reb's history and frequently asked questions reb's history and frequently asked questions

reb's playing
How did you get into playing?

My parents have always been supportive of me since I was four years old. A show called "Mannix" came on TV and after the theme song played I walked over to the piano and played it. After that, my parents thought I was some kind of freak virtuoso, when in reality I just had a good ear. My father went as far as taking me to Johns Hopkins for placement tests just to see if I had any other abilities. After reviewing the results of my test, they said I had absolutely no aptitudes in ANYTHING except music, or possibly sandwich making. I scored 100% on all tests relating to music and 0 on everything else. Until I was thirteen I thought I was going to be Elton John, then my mom bought me a guitar, which sat under my bed until "Toys in the Attic" came out. When I was 15, I just KNEW I was going to be a successful guitarist. There was never the slightest doubt in my mind. It was a feeling so strong that a path had already been made for me, like I never had to worry about the future because my dreams were obviously a glimpse into it. Then Winger broke up, I went bankrupt, and all that crap went right out the window! Hahaha!

Who are your influences?

It's true that I didn't listen to Hendrix growing up because it was before my time. When I was growing up and learning guitar, Kiss, Aerosmith, Queen and Van Halen were who everyone wanted to be. The funny thing is that Hendrix probably indirectly inspired all the guitarists who inspired me. I was against putting Purple Haze on the first record. I thought it was better to leave that classic alone. Our arrangement was kind of cool though.

If you could pick any musicians to play with in a band, who would they be?

I'd do a fusion band with Dave Weckl, Andy Timmons, T Lavitz and Victor Wooten. Hmmmm. Thank you. That got me off for a few minutes!

Who are your favorite guitar players?

I would say my favorites are the ones that really move me with their choice of notes and have a style you recognize from the first note. I can tell you in three notes if it is Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Morse or David Gilmour. You just can't go wrong with those guys. (Regarding Allan Holdsworth) His solos on Jean Luc Ponty's 'Enigmatic Ocean' are what got me into him. It's him playing over some really "inside" changes, which is more rock sounding than his usual stuff. Van Halen, Hunter and Wagner (the guys that did all the best Aerosmith solos), Drew Zing (Steely Dan) and Peter Frampton.

What sources do you draw from, both new and old, to find the inspiration to practice, write and continue on as a force in the musical world? And what's your advice on using those sources?

The Blues! If you haven't already, learn all the coolest licks from Duke Robillard, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Luther Allison (his album "Blue Streak" is pretty good - hahaha!), etc. The stuff sounds easy, but when you actually play it - it's NOT! Learn the solo from the Eagles song "One of These Nights" and the solo from Steely Dan's "Don't Take Me Alive". These types of solos take maturity and serious technique to pull off and they improved my playing like you wouldn't believe. Playing fast is SO much easier for me than playing slow. On 98% of the sessions and bands I've done, when you walk in and just play fast they are not half as exited as when you sing with your instrument. Take the music a step further by throwing in some of these magical licks that work over almost anything. I like a classy guitarist that doesn't shoot his wad all the time, ya know - like Luke, or Jeff Beck. Those guys send shudders down my spine with their soloing and in almost every solo they burn a super fast lick so you know they can play wicked fast anytime they want. Now, there are times in life where you must be able to play as fast as you possibly can (perhaps only for a guy in Dokken, but nevertheless), and that's when I seek out my live Frank Marino albums. I LOVE fast guitar (even though as I said, 9 times out of 10, any producer in any studio on any record will immediately steer you away from it) and to me you get the biggest bang for you're buck when you can play fast in the Pentatonic. It's still the blues. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry (and Joe Producer) will recognize the scale. I believe it moves people in general more. It moves me more, anyway - and nobody did it as fast as old Frank. Relax! Smoke a bowl! Drink a beer! Don't worry about where music is going or what a shame it is that your favorite music isn't around anymore. With the music that is available to you, you should NEVER stop being challenged. Make the music that is in you're head. Before you know it, the type of music you love will be back on the radio, just changed a little bit. It's all a big circle, man. You never know, you could be the one to bring it all back!

Do you consider George Lynch an influence of yours and do you know him personally?

