AN INTERVIEW WITH RYAN ROXIE
By David Iozzia
When Ryan Roxie, the lead guitarist in Alice Cooper's band, answered interview questions for davesontour.com, he was sitting on an IKEA couch in an undisclosed location in Stockholm, Sweden.
photo by Ward Boult 2005
Dave: Ryan, thank you for letting me conduct this interview for my website, I'm honored. Alice Cooper's new album, "Dirty Diamonds," is being released early this summer. Tell me about its musical direction and a few details on a song or two from the album.
RYAN: Alice wanted to make an album with a bunch of imperfect gems on it, the "dirty diamonds" are actually the songs....If "The Eyes of Alice Cooper" was a return to the "Love it to Death" album, then "Diamonds" is a retrospective of all the styles that Alice has encompassed in his entire career.....straight ahead rockers, ballads, theatrical pieces, as well as a de-tuned "Brutal Planetesque" song thrown in here or there for good measure......all based around the fact that at the end of the day, Alice is a living legend, and ya can't really peg him down to just one genre of music....
Dave: Talk about the challenges in concert playing newer material that you've co-written with Alice, versus playing the classic Alice Cooper material.
RYAN: I think that no matter who you are, you are probably more often than not more excited to play your newest stuff for people. I think that Alice really likes the fact that he has a balls out rock band behind him and likes to represent that particular band by playing some of the newer songs. We know what the reaction of "School's Out" and "Eighteen" is most probably gonna be, but the newer ones are a little more of a gamble as far as what the crowd reaction will be, so it's cool to take that risk and see what happens....
Dave: Alice Cooper will be touring Europe with Twisted Sister, and the United States with Cheap Trick. It's being called the "Dirty Diamonds Revue." Can I assume that after last year's "Bare Bones" tour that this year's model will be a return to a full production, with stage antics and chaos?
RYAN: Trust me, no one wants the Big Rock Show with full production more then me, that way I don't have to run around like a chicken with my head cut off so much. But I'll probably end up doing that anyway! I'm glad that we have such legendary names paired up with us this next tour, strength in numbers right?! Cheap Trick, next to the Beatles, is my favorite band. I've ripped them off (hmmm..I mean paid homage to) so much with my own stuff that it's gonna be cool to play with them night after night!
Dave: I prefer the down-and-dirty aspects of the stripped down stage show. How about you? Did the "Bare Bones" tour give the band members more space to flex their musical muscles?
RYAN: Oh.....we flexed our muscles all right....but mostly it was me holding in my stomach trying to compete with Chuck Garric's abs! ha!.... It was really cool to strip it down to just a rock show the past couple of years, but I will give the guillotine a big hug when I see it this year.
Dave: Is this year's live band Damon Johnson and yourself on guitars, Chuck Garric on bass, Eric Singer drumming, and Teddy Zig Zag on keys?
RYAN: I believe so......but better check the NFL trading deadline to make sure. We've been through more changes this past year then Tara Reid's chest.
Dave: I understand that Chuck Garric and you are offering guitar lessons on the road. How do interested guitar players set that up with you and Chuck? I assume it's only logistically possible in select cities.
RYAN: It's actually going quite well with IMG (Internet Muscians Group), and we are getting pretty booked up with lessons when we take the show out on the road these days....the program has become quite popular, especially with the hard-core fans.....if anyone would like more info on the whole guitar/bass lesson deal, check this link out: www.roxie77.com and click on "Special Offer."
Dave: Ryan, were you a big fan of Alice Cooper when you were growing up?
RYAN: My Mom wouldn't let me listen to Alice Cooper....so naturally, that's exactly what I did.
Dave: So many incredible musicians have played in Alice's touring bands over the years. Do you run into Alice Cooper alumni at every show, or just now and then?
RYAN: Pretty much once a tour we are bound to run into Michael Bruce, and we are bound to end up at a hotel bar somewhere in the world having a nice quiet after-party....yeah right! Trust me, it ain't usually that quiet..... Damn you, Michael Bruce!!!! ha! He's a fine gentleman by the way....
Dave: What is your favorite classic Alice Cooper song to play every night? Why? Is there one oldie that you'd hope Alice would dust off and work into the set-list?
RYAN: I'll never get sick of playing the intro to "School's Out" and hearing that crowd go into a frenzy..... bless you, Michael Bruce!!
