[ROCK ON: Pop rock band Mr Big (from left) Billy Sheehan, Pat Torpey, Eric Martin and Paul Gilbert.]
By Tan Kee Yun
BEFORE guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert joined Mr Big in 1988, he had never stepped foot outside the US.
Once he started touring with the four-piece pop rock outfit, Gilbert, now 42, was checking countries off the world map.
'For me, the most exciting thing was doing live shows; we played everywhere...' he told The New Paper in an e-mail interview.
'Europe, Japan, South America, Russia and, of course, Singapore.
'Mr Big introduced me to touring, which had always been one of my biggest dreams.'
Local fans can catch the guys - there's also vocalist Eric Martin, 48, drummer Pat Torpey, 49, and bassist Billy Sheehan, 56 - at a concert at Fort Canning Park next month.
Gilbert has fond memories of Singapore from the band's last gig here, though that was 13 years ago.
In 1996, Mr Big did a 45-minute set at Hard Rock Cafe to promote its fourth studio album, Hey Man.
'I remember when we arrived at the airport, there were (many) fans waiting for us, it was a crazy sight. It felt great to be so appreciated and welcomed,' he said.
The band was also received warmly in Japan, where Hey Man peaked at No 1 on the Oricon charts and sold two million copies.
During one of the band's showcases in Japan in 1993, the guys made headlines when an overenthusiastic female fan danced topless in the audience.
Martin had joked after the gig that it was really cool that 'no one was looking at her because they were all transfixed on us'.
Before joining Mr Big, Gilbert was the founder of heavy metal band Racer X, renowned for its chugging guitar riffs and fast solos.
Though Mr Big's style of music is vastly different from Racer X's, the versatile Gilbert did not have any difficulty adapting to sing-a-long pop rock anthems such as Just Take My Heart and To Be With You.
'I enjoy many musical styles. In fact, I hardly notice the division between genres,' he said.
'Personally, I just like to play good songs with solid musicians and I feel very fortunate to have played with both bands (Racer X and Mr Big).
'After playing a loud and fast track, playing a melodic, acoustic song sounds especially lovely in contrast.'
Gilbert is looking forward to hitting Singapore once again with his bandmates.
'The four of us spent eight extremely intense years together making music.
'This reunion tour is a great opportunity for us to be friends again and relive the memories of those days.'
There is only one topic that he shies away from talking about - the reason why he decided to take a break from the band in 1997.
When quizzed about it, his reply was simply: 'I forgot!'
WHAT: Mr Big The Reunion Tour
WHERE: Fort Canning Park
WHEN: 18 Oct, 8pm
Standard price: $85
Group of five or more: $75
VIP meet and greet package: $350
Buy tickets online at www.tdc.sg
TICKETING HOTLINE: 6296 2929
This article was first published in The New Paper.