Those who know me know that I’m a bit of a metal head. Not in a Destro sense, mind you. I’m referring to the music genre. I probably didn’t even need to say the Destro thing. You won’t see him in the moshpit at a Dillinger Escape Plan concert, though I’m sure he appreciates a good shout out as much as the next man.
My musical tastes span pretty far these days, but when I was first really getting into music on my own, metal seemed to be the one that called out to me (fittingly) the loudest. Before I had a big enough allowance that allowed me to routinely buy albums at the mall, the only albums I remember owning were cassettes of Oasis’ What’s The Story (Morning Glory)?, Weird Al Yankovic’s Bad Hair Day, and the second Presidents of The United States of America album. My brother owned Silverchair’s Frogstomp and Freakshow, the first Presidents album, a few compilation tapes, and Ozzy Osbourne’s No More Tears. That was pretty much the bulk of our music exposure for the few years prior to high school plus some compilation albums and other tapes from my parent’s collection that we rotated throughout our family summer road trips. I still like all of that music I listed, but my nostalgia meter goes off the charts the most for the Ozzy, though I only recall listening to it aloud once as a child.
My brother and I were riding in the back bench of our family’s 1986 Chevy Van during an evening trip, and we stared out the rear window as we drove through an epic thunderstorm. The combination of sights and sounds (particularly during the title track) blew my young mind, evoking the headbanging spirit of Wayne Campbell that, to date, had yet to awaken within me. If we drove past a wolf howling at the moon, a viking graveyard, or a pitchfork-wielding mob cornering an alleged witch, that would have completed the metal trifecta. Nothing could have stopped me at that point from growing out a mullet in time for my yearbook photo in the fall. Unfortunately, the tape was never played aloud again for some reason. I’m guessing it either triggered my mother’s migraines, or my little sister just couldn’t get into anything heavier than Sharon, Lois & Bram.
It was a struggle to make my way through a genre of music that, though relatively young, is rather diverse. In the near future, I began to dabble with the likes of Limp Bizkit and Disturbed before finding longer-lasting tastes in the metal underground in Opeth, Enslaved, and Carcass. It was actually a long process, and I pretty much gave every sub-genre of metal a chance. Some artists took a bit longer for me to acquire the taste, and others were like poison to my ears (Poison?) under any circumstances. Looking back, and taking into account all the exploration I did within the metal genre, I’m a little surprised I never went through a brief Winger phase.
Why Winger? They are a bit before my time, but I was a comic book reader before I was big music fan. In fact, one of my earlier cassette tapes came with a Superman comic. Most of my first comic books were random titles from D.C., Marvel, and Valiant Comics that you’d get in a “value pack” consisting of three comics at a low price. Do you remember back when bands actually advertised their albums in comic books? That was my introduction to Winger, since my comic collection mostly spanned the late-80s and early 90s. I remember an ad promoting their album In The Heart Of The Young. Their logo and cover art had a bit of a science fiction vibe to it, which appealed to the Star Trek lover in me, but I never really inquired much further about them. How was I to ever hear them? In the mid-to late-90s, there was no Youtube, and I didn’t even have internet access on my personal computer. Like them if you want, but Winger aren’t what I’d call a word-of-mouth band. If you came across a music store with their poster in the window, you could rightly assume the shop had long been abandoned.
My other early exposure to them was that their name was on Stewart’s t-shirt in Beavis and Butthead. Band front man Kip Winger apparently took exception to this fact, with many pointing to this and Lars Ulrich famously throwing darts at his picture as contributing to the downfall of the band. In reality, I’d say it’s debatable if Stewart was actually a bigger loser than Beavis and Butthead. In spite of these two being labelled as the poster boys for juvenile delinquency, the bands on their respective shirts (Metallica and AC/DC) continued to thrive. However, if given a choice, which of the following would you rather have represent your band:
A) A slightly dorky, chubby, friendly-to-a-fault blonde kid
B) A lazy, abusive teen who’d think nothing of letting his best friend get deported
C) A twitchy, hyperactive teen so dumb he confuses constipation cramps for pregnancy
Their album may have been successful, but I find their promotional choice to be slightly puzzling. As a group often lumped into the hair metal category, I’d think their target demographic would be teen-aged girls, not the predominantly young boys who were into comics. Know your audience! You wouldn’t see Cryptopsy promoting an album in Cosmopolitan, or the Dayglo Abortions listing their tour itinerary in Parents magazine (although…). Woman already flocked in droves to see hair metal acts, so why needlessly dilute the girl-to-guy ratio? I don’t know. I may have been reading a Betty and Veronica instead of The Punisher, so perhaps they picked their spots correctly after all.