The first Dokken album I heard was 'Under Lock and Key'. By the time I heard that, I had already developed a style on the guitar that was completely different than his, so playing like him seemed impossible and I never attempted it. He did not influence my soloing until I joined Dokken. I learned a lot of cool stuff learning his stuff. 'Under Lock and Key' was an influence in my writing on the first Winger record. I wanted 'Hungry' to be 'The Hunter'. Do I know George? Sure. We have hung out a few times. Once by the pool at the Hard Rock in Vegas we traded stories and told each other what we dug about each other's style. It was an honor when he would compliment me. Lynch was always cool. His sound was on fire, he looked like a scary Indian and his name was Lynch. I was in Winger. I had big poofy hair, shook my ass, and my name was Beach... like a gay resort. Anyway, his playing moves me deeply every time I hear it.

When you played earlier Dokken songs, did you feel pressure to play something similar to George Lynch or just go off on a tangent and do your own thing?

I was worried about getting stuff thrown at me at the shows. I wouldn't go to see Dokken without Lynch. People were really cool though and I knew I had the fact that George was so "not into it" for the last few years on my side. I had a lot of good Dokken-y song ideas. These things helped greatly in my decision to join the band. But, yes, there is pressure. I am a nervous guy, so I warm up for an hour before I go out there. I think most of the fans have seen me in the band now, so there is not as much pressure as before. As a Dokken fan, I would much rather see Dokken with Lynch, but only if he was at least a little bit into it. Lynch is completely wicked. I am not anywhere NEAR as cool as he is. He is Mr. Scary! I am meek and I tap to play fast! Hahahahaha! Even his name is cool - LYNCH! What's mine? Beach, for God's sake. I should change it to Crackhammer. How about Dyermaker? Killpuppy? "Reb Killpuppy".

How do you compare working with Don and Kip?

Kip taught me literally everything I know about recording, programming, arranging, singing, songwriting, the music business and how to get ahead. He is the most talented person I have ever known. Working with him is extremely hard because he is a perfectionist and every guitar part must be absolutely PERFECT! It's very challenging, humbling, always a learning experience.

Don and I did one album together and he just wants it to ROCK, which is great too. Don knows what he wants and made some great suggestions, especially when it came to drums and guitars. One in particular I remember is that he said I wasn't playing open enough and he was exactly right. It helped the tracks a lot when I didn't mute so much. Working with Kip and working with Don are two very different things.

How often do you practice?

I never practice and I know four scales. When I am on the road I have to warm up for an hour before I go on stage. When Winger broke up I started practicing and got a LOT better. I never thought it mattered until I tried it. For me, writing is more important and takes up all my time. If I had a specific style to learn for a gig, I would practice it for a few weeks. Otherwise, my time is better spent penning that one song I can retire on. I know you're next question - "What do you practice?" I learn other guy's licks that are really hard for me and then change them so they're mine. Frank Marino and Gary Moore. Also, all the old blues guys have great, basic, cool licks you can expand on and make your own.

What's your advice for someone just starting to play guitar?

Learn on acoustic, don't lock yourself into one style and listen to the arrangements of the songs you like and try writing your own. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what songs you've written.

What are the major differences between playing in Dokken compared to Winger?

In Dokken, I'm mostly playing someone else's music and feel more comfortable when we get to do a song that I wrote. Lynch and I are completely different. Writing in Dokken is Jeff and I and writing in Winger is Kip and I. Kip and Jeff are completely different. But, I'd say the main difference is the music. I love the double kick songs in Dokken, but Dokken could never do "Rainbow in the Rose" or "Headed for a Heartbreak".

What type of music do you enjoy playing most and why?

My favorite to solo over is ballads! I can take my time and get lost in that other world I'm sometimes able to get to.

What's your favorite Dokken song and which one is your favorite to play live?

"Tooth And Nail", by far. It floors me every night. I always feel like I'm gonna have a heart attack after that song. I wish I wrote it.

Where do you get Winger tablature?

Ebay and auction sites at Yahoo, etc. are your best bet.

What is that sound at the beginning of 'Time To Surrender' on the first Winger album?

