Interview and pics by Amelia Tomasicchio
On November 2nd, 2013 in the Roman Init Club backstage we met a delightful and helpful Eric Martin, excited for the concert just ended. A setlist made up of classic songs ("To Be With You", "I promised her the moon") and famous covers ("Wild World" and "Sweet Home Alabama", both played with the opening band, Dhamm) marks a performance even better than the one held on March 18th in the same location. Due to noise, Eric invites everyone to leave the room, and so it begins the interview, in which he speaks of dreams, past and future.
RRM: Hi Eric! Nice to meet you. Welcome back to Italy. It was short time ago from your last gig here. How’s going the tour, so far?
Hey, well. I’m touring since last February and I’ve found a really good time travelling. February, March and April were fun, but there were a lot of travelling. Me and Gabriele, my good friend [and tour manager], in a tiny little car with my suitcase, his suitcase and my guitar, some clothes hanging up in a tiny Italian car, pretty much like seating in a coach in an airplane. Sometimes we drive for ten hours around Italy, Germany, wherever and then sometimes you have just a couple of hours to the gig, for making the soundcheck and going to the hotel. It’s fun, I just can do it. What I’ve done since the acoustic solo tour, I’ve joined a metal opera called Avantasia and it was amazing, fucking unbelievable. I’ve never met so many really talented musicians. I thought I couldn’t have any better than Mr. Big, but they are. There were a lot of great musicians in Avantasia. That band is just phenomenal and it was fun being a part of them. Then I joined something called Legend Voices of Rock with Bobby Kimball of Toto, Graham Bonnet of Rainbow etc… and it was cool, but I like doing solo stuff, ‘cause it is more fun. I’ve had a great time and how it was so far? Great! And my wife gets to have her space! (laughs) I joke around a lot, but that’s how we’ve been married for 13 years, because I tell her “I go” and she says “I’ll miss you” and that’s why we survive.
RRM: Your last album with Mr. Big was released in 2011. Do you think you’re gonna write a solo album now?
I’m talking about for years, from ‘90s. To be perfectly honest I have the motivation to do it, but my big thing is Mr. Big and I love writing with Paul Gilbert. He was so fun to write with, he is such a prolific and great songwriter. I wrote the lyrics and the melodies besides him, but… He was so much fun to work with and me by myself I wrote great songs, but it always been for Mr. Big. I wrote my best songs for Mr. Big and I’ve always thought in my head: “Why don’t I write song with Paul Gilbert for my solo album?” but when my children came in 2004 something interrupted my creativity. Mr. Big was not together anymore and my children came and I was like: “oh fuck!”. It wasn’t about me and the music, but it was about kids, taking care of them. I couldn’t balance out and I thought I had a writer block forever. I think this all the time and this is why I play old songs. I just want to do it so bad and I have thousand ideas, but… I would I like to do another acoustic album. My best acoustic album is “Somewhere in the middle”, it was great. So… I think I’ve just said, yes?
RRM: What are your next goals in life as important as in music?
After Mr. Big broke up the first time in 2002 I wanted to open a Chinese restaurant called “Your mama son”, it would be cool, right? But it wouldn’t work out. And then I gave some money to a club. I wanted to put my money for keeping rock alive in my community. Now there are a lot of clubs in my area, in San Francisco Bay area. I don’t know what I want to do. At the beginning of this year I worked out really heavy. I’ve got a trainer and I started to get some kind of definition, which it is important to me because I’ve always had a little beer stomach, and I always want to have a 3 packs. I’ve always wanted to have 6 packs, but even 3 packs would be cool, right? I’m 50 plus, shhh! But yes, I want to keep working out.
In music I want to do another Mr. Big album. It is my big priority in life right now. Paul, Billy, Pat and myself and our manager team, we’re just been talking about it via mail, trying to make time. I’ve always said: “don’t wait too long!”
RRM: What do you remember about your first Italian tour with Aerosmith in 1993?
Oh my God! I’ve a poster in my house. It was awesome. Before we played in Barcelona, Spain, and we were late to the show, because the bus didn’t come to pick us at the airport. The bus finally came and we drove to a big venue. We get there and we thought we was gonna play in acoustic because we were late. Everybody was freaking out and Steven Tyler came towards me and said “Hey, you! You’re a star!” and I almost pissed myself, I was so excited! The gig was so good and Aerosmith kick their sound man out and they got our sound man, Kevin Elson, who produced some Mr. Big records. It was my favorite tour all the time. We played with Scorpions, Rush, Brian Adams, but that one with Aerosmith is my favorite. During the tour we used to play Beatles songs with Aerosmith just to warm up. It was so great Steven Tyler knew my name! Years later Aerosmith and Mr. Big played in Osaka for 44.000 people in 2000. I heard Tyler running and saying: “Where is Eric? Where is Eric?”. He said: “You cut your hair! Why? Your hair was so curly and cool!” Over the years we met each other many times. Once time I was with Denise, my wife, and Tyler was naked! I told him: “you need to put something on” and he grabbed the upholstery off the wall and he put it on around himself. It was an embarrassing situation so I said: “See you later” and he kissed my wife! And then he started to talk again and he kissed her again! And I was like: “Ehy man?” and he said: “Sorry man, your wife has great lips” and he kissed Denise for the third time! So I said: “Ok, you have to go now”. He left us and my wife sangs: “I’ve kissed Steven Tyler!” and we laughed too much.
RRM: How do you usually spend your days off?
Sleeping, playing around the computer and watching movies. I love old movies and one of my favorite is “Casablanca”. I love movies from that genre and period. I spend hours seating in the hotel. I used to go to zoos when I was alone in tour. I was in Spain and I went to a zoo, walking by myself and watching monkeys (laughs). When I was with Mr. Big I used to go to museums and castles with the crew. But when I’m alone now sleeping is the key for a singer.