Winger: Cartoon Whipping Boys And AOR Heroes

Mocked by the British media (who dubbed him a 'blow-dried Bee Gee'), the Beavis & Butt-head cartoon series (which featured a drippy character called Stuart who wore a Winger T-shirt) and Metallica (who threw darts at a poster of him in the video for Nothing Else Matters), Kip Winger has nevertheless sold more than four million records.

When the ex-ballet dancer and former Alice Cooper bassist became a pin-up and appeared in Playgirl (admittedly clothed) during the late 80s, he sighed: “Maybe I should take an ice pick to my face. I can’t change how I look”.

After Winger’s 1993 swansong Pull, Kip proved his musical value to those who were still listening with several accomplished solo records. His band Winger reunited for an album, IV, in 2006.

fter recording a new song for The Very Best Of Winger in 2001, and North American shows with Poison and Cinderella the following year, Winger vanished again. On what basis are you back together now?

Oh, man, I just woke up one day and heard this record in my head. Reb [Beach, guitarist] had a window in his gig with Whitesnake, so we went ahead and made it.

We’re putting as much touring together as possible to see if we can spark some life back into it.

**Firefest is Winger’s only British show this year (2006), but are there plans to play more here later? **

Definitely. My musician friends tell me that Firefest is the best gig for us to play [in Britain], but if it turns out there’s still an audience for what we do then I can definitely see more English gigs happening next year.

you optimistic about Winger’s future?

[Laughs] I’m so glad that you said that.Journalists always seem to say: ‘It’s coming back’. But it probably isn’t. It’ll come back in one form or another, but I don’t see it returning to its former glory.

Picking up where Pull left off, _IV _takes some digesting. Dark, heavier than expected in places and semi-prog in feel, it’s hardly party rock.

The party rock thing happened on my second record [1990’s In The Heart Of The Young]. We probably made it too big with the debut, and Atlantic Records pressurised us into coming up with a lot more hits. So we became known for being this party rock band, which is a drag as that’s so not where I come from. I wanted this new record to fit what’s going on now, but also hold our sound together.

Your solo work is so different. How easy is it for you to switch back into Winger mode?

Actually it was really easy. I don’t want to sound like a pompous asshole, but I’ve been studying composition with an amazing guy called Michael Kurek, which has re-orientated the way I write music.

You’ve previously expressed bitterness about how Beavis & Butt-head and Metallica affected your career. Are you over it now?

It’s ancient history. If I could change time and make it all go away, I’d obviously do so. But you can’t stay bummed about those things. And, oddly enough, the feedback that the new record’s getting suggests that Winger are starting to be respected.

This was published in Classic Rock issue 99

Reb Beach celebrates his birthday on August 31

Since this was published, Winger have released two more studio albums

Read more about Winger’s feud with Beavis & Butt-head here

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.