If you ask me, the only band that should be rightfully marketed in a comic book is Kiss. Kiss didn’t really look or sound much different from Winger in the late-80s to early 90s, but if I saw an ad for their Hot In The Shade album in a back issue of Justice League, I wouldn’t bat an eye. Why should I? They’ve spilled their blood for comics, man! I once read Gene Simmons’ book Sex Money Kiss, and learned that a young Chaim Witz (Gene’s birth name) was a big comic collector and even tried his hand at drawing his own. That was pretty much the goal of the stage image for Kiss: to bring superhero-type characters to life. Naturally, he’d later used his other life passions to help spread the brand of the group. Which reminds me: I wonder if anyone has ever pointed out the irony of the Kiss Kondoms to him, as they snuff out potential Kiss Army recruits if they’re to do a proper job. Besides, between this and the Kiss Kasket, they’ve got more than enough out there for die-hards to put long, stiff objects into, but enough about them!
I promised a music video, didn’t I? If you insist on watching from the band’s official Youtube channel, here’s a rather low resolution version you can watch out of the goodness of your heart. If you’re a heartless bastard, watch the “corporate” version below.
Before I get into the video, I don’t want to be accused of simply bashing the band. They may not have clicked with me, but I’ll say I definitely think they have some good chops as musicians. Lead guitarist Reb Beach could likely play circles around most of his hair metal contemporaries, and drummer Rod Morgenstein proved himself as a worthy musician’s musician work with the Dixie Dregs. Furthermore, vocalist/bassist Kip Winger and keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Paul Taylor also had a stint in Alice Cooper’s band, and that’s A-OK with me.
One strange thing I always found with this band was their name. It falls in this ambiguous area of whether or not the band is named after the singer or it’s a stage name. I’ve heard Winger as a surname before, but there’s just something about the name Kip Winger that leads me to believe it’s a pseudonym because the whole stage name thing seems big in rock bands. Winger is passable. The Ramones did it perfectly. Wayne Static reached further than his hairdo.
I was afraid he was going to do this. Right as he sings the opening lines of the song, there he goes flashing those damned bedroom eyes of his. What mortal can resist? No wonder Playgirl came calling. I wonder if he’s at all like Pete Steele of Type O Negative or WWE wrestling legend Shawn Michaels and regretted posing for it almost immediately afterwards. On the other hand, it’s not as if appearing in that magazine ever did much harm or good for anybody’s career. Did you know that they still make Playgirl? I sure didn’t. I bet Justin Trudeau could go full-frontal in it, and it would still fly under the radar.
In a way, I think Kip Winger was ahead of the times. While never sporting a full-blown beard, he has that unshaven look that many women dig nowadays. It goes against the grain (Ha! Ha! Shaving!!) of what other bands of the time were doing. But it didn’t stop at the neck. He’s flaunting that chest hair with the pride of an expecting mother. Sporting a few undone buttons to reveal a hint of pectoral mane surely works on some women. Used correctly, it can be the masculine equivalent of cleavage. Maybe Kip was trying to make his chest hair work for him like how Robert Plant let his jeans do the talking. Am I wrong?
It seems like the 80s was a prime time for chest hair acceptance. I’m curious to know what the ladies think of this. I may give the chest hairs a trim every now and then, but I feel I have to maintain something on my skin. If I waxed or fully shaved, I’d have the body of a twelve year old boy. Do you need to be greatly muscled or have six-pack abs to pull of the hairless look? Would the fairer sex be so eager to snuggle up close with Channing Tatum if he rocked Mother Nature’s sweater?
