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Reb Beach

Just as this year is coming to an end, Guitarist Reb Beach utilized his extraordinary musical abilities to create a masterpiece instrumental album that will bring in the new year on a positive note. A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE, Beach’s first instrumental LP, is a collaboration of various genres, techniques and amazing music. These ten songs truly display the talents of this world re-known musician, whom after being a studio musician in Manhattan, made his global mark in the music industry with his band Winger (Co-founded with Lead Vocalist, Bassist Kip Winger), when their self-titled debut album released in 1988 went platinum and their second LP In the Heart of the Young, released in 1990, followed suit. Over the years Winger has released four more albums while Beach also worked and recorded with several other popular bands and artists, and since 2003, he has been an essential member of David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, releasing four more albums to his credit.

Catching up with Beach just prior to his album A View From The Inside being released on November 6th which followed the release of his first two singles “Infinito 1122” and “Aurora Borealis”, he revealed some details of how he created these new songs, a bit about recording, what he’s being doing with his time during this pandemic, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: Tell me about the new album A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE. What inspired the album? Was there a theme to it?

Reb Beach: Was there a what to it? A theme?

SFL Music: Yes.

Beach: Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no. Yeah, na, it’s instrumental. I don’t think anyway. It’s just me playing. It was in 1993 when Winger and all the ‘80’s bands kind of went down in flames. I was thinking, well maybe I could be like a Joe Satriani kind of guy and do like an instrumental record. This way I won’t need a singer. I can go out, you know, get my own band. Not have to worry about finding a singer (he chuckled). It’s a lot easier and it would be my band. I liked the idea of it, and so I made demos and shopped them everywhere. Mostly Japan, and they said they weren’t interested. They didn’t want anything that didn’t have singing. They wanted something that sounded more like Winger. So, I put the demos up for sale on my website and they started selling, a lot. And they still do on iTunes. It’s called The Fusion Demos and it’s just, kind of you know, me playing along over different cool riffs like a samba or a Latin tune, or just different kinds of styles of music. Funk. It’s not all just, bang your head, rock instrumental because to me that gets boring without a singer. So, I try and keep it as interesting as I can, but that’s how it was born, was that I was thinking maybe I’ll be like a Joe Satriani guy. Then I actually talked to Joe Satriani last year and he said, you know, if you had an album of instrumental music then I could take you out on the G3 tour. So, I said, ooh. Good idea! I’ve been working on this stuff for ten years. Just as a pet project. I had it in my hard drive and it was Kip who reminded me of it too. He said, you know, because I asked him, what do I do with this Covid thing? What are we going to do? He said, do you still have that fusion stuff you were always working on? I said, yeah, it’s sitting on my hard drive. He said, you should release that. So, here we are.

SFL Music: You originally made Cutting Loose and Homegrown (instructional videos) that you have on your website. The songs “Black Magic” and “Cutting Loose” are on the new album. When I interviewed you years ago, and I don’t know if this is like a foresight, but you said you wanted to eventually do an instrumental album. Back then you also made the comment that you want your riffs to make you feel like a James Bond movie. Like leaping between buildings.

Beach: (he laughed) Yeah, that’s kind of in the rock writing world. When I’m writing with Winger, you do want it to be a cool James Bond riff. Those are my favorite ones anyway, but no, I put “Black Magic” and “Cutting Loose” on there because the recordings of those songs sound like shit. They’re really bad. They’re you know, a tiny little drum machine that fits in the palm of your hand and recorded on an 8-track cassette machine 31 years ago. So, I always wanted to re-record those songs. “Black Magic,” they’re still using it in Japan as a bed for the announcers in sporting events. I still get money from “Black Magic” from Japan because they play it all the time over there for like baseball games. You know, when they are announcing the players and stuff, they play “Black Magic” underneath it. So, a lot of people in Japan actually know the song “Black Magic” they just don’t know who it is. They just hear it on T.V.

SFL Music: Back then you also mentioned you wanted to do something with Jazz because you seem very diversified (having worked with various world-famous musicians Fiona, Chaka Khan, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Roger Daltrey, Howard Jones and Twisted Sister).

