BILLY SHEEHAN Part 2
by Joey Vera
SW: I want to ask you some things about Mr. Big... As a player, you seemed to come to a very comfortable place when you put this group together which helped to bring out the songwriter in you.
BS: When I put the band together, the idea was that I wanted to get three other very competent people that could shine on their own. And I got lucky cause Eric is a great singer, Pat is a great drummer and Paul is a great guitar player. So it worked out really well from the get go. Everyone had their chance for input when writing and the band as a whole would contribute to that. For instance, Paul has a knack for writing a great pop song. So when he would bring it in for us to hear we would collectively reinterpret it with our own ideas and add some beef to it.
SW: That must have been fulfilling for you to put this band together and have it work out so well.
BS: Yes it was, very much so. I've always been a band guy. I'm doing a bass solo record right now but I like having someone to work with, especially a group of people. The solo thing is certainly a challenge in that I'm on my own to make all the decisions. Which is cool, I mean, it's great to be able to come up with my own ideas and not have argue with anyone else about which part stays and which goes. But sometimes you find out later that a little tension adds to the creativity. But the band was a really cool run. Right now the band is inactive, I don't know that we'll do anything else although I would like to. We still have a deal with Atlantic.
SW: Mr. Big still has a very big presence in Asia right?
BS: Yeah, after the whole world went alternative and kicked all the bands out of the U.S., we kept going to Asia and have remained big there ever since. We got some satisfaction outselling Pearl Jam 40 to 1 at their peak in Asia. I was glad for their success but it was kinda neat that we held that spot.
SW: You were with the group for quite a while, and during that time you had time to nurture those relationships with these musicians. Did this experience have an effect on yourself as a player or did it effect your attitude towards songwriting?
BS: Well, it reinforced some things that I did learn early on. Fortunately, I played in so many situations with Talas, with so many types of copy songs. Some of it I had to be the laid back eighth note bass player and other things I had to go out of my mind. So, at one point or another I had to be the very song structured player. It wasn't very hard for me go back to that. If was always the solo freak non stop it would have been tough to realize "Oh, there's a drummer here?" One of the guys who got me started playing bass was a guy named Joe Hessey. I was a little kid and went over to his house one day and he was there jamming with a drummer and I said " Joe, where's the rest of the band?" And he said, "Well the Bass and Drums have to play together, every time he hits a note on the bass drum I have to play a note on the bass." So before I even owned a bass that was my foundation or knowledge of the bass. For years I was the standard laid back player before I went off and when I started going off, I think it worked because I already had the foundation. So in Mr. Big it was cool to lay back at times and let the somebody else do their thing. I liked locking in with the drummer and let the singer wail or hear the guitar player solo.
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