WINGER & WHITESNAKE
It’s Reb Beach
How ya doin?
I’m doing good
How is everything going?
Pretty good. We just had a big storm and I was just outside trying to save a tarp I put over something (laughs) I was chasing it down the street.
Ya I guess the winter is unfortunately here.
I live in Pittsburg and I have no use for the cold. My last name is Beach for a reason. I love the water and one of these days I’m going to move to Ft Lauderdale again.
I’m in eastern Canada.
Wow! Are you getting this storm?
It’s up in Canada, I just don’t know where.
The new cd is quite amazing. Why did it take so long to record a follow up to PULL?
We kind of got the wind knocked out of our sails. I think Winger took the brunt of the Beavis and Butthead thing more than any of the other 80’s bands. At that point we felt that PULL was far our best record and nobody bought it. We were like… what’s the point? (laughs). That’s how I felt about it anyway. So we just figured we’d each go and do our own thing. We ended up doing our own thing for 13 years (laughs). There were a couple of other factors too: Rod’s wife passed away last Xmas, she’d been fighting with cancer for a long time, so Rod had to be home with her. We layed low for years on that. I did some work with Kip on a record called THE MOB, he produced it for me. I think that made us both realize how much we love working together and what a great repore we have with each other. That’s when Kip said let’s look at doing another Winger album.
Did the BEST OF and the Poison tour in 2002 play any role in getting you to that point?
We just had an offer. Someone made us an offer for the Poison tour, and we weren’t doing anything else so we all got together to do that. I don’t know if it had any bearing on us recording a new album. The recording process we do is a lot different than the band jamming. It’s just kind of me and Kip in a room, so when THE MOB thing happened that’s really what sparked it.
Were you in constant contact with Kip during this time?
He’s my best friend. He’s like my soulmate, he’s my rock. Whenever I have a problem in business, I call him, he’s a business man, he’s a cunning guy. I’m just a beer drinking guitar player idiot.
That Poison tour in 2002, in Toronto, was the only time I saw you guys live.
That’s too bad because we had the worst soundman of all time. We were so much better than that. The production manager came up to us toward the end of the tour and said listen I can’t not speak any longer, you guys sound like a record up here on stage and you sound like crap out there in the audience. Your soundman is horrible. Then we asked everyone and they were like your soundman is the worst we’ve ever heard. Too bad because the band is pretty amazing.
I hope to see you guys again sometime.
Yeah, we’re not in Canada, but we’re doing some shows in NYC, upstate New York in February/March.
Are you guys back fulltime now, or is this a one shot?
We’re just promoting this particular record. We’ll see how it does, and if it does ok we’ll continue to do records in the future. Hopefully be able to keep all our other jobs. You know Rob’s a professor at Berklee and I’m doing Whitesnake. As long as I can continue to juggle these two things, I don’t want to quit Whitesnake of course. That’s just a great gig.
How is the Whitesnake thing going?
Well they’re not touring right now. Doug and David are over in Europe promoting the new live record LIVE IN THE SHADOW OF THE BLUES. Then they’re are coming back and going to start writing for a new studio album I’m told. I don’t think anything is in stone yet. I know the fans have been waiting for a full studio album, and getting kind of a taste for new studio tracks on this new live album. I’ve been putting ideas together to send to David and hopefully he’ll use one of them. I don’t know. I’m kind of nervous. Sending him my stuff is like sending him a picture of me naked. It’s embarrassing, but there are some good riffs. I have probably 200 ideas.
Do you think you will be part of the new album, either writing or playing on it?
I play on 2 songs of the 4 studio tracks we did on the live album, but I just did it from my home. I just did some solo’s from where Doug told me to play. I imagine what this deal will be to, unless David is inspired by what I send him and wants to do some kind of writing and then I’ll probably fly out there and finish some songs with him. Depends what he thinks.
What is it like playing in a 2 guitar situation with Doug compared to being a solo player, and when you were in the DOKKEN gig?
It’s completely different. I was in 2 guitar players in Alice so I know the drill. You just have to work things out and Doug really is, he can sound like the guitar player on the “Crying In The Rain” album. I can’t think of his name right now.
