Intervju med Ryan Roxie från Alice Cooper/Casablanca del 2!
Här är del 2 av den långa intervju jag gjorde med Ryan om hans återförening med Alice Cooper.
The first time around, how did you get wind of that Alice Cooper was looking for a guitar player?
RR: Well, I think every single gig I´ve ever gotten has come from some band or someone that I´ve been playing with before. That´s why I always say “Definitely remain friends with the guys in the band you´re in, because you never know what´s gonna happen down the road and how they might be able to open doors for you.”.
That´s exactly what happened with the Alice Cooper story. Years before, I played in a band called Candy with Gilby Clarke. That led into me eventually playing guitar for Gilby´s solo band while he was in Guns ´N Roses. There was some talk from the Alice camp of how they might like to have Gilby and myself play guitar for him. Unfortunately Gilby had commitments with his solo record but he gave me his blessings and his support and said “You know what Ryan, you gotta go for this!”. I went down and auditioned with the blessings of Gilby and a few other people and because of fate, luck or whatever...I did good enough to get the job. (laughes)
What do you remember from that audition? What songs did you play?
RR: I remember everything about it. For one, Alice was actually there, unlike a certain unnamed but ultimately insane singer I auditioned for, who didn´t even show up (laughes) . Eric Singer played the drums, Bob Daisley played the bass and we jammed on three different songs. “Billion dollar babies”, “I´m 18” and “Poison”.
It was the pre chorus of “Poison” that I think got me the gig. It got me the gig because even though I´d learned the technical widdely widdely stuff, I was listening to the other guys that were auditioning through the wall and every single one of them was sort of having problems with that pre chorus. The song itself was co-written by Desmond Child and it has a lot of intricate modulations in it. All of the guitar players were sort of stumbling over the part and I just said to myself “You know what, don´t concentrate on that widdely widdely stuff and just play those chords and you nail that part and you have a good shot at getting this gig.”. That´s what I did....... or maybe I just had a good hair day (laughs), I don´t know, but that ONE moment lead on to a 10 year adventure. And now, even longer!
During those albums, what was it like writing songs with Alice Cooper?
RR: To sit in the same room with riff ideas that you have come up with, probably in some hotel room or walking around on the streets and you think they sound ok, but then when you sit in the room and Alice starts putting his voice to it ,you start going “Yeah!”. All of a sudden it´s an Alice Cooper song!
All the individual ideas that we had I thought were cool, but they didn´t get that 'super coolness' until Alice came in and put his voice on them. The minute Alice puts his voice to it, it becomes an Alice Cooper song. He really puts his stamp on it.
How does Alice write songs? Does he play guitar?
RR: Well, I think he relies a lot on his own experience from all the musicians he´s been with over the years. He´s a musical guy in the sense that he knows what he wants to hear in his head. We had ideas but he always changed them around enough to suit his voice and when his lyrics would come in and really transform the song into an 'Alice Cooper' song. There was never a tense situation and that´s why the albums that we made together and especially the ones that I was able to write on with him, sound like they do.... we would be sitting down in the lounge of the studio or whatever and he could just say “You know what? Today we´re gonna write a song about a trucker who likes to dress up in women’s clothing.”.
I love that song!
RR: (laughs) “The ballad of Jesse Jane” is the title he would say and then continue with the story of the song “He´s gonna go into a McDonalds…” and then the story got weirder and weirder. When I originally wrote that riff I thought it was gonna be like a cool Stone Temple Pilots esoteric type of song…..it ended up becoming really esoteric but in a tongue in cheek way, so I was very proud of it.
That song is so much Alice Cooper. It´s the essence of Alice Cooper and such a great song.
RR: If I could ever convince him to dust some of those songs off that we recorded for 'The Eyes' and 'Dirty Diamonds' albums...it would be super fun. That´s the thing though, when you get to be at Alice´s status, he´s got so many songs in his catalog. When he does a new record, he´d like to play them all, but because of his history… even if he only plays one 'hit' off of each of the albums he´s ever done, it´s still too long of a set.
Of all the tours you did with Alice, is there one that stands out?
RR: The one that completely sort of did it for me and the one that fulfilled all my expectations and dreams was when Alice Cooper went on the road with Cheap Trick. If anybody knows anything about me they realize that Cheap Trick is my Beatles. I have as much influence of Cheap Trick as I have of The Beatles, and for us to co-headline a tour and share the stage with Cheap Trick was my childhood dream. I did homework every single day growing up listening to Cheap Trick´s “ at Budokan”, “Heaven tonight”, and “In color” … T
Cheap Trick records basically formed what I feel are great songs. If you listen to an album like “Heaven tonight” or even the first Cheap Trick record, those are the days when bands made albums of 10 great songs, not an album of a single here and there and a bunch ofr album tracks, That´s all I wanted to do with my own career- make albums that you enjoy listening to from beginning to end.
Another thing I didn´t know is that you play guitar on that Tal Bachman track.
