Kip Winger: hair-band casualty has new title: composer

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by diego, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. diego

    diego Member

    Messages:
    2,530
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    San Francisco
    "When the grunge thing hit," Kip Winger explains, "it was like all the 1980s bands were gone. Overnight."

    It's a well-referenced piece of musical history. Nirvana's 1991 album "Nevermind" sold 10 million copies, and Winger the band became an oft-used punch line.

    That brutal ending was also the beginning for the artist, who is about to execute one of the all-time improbable musical resurrections. Winger, who spent much of the past 17 years studying classical music composition, on Tuesday will premiere his first symphonic piece with the San Francisco Ballet. He wrote the music for "Ghosts," featuring choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.

    "The universe does amazing things," Winger says. "It took me down on one side, and on the other side it gave me the opportunity to go back and do what I really wanted to do, which was move to Santa Fe, N.M., put up a studio and basically relearn how to write music."

    It's a surreal thought to anyone who remembers Winger for his pretty looks and appearance in glitzy music videos, including "Seventeen" and "Headed for a Heartbreak." But it makes perfect sense to Winger, who fell in love with ballet as a 16-year-old in New York.

    "A girlfriend of mine wanted to do it and none of her girlfriends would take (classes) with her. I was, like, 'I'll go,' " Winger remembers. "I took to it like a duck to water, it was just really cool. ... Then I got a taste for Baroque music and studied classical guitar, and quickly went on to composition. I didn't want to be a player. I was more into writing the music."

    Rock 'n' roll opportunity

    But the opportunities in the mid-1980s were in rock 'n' roll. After a stint as a bass player for Alice Cooper, Winger formed the band Winger in 1987, with guitarists Reb Beach and Lafayette native Paul Taylor. They were quickly swept up in the MTV-fueled hard rock wave, where bands are remembered for their meticulously teased long hair as much as their playing ability.

    Arguably, Winger's band did nothing wrong. The self-titled album released in 1988 had strong musicianship, and the band took chances with each new album. Winger's harder-edged post-Nirvana album, "Pull," has developed cult status among heavy-metal fans.

    But after the genre imploded, Winger was not treated charitably. Mike Judge made fun of the band on "Beavis and Butt-head," and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich used Kip Winger's poster as a dartboard in the band's "Nothing Else Matters" video.

    Winger took a beating, but ultimately calls the experience liberating.
    "I was always more of a music-theory nerd than a rock-star type," he says. "Being a rock star has great perks, but I'm really passionate about knowing music."

    'Hitting the books'

    After the band broke up in 1993, Winger moved to New Mexico and "started hitting the books." He worked one on one with University of New Mexico music Professor Richard Hermann, and later in Tennessee with Vanderbilt Professor Michael Kurek - replacing his verse-chorus-verse rock mentality with more complicated concepts, such as post-tonal chromaticism.

    A few years ago, Winger felt confident enough to write a symphonic movement and sent it through a mutual friend to Wheeldon, a young British choreographer known for taking risks.

    It sat on his desk ("I didn't really know who Kip Winger was," Wheeldon says) until they met in person in London. Wheeldon listened to the music, then asked Winger to write some more. "It had a great atmosphere, really interesting rhythmic changes," Wheeldon says. "The only problem was it was too short. Six minutes, maybe."

    Winger admits to letting out a high-pitched rock 'n' roll "Yeeeeeah" upon hearing the news. Then he went back to work, spending the next couple of months finishing "Ghosts," gathering the best musicians he could find and sending the recording to Wheeldon.

    'I loved it'

    "There was a little note on the box also that said 'Dear Chris, This is for you. Love, Kip,' " Wheeldon remembers. "I thought maybe it would be a computerized MIDI recording, but he had pulled together an orchestra. It was finished. And I loved it, I absolutely loved it."

    When Wheeldon received a commission to choreograph a short piece for the San Francisco Ballet, Winger's music seemed like a perfect fit. "Ghosts" gets its world premiere Tuesday, on a mixed bill with two other performances.

    Winger says he's "blown away" by Wheeldon's choreography, and both men are hopeful that Winger will cause some rock fans to discover the ballet.

    "He totally hit the mark," Winger says. "It's exactly the antithesis of the stodgy ballet. It's extremely cutting-edge, very skillfully handled movement of the human body."

    Winger, who will be in the War Memorial Opera House for the premiere, still occasionally writes and tours with his old band, which reunited in 2003 and released new albums in 2006 and 2009. He's also working on another symphonic piece, hoping to build a body of work.

    Mostly, he's enjoying the fact that the onetime hair-band casualty has a new title: composer.

    "It's one of those things, like the day I got a record deal, or the day I found out I was going to be in Alice Cooper's band," Winger says. "It's one of those things, except this was more fantastical. ... Listen, dude, I got turned down by every record company in business, and then I got shut off MTV because 'you suck.' But every once in a while all the stars align, and you pull your arrow back from your bow, and you hit the bull's-eye."

    Ghosts: Premieres Tues. on a mixed bill with "Opus 19/The Dreamer" and "Company B." Through Feb. 20. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F.


