2009 was a pretty good year for Kip Winger. He released not one, but two great CDs with Blackwood Creek and Winger’s Karma, he was honored by the U.S. Government, and recently had one of his compositions performed by the Tucson Symphony. Kip took a few minutes to talk with Hard Rock Hideout about his current projects, as well as little of the history of his music career. Enjoy!
HRH: I recently listened to the Blackwood Creek CD, and thought it had a very cool 70’s kind of vibe to it.. What you can you tell us about your band Blackwood Creek.
Kip Winger: That is exactly it. We were together in the 70’s. When we got back together to jam, it sounds like the 70’s basically. My oldest brother Paul was in and out of the band. The main guitar player was Peter Fletcher. He was my first song writing partner. We just got back together. We were really just going to jam, but some of the stuff came out really cool, so I decided to finish making the album. It has an updated feel, but it sounds a lot like what we used to sound like when we were playing Grand Funk and stuff. We worked on it on for a while in the off time of Winger. I thought it sounded unique enough and the chemistry was still there to do the record.
HRH: Are you going to play live with Blackwood Creek?
Kip Winger: We don’t know what our touring schedule is. We have to work around Winger. We are trying to figure that out right now. We will probably play at some point.
HRH: Let me ask you a couple of questions about your new CD Karma. This record seems much heavier than the previous Winger albums. Was it your intention to record a heavier record?
Kip Winger: It is actually the same as all of our other records. I just turned the guitars up basically. Honestly, Reb and I take the same approach on everything we do. We write riff oriented tunes. If you listen to any of them, you will hear a guitar riff, we will write the melody over them. I recorded the guitars a little bit different this time. I really wanted to crank them in the mix and give them more of an edge. I think this is what is working in our favor for the heavier kind of vibe. It seems like a moot point, but I used a different microphone on my voice that I nomally use. It has a much grittier sound to it. I really was happy with the way it came out. This album and Pull is really what the band sounds like. If you go see us live, it really sounds a lot like Karma. I was really wanting to do an up tempo heavy record for us to play live. A lot of our songs are in the mid tempo range, and doesn’t rock the house as much as I would have liked. Now we can do four of five tunes from the new record. It is a much more up set, and it really is more representative of who we are as a live band.
HRH: I noticed that PJ had some song writing credits on both the Karma and Blackwood Creek albums. What was the song writing process like for the records?
Kip Winger: It is really simple. If I am stuck for lyrics, I will hand it to my wife and ask her to finish the songs from me. She is an amazing song writer. She knows the exact elements I need to finish a song. She wrote “Supernova”. I will handle her the lyrics when I am stumped. I passed out the lyrics to a few guys on this. Donnie Purnell from Kix, and Bobby Huff is a song writer here in Nashville, and is really talented. I think the result is really good. I think it is the best elements of the band combined. I think in many ways it is our best album just in terms of who we really are. We have had a lot of songs that I am really proud of. I think people forget that we have written a lot of decent songs.
HRH: How did Reb Beach have time to do this album with all of the time he spent in Whitesnake in 2008 – 2009?
Kip Winger: We wrote the ten songs in ten days. Reb came back to do rhythms, and then came back to do solos. Reb spent about a month on it. It took me about eight months to finish it.
HRH: What are your touring plans for the album?
Kip Winger: Yeah, we just got back from Europe. We are going back in March. We are hoping to get some summer stuff happening in the States soon.
HRH: I noticed on your touring schedule that your music”Ghosts” is going to be performed by the San Francisco Ballet in February. What can you tell me about that?
Kip Winger: I have been working on classical music my whole life and finally wrote a big piece of music. It was performed by the Tucson Symphony last month and now. The premiere will be in February, and their will be seven performances of that. You can see it on the website at SanFrancisco Ballet.org.
HRH: You have to be pretty excited about that.
Kip Winger: This is the hugest thing in my life. I have been working on that for years. I am really excited about it.
HRH: I watched the trailer for the movie Four Months, and I immediately recognized your voice in the song they are playing on the trailer.
Kip Winger: Yeah, I don’t really have anything to do with that movie. They are using “Nothing” (from Kip’s solo album, From The Moon To the Sun) on the trailer. They bought the rights to use the song in the movie. It looks cool.
HRH: Back in February you were honored by the U.S. Government with a plaque and a flag for your song “Blue Suede Shoes”. What is your feeling about that? That had to be a pretty incredible experience.
Kip Winger: It was absolutely amazing. I was initially writing it from the idea of a soldiers perspective. Blue Suede Shoes is a song why someone would enlist. Not the stupid version, the real heartfelt version of why. Certain people who I have talked to applying it on a military basis over the years have talked to me about their experience. I did a TV show called Legends & Lyrics, and they presented that to me on that show. It was a great honor and very humbling.
HRH: Do you feel like this was a little vindication against all of the people that were targeting Winger in the 90’s? It seems like Winger was the butt of a bunch of bad jokes., from the Beavis & Butthead show etc. This seems to have taken you full circle.
Kip Winger: Music was always the thing that I was concentrating doing the best job I could do. The Beavis & Butthead show & Metallica, they all took the first punch. Whatever. I have never met any of them. My whole world has been to write better music. Having a ballet done by the San Francisco ballet, or getting an award by the U.S. Government, I guess yes it is vindicating. It is all a by product of me trying to do what I do best, which is write music. I am not writing music to sell a t-shirt, I am writing music to write the best music I can write. What I do for myself is to try do the highest art I can do. I don’t dig the name slagging and cutting other bands down. That happened to us for whatever reason. You just deal with it. People have asked me that for twenty years. Someone should call Mike Judge and ask him why (laughs).
HRH: I have to ask you about your time with Alice Cooper. What was that experience like to go out with Alice on tour and to play on his records so early in your career?
Kip Winger: That was a dream come true as a kid. I was a big Alice Cooper fan, huge actually. I was really lucky to get that gig. That was really special. I learned a lot from him. He is an amazing celebrity. He is more than a rockstar. He has this whole world un to himself. For me I was 24, I was a waiter before that. I was very lucky. Right place at the right time. You have to give credit where credit is due. Kane Roberts was very influential in me getting that gig. I still talk to Kane a lot. I haven’t talked to Alice in a while.
HRH: What has Kane Roberts been up to? He has been out the music business for a while.
Kip Winger: He does a lot of different stuff. He is a computer artist. He has written a couple of screen plays. He is an incredibly talented dude. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met.
HRH: A few years ago you produced the album for The Mob that Reb Beach played on.
Kip Winger: Yeah, that was a fun project. They brought me in to help finish the album for them. There is some great music on that album. Dug Pinnick, he is a great singer, I love him.
HRH: Is The Mob something that you and Reb would like to revisit sometime?
Kip Winger: The record company is begging us to do another one, but I don’t think it will happen any time soon.
HRH: Where is the best place for your fans to find your new Winger and Blackwood Creek albums?
Kip Winger: 400 Best Buys just picked it up, you can also download it off of iTunes.
HRH: Thank you for taking the time out to do this interview.
Kip Winger: Thank You!