Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Hi Kip its Mark from Myglobalmind.
Kip”How are you man?
I’m good. Winger are just about to release a new album”Better days comin” and I was wondering if you could outline the background to the release. The story behind the songs, so to speak. How they came to be written ,the subject matter of them etc…
Kip”Well the way we do it is the same as we have always done on every album since the very beginning. Reb and I sit down with no preconceived ideas and we just knock out some riffs. We keep the quality control up as high as we can and when we get some riffs that we know that we dig you know then we start from there. The first riff on this album actually was “Midnight Driver”just like on”Karma”the first riff that we finished was “Deal with the devil”A lot of times we will just sit down and be like OK “what’s the first song on this album”?and try to knock it out ,OK what comes next?and we will try to knock it out. Then come back-and just do it like that. There is no big mystery to it,we have been doing it for so long. We are a riff-orientated band ,and we try to make the riffs as good quality as we can. We try to make sure that we see through our own bullshit if we suck. We just do the best job so that we can give people that buy our albums the best quality thing.”
What about the link to ”Deal with the devil”from the Karma release (the opening track on the new album starts with an extract from that track)?
Kip”Yeah that is our nod in honour of Kiss. It is a complete rip off of “Detroit Rock City”We just completely ripped them off, by the way I played it for Bob Ezrin(Kiss producer)and he got a kick out of it and appreciated it. I liked it as an intro to an album basically.”
Just wanted you to take me on a guide through the new release track by track if that’s OK?
Kip”Have you heard it”?
Yes I’ve had it for a few weeks now, and its starting to grow more on me.
Kip”Midnight Driver”was basically …It starts with 2 weird notes which I wrote then Reb came in with the riff over it. That’s just immediately began that. Obviously you know what that song is about. A lot of these songs nowadays if I don’t have an immediate lyrical idea I send them over to Donnie Purnell the guy who was in Kix.Donnie wrote the words to this, I gave him some melodies.The song was finished,I had a bunch of the melodies and we worked out the words and stuff. We clearly knew that that song was going to open the record. This is different from”Karma”because we actually wrote that album in sequence .What’s the second song”Queen Babylon”? A lot of times we will go ”lets write a” Blind revolution mad ”or “Right up ahead”or something like that. So that track was one of those where we were like a”Blind Revolution”kind of thing but a little more dirgy. Actually we were writing a song and it was sucking, it was terrible and so Reb was like”This song sucks we need something like this”and he knocked out this ,he just completely played the”Queen Babylon”riff from beginning to end. It was like”Wow, that is awesome”so he wrote the riff and that was it. He came up with it. Its always a little tricky to make the arrangements special. We worked for a long time trying to get that to work and be special. Honestly that was not very easy,it was kind of difficult. Especially the way that the guitars work on the chorus and stuff. It took quite a long time to make that all work. Finally we wrestled it to the ground and beat it up a little bit. (Kip plays the solo in the background) That’s the token wah wah solo, so that’s pretty much what it is. Reb just completely wrote that riff as he did with the first riff. I mean we write all the stuff together when we get into it, its a complete 50/50 trade off. I usually end up writing the melodies and stuff.
(Kip plays the start of the next album track)
Kip”Oh this is Rat Race”It is a riff that Reb wrote. I rarely like to do songs that “dum dadda dum dadda ….”but I kind of enjoyed and thought that riff was cool. He wrote that riff then I wrote the bridge riff, and then we wrote the gang vocal chorus. It didn’t actually end up being a gang vocal its more a narrative. Its really a song about not being able to get all the shit done that we have nowadays. You sit down and get like ten pounds of shit crammed into like a five pound bag man. So it rocks on. I kind of wanted to approach the first three at least as heavy rockers.”Better days comin”is our answer to “Down incognito”When we finished the whole record we wanted to have a happy “up”song that was along the lines of”Down incognito”. That was a real stoner kind of song, smoke a bowl and knock that out. It all came very naturally, its kind of sarcastic to be honest with you. Its kind of like there is so much bad shit in the world something has got to give here. That is kind of where that song is coming from. My friend suggested that we make that the album title, it seemed to stick.
“Tin Soldier”is our nod to Winger IV which is basically a progressive rock album. We tried to encapsulate a progressive rock song with a memorable melody in a very short amount of time.Its only a four minute toon,taking the best elements of what we all grew up listening to.Progressive rock music and let the musicianship shine a little bit.”Ever wonder”is our token ballad. I usually during the process of our writing will be doodling at a keyboard. Inevitably would come up with an idea for that kind of thing which is a lot like my solo stuff.”
