Interviu: Paul Gilbert

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It's not every day that you get the chance to speak with one of the world's best guitarists. However, miracles happen and here it is: my interview with Paul Gilbert, taken eleven days before the show he will perform in Bucharest at Becker Brau Music Club.

You played an important part in two bands that stormed the 80's with their sound: Racer X and Mr Big...

Yes, indeed. Racer X was a sort of a...heavy metal supergroup, we tried to find a virtuoso for every instrument. It was very heavy metal, with a lot of shredding guitar. Mr Big was different, although there were still great musicians there. We were focused more on the vocals and the harmonies there. I personally enjoyed more Racer X, but we reached worldwide succes with Mr Big and the number one hit song, "To be with you".

A heavy rocker performing pop-rock songs? How was it?

It was actually quite funny, performing was quite enjoyable.

As far as I know, your colleagues from  Mr Big disbanded a couple of years after you left. Would you consider a reunion?

Why not? I've been thinking about this more and more, lately. Still, at this point i am busy with my own material. I have my own music to think about.

Since we got here...Everybody knows that you started using the guitar at an early age, learning all by yourself, and then you studied with some teachers. Having that experience... how do you think it's better: with the help of a teacher or all by yourself?

Most of what i learned came from my guitar idols. I used to put their records on and then learn the rhythm or the solo part of the song. My very first rock band took off when i was 11 years old and i had a lot to learn from my idols of that time. Then, i went to musical school and i learned a lot of other useful stuff, such as music theory and different techniques... As long as you spend a few hours a day rehearsing, you can do a good job.

Can you name us let's say...five songs any beginner should try to learn?

I would recommend Beatles songs. They wrote some amazing songs and the guitar part is pretty easy. The first song i ever learned to play was "Rocky Racoon" and "The ballad of John and Yoko". Rolling Stones songs are also easy to play - "Satisfaction", for one thing, has a really cool riff and it's fun to play.

You are also famous for your struggle to learn japanese. Is it better now than...let's say...two years ago? Why did you choose japanese?

It was a great challenge for me but I'm still just a beginner. I tried hard, i learned a few words and i can say a couple of things, but i talk like a caveman. I've been fortunate enough to be very popular in Japan over the years and i found it nice to be able to speak directly with my fans there. However, as i said before, my abilities are limited.

You performed a Hendrix set in Germany and rumors say that you have rehearsed only about an hour and a half before performing the songs... How is this possible?

First of all, i will confirm: yes, it's true. It was a very spontaneous gig, it wasn't planned at all. The headliner of that show was a famous blues guitarist, Albert Collins. Albert was having some health problems at that time so he never showed up to the gig. This is how i became headliner and the only option i had, because the band was not with me, was Hendrix. I had to find some five songs and to make very long guitar solos to fill up the time. It was great, i was very happy with the concert at the end of it.

You were also a part of G3, a meeting of the world's best guitarists. I assumed it felt so good...

Yes, working with Petrucci and Satriani was fantastic. G3 was also important for me because this is how i rediscovered the audience in the United States. Last but not least, the jam sessions we had at the end of the show were fabulous, a combination of technique and feeling. We were looking at each other but, at the same time, we tried to go be a passenger, inspired by the music.

Let's speak about the concert in Bucharest. Any surprises to be unveiled today?

It's gonna be a pretty long show, actually. We're gonna be doing some of my solo works, but also some Racer X and Mr Big and maybe some bonus cover tunes too. The band works great and i am very eager to get to play there, this is my first time in Romania.

Can you tell me something about the VIP tickets to your show?

I'm selling 6 VIP tickets to each show I'm performing. It's gonna be fantastic: there's gonna be a small, one hour guitar lesson. It's very rewarding to see young persons play with me during the time of that class.

gilbert 2
sursa foto

Do you intend to bring them on stage for the concert?

Ah, no, no...The stage is mine!! (laughing) However, i hope i will be a good inspiration and they will manage to get on stage someday all by themselves.

One last question: should you be able to gather a Superband, who is it that you would like to play with?

I think...hmm...The ultimate band for me would be the original members of Ac/Dc, but me on the drums. I play guitar all the time, every day, so i think this could be an opportunity to play my other favourite instrument, drums. Ac/Dc is a band with simple-enough rhythm for me to take over, so I would totally enjoy that!

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