In a new interview with Shawn Ratches of Laughingmonkeymusic, MR. BIG singer Eric Martin spoke about the band’s upcoming tenth studio album, “Ten”, which will be released on July 12 via Frontiers Music Srl. The LP features 11 new original tracks written by Martin and guitarist Paul Gilbert, along with André Pessis and Tony Fanucchi. In a tribute to their late drummer Pat Torpey, Martin, Gilbert and bassist Billy Sheehan have enlisted the exceptional talents of Nick D’Virgilio on drums for “Ten”, which was produced by Jay Ruston and MR. BIG.

Paul and I wrote the majority of the record last November,” Eric said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET. “We came off the road. I live in Marin County, San Francisco, and I flew to Portland. And it was about maybe three weeks and I’d come home on the weekends. And we wrote from scratch; we wrote all these songs. And I’m just sitting there playing acoustic guitar and he’s playing acoustic or electric and we just kind of write these songs. And I’m singing it really low, and the keys were a little low. And I was hoping that maybe we’d put the key up a little bit… It’s not that I’m comfortable in that range like I used to be, but it definitely cuts through on a vocal. But he didn’t do that at all. He just made it exactly how we wrote it, in lower keys. I wish we didn’t do that. But in a way, you hear that sort of — what do they call it? — mature voice. I mean, it’s more my speaking voice. I have this gravel kind of tone. I’ve had it for years. And it kind of comes across on the record.”

Elaborating on the songwriting process for “Ten”, Eric said: “On this album, there was pre-production. Me and Paul wrote the songs. We demoed them together. And we just had so much fun writing and recording and even hanging out. I mean, I’ll tell you, I don’t know — for 30-something years. I mean, our music’s been around for 35 years. We haven’t been together in the same room for more than 20-something. And back in the day, I’ve had great conversations with Paul. I’ve written a lot of songs with him in the past. But when we were on the tour bus, he’s got the headphones on. He listened to some music. This is way before he was teaching. I mean, he just kind of lived in his own little world. And I lived at my refrigerator, drinking wine with Billy (Sheehan, bass) or something and just talking about the show and (being) Mr. Party here, I guess, back in the day and just more — I was out there. But Paul was pretty quiet and reserved. And I never really talked to him. I mean, we wrote songs together, but I didn’t know him. I knew him as a bandmember and doing radio together and performances and all that, but I didn’t know his life. So when we were writing this record in November, I stayed at this Airbnb, like a couple of streets down from his house. And then I woke up in the morning and I had coffee with his wife and their son. A Japanese family. You take your shoes off before you go into the house and into the recording studio. And she’d make Japanese food. I mean, it was really, really cool and comfortable. And I talked to Paul and we had great conversations. It felt good.”

Martin added: “Out of a lot of the albums we’ve done, I’ve enjoyed this the most since I don’t remember — since our first and second albums. We had so much fun just talking about anything in life. And I’m telling him about my life and he’s, like, ‘I had no idea.’ It was really, really sweet.”

MR. BIG recently completed the European leg of “The BIG Finish”, which sees the veteran band performing MR. BIG‘s 1991 album, “Lean Into It”, in full, along with other cuts from the group’s history.

Regarding how the farewell tour has been going so far, Martin told Radioactive MikeZ, host of the 96.7 KCAL-FM program “Wired In The Empire”: “It’s been a bro love fest… Everybody loves each other. We’re going out on top.

“I don’t wanna tour like we’re touring now,” he explained. “I’m okay with it ’cause I’ve had a couple of weeks break to just chill out, rest the larynx, have a couple of beers and just hang out with my family. And I’m raring to go. We’re going to South America, doing the West Coast USA, and I’m looking forward to it. But, man, this is a long-ass tour. It started last year in Asia. Then I did some solo things where I went to Japan, and then I came home and sang the 10 songs or 11 songs that are on the new studio album. But I don’t wanna tour like this.”

“He added: “We’re touring all the way up to August 23rd, I think. And then right after that, I got other projects, but no more MR. BIG. No more MR. BIG touring-wise.”

Regarding the possibility of MR. BIG still making new music after the completion of the farewell tour, Eric said: “Everybody was saying, ‘Hey, we could still continue to make records.’ I’m, like, ‘Yeah, that would be fun.’ Well, the record was hard to put together because of everybody’s scheduling, but it came together pretty quickly. The thing that took the longest was the album cover. Nobody could agree on it. It was ridiculous. I mean, our creative juices were poured out long time ago for any kind of artwork. And Paul Gilbert is kind of a cartoon artist, and I asked him, I go, ‘Just draw pictures of us in cartoon form and we’ll give it a name.’ We couldn’t even think of a name. Anyway, that took the longest. So hopefully we’ll do another record, but I don’t know. The album cover thing was painful.”

When MR. BIG announced “The BIG Finish” tour last year, the bandmembers said that it was “time to mark the end of this chapter of their legacy” after Torpey lost his battle with Parkinson’s disease in 2018. The first leg kicked off in Japan and Southeast Asia in July and August 2023, where the band performed for hundreds of thousands of loyal fans at 11 sold-out shows including Budokan in Tokyo, Japan.

D’Virgilio will miss most of the final European leg of the band’s “The BIG Finish” tour due to his commitments with his band BIG BIG TRAIN. He will be temporarily replaced on the trek by Edu Cominato, an experienced drummer from São Paulo, Brazil who has previously played with Sheehan and Martin, Jeff Scott Soto and Geoff Tate (QUEENSRŸCHE),among others.

As a session musician and touring artist, Nick has worked with many different kinds of artists and bands, from TEARS FOR FEARS, Sheryl Crow and Kevin Gilbert to Peter Gabriel and Eric Burdon and the ANIMALS. In 1996, Nick took Phil Collins‘s place in GENESIS and played on their “Calling All Stations” album. He has also carved out a major presence in the progressive rock world with his bands, SPOCK’S BEARD and BIG BIG TRAIN.

Before joining the Sweetwater team, Nick spent almost five years touring with Cirque Du Soleil‘s “Totem” as drummer, vocalist, and assistant bandleader.

Photo credit: Joel Barrios / Photography That Rocks