Mr. Big guitarist Paul Gilbert recalled the experience of becoming global stars when their 1992 single “To Be With You” became a hit, noting that it really lasted for only two weeks.
In that time, however, the band witnessed significant temporary changes to their profile, as he told Classic Rock in a recent interview.
“It was wonderful, and it also felt completely out of my control,” Gilbert said. “It felt like it had been given to me, and at the same time could be taken away at a whim. I remember the two weeks that ‘To Be With You’ was a hit, our audience changed to 12-year-old girls. And then that two weeks was over, and it was like a door slammed, and it was guys with jean jackets again.”
He recalled that “we wrote the song, we played the song, but how people respond to it is in their hands. You can’t predict that.”
Watch Mr. Big’s ‘To Be With You’ Video
He also explained that this career trajectory meant he was also able to avoid the pitfalls of substance abuse. “If I was only in Mr. Big, and we only had tours playing the hits, I would need to start drinking a lot more, because a lot of my energy and creative juice happens ‘cause I’m always trying new stuff,” he said.
“Some musicians are really full of talent and ability, and just have to play the same stuff. To be the Eagles and be: ‘Okay, here we go, “Hotel California” one more time … .’ Sometimes you’re crippling yourself with alcohol just to make it interesting.”
Asked about his approach to making music, Gilbert replied: “They do experiments with mice where they give them cocaine, and the mouse keeps pressing the cocaine button. I’ve never tried cocaine, but music can be like that. If I have a process, and it keeps rewarding me with the pleasure of music, and people smiling at me when I perform, putting food on the table, I’m gonna keep pressing that button. … For every success I have there’s a whole roomful of failure. The trick is not to be stopped by that.”
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