GUITARRIST REB BEACH
Meeting Reb Beach is always a great pleasure. Not only because he’s one of the finest guitarists in the world, but also for his great availability and his infectious humor. What you find here below is the report of a beautiful talk where Reb covers various topics, tells jokes and even performs imitations! Enjoy the interview!
Interview and photos by Fabrizio Tasso
RRM: Hello Reb! Welcome to Italy and thank you for taking the time to chat a little with us! Did you travel well?
RB: Yeah, it was all good!
RRM: So, let’s start with these Italian Clinic Tour. How has it come about?
RB I had a friend who knew a promoter, and it was the perfect time as I hadn’t a lot going on right now, as the tour with Whitesnake starts in April.
RRM : We’re looking forward to that! What must the audience expect from these clinics?
RB: Mostly I will tell stories…then I will play a lot of songs from a demo that never got a record deal but that’s selling very well on my website (the Fusion Demos), I also wrote two new songs just for the clinic, and then I’ll jam with some local people.
RRM: Next week you will play with an Italian cover band, which will host Michele Luppi as special guest. Have you ever heard of him? He’s a great Winger and Whitesnake fan and he is one of the most beautiful voices on the Italian rock scene.
RB: No, I don’t know very much, as I mostly work at home, stuck in the studio, drinking beers!! (laughs)
RRM: How did you get into playing guitar? Would you ever have believed to have such a great success?
RB: That’s a good question, when I was 4 years old I was watching a program on TV and I went to the piano and reproduced exactly the same music, my parents then thought I was a child prodigy, whereas I only had a good ear, that’s all. I was always on stage, I was on each and every production at school….faggots stuff like “Think about the sun – Pippin”!! (sings and laughs) and then I saw Kiss, and it totally changed my life. Well, actually Aerosmith got me into rock n roll…at first I wanted to be Elton John, because I was a piano player, but then when I was 12 years old my mother gave me a guitar and I stuck it under the bed for one year, thinking I was going to be Elton John. But then I started hearing how cool rock music was and I pulled the guitar out, somebody showed me five chords…I started playing melodies to the songs… it was Aerosmith…that’s how it came about…
In my high school year book I was voted most likely to become a rock star and I’ve always known I’d be successful. At 13 when I saw Kiss I thought “I’m gonna do that!” I didn’t know I’d be that successful, and certainly I’d never ever had thought that I would be in Whitesnake (laughs)
RRM: You played with several bands during your career, can you tell us what impressed you most of the various bands you worked with?
RB: Well, let’s see... Winger: Kip Winger, by far, he’s still my best friend, so incredibly talented…he’s getting more recognition every year…he’s got a show on VH1 called Rock Camp, where they take normal people, like guys who paint houses, and put them in a band to tech them how to play.
RRM: Is he a good teacher?
RB: Yes, he’s an excellent teacher.
Alice Cooper is the greatest person I’ve ever met in my life, he’s a family man, he gives money to the church…and he taught me to play poker! He’s such a nice guy!
Dokken…I love Don Dokken, we’re good buddies, we did a tour together a few years ago, it was so much fun, he’s a good guitar player and a funny guy.
Whitesnake…Tommy Aldridge...listening to his stories…and then of course working with David Coverdale.
RRM: I appreciated a lot last Winger’s release, Karma. Among the albums you recorded with Kip, what is the most important for you?
RB: That’s another good question! I’ve never been asked that question! Everybody asks which one I like best, not what’s the most significant. Well, let’s see…the most significant is obviously the first record. That was the first time that Kip and I got together, we had known each other for a while doing sessions together,...but when Kip and I got together for the first time it was very significant for me because I didn't even know I could write a song, I played him the riff for “Seventeen” and he said “that’s a song!” “It doesn’t sound like a song to me, wait a second!” “yeah, now we’re gonna play some funky…that’s the verse…now we’re gonna go to F …” and he taught me through it and all of a sudden we wrote a song! We wrote three songs in one day. The base for “Time to Surrender”, “Seventeen” and “Madaleine”. So that day I felt like I had met a guru, for sure, I’ve just said I had never met anyone like Kip Winger, I still haven’t met anyone like Kip Winger. I could talk all day about him. So that was the most significant to me…the writing…and then getting the record deal because Atlantic Records turned us down three times before Beau Hill finally said “I’ll get this idiots to sign the stupidest contract of all times, where you Atlantic Records will get all the money and Winger will get nothing! ” And so Atlantic Records said okay, and I'm glad they did… Beau Hill said to me “if you don’t sign this record contract, I’ll get another guitar player tomorrow” So…I guess I’m happy I did, cause I got everything I wanted, although it was a little short-lived, I mean, if Winger had come out in 1986 I’d be a very rich man!
RRM:In the last years it seems that 80’s classic rock has returned, even without being boosted by MTV…your impression?
RB: I’m very happy about it considering that I'm pretty much an eighties guitar player, I auditioned for Hall and Oates and I didn’t get it! It’s the only audition I didn’t get, but I’m really glad I didn’t cause I got Whitesnake two weeks after that!