Beach: I’m not that diversified honestly. There’s not much jazz on the record. To a jazz musician, my record would be very inside. I mean, they would say, well, that’s a rock musician. That’s not a bona fide jazz musician because I only know like three scales. I taught myself how to play. It kind of fits in the jazz fusion realm because it’s not all bang your head rock. You know, there’s all different kinds of styles of music. There’s times when it’s a little bit jazzy like “Attack Of The Massive”. It’s kind of more rock I guess, than anything else.

SFL Music: There’s some funk too, right? There are a couple of songs that sound a little funky, bluesy rock (“Little Robots” and “The Way Home”).

Beach: Yeah. There’s a couple of funk songs. There’s a ballad. It has a wide variety.

SFL Music: The ballad is the “Sea Of Tranquility”?

Beach: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

SFL Music: That is a nice ballad. Tell me about the two songs that are already released. The first single “Infinito 1122”. Where did you get the inspiration for that? Are the numbers angel numbers?

Beach: Yeah, how did you know it was angel numbers?

SFL Music: I just had a feeling. I wasn’t sure. That’s why I wanted to ask you.

Beach: It means changing your life around. It actually means just starting over again, and I love the idea of that and so, if you see those numbers, which I was seeing those numbers a lot. That’s what it means. It means, it’s time to start fresh and I kind of like that idea. Infinito means infinity in Italian. And I love Italy. I want to move to Italy.

SFL Music: Oh, do you?

Beach: Yeah, I do (he laughed).

SFL Music: Is that in your future plans?

Beach: Well, not right now it’s not (he laughed)! It was for a while. Now it’s like, oh geez.

SFL Music: In the video, was the ocean scene shot at a beach nearby in the northeast?

Beach: No, it was done in a beach in Italy.

SFL Music: It is beautiful! Who is playing the drums and the bass with you in the video?

Beach: The drummer, I’ve been associated with him forever because he’s like my favorite drummer. His name’s Dave Throckmorton and he played on Masquerade (Beach’s first solo album, released in 2001) and he plays in my band The Reb Beach Project. The bass player, John Hall didn’t actually play bass on that song. I played bass on that song, which is really funny because in the comments, one guy said, Reb I’m sorry, but this bass player just outshines you totally on this song. I outshined myself because I played bass on it!

SFL Music: That’s funny.

Beach: Yeah.

SFL Music: Where did you shoot the video? Was it like in a warehouse in Pittsburgh?

Beach: It was down the street in a little studio in a church where we record the drums.

SFL Music: Oh, very cool. You’re second single “Aurora Borealis”, is that referring to the Northern Lights?

Beach: No, this song had the worst name ever. It was an Irish Jig. Like I said, this album has a variety of music on it. It’s very listenable. It’s just for John Smith. It’s for Joe Blow, you know. Anybody, I think will find it enjoyable just because it’s very inside music. So, there’s an Irish jig at the beginning with me and Michele Luppi playing piano. We were on the road with Whitesnake and stopped into this church that had a piano in it, and miced it up with a laptop, and he played the beginning and the end of the song. So, the name of the song was “Finnegans Wake” which is just the worst name ever, and I was driving with Rod Morgenstein on a Winger tour. Like in a van driving to the next club, and played to him the song and said, I need a name for this, and he thought for a minute and he said, “Aurora Borealis”. I said, well, it doesn’t remind me of Aurora Borealis. It’s completely not that kind of a song, but I love that name and what the hell! It’s an instrumental song, so I could call it Frank’s Pizza if I wanted to. You know, it doesn’t matter.

SFL Music: It kind of reminded me of that scene though, in sort of the middle of the song where there is a bit of a tempo change and the guitar work becomes more intricate, almost dramatic like the lights would be. Have you seen those lights?

Beach: I have, but kind of from a far, like I wasn’t in the exact right place to be to see them. Yeah, I saw them, but I was really far away from them.

SFL Music: What would you say inspires you when you write your music? Is there anything in particular?

