Kip Winger has had an amazing career. He started his career co-writing a song on KIX’s Midnite Dynamite album. The next year Kip Winger would go on record and tour with Alice Cooper before he ventured out on his own and formed his own band Winger. Kip Winger has had a busy year having toured this year behind Winger’s latest album Better days comin’ and having more tour dates as a solo artist. This year Kip Winger will be releasing his debut classical album Conversations With Nijinsky, Ghosts, A Parting Grace coming out on May 27th. I got the opportunity to talk to Kip Winger about the classical album and more.
Angel Alamo: You are releasing your debut classic debut album on May 27, 2016 Conversations With Nijinsky, Ghosts, A Parting Grace How did this album come together?
Kip Winger: I’ve written ten pieces now. After hearing conversations With Nijinsky, Martin West the conductor of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra heard wanted to record it along with the Ballet Ghosts which they had been performing for the last 4 years. We decided to make an album March, 2015. It took a long time for editing and mixing but everything is done now it’s coming out May 27th.
AA: Being a rock n roll musician has it been difficult for classical music community to accept your music?
KW: I’ve been very lucky that a lot of people have taken it very seriously. Some musicians are a little skeptical until they start reading my parts and see that I totally did my homework and that it doesn’t sound like bad Hollywood music, it is very legitimate concert music. I felt as though I did have to prove myself, but for the most part everybody has been supportive. I had a very unusual story that helps in the classical. It’s a bit out of the norm.
AA: You have been studying classical music since you were 16 years old. Does making this record feel like you are coming full circle as a musician?
KW: No it doesn’t. I started very simple guitar but when Winger took off I didn’t have any time to devote to studying music. Then when 80’s came crashing down and popular music was grunge that’s really when I went back to Studying composing music seriously.
AA: In the future will you do more classical music albums?
KW: Yes definitely I already got an outline for another hours worth of music. I have three separate pieces in the works. Once they’re finished I am definitely going to make another record.
AA: You have produced the last three winger albums. Is it challenging making the best record possible without having another person there telling you what songs to go with or what direction?
KW: From the very beginning on the first album I always knew which songs were good. I don’t know I would be a good producer with someone else’s music because I am the type of artist who knows exactly what I am envisioning for my art, probably not the best person to know what someone else would want for themselves. As far as the band Winger goes, It’s not difficult at all because I can see the end result before I begin and if something happens along the way that is better then I use that.
AA: Is there anything you still hope to accomplish?
KW: Only that I want to continue to refine my skills and produce more music. I’ve probably got another album or two winger records in me and maybe another couple of solo records. I am very interested in musical theatre, opera. All the different genre’s I write in seem to balance themselves. It allos me to stay fresh in any given genre I’m working on.
AA: For your 2nd record (In the heart of the young) was there any other album titles that you were considering because on the album cover there is the number II on the cover?
KW: Yes, I guess so, Winger II or In The Heart Of The Young. Reb wanted it to be Winger II and I like ITHOFY so we used both
AA: Does Winger have any leftover songs from previous albums?
KW: We don’t have too many outtakes. I have always used the best material. We don’t have a lot of good unfinished songs. I know within one hour whether a song is going to be good or not. If its not going to be any good I won’t work on it.
AA: What do you remember about recording You Are The Saint I Am The Sinner?
KW: I felt that was a pretty cool riff we have got a lot of mileage from it over the years. It is a very progressive song. We still do parts of it, it’s one of those staples in our live performances.
AA: What songs do the fans seem to talk to you about the most?
KW: Depends on if you are a music fan or if you are a musician. I get asked about winger IV by musicians because it is much more progressive. Fans of the band ask about the hits they like there isn’t one particular song that stands out over the others.
AA: How is your relationship with Reb Beach after 30 years of writing music together?
KW: Better than ever. We get along great we are the best of friends. Everybody in my band is fantastic friends. We love hanging out a lot of laughing we have a great time.
AA: What band do you still hope to go out on the road with?
KW: I don’t listen to rock music these days, though sometimes I will listen to a new stuff if it’s recommended by someone I know well. Mostly I listen and study the classic composers. I am completely in my own bubble and only make records for people that want to listen to them from my point of view. I’m totally out of trying to keep up with anybody or what is going on. What I care about is my music catalog and the new music I write being as good as it can be.
AA: You are being honored this week in Las Vegas at Vegas Rocks Magazine hair metal awards does it still mean something to be honored by your peers?
KW: Absolutely it means a lot.Just because I don’t listen to the records doesn’t mean a) I don’t respect my peers and b) I am not honored by it I am totally honored by it. I respect all of the artists are going to be there. Its great. Take you for example you went to high school and then you went to college right?
KW: So you are not going to go back and relive your sophomore year in college all of the time.You know what I mean you are not going to do it. You might say “oh I remember that teacher that was really cool, I have these friends in college its kind of like my college roommate”. I have a lot of respect for the bands. I like all of the people and I like to hang out its fun I am very honored to be there as far as my personal growth is concerned it doesn’t have much to do with that.
AA: Which winger song was the most difficult to record or you had to rewrite?
KW: There is a lot of them on the latest Winger album Queen Babylon was a very difficult song. I call that “putting up in operating table and trying to bring it back to life”. On my solo album From The Moon To The Soon, I had a lot of trouble with the song Nothing. With Winger there were quite a few songs In my veins was a very difficult song, baptized by fire was very difficult, state of emergency on the first album, living just to die on the IV album. It’s natural for any artist to tell you that. It would not be out of the ordinary.
AA: As a fan I have enjoyed the records especially the last two records Karma and Better Days Comin’ seeing how heavy you have gone.
KW: Thank you. I am hoping one day I will get the time to remix the first two albums because actually there were pretty heavy. The way (Producer) Beau Hill mixed them was a little bit more like the times with the 80’s sound they were actually pretty heavy for example, if I turn up the guitars in the mix a little bit and took off all of the effects and stuff it would very similar to what we are doing now. Pull was really the beginning of where we were able to get our sound really underway the first two albums hit really big but we were just learning who we were but I appreciate you saying that though.
AA: Was Pull the record were as a band you came together and found your niche on what direction you wanted to go for future albums?
KW: That was really when I felt like I presented the band in the way that I wanted it to present it. It wasn’t different from the other things. We just nailed it in the studio with (Producer) Mike Shipley. There’s a lot of great things about the first two records no doubt. The third record is where we really hit our stride. Unfortunately the eighties thing was over and it didn’t sell as many as the first two. That’s why I like to make records with those guys (Winger) because we get better and better. My thing with Reb (Beach) is more natural we just know what we are looking for and we can get to it. Hopefully over time you get better some people don’t push themselves and they stay the same but we try to keep pushing the envelope and improve.
AA: Will Winger be doing anything special the band is planning for 30th anniversary of your debut album?
KW: No we did some stuff for 25th anniversary and that was fun. But past that, no.
AA: What music video was the most fun to make?
KW: Interesting question. Headed For a Heartbreak that was a fun video. We were having a lot of success so we got to do some fun stuff on that. I thought that was a cool video.
AA: Any songwriters would you still hope to work with in the future?
KW: I don’t really do much songwriting anymore unless its with Reb or for my solo albums. I like to work with Reb and beyond that, songwriting is very personal to me. I don’t write songs like “hey lets write a song”. If you’re talking about just jamming, the only person I’d like to jam with that I haven’t yet is Joe Walsh.