Eric Martin Talks Mr Big, “Defying Gravity” and More

Eric Martin Talks Mr Big, “Defying Gravity” and More

Interview by Danny Coleman 

“From the second or third song on the record, there’s meat, there’s also a sublime message; follow your dreams.”

Those are the words of Mr Big front man Eric Martin as he discussed the band’s upcoming July 21 release, “Defying Gravity,” their upcoming tour, his life and all things music in a recent candid conversation. “Parents, my parents, all parents are great but they, like most people think that it’s not going to work unless it’s a nine to five job with a wife and two kids at home. That’s the thought process of those who aren’t involved artistically, many don’t understand that what we musicians do is work. I’ve followed my dreams since I was young and if you think about it gravity is what grounds us and holds us down to earth and if you look at it that way then the title takes on a whole new meaning.”

Martin echoed those sentiments in a recent press release, saying that from the time we are born we are pushed toward a, “Life that’s safe and conventional,” of which he was no exception. “I was 25 years old and signed to Electra Records and my dad, who was a musician at one time, looked at me one day and said, “When are you gonna get a job?” “I was floored. I was about to hit the road touring with Night Ranger and ZZ Top and he still thought that I was in need of a day job, something more stable. Even to this day, I was just telling my sister last week that our brother called me and he still doesn’t call what I do a job (laughs). I’ll tell you this much, it’s hard to balance life with this job of mine, it’s not always easy like it may be with a nine to five but I’ve also seen the world and made a good living.”

“Defying Gravity,” will be the band’s ninth studio release in their nearly 30 year history. They’ve gone through minor personnel changes, interchanged some parts and now have the line up back intact. The band has “Persevered” through various side projects and drummer Pat Torpey’s Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis to continue making music and touring the world. “I may get in trouble for saying this, ” he started with a laugh, “But everybody thinks this is Billy’s (Bassist Sheehanband and it’s Pat that is really the glue that holds the band together. Pat comes up with many of our ideas, stage cosmetics, set lists and in general keeps it all going forward. When he was diagnosed it was rough on all of us but he stays involved from start to finish. Sometimes it’s funny watching him and our touring drummer Matt Starr debate certain parts but in the end it always works out (laughs).”

The release of the new record comes in various forms. There’s the 11 track CD and LP versions, the deluxe CD/DVD combo or there is the collectors edition box set which includes the CD, DVD,LP, a poster, a numbered lithograph, T-shirt and a sticker. Take heed however as the box set is limited to only 500 copies worldwide. “Yeah, I don’t know why they’re doing that,” laughed Martin. “If you go to YouTube there’s a teaser video we did where we’re talking about the DVD.”

Along those lines, the band released the first video from the forthcoming album on June 5 and it’s a track which features the entire band including both drummers called,“Everybody Needs A Little Trouble.” “Yeah, management wanted us to release “1992” but we said lets save that for later and went with this one. Usually we just record and give to the powers that be to do as they wish but this time we’re a bit more involved. We shot the video in a rehearsal space in L.A. that we used to use years ago. I mean this was a rehearsal space, Indian rugs on the floor, dark walls, you get the picture; we had a lot of fun doing it.”

The record itself took a very short time, only six days to record; something that Martin attributes to guitarist Paul Gilbert“Paul came in prepared, he wrote most of the album. Once he and I got together lyrically and on the same page it made things easier and we knocked it out in less than a week.”

When not on stage either with the band or while pursuing his solo career, Martin likes to kick back and stay in tune with the new music that’s out there via a thriving indie scene. Since Mr Big’s success over the years is very much attributed to an almost underground following without much commercial radio airplay; Martin can appreciate what’s happening in the industry today. “Believe it or not, I love listening to singer/songwriter folk types and classic rock type stuff. When I was younger I listened to a lot of Free, Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth and those type of bands. What’s kind of funny is, Billy and I will talk about all of these bands and sometimes he’ll try and stump Paul when we’re on the tour bus with these band trivia questions because he’s younger than we are; questions that nobody should know the answers to and Paul usually gets them right (laughs). Now though I try and see what’s out there and find new artists and music. I’ve got Motown and singer/songwriters of today on my laptop. I like Jason Mraz, Gavin DeGraw, John Mayer; am I digging myself a hole here (laughs)? I also love Tedeschi Trucks Band; Susan Tedeschi? I would love to do a duet with Susan Tedeschi, oh man that voice, I love her voice. That’s the beauty of music today, the record industry might be in disarray but with technology now I could record with someone and not even be in the same room; it’s an entirely new world now.”

So what’s in store for Mr Big and Eric Martin? “For me? Well, we’ve got the tour dates which kick off again in August. We are going to regroup in South America, then I know we’re going to Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe and rumor has it possibly some more 2018 U.S. dates. This record, the tour has all been painless and stress free and that suits all of us just fine. We take it as it comes really and we are all happy for what we have. I don’t know how long we can keep going but we will ride this train as far as it takes us. We really are a band that was part of an underground movement because we’ve been successful without any radio play but now with internet radio and more and more stations or outlets things are different. Our song “1992” is a tongue in cheek look back at our experiences with the record company. We are all afraid to put the torch out and that’s why Mr Big keeps going on. None of us wants to give it up so as long as we are all able we’ll keep going.”

Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)