It is indeed a Brad Gillis whammy flutter which I just added a couple of harmonies to on separate tracks.

What is that noise at the end of the live version of 'Too High To Fly'?

It's my space ship noise from 'Poison Angel'. Push the string down on the pick up like 'dat dat dat dat' etc... with a slap delay crankin', and then whammy pedal slowly down two octaves. I used to reach around and do it with the actual whammy bar, so you can do that if you don't have the pedal.

On 'Masquerade', why does 'Day Of The Eagle' sound different than the rest of the new album?

'Day of the Eagle' was a request from the label because I told them that the Reb Beach Project did a slammin' version. So, the band on that song is the actual Reb Beach project. It sounds different than the rest of the record, so it was a good choice as a bonus song. It came out rockin' though and I really like it. I got to really do some blues licks!

What is Nashville stringing?

It's the coolest thing in the world. It makes guitar tracks sound huge. We did it on every record. On the first album, we didn't have a twelve-string guitar - just a six-string acoustic. Beau wanted the intro to Madalaine to sound like a twelve string. He came up with the idea of doing a pass on one track with our regular six string acoustic and then on another track doing a pass with the same guitar - only strung with the top six strings of the twelve string set. It worked great. The sound of the guitar strung with only the high strings was so cool that I had to hear what it would sound like on my electric crankin' through my Marshalls. It was so bitchin' that Beau asked me to play through every song and double it. Any time there was a lick, like at the end of a verse, I would double it. I would jam along with any section that we wanted to lift out of the mix and accent a little bit. The strings are tiny and what you're playing is an octave higher, except for the last two strings, which are the same as normal. It lifts the parts you double without getting in the way at mix time.

How did you develop your tapping technique? What's your advice regarding the technique?

I learned by smoking a bowl and screwing around for hours. It's hard for me to think of what to tell you. This may help: I liked fast guitar when I was learning. I wanted to sound like a saxophone - that kind of fluidity... burning straight up a scale. That wasn't something I heard other players doing, so I devised my own way to get that sound. I hate all that technical talk because you can really get so caught up in it that you start sounding like every other Berkelee grad (not all of them mind you). A lot of those guys can play every scale with precision, backwards and forwards, but say nothing with their notes. I remember when Winger got big; I had to do interviews where the columnist would ask me all kinds of questions that I couldn't answer. "You start in Mixolydian mode and jump to Dorian unexpectedly, while not using your pinky, but rather your ring finger of the right hand...blah, blah, blah." I would be like, "I do? OK". I had no clue that I didn't use my pinky until somebody told me because I don't look at the guitar when I play. So my answer to you is this: You must have some kind of sound in your head that, when you imagine yourself as a rock star, is coming out of you. It's OK to start by ripping off a guy who comes close to it, but then you should do something to it that makes it yours. Shake the whammy while you are doin' it. Take chances when you solo - rock soloing takes balls!

What are some tips for playing songs off the first Winger album?

Just remember to tune your whole guitar down to E flat. 'Seventeen' is just a normal bar chord E starting on the 7th fret A string. You get those first notes by screwin' around with your pinky while you hold the chord. 'Time to Surrender' is in A and you just move around a normal 1-5th chord form, just like the one in Seventeen, but on the D and G string only. Mute and chug that open A and wiggle the hell out of that second chord.

How do you play the riff from 'Erase the Slate'?

It starts on the open A and then the first fretted note is on the seventh fret. When you play any notes on the low E string, make sure and mute the A string with your 3rd finger. I assume you are talking about the chorus/opening riff. There are some ghost notes that just happen for some reason when I play it in that position.

What's an Arabian pull?

It is tapping notes with your left hand while you pull up quickly and let go of the whammy bar. I did it for a second on the solo in Hungry I think.

How do you write your instrumental pieces? Do you have a certain format you use?

I write an instrumental song pretty much the same way as a song with vocals, except with the guitar playing the melody instead of the singer. If I have a cool riff, I figure out if it is a verse, chorus, pre-chorus, solo section, bridge, or an outro. Whew! Then I try and write around it and fill in the blanks until it is completed. Solo sections have to be good to jam over. Choruses have to be hooky. I like a song that builds to the chorus. I suck at arrangements and always seem to do the same one:


Kip was the arranging guy.

