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MJR presents...

Paul Gilbert

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It’s a question every artist has to grapple with: If you’re not pushing yourself creatively, how can you grow? And that’s exactly what acclaimed guitar maestro Paul Gilbert tackles with fervor on his new solo album, I Can Destroy, coming out May 27 via Ear Music / Edel. “One thing I’ve always struggled with as a writer is I don’t think I’ve written a lot of songs that make it easy on the improviser,” the consummate soulful shredder admits. “Coming from a heavy rock background, that’s been a real challenge. But I worked really hard to rework all my fingerings so I could emphasize different tones the way my ear hears them. I’m still working on it, but that was a major step forward for me as a guitar player — to be able to get that sound on purpose, rather than by accident.” 

It’s no accident that Destroycuts a wide swath of styles and textures, from the full-frontal assault of “Everybody Use Your Goddamn Turn Signal” to the jazz-blues lament of “One Woman Too Many” (which also features Gilbert’s patented four-pick Makita drill-bit riffery) to the radio-friendly balladeering of “Love We Had” to the smoking-hot gut/heart punch of “I Am Not the One (Who Wants To Be With You),” the latter track’s title a playful reference to the ubiquitous #1 hit Gilbert enjoyed as part of his gig as lead guitarist for the still-going-strong Mr. Big. (More on that in a bit.) 

Gilbert knew thatDestroyproducer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Rush, Joe Bonamassa), whom he previously collaborated with on Mr. Big’s 2011 release What If, would push him to do his best from the get-go. “One thing I knew about working with Kevin as a solo artist is that there weren’t going to be that many overdubs on the record — not that many takes, and not many fixes,” Gilbert reports. “As a musician, that puts the fear into you. It’s a good fear, and it made me want to prepare in a pretty healthy way.” 

With Shirley onboard to get behind the board, Gilbert next had to cull together some top-drawer musicians to bring into the studio. “On drums, we’ve got Thomas Lang, who’s somewhat of a drumming legend, and on bass is Kevin Chown,” details Gilbert. “He was the only guy I’d never worked with before, and he was great. He played all the right stuff. He’s played with everybody from Chuck Berry and Little Richard to Sebastian Bach.” 

Gilbert was excited to deploy a three-prong harmonic guitar attack for Destroy, so he reached out to some familiar faces and fingers — namely, Tony Spinner and Freddie Nelson. “We did a lot of guitar harmonies that were reminiscent of what you might hear on an Eagles song,” Gilbert observes. “And even though our style of music is probably different than that band, when you’ve got this lineup and that set of instruments to orchestrate with, it’s inspiring. It’s like, ‘Man, we’ve got this, so let’s use it.’ They’re also singers in their own bands, so having guys like them behind me is good pressure. In a way, it makes it easier, because they sound so good, and I can just ride on top.” 

 

Wednesday 18th September 2019

Price: £22.50 adv

Doors 19:30

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