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Kip Winger – Vocals and Bass for Winger

Date: 4/17/14
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. The new Winger album, “Better Days Comin”, has ten songs that sound if they could fit somewhere on the first three albums. Tell us about a couple of these songs and the different sides to Winger.

KIP: That’s interesting and cool you think they could fit on the first three albums. We came off “Karma”, you have to go back to Winger “IV”, and at the time I was doing some real interesting music study, stuff a little out of the norm for Winger and got mostly interest from musicians. So I went to Reb and asked him what he wanted to do next, and he said “I just wanna be Van Halen”, and we knocked out “Karma”. After that we thought we had nothing to prove so stuck with quality control, wrote ‘Midnight Driver’, ‘Rat Race’, ‘Queen Babylon’, and it started to develop from there. Then the ‘Ever Wonder’ keyboard idea came to me and it shaped up from that. We are a riff oriented band. Making sure the melodies are on the money, because I’m pretty hard on myself and don’t like to publish crappy stuff, and I don’t believe all the ideas I have are great. Once the album started to come into focus, we wanted to write a new ‘Down Incognito’, so that’s where ‘Better Days Comin’ came from. So people get it, some people don’t. Like the guy from Classic Rock Magazine said “You have three great songs and then it’s the Doobie Brothers”, and I’m like “you don’t get it, man”. We like to have some range with our music, and always have, we do our thing.

2. Why call the album “Better Days Comin”?

KIP: Simply cause a friend heard the tune and said it was a good name for the album. So I went with it.

3. Do you know why this album sounds more like classic Winger than “IV” and “Karma”?

KIP: That’s interesting man, cause I write a song and try to bring it to its highest fruition. This collection of songs just so happened to get into the vibe again. If I was to write a rock opera or something I’d write things differently. The only thing that happened here was to write songs that flowed together, not too many ballads. There are traditional trademarks for Winger, the long drawn out guitar solo at the end of an album, a couple ballads, and a few rockers, a proggy track.

4. I cant believe I have to ask this question, 20 years after the Winger debut, but do you think Winger is still perceived as one dimensional, made up of pop metal singles and ballads?

KIP: Well by a certain group of people, absolutely. A lot of people get it, we are the most misunderstood band of the genre. And if people don’t get it its their own ignorance. I mean, back in the day fashion wise I was watchin MTV goin “ok, there’s Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, I guess that’s what people wear”, didn’t think about that end. For me, it was designed by the music and arrangement, how parts worked together. That’s still my focus. Back then, I didn’t get it and was naïve to the presentation and went with the flow. But if you listen to some of our music back then we did some different things. And what’s great is today when younger fans come to the shows they don’t even know about that Beavis and Butthead crap, or don’t know of it.

5. When critics review your music, are they still ignorant and think you write nothing more than a “Seventeen”, or realize there are other bullets in the barrel?

KIP: The thing is that song was so huge at the time there’s almost no way to overcome it, unless I had a reality show that became bigger than Duck Dynasty or something.

6. Are you still celebrating the anniversary of the debut by playing it live? If not, will you still keep ‘Poison Angel’ and ‘Time To Surrender’ in the set?

KIP: No, we did that last year. That was fun. I will put those requests in to the band because those are two songs I really like to do.

7. How many new songs are you adding to the set?

KIP: Right now we are just breaking in the new stuff, ‘Rat Race’, ‘Midnight Driver’, workin in ‘Tin Soldier’, ‘Queen Babylon’. Then we do ‘Deal With The Devil’, ‘Stone Cold Killer’, ‘Pull Me Under’. We actually don’t do anything from “IV” because some of it is so difficult and nobody knows the music we are kinda like “whatever”.

8. There are a couple I’d like to hear. Curious if you would add them for this tour at some point?

a. ‘No Man’s Land:
KIP: We use to do it on the “Pull” tour, it won’t be in this time. But I like it.
b. ‘Battle Stations’.
KIP: That’s one I keep talkin the band into learning cause we never did that one live.
c. ‘Hell To Pay’
KIP: Never did it. You do know that middle section has all the Metallica song titles in it? (Kip starts singing…) “ It's sad but true, you tread on me, as if nothing else matters my friend of misery, You're struggle within, Is that you believe you're holier than, the god that failed you. And when you finally find what you're after is when you're servant becomes your master. Don't you know there'll be hell to pay. Better tone down. What goes around comes around.”… hahaha, that was my fuck you to Lars. Especially when I have Rod in my band. So funny. I don’t know those guys or ill will towards them, but it was a natural reaction at the time. And they became exactly what they were despising at one time.

9. There is some pro shot footage of Winger in Japan from 1991. Will that come out on DVD?

KIP: I only have half the show and audio and I’m trying to find the rest.

10. Is it hard today making a living playing this kind of music?

KIP: Yeah it is, for anybody. I still do ok. You have to keep playing live because nobody pays for music anymore, they are gonna download it for free somewhere.

11. Any new hard rock or metal you are listening to?

KIP: I don’t listen too much, but I like the Winery Dogs cause they are my buds. I study so much classical music I’m always thinking about how that stuff is arranged.

12. Speaking of classical music, I know you are a writer and composer, what else are you working on outside of Winger?

KIP: Do you know Jake Shimabukuro? A ukulele virtuoso and composer. I’m writing him a piece of music for orchestra right now, it’s a bizarre project for such a tiny instrument, he’s a fucking genius. I’m also collecting songs for my next solo album, and I just sent a letter to my record company that I’d like to start work on the next Winger album sooner than later, because we aren’t gonna be doing this forever. Maybe a double album next, a rock side and a prog side. I’m writing some new classical stuff, but it’s a hard world to break into because of my rock background. But I’ve studied with some pretty powerful composers, I know what I’m doing. Seems like my life is overcoming prejudice. But people like yourself have really saved us (Winger), people that know the difference, and weren’t afraid to carry the banner in the dark times, brought us out of the shadows. I appreciate that. Thanks.

13. Have you ever been asked to work with the Trans Siberian Orchestra?

KIP: I don’t know if I’d be interested, its not real classical music. It’s like heavy metal music with a few strings. Not really what I do which is more concert music.

Official website: http://www.wingertheband.com


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