Dave: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently announced its inductees for 2005, which includes rock bands U2 and the Pretenders. U2 is understandable and I'm a fan of Chrissie Hynde but come on. How can the Pretenders be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and not Alice Cooper? The man and his stage shows are legendary, he has had countless tours on all four corners of the Earth, and his album sales must be 100 times that of the Pretenders handful of mediocre albums.
RYAN: JFK, The Loch Ness Monster, and Alice Cooper not in the Hall of Fame......let the conspiracy theories fly!!
Dave: You have your own band Roxie 77, with an incredible CD called "Peace, Love & Armageddon." Describe your noise and introduce your bandmates?
RYAN: Roxie 77- It's heavy power-driven pop music. I've always loved to write songs about life and hope and sometimes despair. Mike Fasano drums, Teddy Zig-Zag and Dan Myers add keyboards/backing vocals. Jeff Morose plays bass guitar and sings backing vocals.
Dave: What are the future recording plans and touring plans for Roxie 77?
RYAN: We've got our debut CD, "Peace Love & Armageddon" out and available at www.roxie77.com so we'll see what happens with the next Roxie 77 record. For now, the AC tour is gonna keep me busy for awhile, but any chance to sneak in a Roxie 77 lil' big rock show, you know I'm there!
Dave: Gilby Clarke produced your CD. We all know about Gilby from his stints playing guitar in Guns 'N Roses and with the Wilson sisters in Heart. Heck, he even tossed me a guitar pick when he toured in Nancy Sinatra's band. Instead of Gilby the guitar player, talk about Gilby the producer.
RYAN: Gilby has a great sense of what is and what is not a good take....and that ultimately is the mark of any great producer....he gets a good performance out of me without beating the living shit out of me....which some producers can do. Gilby also has one of the best amp and guitar collections I've ever seen, so his sounds are the real deal. And he's one hell of a mixer....all right all right...enough of me kissing Gilby's ass for now! Ha!
Dave: Mark Schulman, who is drumming on the never-ending Cher farewell tour, produced the CD of another band of yours which I'll cover later, Dad's Porno Mag. What do you think working musicians bring to the production table? Does a drummer/producer offer a much different perspective than a guitarist/producer?
RYAN: Mark is a great guy and has a great song sense, those damn drummers, they always sing, play guitar, and come up with great melodies....AND they beat on things for a living so ya can't take any of 'em in a fist fight!......Other than that, they have the worst job in rock: the most equipment to haul, set up way in back.... and don't even think you're getting any of the publishing!.... poor drummers...
Dave: Describe the musical direction of Dad's Porno Mag. How does it differ from Roxie 77?
RYAN: DPM a.k.a. Dad's Porno Mag- I always liked the name, and the people who got the joke liked it too....it's just the remaining 99% of the public who thought it had something to do with Internet porn who had a problem with it....too bad, cause if ya got the name, or got past the name, the band is worth checkin' out. The original pioneers of HEAVY POP..and you know we live on your support for checkin' out the new rock and carrying the torch in your neighborhood! Here comes the merciless plug..... www.dadspornomag.com
Dave: Have we seen the last of Dad's Porno Mag, or are live shows and another CD being talked about?
RYAN: Oh, I'm sure we'll do a reunion some day when ya least expect it. That way you and those 2 girls from Cleveland that actually bought the record will be sure to fill up at least the first 3 seats...!
Dave: I previously shared this story with your DPM bandmate, the well-traveled guitarist Keri Kelli. I visited www.dadspornomag.com from my computer at work and the Internet security program created an automatic written reprimand for visiting an inappropriate website. Thanks DPM! It would be stupid to ask you some of the other bands that Keri has been in because he's played with almost everybody. Can you name a band that Keri Kelli has yet to play guitar in?
RYAN: Keri, like myself....is a survivor. We're all just trying to make a living playing music, which ain't no easy task.....just go to any telemarketing room in Los Angeles to see the proof....Playing Madison Square Garden today, dialing phones tomorrow.....Nobody said surviving Rock 'n Roll was pretty, so I respect anyone who can keep themselves driven and motivated to make it to the next show....Like in the Godfather, "This is the business we chose".....ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Dave: Dad's Porno Mag did a cover version of Roxy Music's "Love is the Drug." If Roxy Music returned the favor, what DPM song would you hope they'd cover? I'm thinking singer Bryan Ferry would be a good choice to sing "Smell My Finger."