Full disclosure: I wanted to close the preceding paragraph/photo with pun playing off a Channing Tatum film name. I aborted the effort, and I’ll tell you why. I was going to say something along the lines of “More like Itch Perfect, AM I RIGHT??”. The film I was trying to think of was Magic Mike and not Pitch Perfect, which he probably is not in. Also, I think it would be more itchy if you got intimate with a man who shaves his chest regularly instead of a man who resembles a barber shop floor. Not that I’ve thought to deeply about the subject. That’s just what I hear from my female friends… when… I… ask them for descriptive anecdotes about making love to hairy men??? Fuck it! I’m bailing on this paragraph. So much for honesty!
Anyway, in spite of all his hair, Kip was not afraid to show his feminine side either. While he didn’t raid his girlfriend’s makeup drawer like other bands of the era, he could pull of some dance moves that would make Patrick Swayze green with envy. This video is a bad example of that, but this is the only Winger video I’ve seen where he doesn’t pirouette. I’m convinced this song was chosen as the next single solely to buy some foot recovery time following “Madalaine” and “Seventeen”.
In case you couldn’t tell from my constant need to side-track, there isn’t really that much to discuss with this music video. It is mostly shots of a band rehearsing a song in a studio. Then I noticed all the wardrobe changes that take place throughout the video. I often hear people say that they hate watching performance videos, so maybe this was their weak attempt at trying to keep our attention. Music videos are far too short to contain continuity errors otherwise.
Videos like this one come across as more of a fashion show than anything else. With not much of a plot in place, the director figures that they may as well dress up in the latest overpriced fashions. Wardrobe changes like this can be downright distracting. I’ve seen this theme in countless rock and metal videos of the late 80s and early 90s. Oddly enough, one of the first times I remember seeing this was in Dream Theater’s “Take The Time” video. It goes without saying that this was well before they learned that their heroes in Yes and Rush didn’t build their cult followings by playing to a bunch of salivating sorority sisters. It would take more than a flashy shirt or two to get young women to wrap their heads around Tales from Topographic Oceans.
Aside from this, we are also treated to quite a fetching blonde women woven throughout the video as the sole actress. She appears faded too far in the background for my liking. I’m not saying she has to go all “Girls, Girls, Girls” on us. I appreciate her classy sense of fashion. I literally mean she gets lost in a few of these shots. I had to watch the video at least five time before I saw her leaning against an amplifier. It gave off a bit of a Three Men and a Baby ghost vibe.
A ghost theory could actually make sense in the context of this video. I’m no English major, but this song definitely has the makings of a breakup song to me. What reason would this broad have to hang around on a multi-day video shoot to listen to some guy bash her? And are those papers that are blowing across the set his failed attempts at writing this song? So that would mean she’s even sitting in on the composition phase of this project. She’d either have to be a ghost checking in on her former lover, or she’s as thick as a brick. This video could be weeks in the making for all we know, considering that Kip has gone through more image changes here than Madonna. She’s been wearing the same dress, mind you, but I don’t think ghosts need to change clothes like the living do. They either keep the outfit that they die in, or choose their favourite clothes to wear to leave the best impression they can on those they are haunting. They never modernize their look or wardrobe. They’re pretty much only capable of moving furniture around or looking sad.
On that note, there’s plenty of crying being done by this woman. I hope that these are actually genuine tears, and she was hired for her ability to tear up on command. I’d hate to think they passed up the next Meryl Streep just to hastily slap together a promo video. This closeup of her crying was pretty much the only mandatory thing required in terms of performance, yet I’m not quite buying it from this woman. The ladies in Robert Palmer’s videos showed more compelling emotional range than this.
The video just kind of fizzles out at the end, as we see this woman overlooking a pool while Kip struggles to swim. This leads me to believe that she didn’t do enough crying to fill this pool with her own tears. Tears are salty, so I’d think the resulting salt water would potentially make it easier for him to swim. I’m no scientist though, and the fine folks at MythBusters told me that they wouldn’t indulge in theories derived from hair metal videos.
I’ll safely assume that the final act of the video is to give us insight on the couple’s breakup, but the details are a bit sketchy. All I can conclude for certain is that she finally got sick of being with the type of guy that jumps into pools at parties while fully clothed.