Kip Winger

Tag: Rock
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Kip Winger is a multi-platinum and multi-genre artist. He formed the internationally famous rock band Winger in the late 80s. While still occasionally playing with the old group, he now creates inspired and eclectic solo work ranging from tunes influenced by classic 70s rock to lengthy and complex orchestral pieces. Full Access recently had the opportunity to talk with Winger about his expansive career and current projects.

In between writing, Kip Winger tours constantly. He says, “I have a lot of fun doing my acoustic thing. It’s really a blast. Basically I do it for the fun, and it’s great money. I do it for the fans, you know, to stay connected. If you’ve never seen it before, try to come. It’s really a blast.”

Winger was raised in a very musical home. His parents were jazz musicians and he played in bands with his brothers for years prior to his commercial success. Being a teenage guy obsessed with music, Winger was a huge fan of Alan Parsons (The Beatles, Pink Floyd). When he was about sixteen, he wrote Parsons and sent in a demo tape. Still in disbelief to this day, Winger proudly said, “He actually wrote me back!”

One might consider that correspondence a bit of real-life foreshadowing, because almost thirty years later, Winger received a call from Alan Parsons himself requesting that he sing in his band, the Alan Parsons Project. Winger commented on the experience, saying: “It was bizarre… It was a great honor to be able to sing in his band, to sing those songs and be around him.…Every song was a hit. It was amazing. Super nice guy, too.” Kip admits one regret regarding his work with Parsons, “I ended up getting out of it sooner than I should have, because it was a really fun gig. But my schedule was just too conflicted with the amount of gigs he was doing.”

Before working with the legendary Alan Parsons, Winger worked with another notable Rock ‘N Roll hero: Alice Cooper. A friend of Winger’s happened to be one of the producers working with Cooper on an album. Winger said, “They needed four songs on the Constrictor album, and I wanted to play on that album. I just said to him, ‘If you go on tour, man, please consider me. So they did. It was a lucky break.”

Winger continued to tell Full Access about that time: “I was a waiter before that. I was waiting tables in New York. I had played in bands with my brothers for twelve years. You know, we played clubs and stuff. But I’d never done huge venues. It was instantaneously headline acts. It was good,” he paused, reflected, and then proceeded to say, “It was amazing. I’m very lucky.”

Winger recently worked with Alice Cooper again on his newest album, which is a sequel to the original “Welcome to my Nightmare.” It seems Cooper played an instrumental role in Winger’s life in multiple ways, even helping him get started with his band and helping him name it. Winger spoke of Cooper’s involvement: “He was always really cool about me going off on my own. Everybody in the organization thought I was nuts because I had a great gig, and the chances of making it in your own band are slim-to-none. He was always really encouraging. He thought “Winger” was a good band name. I never thought it was a good band name; I was a bit bummed out about it actually.”

The band’s debut album with Atlantic Records ended up going platinum in the United States after the first six months, and earned gold status in Japan and Canada. Their songs were hits on radio stations and MTV, and had secured places on the charts for the greater part of the late 80s and early 90s.

Winger played many shows for the troops, which inspired him to write several songs for the album IV, which delved into the life, heart and soul of the American soldier. He said, “I had talked to the people and I wanted to portray what I heard from them directly into a few songs.”

The military honored Winger in a surprise ceremony during which Gen. Harold Cross presented him with a plaque and a flag that had been flown during the war in Iraq.

Although Winger is widely known for his work in the world of rock music, his true calling lies in a less-recognized sphere. It began when he was sixteen, with a ballet class. He said: “I was really doing it to be a better performer in a rock band. But I really had a knack for it, so they recruited me into the company (The Colorado Ballet). That’s where I heard a lot of the music—Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky— that really influenced what I’m doing now. I was just drawn to it, really.”

It was the music of the ballet that stirred up a passion and a goal for Winger. He said, “I always knew I was headed to do orchestra music. That was my primary musical goal, it was just a matter of how I was going to get there.”

Not having enough time to go to school for classical music, Winger sought out the best teachers at those schools and found someone who was willing to teach him privately. He stayed involved with the genre ever since, and recently found success with a piece he composed titled “Ghosts.” He told Full Access, “We had a lot of luck with that. We did it with the San Francisco Ballet for two seasons… The greatest, most fulfilling moment of my life was taking a bow after the ballet premiered in San Francisco.”

Winger also has a 20-minute full orchestra piece that he is hoping to get recorded.

Aside from his work in classical music, Winger has released various solo albums. He says, “My solo records are really my take on Peter Gabriel and Sting kind of. It doesn’t sound anything like that, but it’s kind of my version of that filter.” He added that there are some jazz elements in the harmony because his parents played jazz. He said, “It’s really just my take on complex pop music... I was really influenced by all of the 70s bands from Jethro Tull to Lynyrd Skynyrd. So a lot of the back log in my library in my inner ear comes from the 70s.”

Kip Winger has become remarkably successful in the music industry. From his work with the legends, to creating a multi-platinum rock band, to composing beautifully complex pieces of orchestral music, to being honored for writing songs dedicated to the troops, one could say he is a legend himself. He said, “I’ve basically been able to achieve all of my goals; I’m making new ones now. Some of the stuff I’m doing now, I never thought was possible. I’ve had some really highs and some extreme lows. I’ve learned to take it all in stride because I’ve been very lucky, and I’ve also gotten the shit kicked out of me. It’s kind of all the stuff that makes you who you are.”

When Full Access asked Winger what’s next for him, he replied, “I’m just trying to be a better musician. That’s where I’m coming from.”

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