Exclusive: Pat Torpey talks Mr Big album, tour

Mr. Big just kicked off a new tour in support of its ninth studio album, Defying Gravity, which will be released on July 21st (updated release date from July 7th) via Frontiers Music Srl. Original members Eric Martin (lead vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitars), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Pat Torpey (drums) reunited with long time producer Kevin Elson for an intensive six-day recording session in Los Angeles. While Torpey was unable to perform some of the songs on Defying Gravity due to a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, Matt Starr has been filling in for him on a majority of the album as well as on the road. Torpey chatted with me recently from a tour stop in Michigan to discuss the album, touring and his Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Please tell us about the inspiration for Defying Gravity and why the short recording time.

“We wanted to use Kevin Elson, and he had a window that he was available, Kevin Elson, our producer, who was involved in our first four studio records. He’s kinda like the fifth Beatle. We wanted to take advantage — We actually tried to get him to do the last two records we did, but he wasn’t available. So he was available. There was a window of time that we had to adhere to, and then the label wanted it. So basically we had deadlines that was touch or go. Do we jump right in and do it? We’ve got a really short period of time to do it, and we thought ‘What the heck?’ you know, spontaneity is good.

“We had about six or seven completed songs, so we needed more, but we had germs of ideas, so we kinda did some right on the spot, ‘Let’s do this, Let’s do this, Let’s try this,’ and we ended up with a record. We’re really happy with the way it came out. I think the spontaneous adventure we went on is good for the music because if you have too much time to think, you overthink it. I think it was a positive environment to make a new record under.”

You said you had several songs ready before you went in the studio. Do you guys write together or do each of you come up with ideas and then work on them from there?

“Well, the answer is yes and no. Some of the things like the song ‘Defying Gravity’ was a band effort. Paul and Billy and I get together in a room and just kinda jam out little ideas, little sniglets we call them, and then we’ll send it to Eric. But then also, Paul writes on his own. Billy writes on his own. I’d written on my own and Eric has written on his own as well. So, there’s no formula. It just kinda happens the way it happens and then we pick out the songs we like best. We don’t really care where they came from. Then, we just kinda put them through the Mr. Big machine and then it sounds like Mr. Big at the end of it.”

You guys are staying true to yourselves. How important is it for you to not include pop loops and stuff when all of your peers are doing that these days?

“Well, you know, it’s not even about — We just do what we do — We don’t really think about it that much, I mean. I think if anything, we think about when we’re playing live. Because playing a live show is where we get all of our inspiration and motivation to come up with new material, and so we kinda keep that in mind like how’s this song going to be live, what’s it going to be like, so it really wasn’t a conscious effort to be stay true to ourselves, we just do what we do. We think people that are familiar with Mr. Big are gonna enjoy it because they’re our fans and we keep that in mind. That’s kinda how we go about it.

“A friend of mine, I tell him we’re doing a new album and he says, ‘Are you guys gonna try to write a hit song? Isn’t that what you want to do?’ I go, ‘Well, how do you do that without sounding phony or goofy?’ That’s just not our approach.”

Defying Gravity‘s release date has been pushed back from it’s original July 7th release due to manufacturing, the group says on Twitter. The CD and Deluxe Edition CD/DVD, featuring music videos and behind the scenes footage of the making of the album, will be released July 21st with a Limited Edition Box Set and LP edition slated for August 18th. Read my review of the album. Tickets and VIP packages for the group’s tour can be purchased through their official website.

Listen to the entire interview below.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com