I actually saw your solo show in the Diamond Rock Club in N.Ireland.
Kip”Yeah cool, we are talking about doing that again this year”
That would be great. Next track on the new album is”Ever Wonder”which we were just discussing.
Kip”That is really my own ballad lyrically about betrayal. Betraying the people that you love the most, and I just wanted to create like a certain kind of landscape with that in terms of the way that the song sounded. I think that we got it pretty good, there is a couple of things that I might have changed in there but all in all its representative of what we did. There is a really good guitar solo. I like what it says and it did ok with that. What track is next?
“So Long China”
Kip”That was a song that Reb and I had already written the riff, and we had several bits that we had left unfinished. We sent it to John Roth and he really wanted to work on that one.John and I actually sat down and finished that,which is one of my favourite songs and one of Reb’s favorite tunes as well. Especially that centre section which is like”Green-eyed Lady”it reminds me of that. The melody all kind of came in one day,one of the first times that I have sat down with John Roth and really write a complete tune.”Storm in me”was the same thing it was a riff that Reb and I had left unfinished that John Roth and I finished. I really like”Storm In Me”It doesn’t get a lot of notice, but I think that it is really exemplary of what we do. Narratively speaking it shows kind of the both sides of my schizophrenic personality(laughing).”Be who you are now”is another song by John and I, that we wrote totally from scratch. Marc Hudson from the Hudson brothers actually helped me with the lyrics on that. That is kind of a Beatles throwback track, its a little bit psychedelic sounding and kind of putting solo production elements in it. I think that it lends itself well as an addition to the album. It’s kind of a spacy vibe.” Another beautiful Day”is another track that Reb and I wrote, not really much to say about it-just a heavy track.”Out of this world”was another key track in our writing. When we came across that then we knew that we had something. Featuring the solos of Reb-that are always some of my favourite times when we sit around, record and just get to listen to him play.I guess that’s it…?
Just to finish Kip with a couple of general questions. Looking back on your musical career both with Winger and as a solo artist-any particular stand out highs and lows?
Kip “Well highs that we made it huge right out of the box and lows we got killed by the downfall of the eighties. I have seen everything in my career from the top to the bottom I mean I think more than most people really. We are a very misunderstood band. For me I have just been really interested in music and understanding the function of music. Trying my best to get better, I was never in it just to sell the T-Shirt so to speak.”
Do you feel that it is more difficult to make a living as a musician these days?
Kip”Not for me , it’s not but it is for most people. We got in under the radar at the end of the eighties thing but we still have a decent following and we still sell records. We can still get a lot of gigs and stuff.”
What would you say was your greatest regret, was it with the rise of grunge and the whole changing of the mtv and rock genre?
Kip”No, selling my loft in New York City that was my greatest regret, (laughing) I don’t have any regrets about the bands career I mean I would have liked to have remixed the second album. It was a little too poppy for me.You just kind of do what you do and you try to make shit happen as you can. I don’t really look back and think”oh I fucked that up”I fucked a lot of shit up, but so has everybody else.”
Do you like to discover new musical sounds?
Kip”A lot of people ask me that, and I just basically have to say that I really listen mostly to orchestral music because I write a lot of orchestra music, and work on that kind of thing. When I check out new bands I listen to The Winery Dogs, and stuff that I think could possibly be the new thing. I don’t honestly look at a lot of new shit, when somebody tells me about a great band I will listen to it. There is a lot of good music out there dude so its not like I don’t like anything out there its that there is so much good stuff its hard to keep track of. That’s what I think anyway.”
How is your touring schedule mapped out for Winger? You mentioned earlier a return to the Diamond Rock Club in N.Ireland for a solo show.
Kip”Well we got a whole UK thing happening in June, we are doing Download, and then four shows in the Uk. Then I come back in September, I think I will be playing the Diamond in September again-I’m trying to make a yearly thing out of that. I am always on the road, the band will be in the UK in June.”
Winger played Belfast on the”Karma”tour, any plans to return there with the band?
Kip”Man I would love to come back there. That was one of the greatest crowds but I don’t know honestly. We don’t have any plans as of now but that can change….”
I look forward to catching you again at the Diamond in September, thanks for chatting to me this evening. I know that the last time you played there a friend of mine got up and sang with you. He is a huge fan and that was like a dream come true for him. He would be very excited if you were to make a return
Kip”Oh cool yes we are looking to do that like I say in September”
Thanks for talking to me.
Kip”Awesome man, take it easy.have a nice evening. Bye”