INTERVIEW WITH WHITESNAKE, WINGER AND BLACK SWAN GUITARIST REB BEACH
Date: November 13, 2020
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda
Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography (first, fourth and seventh photos), Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography (third photo)
You know Reb Beach. Reb Beach has a new solo album titled ‘A View From The Inside’ on Frontiers Records released on November 6th, 2020. Reb Beach spoke with Sleaze Roxx on November 13th, 2020 to plug the album. We love Reb Beach. We talked and stuff. Enjoy the interview.
Sleaze Roxx: If you’re going to release a solo album, this is the year to do it.
Reb Beach: Oh yeah, with all the downtime, it’s good timing. I have been hearing from people that the album is uplifting which is great to hear.
Sleaze Roxx: One of the things that could be hard for fans to digest are instrumental albums, if that isn’t what you’re used to listening to. It’s always great when you come across an album like ‘A View From The Inside,’ that guitar enthusiasts can get into as well.
Reb Beach: Thank you. That’s nice to hear. I have read a couple of reviews where the reviewers have said something like, “This album is only for fans of jazz-fusion.” I disagree. There’s barely any jazz on the record! I’m not a jazz player at all!
Sleaze Roxx: How long have you been sitting on some of these tunes?
Reb Beach: “Little Robots” was one of the first ones that I wrote in 1986. “Black Magic” was written for the Guitar World compilation in 1989. “Cutting Loose” was written for my instructional video also in 1989, but it was never properly recorded. People would say from time to time, “Hey what’s the name of that song on your instructional video?” I would tell people, “It doesn’t have a name. It’s just a jam.” It was on the video and everyone that heard it seemed to love it. I had to recut it.
Reb Beach‘s “Cutting Loose” single:
Sleaze Roxx: “Black Magic” kicks off the record but nothing was used from the original version from 1989, right?
Reb Beach: Yeah, the original version was recorded by me in a room the size of a closet [laughs]! It was just me and the drum machine, me playing bass and guitar of course, but overall it was horrible, horrible quality. So on this, it’s my drummer David Throckmorton and my bass player Phillip Bynoe. I even got David Coverdale to say “Black Magic” in the middle of it [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: So the oldest song on here is “Little Robots” which goes back to 1986?
Reb Beach: Yeah, that was the first instrumental song that I ever wrote. I always loved that melody. Actually, the song on my album ‘Masquerade’ that came out in 2003 that I sang on, there’s a song on there called “Get Out And Walk.” That song has the same melody as “Little Robots.” There’s been a few reviews that caught that. There have been a couple of reviewers that noticed that the melody was the same and they’ve said stuff like “Little Robots” is an updated version of “Get Up And Walk.” I never figured that “Little Robots” would ever get released, so I stole the melody when I was working on “Get Up And Walk” [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: Was “Aurora Borealis” inspired by the Northern Lights?
Reb Beach: You know, that song was originally called “Finnegan’s Wake” but I thought that was one of the stupidest names ever. I asked Rod Morgenstein to take a listen and tell me if he could think of a better name than “Finnegan’s Wake” and he instantly said “Aurora Borealis.” God knows why he said that. I think the songs make you feel like an Irish jig or something? “Aurora Borealis” didn’t come to mind to me, but it did to the mind of Rod Morgenstein. It’s a better name I think. It was the last song that I named.
Reb Beach‘s “Aurora Borealis” video:
Sleaze Roxx: You’re promoting the album by doing interviews and getting the word out. I assume you want to take this to the stage at some point?
Reb Beach: I would love to get on one of those tours. I was talking to Joe Satriani last year. I went to one of his shows and we talked for about 20 minutes. He’s such a nice guy. He said, “Hey listen, if you get an instrumental record, we can get you out on one of these tours.” I said,”Funny you mention that, I’m actually almost finished with my instrumental record.” He said, “Okay get it to me as soon as it’s done.” So I got it to him last week. We’ll see what happens. I’d love to do something like that, time willing and I’m able to do it given my commitment to Winger.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you ‘cringe’ when someone refers to you as a ‘shredder?’
