Michelle LaRose talks with Reb Beach of Whitesnake and Winger for Southbound Beat Magazine
Photographs by Michelle LaRose
Reb Beach divides his time playing guitar for both Winger and Whitesnake. You may also recall having seen this guitar virtuoso playing with Alice Cooper and Dokken.
We were able to chat with Reb about Winger, Whitesnake and his solo work.
SBM: It must be hard to divide your time between the two bands let alone your solo work and personal life. How do you deal with it?
Reb: Well, so far I’ve been lucky that Winger has booked stuff when Whitesnake isn’t doing anything. Whitesnake tours on average three or four months out of the year. So there is plenty of time for Winger to do stuff or to do my solo stuff or write another record or whatever. But Whitesnake is my main gig so I juggle everything around Whitesnake.
SBM: Let’s talk about both bands starting with Winger. Can you tell us a bit about the new Winger album, Winger IV?
Reb: Sure, it’s a little different than what we normally do. It’s more with the times a little bit. We kinda’ did all the Poison Angel and Seventeen and songs like that. It’s like we’re all in our forty’s now. Kip did a lot of touring in army bases with an acoustic and he really got to know a lot of these guys that are out there so he dedicated half the record to our enlisted men and women and wrote a lot about that. You’ll really have to ask him about it [laughing]. I guess a lot of songs are from a G.I.’s point of view. He did a lot of research and really wanted to dedicate it to the troops. So we did that which is cool. It’s a really heavy album. If you ever hear the album I did with Kip called The Mob, that’s more like me. The Winger album is much more Kip. It’s really much more progressive and it’s kinda’ eerie like Kip’s solo stuff but it sounds like Winger because whenever you stick me and Kip in a room it sounds like Winger!
SBM: Like you were saying Winger IV is very focused on the current military activity. Have you guys received any heat for approaching such a hot topic?
Reb: Actually all we’ve got is accolades. It’s been really, really good. A lot of army bases have contacted Kip’s management saying that they wanted him to come and play and they ordered a bunch of records, it’s really cool.
SBM: Can you tell us a bit about the Winger Demo Anthology that was just released four days ago?
Reb: I didn’t know that it was released! [Both laughing] I’ve got all those demos on cassette sitting right in front of me in my studio. I haven’t actually heard what songs he picked to go on there.
SMB: So it is what it is, it’s demos.
Reb: Oh yeah its demos from when we were kids. When I first met Kip we didn’t really get along that well. But then we became friends and eventually became roommates. We had never written together and the producer said “You know what, you guys should write together because Kip you’re like this genius progressive guy and Reb you’re just this gifted natural guitarist who can come up with riffs.” Because before me Kip’s music was complicated and he’d been trying to get signed for a really long time. But it was like he needed a natural guy in there and that was me. So we got together in a room and wrote Madalaine, Seventeen, and Time To Surrender in one day. I felt like I had just met Paul McCartney! Like I had just written with Paul McCartney because Kip was just so great at arranging. He just took my ideas and I didn’t even know they were songs. Seventeen was just a riff I use to play and he said, “That’s a song! That’s a chord!” And I’m like, “Really? I thought it was just a guitar riff.” We were defiantly a writing team.
SBM: Now for Whitesnake. How did you land the Whitesnake gig?
Reb: I wanted it badly and there are only so many guys like me. When a gig opens up for an 80’s band I think I’m one of the names that comes up. I mean who else? [Laughing] You know? There’s me and like four other guys. So when I heard that Whitesnake needed someone I put together a package and contacted everyone I knew in L.A. to try and get a contact for David Coverdale. And I did.
SMB: So you went for it and you got it. That is so cool.
Reb: It was tough; there were a lot of guys wanting it. I was lucky and I got it. I got it for the same reason I get all the gigs I get, because of my voice. Because I can sing. I have a strong voice and I’m not a lead singer, I’m more like a background singer.
SBM: Whitesnake’s latest release Live In The Shadow Of The Blues has four new studio tracks on it. Why were studio tracks put on a live album?
Reb: You got me. [Both laughing] That’s all Doug and David. Doug is the music director; they’re kind of a team. They just call me when they need something. Although I sent in twenty ideas to David for a new studio album. I don’t know if he’s going to use them. If he doesn’t use them it will be my next project, maybe a new Mob record.
