Q&A with Rock’s Reticent Bass Icon
Whether it is for his time in Buffalo, New York’s Talas, his gig with David Lee Roth, his many solo projects, or of course, Mr. Big, Billy Sheehan is one of rock music’s legendary bass Gods. Though Sheehan himself would dismiss such a notion in his humble self-effacing manner, his impact on the four-string is undeniable.
Reunited with the other dynamic musician’s in Mr. Big, axe-maestro Paul Gilbert, golden-throated vocalist Eric Martin, and the greatest drummer you’ve never heard of, Pat Torpey, Sheehan has in many ways, come home.
With Mr. Big, Sheehan is no longer “the guy” that everyone pays attention too. Every member of Mr. Big is brilliant in their own right, and all are exceedingly talented. Still, Mr. Big is far more than a musician’s band, blending their uber-talents together to create highly-accessible, well crafted rock songs that engage and endure. Point in fact, their newest album, What If…, which recaptures the magic of their 1989 self-titled debut, and 1991’s follow up, Lean Into It, is simply a melodic rock masterpiece.
While in America they are more noted for their ballads, Japanese audiences have grabbed hold as if they were The Beatles, allowing Mr. Big to fill arenas on each tour. Not surprisingly they have released numerous live albums just for Japan. Yet savvy American fans have managed to get them all.
This week I had a chance to discuss all of this and more with Sheehan as the band winds down their U.S. dates and prepares to head back overseas. We touched on the tragedy in Japan, their up coming live album Live from the Living Room, What If…, his place as a noted bassist, cover songs, and my personal goal to get them to cover Golden Earring‘s “Radar Love”.