(Mark Dean Interviews):  Reb Beach of WHITESNAKE

(Mark Dean Interviews): Reb Beach of WHITESNAKE

Contributor’s Note: Legendary guitarist Reb Beach has released his new solo instrumental album “A View From the Inside” November 6th via Frontiers Music SRL. An album that showcases the dynamic talents of the guitar virtuoso, hard rock fans will be transported back to the days of when giants like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani dominated the mainstream consciousness (and airwaves), while also simultaneously being shown a guitarist ever pushing himself forward into the future.

Reb Beach is one of the indisputable guitar giants of the current hard rock scene. His resume with ‘80s/’90s mega-stars Winger alone would earn him this distinction, but his legacy is cemented by his current membership and work with the legendary Whitesnake, his past efforts with Dokken, and his recent release with supergroup Black Swan, also featuring Jeff Pilson, Robin MacAuley, and Matt Starr.

Influenced by the legendary hard rockers of the ‘70s, Reb spent his teen years jamming along with the greats of that era like Aerosmith and Montrose, but it was Steve Morse, then with the Dixie Dregs, that had the biggest influence on him. The complexity and the speed of the Dregs was a unique challenge compared to the blues-based playing of most musicians of that era. The Dregs were ultimately the catalyst that drove his playing to the level he is now so well known to music fans the world over for. Beach eventually graduated from his home practice space to the Berkeley School of Music, but after a couple of semesters he moved on and soon became one of the most sought-after session players in the music industry, working with such all-time great talents as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Roger Daltrey, Chaka Kahn, Howard Jones, and Twisted Sister.

While living in NYC, he hooked up with his future bandmate, bassist and frontman Kip Winger. Reb and Kip formed the band Winger and the rest is history. The two proved to be incredible writing partners, crafting multiple platinum records that featured no less than six Top Forty singles. with music that was commercial yet complex.

After Winger went on a hiatus in the ‘90s, Beach’s career continued thanks to collaborations with Alice Cooper, Dokken and Night Ranger and he debuted as a solo artist in 2002 with the album “Masquerade”.

Following the Winger reunion in the ‘00s, Reb wound up getting a gig with a gentleman he’d been sending tapes to for many years, David Coverdale. The band? Whitesnake, of course. Since 2003, Reb has toured the world with the band and released multiple albums with them, such as “Good to Be Bad,” “Forevermore,” “The Purple Album,” and the recent “Flesh & Blood,” plus a number of live albums.

Reb Beach will now release his first instrumental album, but this is not a mere exercise of self-indulgence. It is the culmination of over 30 years of study and extremely hard work on his craft. Fans of Steve Morse and Joe Satriani will find a lot to love in the 11 songs on offer here, but while there is certainly a lot of ear candy for the musician types, fans of hard rock in general will find a wealth of melodies and transcendent moments where the songs simply make you forget there are no vocals.

Mark Dean was afforded the opportunity to converse with Reb Beach of Whitesnake for Madness To Creation.  Fans can find Whitesnake at the following locations:

www.whitesnake.com

www.facebook.com/Whitesnake.official

www.instagram.com/whitesnake

Mark Dean-Interviewer: When we last talked, I was just looking back. It was actually, let’s see … about a year ago. Last May. You were just about to start rehearsals for the Whitesnake tour. Who would have believed what a different place the world would be. Just as I say, one year later.

Reb Beach:  God, I was just talking to my sister and we were having the same conversation. Yeah. Who’d have believed that. Not me, if you told me that. I was ready for the greatest year since 1989, I was going to have a hell of a year. It was very exciting. And now it’s not.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:   How are you spending all this extra time that you have?

Reb Beach:  Well, I finished my solo album, obviously. And I’m writing a lot and giving lessons. So I’m flying back and forth to Nashville with Kip. Yeah. And just trying to get as much writing done as possible. Like everybody else. I think all the other bands are probably going to put a new album out because of this virus.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  Actually, does it work when you guys aren’t touring? Do you still get paid, or not?

Reb Beach:  No, no.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  Seriously.

Reb Beach:  God no. Where would that money come from? Unless you’re on retainer, which it’s hard to get a gig where you’re on a retainer. Especially now. Yeah. Nope, no, no, no.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  I would’ve thought the length of time now that you’ve been in Whitesnake, you’re probably the longest guitarist that has been in Whitesnake ever. I thought maybe you would have achieved or obtained full-time band member status.

Reb Beach:  Well, you think you’ll give me some of the t-shirts? And maybe some of the money from the venues? Ticket sales? No, I don’t think so. If he didn’t give it to John Sykes he isn’t going to give it to me. I didn’t write the songs, you know? But no, no, David’s I don’t think he’s worried about losing me. So he doesn’t need to put me on retainer.

Mark Dean-Interviewer: Okay. You mentioned that your debut solo album, is this something that you’ve been working on for years? Is this the actual album that you told me about … I think last time, that Kip had reminded you of? Is it the same album?

