Interviews

Interview: A Conversation with Guitarist Ryan Roxie

Alice Cooper Axe Slinger Talks About New Solo Album, Imagine Your Reality

Vocalist/guitarist & songwriter, RYAN ROXIE, is best known as ALICE COOPER’S long-time lead guitarist and collaborator. He has also worked with Slash & Gilby Clarke and been a member of Classic Rock Award-nominated band, Casablanca. Roxie has had an impressive ride so far!

His forthcoming album, ‘Imagine Your Reality’ is his first official ‘solo’ release and sees him joined by other noteworthy musicians, including a collaboration with Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander on the track “California Man”. Says Roxie, ‘Cheap Trick were a major influence in my musical upbringing. Both Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen have joined us onstage at Alice Cooper shows in the past and have always been the most quintessential rock stars. In my opinion, Robin Zander’s voice IS the definition of Rock ‘n’ Roll, so having him do guest vocals on “California Man” definitely ticks a box off my ‘greatest moments in rock ‘n roll’ list’.

‘Imagine Your Reality’ continues Roxie’s legacy of creating infectiously melodic songs and straight ahead no-nonsense rock riffs and this time with more guitar than ever before! Ten tracks, all underlined by ten gleaming guitar solos. From the punk rock undertones of ‘Never Mind Me’ to the un-sugarcoated tale of life in La La Land (To Live and Die in LA) to the superb Beatle-y/Oasis nod, ‘Look Me In The Eye’ – it’s an uplifting big rock sound. Robin Zander transforms ‘California Man’ into the ultimate vintage-vibed, top down, drive in the sunshine, rock n’ roll anthem.

Ryan says, “With this album, I think we kept the spirit and power of the 3.5-minute rock song intact as well as keeping the dream of guitar-driven music alive and well. I can’t wait for people to experience my reality.”

Ryan Roxie will be hitting the road with Alice Cooper in the US starting March 1st.  ‘Over And Done’ – the debut single from ‘Imagine Your Reality’ will be released to coincide with the tour.

“Roxie is a consummate song writer…upbeat riffs, solid-gold choruses and killer, heavy pop-rock sensibilities… ” – Classic Rock

“One of the finest power pop rockers around…” –Fireworks


Ryan RoxieANTIHERO: I’m here to talk about your new solo album, Imagine Your Reality. You seem to be always on tour. I just wondered when you actually got the time to do a solo album?

Ryan Roxie: Well, luckily for us the winters are long, cold and dark in Sweden where I live, so there is time when I am off tour to stay in the studio and just work on tracks. That’s exactly what we did for this last album. We had a producer named Kristoffer “Folle” Folin that really took me under his wing and got, I think, the most out of my voice and the songs, but mostly got the most out of my guitar in this album, as well as Tommy Hendricksen who actually produced three of the songs on the album as well. A little secret, on those three songs that Tommy did we actually recorded those during breaks on days off during the Alice Cooper tour.

ANTIHERO: You have quite a collection of musicians on there. Did you jam out the tracks old school, do them in a studio live, or were they sort of performed and pieced together on the internet, did you do your own little individual pieces and share the audio files?

Ryan Roxie: Mix match of what we did on the tracks. Some of the tracks the musicians actually came into the studio, the drummers that we have were live. I thought it was important to put live drums and live instruments on the entire album. We did have a good selection of drummers to choose from. That actually did, sort of dictate the style of the song when we brought in these different drummers. For instance, Seven, he also lives in Stockholm. He came into the studio. Anton Körberg from the band Roxie 77, which you might be familiar with, is sort of the band I had before I put out this solo album, he played on the tracks as well but in a different style.

Then as far as other guest appearances, Robin Zander basically recorded his tracks at his studio that he has in Florida and sent them in, even though we had talked about doing the collaboration in person and we had met in Nashville and that’s what he agreed to do it. He was able to just easily record those vocal tracks there and send them on over as well as Teddy “Zig-Zag” Andriatis who actually played with Chuck Berry at one point. Everybody knows Teddy Zig Zag has been the keyboard player for Guns N’ Roses. He laid down a perfect piano track for California Man as well.

ANTIHERO: What about the tracks themselves? Were they all new tracks or were there a lot that were a mix match of song ideas you put together over the years? All musicians seem to have boxes full of riffs and song ideas just “lying around”?

Ryan Roxie: Let’s put it this way, everything was put together in the last year as far as getting the final songs done. When it comes to the inspiration, some of the riffs and some of maybe the vocal title tracks, some of those go back a few years. One of the riff rock tracks that we have called “To Live and Die in LA”, I had that title sort of bopping around in my head since the 90s. It was actually one of those weird  LA detective movies it was the title of a movie and I thought that title is too cool to be in just a movie. I’m going to make it a song as well. When you listen to the actual riff you can actually hear a bit of maybe there are a little bit of the bands I was playing around with during that time in the 90s influence in there. During that time, I was playing with Alice Cooper in the Brutal Planet era as well as Slash’s Snakepit.