Reb Beach: When I think ‘shredder’, I think of someone like Yngwie Malmsteen. I certainly don’t consider myself as a ‘shredder’ but I know a lot of people do. I guess they needed some easy name to refer to this style of play and that was it [laughs]! I guess it beats someone saying, “That guy [laughs]!” I guess it helped that when I came out in 1989, I did the fast stuff and did those breaks, on “Seventeen.” That really helped my career for sure. I don’t have a problem with it.
Winger‘s “Seventeen” video:
Sleaze Roxx: I have to ask you about your solo on “Headed For A Heartbreak.” That solo is amazing. How did you come up with that?
Reb Beach: It was just improv. If you were to listen to the demo, it’s the same as the middle solo, because it’s just such a great melody. I’m good over slow stuff, slow, meandering stuff. I love playing over ballads. First of all, it’s a really well written song. Kip Winger is brilliant. That song really set Winger apart, I think. I think back to Ritchie Sambora, when I first met him. I couldn’t believe that he knew my name. I remember he was walking through this giant field when we were opening for them. I remember he yelled, “Reb!” I was like “Wow!” That’s Ritchie Sambora and he knows my name? He said,”Dude, you’re the luckiest guy in rock!” I said, “Why is that?!” He said, “Man, have you heard the length of my solos? You have the longest solo on radio right now. It’s long, dude [laughs]!” I was really fortunate. That’s my second favorite solo. My first favorite solo is on the song called “Witness” on the ‘Karma’ record. We actually had to recreate “Headed For A Heartbreak.” It was many years later and I was many years older. I tried and tried and it just wasn’t working. I went to lunch to take a break and came back and the next take I did I got it. I love it even more than the solo on “Headed For A Heartbreak.”
Sleaze Roxx: You thoughts on the ‘Pull’ recording getting a second wind? I know after the wave of Seattle bands worked their course, people rediscovered the ‘Pull’ album. That’s got to be gratifying that people went back and listened to the album.
Reb Beach: That’s the one that every single musician seems to think is the record. They’ll say “Hey Reb, ‘Pull’ — that’s the record.” I’m not kidding you, there are times that I get texts and emails from people and they’ll say, “Dude, ‘Pull’ [laughs].” It’s unreal. I meet people all the time, while on the road and they’ll say, “Dude, I dig Winger, but ‘Pull’ [is] by far your best record.” It’s usually musicians, but obviously there’s other people that really love that record. We had a $300,000 dollar budget for that one! We worked with Mike Shipley who did ‘Back In Black’ and he was Mutt Lange’s engineer. He’s the reason why that album sounds amazing. It was all recorded on reel to reel! There was like 96 tracks of digital tape! It was a great, great, great record.
Sleaze Roxx: You stepped into Night Ranger for a couple of years when Jeff Watson departed.
Reb Beach: It was a year and a half or so. I loved my time in Night Ranger. I have always been such a big fan. What a great time. I got along so well with Brad [Gillis]. It was a great honor, because I learned how to play the whammy bar from Brad Gillis [laughs]! One of the first videos on MTV was “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.” I rushed right out and bought a whammy bar after I saw that [laughs]! It was great playing in Night Ranger.
Sleaze Roxx: You also put together the band The Mob together. You had Kip on board as well as [Dug] Pinnick. How did that come to be?
Reb Beach: Frontiers [Records] approached me about doing a ‘super group.’ They wanted me to use one of those singers with the really high voices. You know the ones. The guys from Sweden or something. I didn’t want to do that. I had all of these songs that I had written. They weren’t quite done yet. I went to Kip and I said, “I have like ten song ideas, but I need help to finish them.” So Kip went in and helped me finish them and then I had the idea of using Dug Pinnick, because he was one of my favorite singers. The label wasn’t too happy about it because it wasn’t what they had envisioned. It’s Dug’s huge, incredible voice over very straightforward music. It’s not like King’s X at all. King’s X is just way ‘progressive.’ There are people that got it and there’s been many people that have been calling for a second record.
Sleaze Roxx: So does it interest you at all to do another record?
Reb Beach: Yeah, but like with this instrumental record, it would be way back on the back burner. We’re right in the middle of Winger right now. So my priority is going to be the next Winger record and then once we’re all clear to tour, we’re going to be gone, baby [laughs]! We have been looking at going to Europe and Japan.