Beach: Just like with writing with Winger and writing with Whitesnake, you need a good riff. You start with a good section. A good compilation of chords that’s good to play guitar over in this case. In Winger and Whitesnake it’s, is it good to sing over? You know, ‘cause some stuff just sucks to sing over and some stuff sucks to play guitar over. So, that’s the thing. I come up with one section that I love to play over and then either that’s a verse or a chorus. So, an intro like “infinito (1122)”, I came up with that intro which is very unique and there’s already people playing it on You Tube, and they’re completely playing it wrong. It’s way cooler than what people think it is. It’s only like one finger on the fret board at any given time in that intro, but that was what inspired it. Like oh, this is a cool riff to start with, and it kind of just inspires the rest of the song. You keep in the same feel and write the pre-chorus and the chorus and it’s kind of the same thing in that you want the verse to be your starting point, and then you want the pre-chorus to build like a building section that has the feeling of somethings coming. And that something should be the chorus. And it should release to the chorus (he said in a dramatic voice). You know, with maybe tension. It’s all about tension and release and keeping a listener involved. So, that’s what’s inspiring to me is if I can come up with a good riff to jam over that I can write the whole song from there, but no, I’m not thinking of you know, love or heartache or anything like that. I’m just playing the guitar (he laughed).

SFL Music: That’s great advice actually. What would you advise an up and coming guitarist or musician?

Beach: Well you know, I think, study arranging and composition because you could be the greatest guitar player in the world, but if your songs suck, then you’re not going to go very far (he chuckled). In this day and age, it’s completely different than when I was up and coming. Young lad in New York City. We didn’t have internet then, or iPhones.

SFL Music: I remember you talking about writing and like others, you had little recorders and kind of worked that way. How has the writing changed with you and Kip? Obviously over the years, the collaboration has gotten even tighter. What would you say has maybe changed over the years?

Beach: Well you know, it took six months to write “Rainbow in the Rose” (In the Heart of the Young). A solid three months anyway because we didn’t have Pro Tools, but now you have a computer that can cut and paste stuff. We actually had to cut the tape with a razor blade back then to edit anything and now It’s like a piece of art. You can just take something out and put it somewhere else with a computer and you can actually write a riff by making the riff backwards with a press of a button. Well, what’s it sound like backwards? That’s even cooler! Let’s make that the riff. It’s like a way bigger pallet to create and it goes a lot quicker, but like right now it’s going slower because our iPhones keep going off. You know, like the texting and everything because Kip has three other things he’s doing right now. So, he has to respond to emails and he has to call the guy back and he has to text people and so, it’s been a little distracting with that, and also Winger has a very high bar. Like in the writing, you know. Kip said to me, I brought him in like 15 riffs and he said, they’re good. I like these two are my favorite. He said, but I’m not interested in a riff where I know what the next chords are going to be. Where I hear three chords and I know what the next chords are going to be. He said, that’s not what I want. I want something fresh. So, we’ve got a very high bar and we’ve written, I don’t know, maybe thirteen songs, and we’re only going to use five of them on the record. So, right now we’re kind of half-way done.

SFL Music: Does the new album have a title yet?

Beach: No. I mean, Kips got a whole book of, he’s got a composition book with titles of songs. Titles of albums. Names of bands. He named Black Swan. It was the name of a song. It was in his song names list, and so I said, I need a name for this band because it’s impossible to come up with a name.

SFL Music: So, the album is going to be coming out sometime next year?

Beach: Yeah, I mean we’re hoping May, but we’re really, like I said, the bar is so high on this one. We want it to be like a Boston. Like the first Boston record or Van Halen one which is like every single song on the album is undeniably a great song with cool progressive licks. Yet it’s totally catchy. It’s not easy to do, but the stuff we have is epic. So, we’re hoping May.

SFL Music: Well, look forward to hearing it. With Black Swan, how did that come about?

