Remember the 90s big-hair band guitar virtuoso rockers Mr. Big with their top 1992 hit, "To Be With You?" Well they’re back and currently on tour with a brand new album entitled, “Defying Gravity” which will be available on July 7.

The current line-up in the band is Eric Martin, (lead vocals) Billy Sheehan, (bass guitar) Paul Gilbert (guitar), and Pat Torpey (drums).

Bass guitarist Billy Sheehan discusses the tour and new album

Blasting News had the pleasure of speaking with bassist Billy Sheehan by phone--about the new album and the current tour.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: How long has it been since Mr. Big released a new album?

Billy Sheehan: Two or three years.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: The new album, “Defying Gravity” who came up with the title and the cover of the elephant hanging upside down?

Billy Sheehan: “Defying Gravity” is one of the songs on the record—and often times the song from the record ends up being an album title. That particular song was a special song for us and we thought the title had a couple of visual ideas to it.

We had an art director that we gave some suggestions to—and he managed to ‘bring them to be’ by getting that elephant to ‘look like it’s floating’ under the effect of gravity. I thought that was kind of cool! The song itself is about going against the forces that are always surrounding you—especially the ones that are negative that are affecting you in a bad way and ‘Defy Gravity,’ if you will.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: Who did the album cover?

Billy Sheehan: Larry Freemantle—He has done many of our records, he’s the art director. He was with Atlantic Records for years and he worked with us in the very early days. We generally like to use him he’s a very creative guy.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: How is the tour going and how have the fans been responding to the concerts?

Billy Sheehan: Everything has been sold out everywhere! The fans go crazy! They have a good time! Mr. Big shows are hot and sweaty and a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, a lot of enjoyment! We have a sea of smiling faces out in front of us! We’re very lucky to have the nicest and coolest fans in the world.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: On the album, “Defying Gravity” there’s a song entitled, “1992.” Who wrote it and is it autobiographical?

Billy Sheehan: It is—it was written primarily by our guitarist, Paul Gilbert. We all have a part in every song, of course. This was our take on—it’s kind of like Deep Purple on “Smoke On The Water” where they talk about making that record. This was our story about what happened to us back in 1992—it spells out how we went from just a little band starting off and after having a number one hit. It was quite a major time.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: Is there a story behind the name, Mr. Big?

Billy Sheehan: Yeah there was. We remarked at every place we went, “Ask us anything but that question!” because we were tired of getting asked it! We got the name from a song called, “Mr. Big!” by a band called, “Free” and we finally recorded that song and that was back in 1994 and people still ask us about the band name!

Suzanne Rothberg BN: How often does the band tour?

Billy Sheehan: Generally, every band puts out a record and then tours. It’s an album tour cycle. With every record we put out, you’ll likely see a tour following it. We started the tour before the record release.

Mr. Big is touring to support new album

Suzanne Rothberg BN: Is there another band on the bill or is the band touring solo?

Billy Sheehan: We’re headlining ourselves.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: What do you think about your new album? Is there a particular song that you admire?

Billy Sheehan: it’s hard to pick one—I’m very pleased with many of them. There’s this one song called, “Be Kind” which I love it’s a beautiful message in chaotic times today to be kind when you don’t know what someone else has been through. It’s a really great stylized bluesy piece of music with a lot of singing that’s one of my favorites.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: Anything you want to say to your fans?

Billy Sheehan: We’ll be out touring for quite some time. We finish touring in the USA at the end of June. We go to South America, Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, Japan. We’ll probably come back and do more shows in the USA.

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