ANTIHERO: I’ll have to go back and re-listen to that now that you have shared that with me. Of course, the album includes what will appear to many to be an extremely surprising cover version.

Ryan Roxie: Which one are you talking about?

ANTIHERO: The Coldplay one.

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, absolutely. I became a Coldplay fan by watching them live. That was one of the tracks that helped me through a really difficult time in my life. I always love that track but thought it could be just a bit heavier so when I had the opportunity to, when the producer Kristoffer was saying hey man, this is a guitar album, we want as many guitars on as possible, that song would be a great sort of compliment to the old school California Man cover that we did of Cheap Trick in the Move, so sort of a modern version from a modern band I felt that that cover worked out exactly the way I wanted to because that’s the way I hear it in my head. The same powerful song but with just a shit load more guitars, I think to be honest with you that has the most guitar tracks on any of the songs on the entire album.

ANTIHERO: It’s certainly going to surprise a lot of people. Coldplay is a band that seems to generate a lot of negativity generally.

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, well I mean look all I can say is go see them live and you’ll see, I think you’ll be won over because they have more pyro than Kiss. They have songs that leave you sort of leaving the stadium sort of remembering them the next day. Like I said that song, in particular, has a certain darkness and heaviness to it that I felt could even be, it could be generated even more with more guitars.

ANTIHERO: I agree with you totally. They are a band, I’m actually a fan of the band myself but I’m talking generally. I know there’s a lot of dissent and negativity with Coldplay as a band, you know.

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, it’s quite strange. I’ve kind of always been drawn those types of bands as well. If you think about it over, I love Oasis and they’ve always had sort of a love them or hate them sort of style as well. Guns N’ Roses is one of those bands where people either loved them or hated them and luckily for all of us guitar players the majority loved them. It’s one of those things that I think is important for people to decide for themselves and hopefully side with the side of the guitars players.

ANTIHERO: Okay, next logical question, you’re in the UK obviously promoting your solo album release, are you going to be returning to do some gigs to promote the album, some live gigs?

Ryan Roxie: Absolutely, there’s time off this year, because I live just a two-hour flight away there are opportunities for me to come to the UK. Because the UK is such a great sort of anchor country for the Alice Cooper fans and for people that know me for my associations with Alice Cooper and also Slash, the diehard fans actually all reside here in the UK, so I can’t wait to come here and play these tracks for them.

ANTIHERO: What sort of stage is that at? Have you got live dates actually penciled in your diary?

Ryan Roxie: There’s some stuff penciled in at the end of the year but I’m hoping to like I said, I always work around the Alice Cooper tour because as you know, for all of us in the band Alice Cooper is the priority. We all want to, we love this lineup and we want to see this band sort of ride out into the sunset if you will. We have generally such a good time touring together that I work within the break of that schedule. I know that he has a lot of vampire dates this year so hopefully, that will give more opportunity for me to come down here and play in the UK.

ANTIHERO: You mentioned obviously the Alice Cooper show as being your primary job, you have also over the years regularly released solo music. Do you think that’s important for you as a musician that you can balance the two, that gives you somewhere else another direction where you can …be creative in a different way?

Ryan Roxie: Absolutely, I think that anybody that has sort of it would be hard to say Alice Cooper is a day gig because it’s not a day gig it’s a life gig. It started off as a one-year tour and it ended up being a very cool lifetime job for me. When people, if Dave Grohl in Foo Fighters did his day job, then obviously look at all the cool stuff that he does besides that and has that creative outlet. At the end of the day, I think as musicians we always want to get as much creativity out there when it hits us. Inspiration doesn’t always hit all the time. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a 104 show tour like we were last year, you get very much into the routine of touring but then when you get those breaks of inspiration where you feel you want to express yourself, you want to take as much advantage of it as you can and that’s where I think so many musicians have these other outlets and I’m thankful for that.

ANTIHERO: You mentioned there both Alice and Slash who you’ve played with, musical legends, I just wondered if, probably unfair to ask you, if you could single out one that would have been most inspirational and who would’ve maybe taught you the most?

Ryan Roxie: Well, they both taught me many things about the music industry, some good, some bad. I will say this, Alice has taught me so much what it means to be a professional and be a rock star on stage but a very cool human being off stage, unapproachable on stage but very approachable off stage, and I think that’s the way I try to carry myself. As far as Slash goes, I mean who could ask for a better guitar teacher. The years that I got to play with him and be able to play off his style day in and day out there’s no way that that didn’t influence me in a positive way.

ANTIHERO: You don’t find that daunting though playing on stage beside Slash, or did that actually drive you on and inspire you?

