Kip Winger Has Forgiven Beavis and Butt-Head
They may not have been the most misunderstood rock band of the ’80s, but Winger were definitely guilty of bad timing, debuting with a pair of deceptively well-written hair metal records just as the genre was preparing to take a grunge-induced swan dive. Now, 20 years after the group became the poster children for rock posers courtesy of a brutal running gag on MTV’s ‘Beavis & Butt-Head,’ frontman Kip Winger says the hatchet’s been buried.
In a wide-ranging and thoroughly entertaining conversation with the Weeklings, Winger opened up about a variety of subjects, including the experience of seeing his band’s logo emblazoned on the t-shirt worn by Beavis & Butt-Head’s dork neighbor Stewart. Insisting he’s “not in a fog about where Winger sits in music history,” he reflected that they were “popular for some of the wrong reasons … I don’t believe there was any malicious intent. We exchanged some emails; [series creator Mike Judge] is a very nice guy, no hard feelings.”
As it turns out, Winger and Judge made contact relatively recently, when the series was revived for a new run of episodes in 2011. “I found Mike and told him I wanted to clear the air,” said Winger. “I never tried to sue MTV or Mike, I never had a problem with the cartoon. I mean, it was David and Goliath, really. There was nothing you could do but take it like a man. It certainly didn’t help us, I’ll tell you that. But it was a funny show and Mike’s a funny guy.”
Winger admits it also didn’t help that the band consciously tried to fit into the MTV mold, right down to the “cool logo to sell t-shirts” and the video moves, but he says he was “completely clueless” at the time. “We come from a muso background,” he pointed out, adding, “When we first got together it was more complex, heavy on the arrangements and then we superimposed pop melodies over that. I always wanted to be like Yes meets Kiss. A super-muso band presented with pop/rock over-the-top mentality.”
He seems to harbor no illusions about his band’s odds of reaching the level of respect enjoyed by either of those bands, but Winger is doing all right for itself these days; in fact, they’re currently promoting their latest release, ‘Better Days Comin’,’ which he says picks up where their previous LP, the well-received ‘Karma,’ left off.
“We enjoy working together — it’s not like we have to go out and play for the money even though we hate each other. Nothing like that, man,” he explained. “[Guitarist Reb Beach] and I have a lot of fun and we’re still inspired, so why not? I feel like it’s got some really great Winger moments. I have a lot of s—ty ideas but I try to self-edit and get the job done.”