    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/04/DDPC1BQTKM.DTL&type=movies
     
  2. fretless

    fretless Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,031
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Great for him. Really SHOCKED to read this. Not trying to be contrite in any way, or insulting to any Winger fans but I never thought that guy had any talent to speak of. Good for him for not only proving me wrong but making me eat my words. I'm man enough to admit it when I'm wrong.
     
  3. LHanson

    LHanson Member

    Messages:
    7,458
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Location:
    Houston
    I always liked Winger. Granted, he was a bit of a pretty boy, but he also had a great voice, and the band was high on the talent scale.

    Life isn't Beavis & Butthead. Just because a joke is funny doesn't make it true. OTOH, I have to admit that maybe Mike Judge might have invented them after he met me and my friend DuRon (we never actually met, AFAIK, but we were in the same area of the country at the same time, and he might have observed us at some point). I was a Butthead template.
     
  4. Peppy

    Peppy Member

    Messages:
    6,260
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Location:
    Mesa, Arizona
    Good for you to admit such. I knew when Winger formed that Kip Winger had talent. Main reason? His drummer was Rod Morgenstein.
     
  5. Axemeister

    Axemeister Member

    Messages:
    2,135
    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2003
    Location:
    La La Land, CA.
    I agree.

    It was not a good thing to be a pretty boy and have MTV videos tailored towards that sort of cheesey stuff.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2010
  6. Melodic Dreamer

    Melodic Dreamer Member

    Messages:
    5,845
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    His solo cd's are awesome! I think the dude sounds very well in the prog genre.
     
  7. fierce_carrot

    fierce_carrot Member

    Messages:
    1,690
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    Location:
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Winger was easily one of the best bands of the 80's.
     
  8. Dickie Fredericks

    Dickie Fredericks Member

    Messages:
    10,302
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sorry Lance - Global Warming Enthusiast!
    People bagged on Winger but 17 is a kille tune. The guy can sing.

    I think its great and proves that indeed Kip Winger is a MUSICIAN and not an 80's prop.

    Kudos to him... we should all be folowing our love of music and the desire to continue our education.
     
  9. arthur rotfeld

    arthur rotfeld Member

    Messages:
    7,046
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    Location:
    white plains, ny
    He studied with one of my composition teachers, who had great things to say about Winger's analysis of classical works.
     
  10. RocksOff

    RocksOff Member

    Messages:
    7,474
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2009
    Well... I don't know about Kip Winger.... but you should definitely protect your chicken from Don Dokken!


    http://www.youtube.com/v/r4K1i2EvQeY&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/r4K1i2EvQeY&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="560" height="340"></embed></object>" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="350">
     
  11. Rob Sharer

    Rob Sharer Muso-Luthier

    Messages:
    2,824
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    Location:
    NC
    It's amazing...you can find depth in the most unexpected places. Good man, Kip.


    Rob
     
  12. MuseCafeChris

    MuseCafeChris Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,831
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago/NW Indiana
    It was a good thing for his loins and bank account, I'm sure.

    Musicians should have been able to recognize the guy's talent back then, both by his associations with Morgenstein and Beach, and simple comparisons to the likes of Poison and Warrant. Casual fans, not so much.
     
  13. Baba

    Baba Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,471
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Location:
    Marlton, NJ
    I've been a Winger fan since day 1 and never stopped. Kip's solo cd's are the farthest things from 80's hair metal, they are pretty deep musically and lyrically, and Winger put out their 4th cd a few years back, and their 5th cd last fall, both are VERY good.

    If I'm not mistaken Reb lives in Nashville and did or does do studio work, not always heavy rock either. These guys are all multi-talented.

    It's a shame that most folks stop at "Seventeen" and think they know what Winger is all about.
     
  14. panoramic

    panoramic Member

    Messages:
    1,005
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2008
    Location:
    Baltimore, Md.
    every rose has it's thorn.
     
  15. kurtsstuff

    kurtsstuff Member

    Messages:
    2,354
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Location:
    Lincoln City,Oregon
    Winger the band was/is a great and very talented band and most just didn't get it. They were a kind of "Super group" from their inception. Reb Beach is a very multi faceted player and basically a humble and very nice guy. The whole band had mad skillzz...
     
  16. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

    Messages:
    865
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2003
    Location:
    DFW
    Good for Kip. Glad that he's still enjoying music and not trying to rehash the old days.
     
  17. SgtThump

    SgtThump Member

    Messages:
    6,927
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2004
    Location:
    St Louis, Missouri
    Really? That band was DEFINITELY one of the more talented bands in that genre. They reunite every-so-often and hit the road to this day. I saw them earlier this decade and was actually floored by the talent.
     
  18. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

    Messages:
    865
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2003
    Location:
    DFW
    Look at it this way - Rod Morgenstein can play with pretty much whoever he wants. He isn't going to waste time playing with a bunch of losers. I've never seen the band live but I'm sure they have more than enough chops, especially considering the genre.
     
  19. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

    Messages:
    16,946
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I don't know his credits or education but I found an old VHS tape with Winger vids and a mini documentary thing. He wrote the orchestra score for the intro to Madeline and seemed very knowledgeable about the subject.
     
  20. Neer

    Neer Member

    Messages:
    12,131
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    Location:
    NJ
    I studied a little with Edgar Grana, who was Winger's composition teacher. Evidently he was one of his star pupils.
     

Share This Page