Ya Sykes! He sounds like Sykes and I don’t. I can sound like Vai, but Vai didn’t play on a lot of songs. I’m pretty good at the blues, so I got some blues sol’s here and there. Doug gets the big solos because he’s great at that stuff. I’m happy with that. There’s no weirdness there with that. I told David when I first got the gig I’d play behind the amps just so I’d be in Whitesnake. That’s all I really care about.
Like your favourite band?
Not my favourite band, but it’s one of the bandsthat blew me away, I was a kid when that album came out. “Still Of The Night” was the coolest thing I’d ever heard since Led Zeppelin. Just to be part of it, only the best musicians are playing with David, so it’s a real honor.
Does he give you total freedom to play what you want in your solo’s?
Ya. I mean if I’m Steve Vai-ing it out to much or I’m riffing my face off right from the get go on a blues song, then David will come up and say, “Hey dude, lets get back to the basics here mister.” (laughs) He’s old school and likes it a certain way but for the most part he lets me do what I want, as long as I’m not doing something that’s not right for the part.
Did you have that same freedom in Dokken?
It’s nothing like Dokken. Dokken is a free form jam that goes for an hour. Dokken was the Reb Beach show! (laughs) Don would come out with a glass of whiskey and a bottle of wine and sing a couple of verses and leave the stage. (laughs) Go Reb! It’s the same thing with Doug in Dio, it’s just a completely different thing. It’s different music. It’s made for long guitar solos. That’s not what Whitesnake is, Whitesnake is more a musical entity.
Think you’ll ever work with Don in the future?
I’d love to work with Don again. I did an acoustic tour with him and we had a blast. We had so much fun together. He was a pain in the ass in the studio, but touring with Don was always a joy. I’d love to do another thing with Don. I’m doing Winger and Whitesnake now so…. I’d never be able to juggle that around.
Any chance of a live CD or DVD of one of the Reb Beach Project shows?
That’s a great question. No, honestly that’s probably my favourite thing to do, is to play with the Reb Beach Project. Because it’s mine. (laughs) We really get to take it out, we have like 8 minute jams in that band. I would love to record something live with those guys, but when I’m home to put that together is a lot of work for the hundred bucks you make on the gig. You just play little clubs around town and you gotta get everyone’s schedule together. The 2 other guys in the band are booked solid. They’re working all the time, they’re booked every friday and saturday night for the next 6 months. It’s tough to get that together, but I do want to get that together before I die, so one of these days.I do have some recordings, but there when the band was just starting so my voice isn’t as happening. It was a long time ago. It’s not as cool as the band is now.
What about MASQUERADE II?
I’ve been writing for it and right now I’m going to send all those ideas to David, so if he likes any of them then they’ll be on Whitesnake, and if he doesn’t then they’ll be on MASQUERADE II.
MASQUERADE is a great album.
Thank you, thank you very much. I really like the record, I’m really proud of the record. It’s the hardest thing I ever did by far because I wrote it and produced it. From its inception, I did it all and I wanted to do that, and I wanted to have something that I could say if someone wanted to know who’s Reb Beach, what’s he about. I can have an album and say here this is, everything I do on one record. It was tough. A lot of people say I should have had a real singer on there, some killer singer, but singers are a pain in the butt. (laughs) They really are. If you want a guy to sing something, a lot of the times they can’t sing what you want, they choose their own notes. It was so much easier to do it myself.
I think it turned out great.
Thanks. I got to work with Doug Pinnick on THE MOB, that was really cool. That was a big day for me, getting to instruct Doug Pinnick. At one point I said ” Doug do that patened Doug Pinnick scream right here.”, and he was like ” oh YEAHHHHH”. It just blew me away to hear that scream that I had heard when I was a kid, right there in front of me was something else. I’ve had a couple of experiences in my life where I just felt like I was the luckiest guy in the world. That was one of them. The other was when the Bee Gees sang for me. (laughs)
How did that come about?
I played on a Bee Gees record and they flew me out to Florida in the studio, and they put me up in The Doral on the beach. They were all smokin’ weed, came into the studio and didn’t have a vocal track on the song I was playing on, and they wanted me to hear the vocal, so they all got around me in a circle and sang acapella. It was the greatest experience to hear those multi-platinum voices from my past all around me in perfect tune. It was such a cool experience because I had a contact high. (laughs)
How did THE MOB project come about?
