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!
Starting out over 40 years ago when they were just kids, Blackwood Creek could hold the record for longest amount of years passed before a reunion. Theirs was longer than even the Eagles. However, it’s a good thing for the fans that the band waited so long to get back together, because it gave one of their members a chance to become famous and form a great hard rock band in Winger. Now known (unofficially) as Kip Winger’s side band, Blackwood Creek is releasing their debut album here in the states on January 12th.
After coming off a great record in Winger’s Karma, it’s questionable whether Kip could put together two great albums in a 6 month span. Well, after listening to the record there’s no doubt that he can. Blackwood Creek rocks! The disc has a little of the new Winger sound, blended with some southern rock (ala Lynyrd Skynyrd). Blackwood Creek combines the high power charges of party rock and roll and mixes them with simple free style guitar riffs, easy steady drum beats, and a lot of fun.
Blackwood Creek opens with Out In Outer Space, which sets the tone immediately and makes you sit up and take notice. After the first spin of this song, you just know there are good things coming. The opening guitar chords and drum beats throw a warning punch, the first verse announces their presence, but the chorus has you hooked. If you’re not singing along to this song by the third listen, you may not be a rock music fan.
Nothing But The Sun continues where Out In Outer Space left off. Kip’s voice sounding bold and clear and the musical melody holding steady with foot tapping, enjoyable rhythms. Love Inspector is a good time party song about babes and beer, something that any healthy male can enjoy and sing along too.
The great songs continue with “Your Revolution”, “Dead Stung”, and “Albatross”, just to name a few.
Kip’s voice continues to have that blend of former Kip Winger and David Coverdale that stood out on Winger’s last CD, Karma, but just as then, he makes it work to his advantage. While he may not be able to hit the high notes of Madeline anymore, he doesn’t need to, because he has great current songs that are well within his range. His grainy, grungy vocals give his new music a rougher age that is very appealing to older music fans. The squeaky clean high vocals of the glam era are gone and the grittier, throaty vocals are fronting the songs now.
Blackwood Creek is amazing in its simplicity. The guitar playing is straight forward, three chord rock. The drums are simple 1-2-3-4 beats, with not a lot of rolls or changes. There are few guitar solos, there are no crazy bass lines, and there’s no screaming or wailing glam metal vocals. And that’s why this record is so amazing. A stripped down, easy feeling, good time, bar band rock and roll. Kip Winger and the band focused on the product (in this case the music as a whole) more than the packaging (glitzy guitar solos or musical tricks). This is down to earth rock for fans that have been musically starved for too long.
Rating: Out of 10
- Out In Outer Space
- Nothing But The Sun
- Your Revolution
- Dead Stung
- After Your Heart
- Jimmy and Georgia
- Rack of Greed
- Love Inspector
- Joy Ride
- Wooden Shoe
Blackwood Creek Is:
Kip Winger – Lead Vocals and Bass Guitar
Nate Winger – Drums
Peter Fletcher – Guitars
Frontiers Records is pleased to announce the release of BLACKWOOD CREEK self titled debut album on December 4th 2009 in Europe and January 12th 2010 in the USA.
BLACKWOOD CREEK is a Kip Winger side project put together with his brother Nate on drums and childhood friend Peter Fletcher on guitar. It all actually started in 1969 in Littleton, Colorado when a 7 year old Kip Winger walked up to Peter Fletcher and said: “Hey, you got big lips, you wanna fight?”. Fletcher then stood up and towered over Winger at which point they started a band instead! They reconvened in the basement of the Wingers house where Kip’s older brother Nate was pounding on the drums. Blackwood Creek was born.
They went on to play every Jr. High and High school and eventually night clubs in their path, performing songs by their favorite bands like Grand Funk, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin and their original songs which they were particularly passionate about, to the point of getting fired from jobs for not playing enough popular material.
In 1980 they went their separate ways. Nate and Fletcher went to Los Angeles, Kip went to New York, where he landed a gig with Alice Cooper and then went on to form Winger. Nate recorded with many bands in L.A. including Ratt, Kix, Europe. Fletcher formed the Pigmy Love Circus, including drummer Danny Carey from Tool.
Blackwood Creek reformed in 2007 to record 11 new songs. It’s obvious that the chemistry is still rock solid. These 11 tracks embody 40 years of blood, sweat and tears of 3 musicians who started out together, went their separate ways and reform on common ground.
“Blackwood Creek” includes: