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    Tags: Mr.Big, Eric_Martin, UK_tour, Defying_Gravity, Sarah_O'Hara

    Touring, 'Defying Gravity' and Mr.Big: An interview with Eric Martin

    Photograph (C) William Hames

     

    With only a few weeks until Mr.Big’s UK tour, I caught up with Eric Martin to talk about their latest album and visiting the UK this November…

     

    When I speak to Eric, he is preparing for the first night of Mr.Big's European tour, which began in Hamburg, Germany.

     

    Their tour takes them across Europe, before heading to Rock City, Nottingham on Thursday 16th November 2017.

     

    The show is the first of six UK tour dates, followed by concerts in Newcastle, London, Manchester, Glasgow and Wolverhampton.

     

     

    As a kid, Mr.Big’s music is one of my earliest memories; their albums regularly heard playing on our stereos. From Lean into it and Bump Ahead growing up, to What if… and The Stories we could tell during my years at University, their music has been a major part of my musical upbringing and one of the bands whose music made me want to pick up a guitar myself and learn to play - so with only a few weeks until Mr.Big arrive in the UK, I couldn’t wait to ask Eric about their upcoming concerts:

     

    “I’m really excited! It’s cool that we’re not just playing one or two shows in the UK; we’re playing a handful. It’s always a blessing. I’ve been to all these places recently with my solo acoustic show and I’ve been saying for the last couple of years about Mr.Big potentially coming here, so it’s kind of come to a fruition that we’re finally gonna be here. I think it’s fantastic that we’re playing in this season. I do like this season - I like wearing coats and sweatshirts..."

     

     

    Eric also cannot wait to tour with The Answer and Faster Pussycat, who are joining Mr.Big for their European and UK concert dates, adding that the two bands are "great musicians - they're gonna pull out all the stops".

     

    Photograph (C) William Hames

     

     

    Mr Big’s UK tour also follows the release of their latest album, the incredible Defying Gravity, in July 2017.

     

    Produced by Kevin Elson (who also worked with the band on their first three albums - the self-titled Mr Big, Lean into it and Bump Ahead), the album opens with the blues-rock riffs of ‘Open your eyes’ and Elson’s voice “Ok, we’re rolling” - reminiscent of ‘Addicted to that rush’ from Mr.Big’s debut album.

     

     

    With songs including rock anthem ‘Everybody needs a little trouble’, to the sixties vibes of ‘Be Kind’, Eric adds that the album:

     

    “Sounds great live - it’ll be a treat. I know it sounds like a cliche, but everyone’s totally mastered it - for me anyway. ‘Defying Gravity’ sounds awesome - it has that Led Zeppelin-esque sound to it. We’re also playing a kind of eighties style rock anthem called ‘Forever and back’ and a sort of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young style song called ‘Damn, I’m in love again’, which is a little pop… a little ‘Wild World’. It’s really cool; we really dig it”.

     

    Yet with so many great songs from Mr.Big’s previous albums and Defying Gravity, I ask how the band choose their set list:

     

    “Well this year, this is the first time that we’ve put more than three songs from a new album into a set. This [Defying Gravity] is fairly new; it’s only been out for about two or three months now. We play this European tour for a month and then we’re playing a couple of European festivals, so who knows what we’re gonna add. We’re playing a lot of songs from Defying Gravity, but the first album is taken care of and Lean into it, there’s a bunch of stuff from that. I don’t think anybody goes away hungry”.

     

     

    Having previously included renditions of The Who’s ‘Baba O’ Riley’ and Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ on previous tours, are there any surprises in the set lists for their upcoming shows?

      

    “I don’t know - we’ve been playing ‘Baba O’ Riley’ for what seems like one hundred and fifty years! (Laughs) We didn’t play it on the last tour; we did this switch instrument thing and we played ‘We’re an American Band’. Paul played drums, Billy played guitar, I played bass and Pat sang. I mean, we’ve done so many things on the tour: ‘Ain’t that a shame’, ‘Suffragette City’ - covers of songs by bands and singers we were influenced by”.

     

    Lovely to talk to and with a great sense of humour that had me smiling all the way through the interview (and laughing just as much), speaking to Eric has been brilliant and I’ve throughly enjoyed every moment speaking to one of my musical heroes. Yet with only a few hours left until the opening night of their European tour and the interview drawing to a close, it was soon time to say good bye and let Mr.Big do what they do best - and that’s rock:

     

    “Right now, six hours before the show, Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan are jamming away practising. Pat Torpey and Matt Starr, our touring drummer helping out Pat, who plays with us and sings, are in there playing six hours before the show.

     

    I feel good. I’ll do a warm-up before I go on, but Billy and Paul are there, playing for five hours a day and warming up their fingers, making sure everyone gets those magic moments”.

     

    By Sarah O’ Hara

     

     

    Mr Big are on tour in the UK this November:

     

    16th November - Rock City, Nottingham

    17th November - Northumbria Institute, Newcastle

    19th November - 02 Shepherds Bush Empire, London

    21st November - Manchester Academy, Manchester

    22nd November - 02 ABC, Glasgow

    23rd November - Wolverhampton Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

     

    Their album Defying Gravity is available now.

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