Well Frontiers approached me to do a band type record. They had these singers they had in mind and they were all the typical Frontiers singers. At that time they all sounded the same, now Frontiers is signing all kinds of bands. When I did THE MOB the guys they suggested were all great singers, but they all kinda had that 80’s sound and I wanted to do something different. My favourite singer other than Steven Tyler, is Doug. I approached the record company about Doug Pinnick and they said no. I just kept pounding them saying you have to let me use Doug Pinnick. When I got Kip involved, he convinced the label to let me use Doug. I’m glad we did because it turned into a really interesting record. It doesn’t sound like everything else.
Anything else coming from THE MOB in the future?
I doubt it, honestly. As far as I know it didn’t sell that well. It wasn’t very successful. I don’t think they promoted it very well. I doubt they’ll ask me. We had some legal issues at the end there, so I doubt they’re goona do that again. That’s me. That record. THE MOB was my baby and WINGER IV is Kip’s baby. You can really tell. One is straight ahead 3 chord rock, and Winger is very progressive from the mind of a genius.
Kip does come across as a very talented musician and technical person.
That’s it. Not only is he a talented musician, he’s a jack of all trades. He’s a really smart guy, interllectual, tortured. He studies compostion and arranging, he goes to classes and he teaches classes. He studies ballet, carpentry, he builds houses, he’s just an amazing guy. Too bad he still has such a bad rap. Winger is pretty much the worst name in rock.
They just can’t get past the image from the videos.
That is part of the problem with the band. We were 4 good looking guys, with great teeth, who never got into any trouble. We never trashed any hotel rooms and we proffessed to be the greatest musicians on the planet. Ya know we’re studio cats ok? (laughs) That just made us a target.
I was guilty of that until I saw you guys live.
That’s great. I saw a lot of people in the audience even though we had a terrible soundman. It was a great joy for me to see the people with their attitudes right at the beginning of the show. A lot of guys with folded arms just staring at us going “ok these guys are gonna suck.” We did some more of our obscure stuff like “Rainbow In The Rose” I just watched them turn, turn around to their girlfriends and go “this is Winger?” . Every single day this would happen. “This is Winger?” , “there is no way this is Winger!” . The girls would be like “yep this is Kip Winger, definately Winger”. I saw them liking it. We always won the audience over.
I was partially guilty myself.
Ha ha, there ya go.
How did you come about playing on the first Twisted Sister album, LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS?
So Twisted Sister is when I first got started. I got my foot in the door by playing with a girl named Fiona on Atlantic, and Beau Hill was the producer.Beau ended up using me on everything he did after that. It was me and Kip and another guy named David Rosenburg. He called us his A-Team. We played on pretty much everything he did and Twisted was one of them. He needed help specifically finishing his songs. I was good at coming up with riffs, so Beau put me in a room with Dee Snider for 6 months. It was the funniest, I never laughed so hard for so long everyday in my whole life, because Dee Snider is hysterically funny and great to work with, and a super super good singer. He just pegged it everytime. We wrote the songs together; he had the meat and potatoes of them, but I would finish them off and write solo sections and stuff. Then we did the guitar and I helped out and stuff. It’s funny, Jay Jay French would come in and it would take him a while to do a solo, then Beau would have me come in late at night after he had left and go over his parts. I was playing his solos just with a better performance. I saw Jay Jay French a couple of years ago and he goes “Hey you know I finally figured out it wasn’t me on LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS, it was you.” I’m like…. “really??” He’s like “Yeah! It took me a while to figure it out, took me like a year to think… that’s not me .. is it?” (laughs)
That must’ve been a bit of an ego blow to him?
Well it’s his band. He’s the one in charge of that band. He formed it.
Any insight on projects you are working on, or what we can see in the future?
I’m sending all my ideas to David. If there’s something he doesn’t use then that’ll end up being on my next solo record. I’m working on 2 different solo records. One is a follow up to MASQUERADE, and the other one is my dream, and my dream is to go on a G3 tour. That’s really my next goal in life. In order to do that I need an instrumental record, and I think if there are any fans of me, what they want from me is an instrumental record. You can look for either of those 2 things from me. I’m just going to be touring with Winger and Whitesnake in the new year.
Reb Beach & Celtic Bob, Toronto, Ont. 2002
Thanks to Nancy at VQPR for setting up the interview and to Sharkbait for Transcribing