SBM: That was going to be my next question, are there plans for a new Whitesnake studio album?
Reb: David asked me to send him stuff so I sat down for about a month and just wrote ideas and I sent them off to him and I’m just waiting to see which ones he likes. So if he doesn’t use it, it will be something else. I didn’t write those four studio songs on the album that was all Doug and David. Part of the reason I wanted to join Whitesnake is because I wanted to write a song for David Coverdale. I wrote some stuff and I know there are a couple really good ideas in there. He may email me that he likes some of the stuff so we just need to get together in a room and pound it out.
SMB: When might we see this new studio album?
Reb: They’re saying they want to get a chunk of it done now. David is taking time off this summer because apparently he had trouble booking this summer. I think all the bands booked their gigs early. When Whitesnake went to book stuff there was nothing available. So this is a lot of free time and I just sent off all my ideas to David so we’ll see. I would think by the end of the year.
SMB: You’ll have an album out by the end of the year probably, and then we’ll see Whitesnake out on tour again right?
Reb: I wouldn’t doubt it. Whitesnake does really well in Europe so we spend a lot of time going over there.
SMB: I hear that from a lot of bands, it’s better in Europe is what everybody is saying.
Reb: We play House of Blues here and over there Def Leppard opens for us! [Both laughing] It’s like 30,000 people!
Reb: It sold pretty well; it sold better than the record company thought. The record company hated the record. The singers the record company has are not like Doug Pinnick. They have Journey style singers. They wanted me to do that kind of record with that kind of singer and I wanted something unique. I didn’t want to be like everyone else and one of my favorite all time singers is Doug Pinnick. So I got them to do it and it came out really good. Like I said it took me six months to write that record. I needed Kip’s help and Kip really helped me with it. I wrote all the verses, choruses, outros, and intros. Kip just put them all together; he’s really, really good at that. You get a really good feel for who I am and who did this if you compare The Mob to the Winger record. I’m just meat and potatoes! [Both laughing] Three chorus’s and he’s like this genius guy.
SMB: Is The Mob still together per say?
Reb: The Mob was never a band; we’ve never been together. Did we ever do a photo shoot together? I don’t remember. Kelly did the drums in his house. I did the guitar at Kip’s. I think and Doug came in for three days and sang and that was it.
SMB: That’s too bad. That would be killer if you guys could go out on the road as The Mob.
Reb: You know what? The Mob would be a really great live band. Because of the vocals, there are four strong singers. That would be really, really great!
SMB: So you don’t know that you’d ever consider that?
Reb: Well I just got asked to do a new Mob record, but now it’s a matter of us getting everyone scheduled together. Because I’m leaving in August, I’ll be gone for five or six months with Whitesnake. But I’m writing for it now that’s what I’m doing. That’s what I’ve been doing with my days now is trying to write a new Mob record.
SBM: We hear you’re currently working on your second solo album. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Reb: It’s really hard because if I sit down and write something it’s like, is that The Mob or is that my new solo album? [Both laughing] It’s kinda’ hard for me. I’m better when I have my Kip Winger by my side because he’s so good at that. He’s really focused and always knows what to do. I’ll write something that sounds like Christina Aguilera [both laughing] and then five minutes later something else will come out that sounds like Led Zeppelin. But as far as a new solo record for me, I have so many ideas floating around. I need someone to make me an offer for that so I can focus more. Just like someone just offered me to do a new Mob record so that’s what I’m focusing on. But I’ve got a lot of ideas and they’re always coming out of me.
SMB: I heard your solo album Masquerade on MySpace. That smoked so hard I was on the floor!
Reb: Thanks! That is defiantly the hardest thing I ever did. That was the one thing I wanted to do before I died, was to make a solo record and make everything myself. Even though I don’t consider myself a lead singer it’s a really good record it’s really advanced. My band is here in town, I have a local band and they’re the best musicians ever. The drummer on that album is probably the best drummer I’ve ever worked with.
SMB: So your solo record is on the back burner because you’re trying to get a Mob album done?
Reb: Yeah, because The Mob sold a lot more records than Masquerade. I don’t know if I would do another album with me singing. It was really hard to sing that stuff for me.
SBM: Reb, thank you so much for speaking with Southbound Beat Magazine today.
Reb: Okay! Talk to you soon.