Sleaze Roxx: One thing that I really appreciated when you joined Dokken was that you didn’t try to play like George Lynch and you did it in your own style. You recorded [the albums] ‘Erase The Slate’ and the ‘Live From The Sun’ [with Dokken].
Reb Beach: I had a great time in Dokken. When I played George’s songs, I tried to play the exact same notes that he played. I tried to get as close as I could to his notes as possible, but it just doesn’t sound like him, because it was me. I just don’t do what he does so I just did it my way. Dokken was really fun. It was a big freaking party! There was no management. It was do whatever you want! Drink as much as you want. Just show up on time [laughs]! Don was totally ‘hammered’ at the time, he would leave the stage in the middle of the song and go take a leak [laughs]! I would get these opportunities to improvise and jam. Jeff [Pilson] and Mick [Brown] didn’t care if they played along. It was like the ‘Reb Beach Hour’ so I had a lot of fun [laughs].
Dokken‘s “Erase The Slate” live video (from Live From The Sun live album):
Sleaze Roxx: You’re in Whitesnake. I’m thrilled that you’ve taken a bigger role in the band. What a great gig! Did you have any input in the remix compilation albums. They do include the material that you’ve recorded.
Reb Beach: I didn’t have anything to do with the remixes. That’s all David’s thing. He does really well with those and the fans are eating them up. It’s always great to hear Whitesnake songs and to listen to them the way that David wants to hear them the way that he wants to. It was a huge honor to finally get a chance to write with David. It’s something that I always wanted to do. ‘Flesh & Blood’ was that opportunity. I actually lived with David for a year. That was like totally the odd couple [laughs]! Here’s a guy that’s like British royalty and I’m a guy that’s like a beer drinking slob! All hungover in the morning and stuff [laughs]. He’d be like, “Rebel darling, how are you doing this fine morning [laughs]?” I’m like,“Okay David, I’m fine.” There’s beer cans everywhere [laughs]. He was great about it. He was great. We worked really well together and we wrote some great songs. He gave me the opportunity to write my big ballad at the end, which I’ve always wanted to do. Doug Aldrich had that amazing song “Forevermore” at the end of that album. David let me do it and kept sending me back to the drawing board on that one. We finally got “Sands of Time” and I’m really proud of the solo on that one.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve been reading that there’s rumblings of another Black Swan album.
Reb Beach: There will definitely be another. I imagine that album must have done well for Frontiers. Those were old Winger song ideas that I brought to Jeff [Pilson] who is an amazing composer. He was so happy. I had somewhere in the area of like 50 ideas when I came in. He was like a kid in a candy store. He was like, “This is a verse. We need a chorus here, then here’s the bridge.” We wound up writing the whole thing in like ten days. Once you have the guitar riffs, then that’s half the battle.
Sleaze Roxx: You performed on what was supposed to be a Dee Snider solo record, ‘Love Is For Suckers’ which then was turned into a Twisted Sister album. How much did you play on that album?
Reb Beach: I played a bunch on that one. I wrote a bunch of stuff on that one. I wrote the riff on the opening song “Wake Up The Sleeping Giant.” I wrote a bunch of stuff on that with Dee [Snider] which was a joyous experience. Dee was so nice and so funny. That guy had me laughing everyday straight for two months [laughs]! All I could do was laugh, because the guy is hysterical. Dee Snider is a really good songwriter.
Sleaze Roxx: I imagine when you were writing and performing on that, you were aware that it was to be used for a solo album. What were your thoughts when it evolved into a Twisted Sister album?
Reb Beach: I don’t recall that at all. The guys were there. The guys were there with us. Dee and I wrote together, then not too long after, we went into the studio. I recall seeing the guys there Jay Jay [French] and Eddie [Ojeda]. I recall seeing Mark [Mendoza] there too. They were always around. I had never heard of that… Wait, it’s coming back to me. It was something like that when we were writing it. All the demos were demos. All he had on them were verses and choruses. Beau [Hill] gave them to me and said, “Start writing some bridges and outros.”
Sleaze Roxx: You spent a year with Coverdale, what was the ‘magical’ cure for the hangovers?
Reb Beach: [Bursts into laughter] You know it wasn’t that bad! I was exaggerating! I knew I had work to do so I tried not to party too much [laughs]!
Whitesnake‘s “Shut Up & Kiss Me” video (from Flesh & Blood album):