KIP WINGER DISCUSSES SONGWRITING AND THE NEW WINGER ALBUM, “BETTER DAYS COMIN”
Greg Prato of Songfacts spoke with Winger frontman Kip Winger about songwriting, the music business, and the stories behind some of his band’s biggest hits. Excerpts appear below.
Songfacts: Let’s start by discussing Winger’s new album, Better Days Comin’.
Kip Winger: I’m terrible with coming out with some kind of thing that I’m going to say for the album. I just write – we write the exact same way we’ve always written since the ’80s: Set up a drum machine, write some riffs, and once we get the stuff the kind of quality we want riff-wise, then we start to shape the arrangements.
This album has a mixture of a little bit of everything that people know us for on it, so for me it’s one of the quintessential records that we’ve done – there’s something for everybody that is into us on this album. But it’s not diverse to a fault. It’s got a lot of the different types of things that we do on it. And I think it’s sonically one of our best albums. We’re all pretty happy with it. Not just because it’s our new record – when I came out with my second record, there’s tons of stuff I would have changed, so it doesn’t always go well.
Songfacts: Is it primarily still you and Reb doing the majority of the songwriting and collaboration?
Kip Winger: Yeah. That’s the sound of the band for Winger records. I have three different things I do: solo records, classical music, and the band. And the sound of Winger is when Reb plays guitar and I play bass and we write from that perspective. We wrote 80 percent of the material, and then John Roth had a couple of tracks on there. If I’m doing a Winger album, that’s pretty much the way I have to do it or else it really won’t even sound like us.
Songfacts: How was it collaborating with Alice Cooper on songs like Roses on White Lace and also Prince of Darkness?
Kip Winger: We never collaborated in a room together. I did those with Kane. We just wrote some ideas and Alice probably wrote over them, which is the way a lot of stuff goes on nowadays. So I really wouldn’t know, honestly speaking. But he’s a great lyricist. He’s got a lot of great ideas, and he’s incredible. I can’t say that I’ve sat in a room with him and written a tune, but I have seen it back in the day. You know, he’s the same as everyone else: You sit around and wrack your brain until you come up with something that you dig.
I think you could ask any songwriter in the world, “What’s your songwriting process like?” and they would all say the same thing: You sit around and wrack your brain until you come up with an idea that you like. Whether you’re playing a piano, guitar, just singing in your head, writing lyrics, it’s all just the creative process. We’re all the same, right? So the creative process tends to be the same in general for a lot of people. I think the variable is that people have different voodoo and superstitions about how they’re going to conjure up the spirit, so to speak. But in the end, man, you’re just kind of pounding out to find a good idea.
Songfacts: What do you remember about the writing and recording of the song Madalaine?
Kip Winger: Have you ever heard the Winger Demo Anthology?
Songfacts: No, I haven’t.
Kip Winger: The Demo Anthology is the demos of all those songs, which shows you the original songs, which, when you hear the album there’s really not much different about it. But Madalaine was one where it was much slower. It was a lot slower, actually.
So, we wrote that song and it was kind of slow, and then when we went in the studio, one of the suggestions that Beau Hill made was to speed up that song. So when we sped it up, it came to life.
That was the first song that Reb and I wrote where people around us were, like, “Wow, this is a single.” And I was thinking, “This is a single? What’s a single?” I totally didn’t get it. So I have to say I’ve been very naïve in my career. I’m kind of a late bloomer when it comes to understanding the function of marketing and all that kind of stuff. I just did the music and then all the other shit kind of came alongside of it, which wasn’t always to my benefit.
But that song was real slow, we sped it up, it came to life. I think it’s one of our cooler songs. It’s still a chick song, but it’s got a cool riff that Reb wrote and still rocks. But it’s very cocky.
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John Roth is a hidden star!! Lays down an incredible rhythm section. Amazing singer and an amazing talent.
Kharma was a stellar release,killer songs on there.
I thought Karma was absolutely phenomenal, however everything I’ve heard from the new album seems to be very bland and uninspiring. I think frontiers records has a way of funneling unique bands into generalized cliché post-80s hard rock. Winger, Sebastian Bach, tesla, whitesnake, they just don’t sound like themselves anymore.
Nick, totally disagree. Better Days is better than Karma. Give it a few spins. It’s one of the best Hard Rock albums of the year. Musicianship wise, there are not many bands out there that can stack up with these guys.
You’re right Robbie. Kharma was the best record Winger has recorded since Pull. Better Days Comin’ is a really good record but Kharma’s got it beat in my opinion. Glad to see they’re performing the entire first Winger record live from front to back at some of their shows on their recent tour. This tour is supposed to be recorded and put on DVD soon, at least the live tracks from the first Winger album. Can’t wait!
Very good album. Album of the year so far in my opinion.