RYAN: We could always combine the two to make the quickly forgotten classic, "Smell the Drug and Finger My Love"- a homage to teen love/coke addiction. I still don't think Brian would consider it!
Dave: At this point in the interview, would you like to switch places and ask me a question or two?
RYAN: Sure.......What are you wearing right now?.......Is it diaphanous or just regular 'ol bondage leather?.....c'mon now, be truthful!
Dave: Truthfully speaking, I'm butt naked right now Ryan. That's how I sleep. I just got up in the middle of the night to let the dog out. While waiting for her to take care of business, I checked my e-mails. Your interview responses, and the one from the widow of the Prime Minister in some African nation that I never heard of were the only two e-mails worth reading. She wants my bank account information and to establish trust before she transfers millions of her late husband's assets into my bank account. Lucky me, huh? After the money clears, I'm buying some of the diaphanous bondage leather you asked about.
Dave: You and your family recently pulled up stakes in sunny southern California and moved to Sweden. Uneventful move I hope? Have you discovered the music scene in Sweden or are you still busy unpacking?
RYAN: I'll let you know what the music scene is like as soon as I can find my way out of this IKEA parking lot?!.....To be honest, some of my favorite bands to come out in the past few years hail from Sweden. The Ark, Backyard Babies, and The Hives just to name a few.
Dave: I was watching a TV show which I believe is called "Forsenic Files." They use science and new technologies to solve high-profile crimes. Anyway, Slash's famous top hat was finally returned to him after being stolen in Los Angeles. Exhibit 1: "Forensic Files" found it coated with a pollen that is only found in flowers that grow in Sweden. Exhibit 2: An anonymous bandmate of yours when you were in Slash's Snakepit said you were always lobbying for a bigger spot in the band. He said you even suggested a name change to Roxie's Rattlesnake Den. After hearing the evidence, here's your chance to admit your guilt publicly, and of course help me get a couple million hits at my website. Did you, or did you not, steal Slash's top hat?
RYAN: You have put so much thought into the question, how can I spoil it by actually answering it? Besides, you can't steal something that is surgically welded to a man's head, can you?
Dave: I'm a fan of the 70's rock band ANGEL. I also have CDs by American Angel and Angel City. I had not heard of your first band Electric Angels until I researched this interview. Electric Angels played an awesome gig any of those other bands would have killed for, opening a show for Iggy Pop at The Fillmore in San Francisco. What do you remember about that gig?
RYAN: The Apples in the lobby.... and the girl screaming, "don't eat the apples in the lobby!" right after I had taken a big bite....very biblical in fact. But I guess The Fillmore had a tradition of having apples available in the lobby during shows....how did I know 3 days later and an entire self-realization experience later that they would be tainted with L.S.D??
Dave: Describe the Electric Angels?
RYAN: Young, strong, and good-looking.
Dave: Glamnation was a glam cover band that you, Eric Singer, and ex-Alice Cooper guitarist Eric Dover put together. How did the British glam bands influence your musical career? SWEET was my favorite glam band, which was yours and why?
RYAN: Abba.....just because nobody thought they were glam....but listen to "S.O.S." That's GLAM!!
Dave: Take a moment to promote the charity, The Art of Elysium. Music fans may remember the golden dreadlocks that you cut off and sold, with proceeds going to this fine children's charity.
RYAN: And I thank each and every one of those that donated for that cause! After all, it was just my hair.....it was YOUR donations that made the difference! The Art of Elysium is doing good work each and every day for the kids of Los Angeles, and hopefully will be expanding as the funding gets bigger, thanks to good people like you. The charity brings musicians and actors to kids in the hospital (some who are recuperating, some who are terminal), and gives the kids some much- needed entertainment and support. I urge anyone who is interested in helping out the Art of Elysium go check out their website at www.theartofelysium.org .....trust me, you'll get even more out of it than the kids do. And the kids seem to love it.....
Dave: Is there one question that you've never been asked that you've always hoped an interviewer would ask? How would you answer that question?
RYAN: My astrological sign....and I would answer, "none of your fuckin' business!"
Dave: On the back of my Roxie 77 t-shirt it says "We are the Music Makers... and We are the Dreamers of the Dreams. Obviously a reference from the film Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What are your expectations of the new Hollywood remake of that film classic, which now stars Johnny Depp?