Ryan Roxie: The cool thing about it is that the way we first met, we met through Alice Cooper and during those days Slash would find himself stumbling onto one side of the stage or other and luckily he heard what I was playing off him, in those Alice Cooper songs he heard it enough out of one side that he would stumble onto my stage and we ended up really playing well off each other. The parts that I would write would always try to compliment the parts that he wrote. That was the one really cool thing I will say about Slash is that when we made the Ain’t Life Grand record, he said anything that comes out of that left-hand speaker is all going to be you. He held true to that.

ANTIHERO: You mentioned being a cool person off stage. I just wondered, off stage if you’re still doing your web-based radio show?

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, well what I’ve been doing, I’ve actually been looking at different types of media and how to reintroduce it right now. I am working with a company called Metal Casino that actually, operates here in the UK as well. We do some stuff where I get to talk my talk, where my co-host gets to play online gaming and stuff. I have been able to utilize in that as far as that’s the freshest thing that I’ve been doing. I’m always looking for new, other news of how to get out another type of video show. What I’m looking for is not so much me broadcasting to a lot of people. I’m looking for more interactive, something where the fans and people that are fans of the music can actually get onto the show quite easily. It seems to be that the better the internet gets, the better, the faster the bandwidth gets, I’m getting closer to where I want to be as far as putting out a show that is totally a rock show but very interactive as well.

ANTIHERO: What about in terms of guests, who would be on your wishlist for you to sit down, maybe have a chat, have an interview with, with you asking the questions?

Ryan Roxie: Living or dead?

ANTIHERO: It would have to be living.

Ryan Roxie: Okay, great because sometimes I do get those hypothetical questions and you go, come on, how are you not going to interview John Lennon, how are you not going to interview Elvis Presley, but at the same time, look the guys that inspire me these days are the ones that are taking their musical platform and actually turning it into a whole sort of enterprise. I respect Alice so much because what he does as far as all the different things, the radio, the business decisions that he makes is all entered out of his music. As a go to, one of the usual suspect guys I always like talking with Alice because we do end up, to be honest with you, when we’re driving in the car in the morning, on our way to golf when we’re usually on tour it’s almost like an interview every single morning.

I have a lot of good sort of ideas to talk with him about. Other guys would be obviously David Grohl because I respect what he does as far as types of aspects of music and production that he goes into. Let me see who else would be, I’d like to sort of interview some of the newer bands that are out there and find out what’s inspiring them these days, bands like Highly Suspect, bands like the Struts, bands like Greta Van Fleet, these are all newer bands that I feel are sort of guitar driven and carrying the torch of rock and roll. That’s important for me to sort of, whenever I decide to pass the torch on of rock, that there’s this very strong and very passionate group of youth that’s going to take that torch and sort of carry it on. I just want to see more guitar players in this world at the end of the day.

ANTIHERO: You mentioned there the playing golf in your downtime. Are you a pretty decent golfer? You must be if you can play a round with Alice. He’s quite good.

Ryan Roxie: Put it this way, it’s taken a long, long time to get half-assed decent. It’s very little, it’s not like, I guess you can say it’s a bit like guitar playing. You see some quick results and then it’s a long, long phase of wait am I getting any better, am I not and then all of a sudden you realize before, through experience and just playing round after round or show after show, hey you’ve accomplished something, and you’ve gotten to a certain level. This past year I got my first eagle. If you know anything about golf I’ve been really happy.

ANTIHERO: Okay, just a final one, can you recall your first musical memory, maybe a song on the radio, your first gig, something along those lines?

Ryan Roxie: My first musical memory I think was, there was a TV show in the 70s called the Partridge Family, Keith Partridge was on TV and I honestly, this is how old it was, I don’t remember if I watched it on a color TV or if it was a black and white TV. I know we upgraded right around that time to an actual color TV set. It might have been black and white. The minute I saw this band jamming I think it was, I Think I Love You, I think that was the song, it was definitely a cheesy song to be inspired to be rock roller by but when you watched the television show you go hey, here’s this guy that looks cool playing, he plays in a band with his family and he tours around in a wacky looking tour bus, that seems like the lifestyle for me. At the time, the Partridge Family bus was the only tour bus that I knew about. Since then, we’ve actually gotten to have a little bit of an upgrade from that.

ANTIHERO: Of course, now you’re actually living that dream.

Ryan Roxie: Living that dream or you could actually say like the title of the new album is Imagine Your Reality, that’s what I was doing. I just kept imaging myself being on stage, playing in front of a lot of people and knock on wood, I’ve been able to do that for quite many years and I’m very thankful for it.

ANTIHERO: Ryan, thank you very much for chatting. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing you in the UK promoting the album before the end of the year.

Ryan Roxie: Thank you very much, hopefully, we’ll be able to talk again.

 

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Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time.Photo: Mark Dean with Jeff Kendrick of Devildriver - Photography by Olga Kuzmenko

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