Reb Beach:  Yep.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  Yeah. So you finally get to record it and release it?

Reb Beach:  It was in 1993 when I had the idea to do a record of just guitar. And maybe I could just go off on my own, Winger had broken up and I said, “Well, maybe I can just do instrumental guitar stuff like Joe Satriani does,” and started writing it. 

And then here and there, and little ideas here and there, but was always touring. And then later on, after 2000, I started writing for Whitesnake and The Mob, and my solo album with the vocals Masquerade in 2003. 

And so these were all things that had a deadline, and this was just a hobby of mine, like a pet project that didn’t have a deadline. So I kept putting it on the back burner, but it was when COVID hit that Kip said what’d you ever do with that fusion stuff? And I said, “Great idea. Let’s release that.” So here it is.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  What about the album itself? Do you have a band on there? Drums, is bass on there as well? Did you do all that or did you have to get other guys in?

Reb Beach:  No, I played bass on a couple songs. I played keyboards here and there, all over it. I played all the instruments on the demos, and then sent it to the guys and they sent it back to me with their parts. Just how everyone does their records these days.   

We did the drums with Dave Throck who played on Masquerade, and he was in a Reb Beach project and I got Steve  Vai’s bass player, Phillip and a friend of mine, John Hall, played bass. And then Paul Brown was a friend of Kip’s who played keyboards. In 93 I made demos, called The Fusion Demos, and nobody would sign it cause it didn’t have vocals. 

So I put it on my website for sale, and it’s like Reb Beach The Fusion Demos, and it sold like hotcakes. And I got all these comments and letters from people saying “My favourite thing you’ve ever done is The Fusion Demos. You’ve got to make a record like that.” So people have been asking me and asking me and asking me to make this record. So I’m really happy to finally put it out. And one day I’d love to get on a G3 tour or go out with Andy Timmons and Jennifer Batten and all these cool guitar players, and just play guitar music. That would be super fun.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  Was it actually easier to make than any of your previous albums? Because you’re essentially the boss this time?

Reb Beach:  I was the boss on Masquerade, but Masquerade was a $30,000 budget and I had to record it all in a big studio with all the musicians there. And it was a huge ordeal, I mastered it in New York city and Sterling sound. And that was a humongous ordeal, but this album, I just did it all at home as a hobby for fun. And it was very easy. It was the easiest record to write for sure, because I didn’t have to worry about a singer. It was just all, is it good to play guitar over?

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  What about in terms of marketing an instrumental guitar album? Do you find that it’s more difficult as you’re essentially you’re pitching your sale to a more restricted or limited market?

Reb Beach:  Yeah. Everywhere I went, people would either offer me nothing, basically peanuts for it. Or just turn it down and say, “Look, instrumental albums don’t sell. Even the instrumental labels are doing albums with vocals now.” 

So Frontiers signed it because of our long history together. And yeah, you’re not going to sell, they say, as many records doing an instrumental record, but there’s been so many top 20 instrumental hits in the history of our world. You’d be really surprised, you know? And so I just like to think that who knows, there may be that one hit that could prove everybody wrong and change everything. I know that won’t happen, but it’s fun to think about.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  Obviously touring plans for all bands are up in the air at the moment. Nobody knows when that situation’s going to change. I just wondered, in terms of marketing, had you planned goals ahead? Were you going to go out and maybe perform these new instrumental tracks live?

Reb Beach:  Well, that is one of the big reasons I released it, I saw Joe Satriani last year. And I told him I was doing this record. He said, “Send it to me the instant it’s done, and ‘ll get you out with us.” He said, and that’s a dream of mine. So yeah, that’s the whole plan, is to be able to tour this stuff and have another avenue for income being a 57 year old, ageing rockstar. Not really, I don’t think of myself as a rock star, by the way. Just saying it sounded funny.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  What about session work? Is not something that you’re looking at to get back into again? I mean you have done a lot of that in your musical past.

Reb Beach: No.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  No? Not at all?

Reb Beach:  I hate session work.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  It pays the bills.

Reb Beach:  Yeah. I live in Pittsburgh, so there’s not a lot of session work. I did sessions for tons of people and I didn’t really like it then. When Kenny Loggins was telling me that he wanted me to redo all the guitars that I’d worked on all day, I’d rather do it and not have someone tell me to do it again.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  You mentioned earlier the Skype lessons that you’re doing as well, I just wondered how that’s panning out. Is it not difficult to actually give guitar lessons purely through the form of Skype? Where you can’t physically show somebody?

Reb Beach:  No, it actually works really well. And I have a knack for it, it turns out. I’ve given 200 lessons and I’ve got about 30 students that come back. I have one guy that’s done 32 lessons now. And a lot of the time we just talk and tell stories. I got a ton of stories, road stories, and they love hearing all that stuff. And I actually made a couple of friends, I don’t even charge them anymore. We just talk on the phone.

