Reb Beach is an indisputable guitar giant of Hard Rock. His role in Winger alone, cemented this status.
Then, stints with Dokken and Alice Cooper, his long time role with Whitesnake and also the current Black Swan supergroup release, has cast his status firmly in the hardest Metal known to mankind.
With the release of his instrumental solo album ‘A View From The Inside’ today (6 November 2020), Beach has transported us back to the days when the likes of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani dominated our Metal consciousness.
MetalTalk’s Kahmel Farahani recently spoke with Reb, to find out why ‘A View From The Inside’ is good for now (spoiler: Kip Winger said “Do It”), what is happening with Winger (spoiler: Working on new album) and how he feels about being the longest serving Whitesnake member, after Coverdale (Spoiler: Richie Sambora is jealous).
MetalTalk: You are just about to release your new solo album ‘A View From The Inside’ – are you feeling excited?
Reb Beach: “Are you kidding? (laughs). I’ve been waiting for this for ever! I’m so happy I finally had the time to finish it up and get it out there.
“It’s been a long time coming. 1993 was when I made the demos for it and shopped it around and nobody wanted it then.”
Even in that whole Shrapnel records scene of 80’s Shredders?
“Yeah! I played it for Mike Varney and he passed on it, twice! Years later he told me regretted passing on it (laughs).”
Some of the tracks are re-done versions of some very popular pieces like ‘Black Magic’ which opens your new record.
“Yeah! They were redone because they sounded like crap (laughs).
“It was all done on a drum machine and ‘Black Magic’ was the only one that actually got released on a record. I always wanted to redo it with a real drummer and a real bass player and not using an 8-track cassette to record.
“‘Cutting Loose’ is the most commented song I ever wrote and it was on my instructional video called ‘Cutting Loose’, but the song didn’t have a title.
“Fans started emailing me and asking “what is that song on your video? we love that song”. So I redid that one too.
“‘Little Robots’ was the first real fusion song I ever wrote back in 1986. So in ’93 when Winger broke up I thought “Well this 80’s thing is over, what the heck am I going to do now?”
“I figured I could be like a Joe Satriani guy and that will always be cool.
“No record company wanted it, so I just put the demos up on my website and they sold like hotcakes!
“But then I joined Alice Cooper and became a touring musician and whenever I was writing at home it was for a project with a deadline.
“So when COVID-19 hit I was talking to Kip Winger and he asked me “what about that fusion thing you were always working on? Release that!”.
“I thought it was such a great idea.”
Were you surprised when that virtuoso guitarist scene almost vanished overnight in the 90’s?
“Yeah! I was completely surprised. I had to sell my house and all my guitars!
“At the time our next publishing advance meant that Winger were finally going to get paid for the first time. Even though we sold millions of records, someone else always got the money.
“‘Pull’ was the record that we always wanted to make and people were saying it was our best record, so I thought ‘Pull’ was going to be HUGE!
“I was ready so I bought a big house in Florida, then ended up selling it eight months later – it was bad.
“But I was elated when it came back and I have seen people really digging it for the last 20 years or so. For the last 18 years I’ve been with Whitesnake watching people singing all the words and really loving that good time Rock ‘N’ Roll.
“I didn’t understand a lot of that 90’s music. That was just a drag. Like “lets get depressed and bummed out” (laughs).”
When Nirvana and Grunge came along was your reaction like “Oh these guys?”
“Well Nirvana is a bad example, because I thought that guy’s voice was great. I mean their hit single ripped off BOC’s ‘Godzilla’ but! (laughs).
“But he was a great song writer. Some of those other bands were so dark I didn’t get it at all.
“But I got that they were the opposite of what we were – they were not wearing Aquanet in their hair and spandex (laughs).”
Do you have a favourite Winger album or favourite song?
“‘Headed For A Heartbreak’. That song was just a great piece of writing from Kip.
“When we opened for Bon Jovi, I was walking across this big field and suddenly I hear somebody yell “Hey Reb!” So I turn around and theres Richie Sambora walking towards me. I thought “Oh my God! Richie Sambora knows my name!”.
“He came up to me and he said “Man you’re the luckiest guitar player in Rock” and I was like “Why Richie?”. And he says “Because of that solo man, it’s such a long solo on the radio! Have you heard how long my solos are?”. I said “Yeah! They’re short” (laughs).
“That’s what you got with Winger – this amazing guy who is a composer and arranger and then me, this reckless guy who can just spew out guitar riffs all day long. I’m terrible at knowing which one is good and which one is not. But if you have a Kip Winger or a Jeff Pilson to collaborate with, it goes really quickly and you get great music.”
Will there be another Winger album?
“We’re working on it now. We have written eleven songs and thrown away six of them, because Kip has a really high bar on this one.
“Because we’re all old and we want to prove that we are still awesome! (laughs).
“We’re making big pop choruses with progressive Rock riffs. I brought 15 riffs to Kip and he said I want riffs where after the first three chords, I don’t want to know what the next three are going to be.
“They’ll go to Jeff Pilson who will be happy to put them on the next Black Swan record. These songs need a good guitar riff and it all starts with that.”
That’s great news ! Fans and even critics seem to love the last Winger album ‘Better Days Comin”.
“Yeah! That’s my personal least favourite Winger record, even though it’s a good record. I mean it’s hard to listen to a whole Winger record and go “This sucks!” (laughs).
“It’s a pretty darn good band. I think the new record is already better than the last one though and it is only halfway done – it’s going to blow it away.”
Winger did some shows with Kiss on their ‘Hot In the Shade’ tour in the early 90’s – can you give us some stories from that tour?