RRM: Any plans for a new solo album after Masquerade?
RB: That’s a tough one, Masquerade is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it was very hard to be that responsible, I had to do everything, I had to write the whole record, I had to produce it, get an engineer, get all the musicians…. that’s a lot of work…I just wanted to prove that I could do it, I just wanted to say "okay, here's me" and so there's a lot of different music on that record, pop songs, heavier songs, big jams. I sang on it, I don’t know if I would do that again, I don’t consider myself as a lead singer. I’m a good background singer, that’s what I am. I’m not so sure that I would do it again, but at the same time there are those pop songs that are so freaking good! I’m always excited about new stuff, but it takes me forever. It took me six years to write Masquerade, which is ridiculous. Kip Winger writes ten songs in one day!! We wrote the whole album “Karma” in ten days. This clinic tour has inspired me to write an instrumental record. I wish I could open for Joe Satriani on G3 tour!
RRM: Talking about your last work with Whitesnake, I read on your website that you had the chance to duet with David on a song of the new album, how cool is that?? Can you tell us something?
RB: This time they flew me up to play on the record, and I was working closely with Doug, he was engineering, and he would tell me "do it again, try it again" or "that was perfect" and I ‘m like "really? do you like that?" “Yes that totally rocks, we’re keeping that!” so that’s how we did it. I don't know how many solos I have on the record, I've heard it once, but, personally, I like it better that Good To Be Bad.
The thing was that someone said “come, try to sing backgrounds” so I went into the studio and sang one song, and David said (mimics David) “Oh My God, Rebellious! I had no idea, you had such a voice!” and then he said “I want you to sing on the entire album”. So I sang on everything. Hearing my voice with that great legendary voice is a great honor .
It’s a great album, Good To Be Bad was good, but this…you know…I like the poppy songs, to remember them, and that’s what this is, every song is memorable.
RRM: What about your new Whitesnake buddies, Brian and Michael? Had you ever met them before?
RB: We did the video together, they rented a house for us, we were stuck in a house with all the beers we could drink! And there was a ping pong table, so we had a ping pong tournament for a couple of days. Michael Devin and I have a lot in common, he’s really really smart, he’s like a genius. You can ask him anything about anything, and he would tell you something…like “you know there are spots on the sun caused by solar flares?” [how do you know that??] …I just made that up by the way! (laughs)
Tichy, he’s a bad-ass, he sings his ass off, he plays guitar really well, I’ve heard that, I’ve never heard him playing, but I’ve heard he’s a very good guitar player. And he’s a great guy, you know, David only gets the best guys, not just for how they play...I don’t know how he makes sure, but he always makes sure that those guys are okay, I mean, you don’t want a dick in the band, a jerk, a guy who always laughs or who’s always late. Somehow he always picks these guys who are the “real pros” (mimics David’s voice again). And he made a really good choice, I always miss the guys that leave, for different reasons, for what they added, but the new guys always bring something good.
RRM: How many tours have you done with WS so far? Can you tell us some funny episodes from the road?
RB: How many tours? In eight years I have no clue! I’m not a number guy. Funny things…well…it all has to do with sex and drugs and rock n roll, so I can’t talk about it! (laughs)
The first one that popped into my mind was Timothy Drury and I staying up all night at the hotel. Timothy is a photographer, he liked to use me as a subject, he would let me do anything! He posed me in crazy positions…this one night we were pretty hammered and there was a hallway that had a particular lighting system, lights were interactive, they would turn on as you walked through, so I had to run through the hallway naked! I didn’t move until all lights were off, and than I started running!! Timothy’s got an HD movie!!
RRM: Does David still obligate you to keep a fitness regime?
RB: Yes of course, you can’t gain 30 pounds and be up there, he wants to be surrounded by good looking guys, some rock stars, you can’t be in WS if you’re really overweight, that’s as far as I’m allowed to go!! (shows belly)
RRM: Okay Reb. One last question before we let you go: If you could form an all-star band to play with, what musicians would you choose?
One or two guitars?
RB Well, one! For a couple of reasons, but actually the main one being that when you’re the only guitar player, like in Dokken, that was great. I mean, it’s just you and the bass player so you don’t have to tell three people, you just go “F!!” and you don’t have to say F, you’ve just got to go F and the bass player goes right to F, you just watch each other, make stuff up on the fly, it’s way more fun for that reason.
Well, I’m really excited about my two favorite musicians, who live in Pittsburgh, and played on Masquerade: Dave Throckmorton is my favorite drummer, and Tommy Bellin is my favorite bass player. But as far as famous people…mhh.. who would I get on drums? I haven’t heard Tichy yet…oh! I know my drummer: Weckl, Dave Weckl, he’s a jazz guy. I’d kill just to even jam with him. He’s absolute perfection. My favorite bass player is from Nashville, he’s a really famous bass player… Victor Wooten. He’s the bass player of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, a jazz band.
Who’s my favorite singer now… sure: it’s Steven Tyler!
RRM: Do you feel like a rock star?
RB: Well, yeah. I definitely was born for the stage and I love to play!
Published February 8, 2011