It’s been a really great experience. Of course I prefer being a touring musician and that’s what I am by trade and all that. But the lessons have been a godsend. Hopefully it won’t be really bad because everyone’s getting lessons now. So it might just completely dry up because no one has the money to do it, and everyone’s getting lessons so they can get lessons from them and countless other name guitar players, that could be their only source of income other than releasing new material.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  You had stated  earlier, that you have been sitting at home and creating/ just writing a ton of material. Was this just for a variety of projects? Is it something that you’ve earmarked for Winger, yourself, Whitesnake, or is it just for yourself?

Reb Beach:  No, all of the above. I write stuff for Winger and I come in and most of the time Kip doesn’t use any of it. So it becomes Black Swan, or my next record. My next record will have vocals. I’ll do Masquerade two. Masquerade was a really good record, I’m really proud of it. And I will definitely do a follow-up to that and have a ton of stuff ready to go for that. 

And then Black Swan is going to come up, I’m sure. Black Swan two. And I got some stuff ready for that too. It’s all about the guitar lick . It starts with the guitar riff. Once you have that, then that’s your base of the building blocks. But without that, I mean, you got nothing. So it’s all up to me at the beginning, when you’re writing a song in this genre. And so if you come in prepared, you can do Black Swan in 10 days, like me and Jeff did, he’s a ranger and a composer. And he can take my ideas and turn them into songs in minutes.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  Do you find it difficult with all this extra time on your hands? Obviously, like many musicians you’re a road warrior. The road is what you’re used to, what you’ve been part of for years. I just wondered how that is affecting you mentally? I mean, with all this extra time and it must be difficult. I mean, cause it’s your career that is essentially on hold, in terms of the touring side.

Reb Beach:  Well, it definitely sucks Mark. There’s no question about that, but you gotta make the best of it. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m finding other things to do, and spending more time with my granddaughter is nice. I’m gaining weight a little bit, not getting as much exercise. I’m not in the airports and jumping around on stage. So I got to go to the gym and you’ve got to just go, go, go. Because this thing’s going to open up again. And when it does, it’s going to be like a slingshot. Everyone’s going to want to see live shows and everyone’s going to want those gigs. And it’s just going to be booked solid when it opens. That’s what I look forward to. That’s my goal here, is to come out swinging.

Mark Dean-Interviewer: Obviously this instrumental album, the solo album shortly to be released, has that inspired you to maybe go on and do something similar? And then maybe you’ve got the tracks for a second instrumental album?

Reb Beach:  It depends how it does. The numbers say it’s going to bomb. But I see so many letters from fans that it’s so hard to believe that it’s going to bomb. It’s definitely a lovely record. And so far, the reviews of all the friends that I played it for are just like a great, great album. So there’s one review out that says it’s a great album. So we’ll see.

Mark Dean-Interviewer: I actually read in the promo press for this release that you actually had been sending, I don’t know if this is true or not tapes to David Coverdale before getting the Whitesnake gig. Is that true, or is that just a press story?

Reb Beach:  Oh God, I think I told them to get rid of that and maybe they didn’t.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  It’s still there.

Reb Beach:  I know, I sent him one package. When Kip told me he’s looking for a guitar player, I sent him the   live DVD, the Winger live DVD, and whatever else I could think of. I made a whole package and sent it to his house to get the gig. That’s the only thing I ever sent him. No, I had no contact with David before they were looking for somebody.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  As I said, and there’s still in the press release, you might want to have that taken out then, I think I asked you the last time as well, we were talking about Whitesnake and your introduction to Whitesnake as a fan. I just wondered subsequently if you have the opportunity to go and check out those early Whitesnake blues records that I recommended last time or not?

Reb Beach:  No.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  You’ve been too busy.

Reb Beach:  No. I just don’t care.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  I think it was more from the fact that you said that you were interested in that style, that genre of music. And I think I tried to steer you towards earlier, the Whitesnake albums.

Reb Beach:  I’ve probably heard it before. His voice is awesome, it’s great. Very, very cool. I’m a songwriter and there’s music in my head all the time. And if anyone sends me anything that’s music, I don’t listen to it. I, If it’s a joke or something that has music in it, I turn it off right away because that song will be in my head for the next half an hour until I hear something else. 

So I don’t really listen to music except for the music that I’m writing. It’s in my head and it’s been that way since COVID for sure. Yeah. But I mean I know that stuff is great. I’ve played a bunch of those songs, and it’s a great era of David and of course that’s the era they liked even better in Europe.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  Okay that’s great. As I said, everything’s up in the air for everybody in terms of touring. Good luck with the album.

Reb Beach:  Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  I hope I hope it sells a lot and you’re able to get out and play those songs.

Reb Beach:  Thanks, me too. That’d be so cool to just do like me and John Petrucci and Joe, and Steve Vai and  , just a big rock guitar tour. I would love something like that.

Mark Dean-Interviewer:  That’s brilliant. Thank you very much, Reb, for chatting with me again.

And there you have it!  Check out Mark Dean at the following locations:

www.facebook.com/Mark-Dean-Media-Journalist

www.twitter.com/DeanoJou

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