10 Questions with Paul Gilbert
Paul Gilbert is a busy man, a very busy man indeed. Not only has he just completed a highly successful tour of Europe (in support of his last release "Fuzz Universe") but he now has new record coming out with Mr. Big. The new release is called "What If" and it has the original line up of Eric Martin (vocals), Billy Sheehan (bass), Pat Torpey (drums) and of course, Paul on Guitar. Tour plans are underway and you can be sure to catch Mr. Big at a venue near you, real soon. On another front, you can also catch Paul playing with his Beatles band of sorts, Yellow Matter Custard (Mike Portnoy, Kasim Sultan, and Neal More. They'll be playing a few select dates in New York, Chicago and Long Beach, CA. For more info - go here
And now onto more inportant matters - 10 questions with Mr. Gilbert......
Guitar.com: Paul, please give us a little insight into your writing process?
Paul Gilbert: First I spill all my ideas out onto the table. Then I look at them and pick my favorites. Then I develop those into more completed songs. Then I pick my favorites from those. Then I panic because I’m missing something, and I write the two best songs for the album in a last-minute, sleepless frenzy. That’s usually what happens.
Guitar.com: Do you ever put lyrics to songs, only to change them to an instrumental later?
Gilbert: That happened on a song called, “Mantra the Lawn”. I was happy that I could turn it into an instrumental tune, because the lyrics made no sense. They were just sounds, rather than words with a specific meaning. But don’t underestimate sounds.
Guitar.com: You mention that "Fuzz" is the term you first heard to describe the sound of an overdriven guitar. What are some classic Fuzz guitar tunes for you?
Gilbert: All the Black Sabbath stuff. The intro to “Revolution” by The Beatles. “Satisfaction” by The Stones. All the Ramones and Sex Pistols stuff. The solo from “Goodbye to Love” by The Carpenters.
(Editors note - just in case you doubted Paul's memory with regard to the "Fuzz" tone on that Carpenters tune - we searched for it on YouTube and here's a vid from back in the day on the BBC, with a guy playing a classic ES-335 and he does in fact have a bitchin' Fuzz tone for what would be 1976)
Guitar.com: Who are our favorite guitar instrumentalists?
Gilbert: I like Eric Johnson a lot. I still like Tony MacAlpine’s records from the mid-80’s. And Yngwie’s records from that same era. Once in a while I’ll put on some Barney Kessel. And I like the first three Allan Holdsworth records a lot. And the one he did with U.K. But I must admit, I still usually listen to music with vocals. And I often listen to music with no lead guitar at all! My ears need some balance.
Guitar.com: So what is your practice regimen these days?
Gilbert: I love being on the road with my solo band. I wake up. Squeeze myself some orange juice. Meet my VIP students and jam with them for an hour and a half. Then do soundcheck for an hour and jam with my band. Then grab some dinner. Then warm up backstage for a few minutes. Then jam onstage for two hours. It’s guitar player’s dream! I get to play so much. My calluses get super-thick and I get bend almost anything. At home, I don’t play so much. So I’ll go down to GIT and do some teaching so I can jam with the students.
Guitar.com: Do you have a home studio? What DAW/recording device do you use?
Gilbert: I finally moved my home-studio to a room outside my house. But it’s basically the same, only less-annoying to my neighbors. I use Pro Tools. It works pretty well, and everyone else uses it, so it makes it easy to take the sessions to another studio if I want to do the drums somewhere else.
Guitar.com: What do you consider your "go-to" signal chain: Guitar/pedals/amp/mic/pre?
Gilbert: My Ibanez Fireman plugs into a Boss Tuner… and I’m always switching pedals around… The most common ones are my Ibanez Airplane Flanger, an MXR Phase 90 (the one with the script logo and the LED), an H.B.E. Detox EQ, a Majik Box Fuzz Universe, and these are all powered by a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus. I use a Marshall Vintage Modern 2 x 12 combo with a THD Hot Plate between the head and the speakers. For mics, I use a ’57 and a Royer ribbon mic. These plug into a couple of Amek 9098 mic preamps. That’s it.
Guitar.com: Guitar music has taken a bit of a back seat as of late. Where do you see the future of guitar heading?
Gilbert: Well, as much as technology might advance and gear might have more complex sounds to offer, it’s very comforting to me that the E-chord that I learned when I was 11 years old STILL WORKS. I don’t have to discard my old playing like an old laptop. Everything that I have ever learned to play is still valuable and valid. So I think that the true advances in guitar playing have to be made by players rather than by the gear. We just have to keep playing with strong rhythmic and melodic intention. We have to play in bands that have good singers and good songs. We have to make the girls dance and the guys headbang. There is no single future. It’s the individual future of every one of us who steps onstage and makes people want to listen.
Guitar.com: Any advice for young players?
Gilbert: Learn “Hey Bulldog” by The Beatles. Learn the opening riff to “Barracuda” by Heart. Learn “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller. Learn lots of chords and how to strum. Find a teacher who will help you. Learn songs!
Guitar.com: What's up for you next?
Gilbert: I’m doing three shows with an all-star Beatles tribute band. Mike Portnoy is on drums. Neal Morse is on guitar and keyboards. And Kasim Sulton is playing bass. Kasim is one of my pop heroes, so I’m really excited to play with him, and with the other guys as well. After that I’ll be preparing for a Mr. Big tour of Japan and the rest of the world. And I’m still trying to find all the best notes on my guitar, so I keep playing, looking, and listening.
For more information on all things Paul Gilbert - visit - PaulGilbert.com