Despite selling millions of records during the 80s hair-metal era, Winger were ultimately derailed both by grunge and the mockery by MTV’s cartoon duo Beavis & Butt-head, and Metallica in their video for Nothing Else Matters.
They reunited in 2001, and now in their thirty-fifth year continue to record and tour. We caught up with bassist/vocalist Kip Winger and guitarist Reb Beach (who also plays with Whitesnake) to talk about their latest studio album Seven, and more.
Seven is a more consistent album than its predecessor, 2014’s Better Days Comin’.
Kip Winger: It’s a stronger Winger record, but we always like to experiment. With this album we’ve reverted to the original logo, and we’ve tried to do something that stayed fresh but returned us to within the lanes of what people know us for.
Proud Desperado, the first single from it, was written with hitmaker Desmond Child.
KW: I ran into Desmond on a Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp, and asked whether he would write some lyrics with me. But we made the record the same way as the first album: Reb and I sat down with a drum machine and I asked him to supply some riffs.
Reb Beach: I think it’s an epic record. It’s really grandiose.
How did keyboard player and guitarist Paul Taylor return to the band, reviving the classic line-up (still augmented by guitarist John Roth)?
KW: I was insistent that Paul should come back. Playing live, I like it more when he’s there. We really need the five-piece band to pull off all the stuff that we want to do.
Reb, with Whitesnake seemingly having to come to an end, the timing is great for you.
RB: Yeah. I’m very lucky to have had Winger in the times when David hasn’t been working. So he’s slowed things down at the right time. Winger has a lot of plans for the next two years.
Do you feel any sense of injustice in opening for the parody-metal band Steel Panther on their May UK tour?
KW: It’s an interesting question. But I’m fine with it. In fact I was the one that texted [Panther vocalist] Michael Starr, saying: “Let’s do some shows.” One day later they made the offer. I don’t have any ego about it. Okay, they’re a spoof band, but we’re the ones they’re spoofing on. At our age we’re happy to be off stage at eight-thirty [both laugh]. The mentality with Winger is: look… we’re like a beaten dog, we’ve had the shit kicked out of us, but we know we’re good musicians.
The proof is your parallel career in classical music which brought a Grammy nomination in 2017.
KW: Yeah. I’m extremely proud of that. It felt very vindicating. I felt like it set the record straight.
Didn’t James Hetfield eventually apologise for the part he played in Winger’s downfall?
KW: James called me about a year and a half ago and he was very sincere. I’m paraphrasing, but he said: “We were dumb kids back then and I’m sorry if we hurt your career.” He’s texted a couple of times since. In another life maybe we could have been good friends.
Seven is out now via Frontiers Records.