“Well I saw Kiss when I was 14 years old and I was visiting my brother in New York City. He said “There’s this band called Kiss playing The Garden, do you want to go see them?”
“I was like “aaahhhhh YES!” (laughs).
“It was my second ever concert and that was what really got me into Rock. I was so excited to open for them, but so bummed they had to pick that tour to take the makeup off (laughs).
“Eric Carr was the nicest guy in the band. He would just hang out and talk to everybody. We got to know the guys from Slaughter too. Such great guys and Tim was an amazing guitar player.
“I mean Mark Slaughter sings his ass off and he is a really good guy too.
“The big tour for me was with Cinderella. They were all so cool and we just partied and partied.
“All these beautiful women and I was gorgeous, but I didn’t even know it! (laughs).”
Going into the 90’s you got the gig with Alice Cooper…
“I was really nervous with that one. I didn’t have a penny and I had to borrow 500 dollars from Kip to fly out to the audition. He had heard about it and lent me the money.
“He would call me every day. I would answer the phone with “Hello” and Kip would say “where’s my 500 bucks? (laughs)”.
“So I went to the audition and there about 20 guys there including Warren DeMartini and the only reason I got the gig was because I sang.
“I went right up to the mike and sang ‘Poison!’ and Alice said “You got the gig”. It was such a great experience and Alice Cooper is probably the finest man I have ever met.
“He was like a father to me, taught me to play poker…he is a hell of a great guy.
“He is a teacher and I learned so much about performing. When we would finish a gig the audience were always screaming “More! More! More!” and Alice goes “always leave them wanting more”, which was a good lesson.”
It’s funny because MetalTalk was speaking to Ryan Roxy a few weeks ago…
“Ryan is the best! Love Ryan. We were in the band together.”
Then at the end of the 90’s you joined Dokken after George Lynch left – how was that?
“Well it was definitelly a challenge. I wanted the gig badly and I told Alice Cooper and he was totally cool about it. He said “Alice Cooper is just a stepping stone for great musicians.” So, I joined Dokken and me and Pilson basically wrote that record [‘Erase The Slate’].
“The first show I did with them, the crowd were still expecting George Lynch out there. I will always remember this guy in the front wearing these Air Jordan sneakers. He took them off and threw them at me right in the face! “You suck! Where’s George?” (laughs).
“But by the end of the night I think I had them. I incorporated my own style of playing and it worked out fine. I had a lot of fun playing with Dokken because it turned into ‘The Reb Beach Show’ (laughs).
“Don would be drunk out of his mind, not that I was really sober and he would just walk off and go get a drink at the bar! So, I would end up playing the solo for five minutes.
“People didn’t care, nobody cared! It was a good run with Dokken and we had fun.
“I love that band. I actually did a few socially distanced shows with them again like last month and it was great to see Don again. He has got a great band now too.”
It’s been 18 years since you joined Whitesnake – that makes you the longest serving musician in their history!
“Yeah! I’m the longest serving artist there, besides David Coverdale himself. I feel very honoured.
“Sometimes we will be playing in front of ten thousand people and he will do one of his blood curdling screams and the hairs on my arm stand up. I’ll tell myself “I’m the luckiest guy in the world”.
“Funny thing is I auditioned for Hall & Oats two months before the Whitesnake gig came up!
“I didn’t get that gig because they gave us all chart music and I can’t read music, so there was one chord I was unfamiliar with and I said I’ll just do it by ear.
“So I didn’t get the gig.
“One year later I was in the elevator with those guys from the auditions and they said “Oh God! You are so lucky to be in Whitesnake! Do you know how boring it is to stand there and play ‘Rich Girl’ every night?” (laughs).
“I’m so lucky I get to solo my ass off the with best players.
“Doug looked so cool up there and he is such a strong player with that Joe Perry vibe and then Joel is like a technical precision player. He is like a machine gun of killer notes.
“You can’t go wrong with Tommy Aldridge and of course David Coverdale gives 110% every night.
“Even if he is having an off night, he will just belt it out and people love it.
“It is such an honour to work with a legend like that.”
What was writing the last Whitesnake album ‘Flesh And Blood’ like?
“It was a different experience. David writes differently to anyone else I have ever worked with.
“He is a really good songwriter and he knows what he wants. You can’t just bring in 20 ideas and play him your ideas. You have to pick up an acoustic guitar and play it for him. Everything goes fast with David.
“He has got more energy than anybody I know.
“He will just turn to me and go “Reb Darling, what do you think of ‘Shut Up and Kiss Me’ for a title?” and I’ll go “uhhh yeah! That could be a cool working title”. It turned into the first single.
“It is funny, because I lived with him for almost a year when we were writing and you probably will not find two more opposite people.
“I’m like this beer drinking slob and David is like royalty (laughs).”
What are you plans for the near future?
“Well I’ve been giving a lot of guitar lessons recently. I love it, just not as much as touring.
“I’m not a sit at home guy, I really need to be performing on the road, so I can not wait to get back out there.
“With Winger I am planning to go out in a few weeks and continue writing, hopefully to do something next year.
“David texts us every day and as soon as we can tour he will let us know.
“I’m dying to get out there and I think the fans are dying to see us too.
“I didn’t really know it until COVID-19 hit, but they are like alcoholics (laughs). They need their live shows. So please check out my record!”
Reb Beach – A View From The Inside – is released 6 November on Frontiers Music s.r.l.
Reb will host an online Masterclass, tomorrow (7 November) 12pm PT / 3pm ET / 8pm GMT. You can interact live with him during this exclusive online event. Hosted by Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, you can purchase tickets here.