Beach: Let’s see. I guess Serafino (Perugino), the guy at Frontiers Records has a relationship with Jeff Pilson. They’ve done a few projects with George Lynch together and stuff, and so Serafino said, hey Jeff, let’s put another project together. Jeff said, I’d love to do something with my dear friend Robin McAuley and those guys have dinner like twice a week. Them and their families are really good friends. And he’s a bad ass singer. So, they were thinking of guitar players and Jeff was on tour with me. Whitesnake was opening for Foreigner. So, he came to me in catering and asked me if I was interested in doing a Frontiers’ project and I jumped at the chance to write with Jeff again because we did Erase the Slate (Dokken album released in 1999) together and that was just a joy. Just writing with Jeff. He’s like a Kip Winger type of musician in that he studied composition and arranging and you know, went to college for it, and he can take my ideas and make a song out of em in minutes. Yeah, but Black Swan was all Winger and Whitesnake ideas that didn’t make it. That got the can. Like I came in with fifty ideas to Jeff and that’s why we were able to write the whole album in ten days because we already had the guitar riffs. That’s the hard part, is coming up with the guitar riff, but that’s one thing I excel at. You know, I’m terrible at everything in life, but I’m really good at writing a guitar riff (he laughed). They spew out of me. I’ll pick up a guitar and stuff just comes out. Like Kip just leaves me to my own devices. He plugs in the guitar, hands me the guitar and goes, go! And walks around the house until I play something that inspires him. That’s the way we’ve always done it.

SFL Music: When you and Kip started the band, when the two of you first met while working with Fiona, you told me that when you were at Berklee (College of Music), you had these riffs and songs in your head, but never really wrote them down and when Kip heard them…

Beach: I had the “Seventeen” riff, but I didn’t even know it was a song. I didn’t know what it was. It just sounded cool to me. It made me feel like I was on a real record or something. So, it was Beau Hill that suggested that me and Kip get together to write because Kip was an arranging genius, and I just played guitar riffs all day that Beau knew were all songs. He said, just get in a room with Kip Winger. I didn’t even like Kip Winger. Yeah, he didn’t like me and I didn’t like him, but Beau threw us in a room together and I could tell Kip didn’t want to do it, and so I played him “Seventeen” and the first thing he said was, that’s a chorus. I said, oh yeah right! That’s a chorus. There’s no way you’re going to sing over that. He said, watch me (he laughed)! He said, now go to the key of A, and need a verse, and he turned on the drum machine and I just started playing, and we had the verse in about five minutes. We wrote “Seventeen”, “Madalaine” and “Time to Surrender” the first day we got together.

SFL Music: Wow!

Beach: Yeah, it was a great match of people. I, after that day thought he was the most amazing person I’ve ever met and I like worshiped him for years, and still kind of do.

SFL Music: You also told me your dad told you to stick with him, right?

Beach: Yeah. He said, that boy’s a shark and you’re Bambi. He said, stick with him.

SFL Music: It seems like your music experience; your education has helped you and now you’re teaching guitar lessons. What is your goal with that?

Beach: To stop teaching (he laughed). That’s my goal. To stop teaching! I mean, I love giving lessons. Totally love it. Yeah, I’ve given I guess about 180, and about 98% of the time it’s just totally joyful. Most of the time we just talk. I have one couple that live in the UK and they just talk. Every week. I’m like Netflix for them, and they drink Guinness, and they just ask me questions about Kip Winger and Don Dokken and David Coverdale and Night Ranger and we just talk and talk and talk, and they love it. I have another student that he’s taken 32 lessons and now I don’t even charge him anymore because like we’re best friends (he chuckled). Like I call him all the time. I love the guy. We became really, like good friends. Yeah, so there’s been just wonderful experiences, and I’ve had a lot of guitar players teach me stuff. Like I didn’t even know a Phrygian scale until I started doing this. So, it’s been wonderful really. I just, I miss being on the road. That’s where I belong. I’m a touring musician, road dog.

SFL Music: Do you have a show coming up or no?

Beach: I mean, technically there’s one in December, but it just hasn’t technically been canceled yet, I’m sure (presently postponed). I mean, things are getting worse everywhere right now and we’re projecting May is when we’re gonna start up again. You know, all of these bands like Lita Ford and Warrant and FireHouse. I’m trying to think of all the bands that just have the same booking agent as us. They’ve all been moved to next summer, so everyone’s starting back up in May. Like Bret Michaels. My booking agent books all those bands and that’s when everything’s supposed to hopefully open back up again. Keep our fingers crossed. So, we have bookings in May, and June, July.

