When I heard Mr. Big was coming to Seoul I thought to myself, didn't they break up a long time ago? They arrived on the music scene in 1989 and I've ne
ver been a huge rock n' roll fan. I only knew of one song "To Be With You", which was #1 in the U.S. for 3 weeks. The next day I went down to the local Tower Records, and to my surprise (Can you picture my face?) they had released 9 albums! 4 live albums and 5-recorded albums.
The ensuing 2 weeks, I spent all my time listening to their music and finding out as much information about each band member. I found myself enjoying their music, and their sound is actually rock n' roll. I don't hear much rock n' roll played anymore. I was anxious to hear them play live and meet them.
Their Press Conference was on a Wednesday afternoon at the Hilton Hotel, and I was looking forward to listening to the other Korean reporter's questions. If you've never been to a Press Conference in Korea then I would suggest that you try and get to one because they are such a treat!! Now, I'm not knocking my Korean colleagues, but they never come prepared with intelligent questions. Now, I'm not the greatest reporter obviously, but I do my research and I try to know every little thing about the artist. Most of the Korean reporters can speak some English, and even if they can't there's usually an interpreter there anyway.
Mr. Big was flying in from Japan, after giving sold out concerts for the past week. I assumed that they would be exhausted, so I only prepared a few questions. When I arrived at the Hilton, there were about 50 people waiting for Mr. Big, everyone wearing his or her little Press Pass, looking more important then the person standing next to them.
They arrived 30 minutes late because of the traffic in Seoul. I wasn't too impressed with them at first glance. They didn't look like rock stars. Eric Martin the lead singer, looked like he should be riding his skateboard into the Press Conference. Very young looking and his clothes resembled a "Skate or Die" look. Pat Torpey the drummer, looked like he just came off of Venice Beach. His sandy blonde hair and T-shirt reminded me of one of the best volleyball players in the world, Karch Kiraly. Billy Sheehan, "The Greatest Bass Player in the World" looked like your average Joe walking down the street, and Richie Kotzen the guitarist, looked so sleepy that his eyes were half open and he looked more Asian then American. This was Mr. Big! I loved it!! There was no big fan fare, or glamour. Just a group of real guys who have incredible talent and the ability to be humble about it.
Each band member introduced themselves to the media and then it was our turn to do the talking, and as usual it was pretty comical to me. When the floor was open for questions, there was complete silence for the next minute. Everyone just sat there! The members of Mr. Big just sat there and looked at each other and waited. They were used to this kind of questioning. Finally, some American reporter spoke up. Now, it was this reporter's first Press Conference. I knew this because he was ALL EXCITED to be there and he was so thrilled to be asking Mr. Big a question. He was acting so cute, like a kid in a candy store. (I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm bashing people, but I thought it was funny and I wanted to pass the story along. If you don't want to hear it, then you can just check out the interview I had with Mr. Big at the bottom of the page). So this guy asks, "Yeah, I'm a real fan of your music and I was wondering how long will your concert be tonight, and are you gonna play all your songs or just some of them, and if you guys have time let's hang out?" I thought to myself, hey I wanted to ask question!!!! So Mr. Big replied, "Actually, our concert is tomorrow night and we'll be playing a wide variety of songs off of all our albums." They were so courteous and professional. I was really impressed! After the American question there was that usual minute delay while everyone decided, "Should I ask a question now or later?" So I jumped in with a question of my own. First, I told Pat Torpey that we were born on the same day, December 13th, and I mentioned to Richie that I was also from Philadelphia. Yeah, I was working the room and they were warming up to me. Now, each member of the band had or has a solo career going on. Eric Martin had the Eric Martin Band before Mr. Big. Billy Sheehan has a real nice secondary band called Niacin, which is going on tour in Japan in a few months. Pat Torpey came out with his solo album last year called "Odd Man Out", and Richie Kotzen has released many solo albums and has a band called SUPER 90. Every member in the band has great vocals and each one is tremendously talented, so I asked, "Is it difficult being in a group than doing a solo project? I mean, being the one in charge gives you the authority to say which direction you want the album to go and what songs you want to put on the album. Does being in a group hamper your creativity? And Pat you did all the singing on your solo album, do you miss singing as much?"
Mr. Big: "Actually, we all support each other. Sometimes it's nice to have so many creative minds working for the same goal, which is to put out the best album for our fans. Working together has been very easy and advantageous.
Pat Torpey: "Everybody in the group sings, so I don't miss being the main vocalist." Then some woman from MTV Korea asked some stupid question. She tried to ask a controversial question, but she misread the article about Mr. Big and they told her she was wrong and she got all embarrassed and I didn't hear any more questions from her. Another woman reporter asked one of the goofiest questions I've ever heard. She said, "Ah, a lot of Korean college students like your music and everybody knows the song "To Be With You". That is a great song. I was wondering do you have any other great songs besides that one?"
I was laughing so hard inside! I couldn't believe she would ask such a question! Mr. Big was also a little surprised and they asked her to repeat the question, so she asked it again. Obviously, they must have been a little annoyed, but they took it in stride and gave her a long list of other "great" songs. In all there were about 15 stupid questions that day and I will not tell you all of them, but I will pass on one more hilarious question. Another woman reporter who might be Korean-American, asked, "Yeah, I'm from America and my friends think Mr. Big is old-fashioned and not interesting. Do you plan to get popular in America again or give a concert there?" HELLO????????!!!!!!!!!!! What is this woman thinking??? She absolutely stunned me! I love Korean Press Conferences because you can hear questions like this!
Mr. Big: "We just finished touring the States this past year and all of our concerts were sold-out."
I wanted to go up to that reporter and say, "Your 8 friends who like The Backstreet Boys don't account for all of America!!!!!!" but I didn't say anything because I know I'll see her at other Press Conferences and I look forward to hearing other wonderful questions!
WOW, I've written a lot, Sorry! The following day I went to the venue a couple hours early to get my private interview with the group. Most of the time Billy Sheehan spoke for the group. He was very articulate and kind.
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