Ultimate Guitar’s Justin Beckner had a conversation with guitar player Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Racer X), who talked about Van Halen, grunge killed hair metal, and more.
“When Nirvana first came out, it was threatening. The band I was in (Mr. Big) was a big hair band and suddenly nobody in America liked us anymore, so we had to go hide away in Japan. There was probably a little bit of jealousy or fear there. It was like, ‘What happened? We had a career there for a minute!’
But it was hard, having big hair. That’s not an easy thing to do. You should try it sometime If you haven’t already. It took years to have big hair. So to have it not be cool anymore was like, ‘Man, I worked really hard to do this.’ But after a year or so went by, and we didn’t have to have it anymore, it was kind of a relief. I didn’t have to maintain my perm anymore, so that was a nice thing to not have to worry about. So I appreciated Nirvana and all those bands for making it so you don’t have to go cape shopping anymore. That was nice.
I’m into music, I still dress silly every once in a while or try to get glasses that look good, but overall, at the core of it, I was into the music. There was a band that I produced called The Zooters and I think they were kind of into Nirvana so I kind of got it second-hand through them.
Later on, I went and listened to their songs and listened to Nirvana and found out that they got a lot of that stuff from them. So I kind of got it indirectly. In terms of guitar playing, when you’re learning to play and you have your technical heroes, that’s a pretty short window. After that, I don’t really care about technique or tricks or anything like that, I just want it to be good music and they certainly were that.”