SFL Music: That’s good. Something for fans to look forward to. Are you going to have any more videos or singles released with this album?

Beach: Yeah, they want to release “Cutting Loose” but kind of everybody already knows that song, but this is a different recording of it and there’s actually a solo on it. I put a melody to it. It didn’t have a melody before, so that’s something different, and it sounds eight billion times better than the horrible drum machine recording of 31 years ago. So that’s cool. They’re going to release it though the day the album comes out.

SFL Music: So, it will be released on November 6th when the album (A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE) comes out?

Beach: Yeah.

SFL Music: Are you still cooking and creating recipes? One of your recipes was Chicken Ala Reb. I know this is going back.

Beach: (he laughed) Yeeaah. I haven’t made Chicken Ala Reb in a really long time.

SFL Music: It sounded really good though.

Beach: It is really good and the kids love it, but they all moved out. I make a lot of steak. I love steaks, so I’m always buying steaks and throwing them on the grill. I’m kind of just doing easier stuff now. Throw some meat on the grill and fry up some green beans and garlic. I like those little green beans. Like the French green beans that are kind of thin, you know, classy (he laughed). Stouffer’s Au Gratin potatoes, can’t go wrong. Sometimes, Stouffer’s fettuccini alfredo. So, I’m not like the real cook. I’m doing some frozen vegetable things sometimes.

SFL Music: Are you still a movie buff? (The Karate Kid III soundtrack released in 1989 featured Winger’s “Out for the Count” and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey released in 1991 featured Winger’s “Battle Stations”).

Beach: Yeah. I’m totally a movie buff. There haven’t been any new movies, so you know, I’m going back and like I’ve watched Goliath again on Amazon Prime. You know, just kind of going back and watching the old ones I loved already. Yeah, I’m a huge movie buff, but I’ve just been giving lessons and writing is what I’m doing for now. I mean, I’ve done a few gigs. I did a Reb Beach Project gig a couple Saturdays ago. Outdoors of course. So, that was fun and a lot of people there. I wish they had social distanced a little better, but you know, people are dying to see live shows, that’s for sure.

SFL Music: Were they wearing masks? How did that work?

Beach: Some were. I mean, like I said, it was outdoors and some people were staying away, but there was you know, some drunk people that weren’t. So, maybe I probably shouldn’t have even done the show, but I booked it a long time ago and I figured it was outdoors and people would be wary of that, and I was surprised actually that people weren’t really paying any attention to it, and that’s sort of what’s going on. I mean, I’ve been in the airport and everyone’s got their masks off sitting right next to each other and you know, of course the Trump rallies. There’s three thousand people. They’re almost right next to each other. It’s like oh, we’re screwed (he laughed)! So, it wasn’t just my little show that I saw. I saw it everywhere I go.

SFL Music: Hopefully people get it together so we all can get through this. In the meantime, is there anything else that you wanted fans to know?

Beach: No, just that I’m doing lessons and I have a Master Class on November 7th. Right after my album comes out. Yeah, check out my album.

SFL Music: The album definitely captured your amazing musical abilities. You are right, people are looking for live shows with what has been going on with the pandemic. Hopefully you can get out there and play live soon.

Beach: Yeah. I want to get on a G3 tour with Satch (Satriani) you know, and play that stuff.

SFL Music: He was one of your original inspirations with Steve Morse, right?

Beach: Oh, for sure. Ah yeah. Absolutely. I saw him when Surfing (With The Alien) first came out. I saw him in a little club. Amazing!

SFL Music: Well, we’ll keep an eye open and hopefully you’ll get on that G3 tour also.

Beach: Thanks Lori.

SFL Music: You’re welcome. We’ll look forward to seeing you.
Keep your eyes open SFL Music fans, and in the meantime, treat your ears to A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE which is proving to be another successful Reb Beach record with music that is rockin’, relaxing and a unique pleasure for fans to add to their collection.

Photos by Brian Kaldorf

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