RYAN: Well, it IS my favorite movie of all time....I think there should actually be a national holiday (except for Arizona of course) because there would be nothin' better then not going to work because of Wonka Day!.....I really do think that it is an important film, and hopefully Depp and the gang will help turn on a whole new generation of people to the lessons learned in the film. It really is a film classic....
Dave: You've probably heard the phrase "desert island disc." If not, it's a CD that you'd want with you if stranded on a desert island. Let's update the technology a bit. Select a "desert island DVD" list for this interview. Pick two live concerts, two Hollywood films and the video highlights of any porno actress except my girlfriend's girlfriend Kobe Tai.
RYAN: Probably for inspiration, I'd only need "Rocky" and the subsequent porn off-shoot "Rock-hard E." I think that film had Christy Canyon & a very illegal Traci Lords in it at the time....Happy googling!
Dave: Speaking of desert islands, would you rather be stranded on the desert island with that porn star, and you have no chance of escaping. Or with her husband, who has the brains and ability to one day get you off the island?
RYAN: I guess you gotta go with the husband, cause like the 'ol saying goes "show me the perfect girl, and I'll show ya a guy who is tired of banging her." Sorry ladies, in case you didn't realize by now.....men are pigs.
Dave: Imagine that there is a time warp that has opened somewhere in the mountains of northern Sweden. If you could reach into the past, and pull a rock band into the present so that this generation could see them perform, what band would you grab? If you could push a rock band from the present into the future, so that our generation would never have had to endure their pitiful music, which band gets the heave?
RYAN: OK, now you have just crossed into the realm of just plain weird..... how good was the weed when you were coming up with these questions?! ha!
Dave: Ryan, in your opinion, is there one album that defines rock and roll? What band defines how rock and roll should be played?
RYAN: Two songs: "Highway to Hell" and "Stairway to Heaven." That is Rock 'n Roll.
Dave: Please tell me about two magical concert moments. One as a touring musician and another as a teenager attending a concert.
RYAN: My first real rock concert was in San Fran, and I saw my idols Cheap Trick play the Oakland Coliseum from the 3rd row.....last year, we (the guys in Alices band) played 3 songs with Rick Nielson and Robin Zander for an Alice Cooper charity event... dreams do come true once in awhile!
Dave: I've endured a few pitiful football seasons the last few years from my New York Giants. At least I have a future quarterback, Eli Manning. The last two seasons, your Oakland Raiders haven't fared much better. The Silver and Black added Randy Moss, but I envision your quarterback, ex-Giant Kerry Collins, underthrowing him all day long. What are your expectations from the Raiders this season? What time of day will their games be on your satellite dish in Sweden?
RYAN: Hey, if you could pick a "future" quarterback, then why didn't anyone pick Ben Roethlisberger (from the Pittsburgh Steelers) until so late in the draft....who knows? Football is like rock n roll....you put the right ingredients together, there's no telling how deep you can make it into the playoffs.....and like Al Pacino says in "Any Given Sunday"..."it's a game of inches"......so I guess football isn't like rock 'n roll...it's more like porn.
Dave: Thanks again for agreeing to do this interview. Here's your last chance to promote anything I've neglected to cover and to add any closing comments.
RYAN: I gotta tell ya, you've been pretty thorough. BUT, stay tuned to www.roxie77.com and the Blogspot http://roxie77.blogspot.com/ for a big announcement coming before the tour kicks off...Take care and see y'all out at the Big Rock Show...!
Full Name: Ryan Roxie
Former bands: (In semi-chronicalogical order) The Stratocasters,
Starfire, Fair Warning, Jeff Scott, Candy, Electric Angels, The Emporer's New Clothes, The Unbelievable Truth, Dad's Porno Mag, Gilby Clarke, Don't Touch Grandpa, Sweetwater, Alice Cooper, Tal Bachman, Slash's Snakepit, Glamnation, The Hollywood Outlaws, The Cover Police, The Star Fuckers, Billy Bob Thorton, The Swedish Meatballs, Berlin, Eric Singer & Friends, My Dixie Wrecked, The Hillary Duffers, Muscle Car, Smackerell, Roxie 77
Hobbies: Counting the number of bands I've been in....
Favorite beverage: depends on food
Favorite food: depends on beverage
Favorite Band: Those 4 guys from Liverpool
Favorite song: Cheap Trick's "Surrender"
Favorite film: "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" ('ol school version)