Do you improvise or work off of "guitar scores" mostly?

All I do is improvise. I don't know how to read. If I did work of off "guitar scores"(?), they would be ones that were improvised by me originally. Whatever works.

What ever happened to your proposed duet project with Greg Howe?

Mike Varney called me to do a record with Greg Howe, but I don't see the point. That guy can play anything I can play, but better.

Where does the song "Hell To Pay" come from?

Off the Japanese version of 'Pull' (extra cut).

Where do the songs 'Never' and 'Out For The Count' come from?

"Never" is up there with my favorite Winger tunes - very heavy. Beau Hill (Winger's producer) thought if a song was heavy it could never be on the radio, so what was the point of putting it on your record. It wasn't until we broke away from him that we could start writing the heavier songs like "Never". That's why Pull was so heavy. It's what we always wanted to be. Incidentally, "Blind Revolution Mad" was totally inspired by "Never". The verse was a total rip. I guess you're allowed to rip yourself off - hahaha!

How did you write 'Rainbow In The Rose' and 'Can't Get Enough'?

Actually, Kip wrote 'Rainbow'. It took six months to write. He scored and conducted the orchestra. I only wrote the rhythm guitar lick in the second verse. We wrote 'Can't Get Enough' in a half an hour, though. Pretty funny.

Where do the songs 'Written In The Wind' and 'Without Warning' come from?

Both of those songs were written for Pull. The reason they didn't make it on the record was because they sounded too much like something that should have been on 'In the Heart of the Young'.

Where's the song 'Fireball' from?

'Fireball' is a Deep Purple tune and it's found on the Deep Purple tribute CD done in 1994.

Why does 'Pull' sound so good?

The budget was $400,000 and it was recorded on a 96 input Neve board and three 32 track digital Otari machines (1 inch tape for those who are curious).

Did you use a mandolin on 'Spell I'm Under'?

No, it's all Kip on acoustic picking with his fingers.

Where does the song 'Blue Murder' come from?

'Blue Murder' was an outtake from the first Winger record. I have a copy somewhere and haven't heard it in like 10 years.

Why didn't 'Web Of Lies' make it onto Masquerade?

"Web Of Lies" was a blues song that we used to do in the Reb Beach Project. We cut it with the original project drummer, Dr Dave Dodd (he is a paramedic here in Pittsburgh and keeps time like a machine), on the same day we cut "Day Of". When we put it up against the other tracks it sounded like it belonged on a Stevie Ray record, so we canned it - and were desperate for a song to replace it. I had a song I wrote for my wife, Debbie, called "Love So True". I showed it to the boys the next day and we cut it live, with me playing the piano. It turned out to be a great last song. 'Web' will turn up somewhere (movie soundtrack, next album...). The chorus to the Dokken song 'Drown' is actually the chorus to 'Web'. Jeff thought the chorus was cool, but correctly thought the rest of the song was too bluesy for Dokken. "Let me Drown - let me Drown - let my weight - pull me down - and I still won't take your hand - just let me drown". That's what it was before Don changed the melody.

Why wasn't 'One' released as a single from Erase The Slate?

'One' was my idea. "Perfect for Don to sing and radio will eat it up" - is how I sold it to the band. Everyone knew we had a chance at radio with it and the record label (who is the only one I've ever dealt with that didn't want to sell over a certain number of records... a small number). They said, "No we want 'Erase The Slate' to be the second single". Well, that's when I knew it would be impossible for Dokken to do well and that somebody wanted it dead. Maybe the label is not physically prepared to have a hit and shied away from it. Maybe they don't know anyone at Contemporary Hit Radio, so they wouldn't have the first clue about how to get Reps in there to get a song played. You are right, it definitely would have made the billboard rock charts. When we toured 'Erase', I endured day after angry day of DJ's like a broken record saying, "Why, Why, Why wasn't 'One' a single?" As far as my favorite on 'Erase', I would say maybe 'Shattered' or 'Drown'.