instructional DVD entitled “Get Out of My Yard”; how do you prepare and choose what you want to include on a DVD like that?
PG: I just tried to choose the most interesting guitar parts from each song of the “Get Out of My Yard” CD. And I wanted to include some overall advice on different techniques, especially picking.

AF: And finally…you’ve accomplished so much in your career thus far. You certainly have a lot to be proud of. What are your future goals?
PG: My guitar playing has improved so much recently from concentrating on instrumental music. I even started taking guitar lessons again! So I still want to become a better guitarist and composer.
AF: Paul, thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed yourself. Seriously, it was a true honor to have ya on the site. Any final words for the readers?
PG: Keep searching for new music (or old music) that you love!

Photos By: Wayne Dennon