MR. BIG bassist Billy Sheehan reveals the band are considering working on new material
The upcoming run commences in Japan and continues through Southeast Asia in July and August, while shows in South America, Europe, and the U.S. have yet to be announced.
Regarding MR. BIG‘s decision to reunite for the upcomng trek, Sheehan said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “We went out and did shows after Pat passed away — God rest his soul — because they were already booked. And we thought, ‘Let’s just do them and see how it goes.’ And Matt Starr [who filled in for Pat] did a great job — he’s a great drummer, a great singer — but he’s a tenor; we need an alto. I’m a tenor — a tenor or a baritone — and Paul [Gilbert, MR. BIG guitarist] is around the same range as myself.
“We need that alto voice for the three-part harmony, and Matt can sing great, but it just wasn’t his range. And prior to that, Pat was with us; he just wasn’t playing drums, ’cause he couldn’t, due to the Parkinson’s debilitation — he just couldn’t do it. And so we went out with Matt. And it was good, but we were looking at each other onstage, and, like… I don’t know… The guys in MR. BIG, we’re really tight, and Pat was my closest musical friend, I think, that I’ve had in my career — a very, very dear friend of mine. So it was tough.
“So we just let it lay for a few years. And then we had a few offers to play that we turned down. And then finally a few offers came in [where we were just, like], ‘It might be time, but we’re gonna need a great drummer.’ Not a good drummer — a great drummer, and somebody that does the kind of things that Pat did. It was a finesse, nuance — all these things going on that you normally wouldn’t even notice, but you’d notice when they were missing. So Nick D’Virgilio from SPOCK’S BEARD is gonna take over the drum spot for this farewell… It’s kind of a farewell, tribute to Pat Torpey kind of tour. A lot of bands do a farewell tour, and then they go back and do another farewell tour and another farewell tour. We said, ‘Let’s really make it a farewell.'”
Asked about the possibility of new music from MR. BIG, the bassist said: “They’re talking about it. We talked about writing a couple of things and getting together. We’re gonna do some rehearsals before the show, and it’ll probably turn into a little bit of a writing thing. I know Eric [Martin, MR. BIG singer] and Paul are prolific writers.
“I write a lot as well. And yeah, we hope to. It’s not set in stone yet, but we hope to have some new stuff as well. And again, it’s gonna be a farewell tour, so it’ll be kind of a way of putting a period at the end of the sentence, saying ‘thank you’ to amazing fans. We just had a hundred million views of ‘To Be With You‘ on YouTube, which is pretty darn good. We’re very grateful.”
When it was first announced last month that D’Virgilio had joined MR. BIG, Sheehan said in a statement: “We found a wonderful drummer in Nick, and he’s got a great voice too. Nick has a vocal range similar to Pat’s, and he’ll be able to do the parts Pat did with a similar finesse. It’s a big relief because MR. BIG has always been heavy on the harmonies. When the band began, we really relied on each other. We knew each guy would do exactly what he needed to do vocally and to do it righteously, on key, and in time. It’s difficult to find a drummer who sings in that range, but Nick has the voice we really need onstage.”
Gilbert concurred, saying: “Nick gets close to the spirit of Pat Torpey. Billy, Eric, and I have been really happy with the music we’ve already shared back and forth. I’m impressed with Nick’s level of musical adaptability and breadth of skill. He and I have done some recording together, and I was blown away with his groove, and how he just played what fit the song. If the song requires him to be more progressive and stand out, he will stand out. But if the song requires him to groove, he will groove. That’s actually a rare thing, and it really fits in with what we do in MR. BIG.”
Eric added: “I love the fact that Nick was a fan of Pat Torpey and wants to keep our BIG sound intact. When I first saw his audition demo video of the ‘Lean Into It‘ song ‘Lucky This Time‘, Nick was playing drums with those signature Pat snare hits and singing harmonies spot on to what Pat used to do. It gave me goosebumps!! I am so thrilled to have this man who will be filling some mighty BIG shoes join us on our last tour.”
MR. BIG‘s upcoming tour will see the band performing its breakthrough platinum-selling 1991 album “Lean Into It” from start to finish as a featured highlight of the live setlist.
“Defying Gravity” was released via Wowow Entertainment, Inc. in Japan and Frontiers Music Srl in most of the rest of the world.