RR: Yeah, “She´s so high”. That´s me ripping off George Harrison.
How did you end up doing that?
RR: Again, knowing people who know people and using the contacts....not abusing them.... One of the co-producers of the first solo record I did, which was called “Dad´s porno mag” was Mark Schulman. Mark plays drums for a bunch of different bands like Simple Minds and Pink and he´s like a monster drummer. He was co-producing the album andI had to get him to mix the album. I said “Man, I wanna put this out, can you please finish what you´re doing?” and he said “I´m really busy with this project and it´s getting a lot of attention from labels and it´s this guy from Canada. He´s trying to form a band and I´m helping him out with it. As asoon as I get his band sorted out, I´ll start working on your album.”.
I said “Alright, that´s good. I´ll play guitar for him.”. (laughs) And he said “What?”. “Yeah, why not? If it´s gonna make you finish the record faster, I´ll go down there and audition for him and I know I´ll get the gig.”. It´s so funny that I had this confidence about it,but I knew that if I could get this gig, my record would get put out quicker. I went down and I got the gig and ended up playing guitar on most of the album. We ended up living in Hawaii for basically six months recording an album with Bob Rock and that´s the album you hear.
So you´re on the entire album?
RR: I´m on 10 of the 12 tracks, but none credited. It was a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth for many years. I´m proud of the album but because my name´s not on it, I never really talk about it… My name didn´t get on it because by the time he finished mastering the album , I had gone back to touring with Alice Cooper. I needed to make a living as a musician and it´s not easy to just hang around and not take the opportunity of work when it´s there. I think his ego was a little bit hurt by that and both me and his manager at the time, a nice guy named Jeff who had basically funded so much of the project on credit card, we boht got nixed off the record as well. I think it ended up being a bit of a sour taste in everybody´s mouths for a few years.
To be honest with you, five years ago I found out that here in Scandinavia, a Norwegian artist covered the song 'She's so high' and it became a hit single 'again'. I said “You know what, it´s so stupid. I´m very proud of the album and the song, so why hold a grudge?”. So I reached out to him and e-mailed him and said “Let’s let this pass. This is why I couldn´t do your tour....”. He e-mailed me back and said “You know, I was feeling this way at the time and I was a little bit hurt by this…” we actually, buried the hatchet and 'shook hands' through e-mails and social media , so everything´s cool now.
What was it like working with Bob Rock?
RR: That was actually an experience as well. It´s so interesting to work with people that have made such iconic records. He´s made some of the biggest sounding records (Metallica Black Album) and he has a certain way and a certain technique of doing it, which is totally different than other producers like Tony Visconti that I´ve worked with earlier in my career. It was such a good experience from the sense to go with their work method and achieve the end result because at the end of the day, the end result was a good sounding record.
Bob Rock was bit more meticulous then Tony Visconti or Jack Douglas whom I've made albums with before...... Let me tell you, it wasn´t a cake walk with Bob. You had to play literally a lot of takes and even after the 50th time I thought I got it right, Bob still pushed me to play it a couple of more times. But as I said, at the end of the day I was very pleased with the final mix. No matter how many times he pushed me, it was worth it. I trust his judgment on that. You have to. When someone has that many platinum records on the wall and you don´t, you trust the guy.
Finally, this TV-show of yours that you´re working on, “All excess with Ryan Roxie”?
RR: This is a project I´m going to do my best to release during the course of next year. I´ve already built up a big catalog of interviews with rockers during last year's festival season in Sweden. When friends would come into town I'd say, “Hey, you wanna sit in front of the camera for five minutes and talk a little bit?”.
Basically I want to do an interview type show that takes the person, the subject, the rock n roller outside of their comfort zone, maybe just walking around the streets in Stockholm or hanging out somewhere where they´re not used to hanging out.... Just talk to them and talk to them a little bit more one on one. Different than my TV-show (The Big Rock Show) where it was more of a studio variety show. This is more of an on location interview show. Hopefully a little bit deeper because of the similar experiences that I share with them.
What I´m looking for in interviews is just “weird”, interesting and inspiring things to talk about. Hopefully we´ll be able to accomplish that.
Like I said, I did a great interview with Alice when he came into town last time and he revealed so many cool things about his career, like who gave him his nickname 'The Coop'. It was actually Groucho Marx who gave him that nickname. Cool stuff like that.
Are you aiming for TV or the web?
RR: I think the interviews are not gonna be long enough to be a full show with just one person. The best thing in the world would be to be a segment on a bigger show.
Eddie Trunk and his buddies have a great rock show called “That Metal Show”. It would be so cool if every once in awhile he could say, “Hey, let´s check in with Roxie and All Excess and see what he´s up to!” …..I´d do one of my little snippet interviews. Something like that would be really cool, so we´ll see what happens. But between me and you and the rest of the world, I can´t wait to get up there on that stage with Alice and the rest of the band....that's better than any TV show I can think of. (laughs)
Is there one song that you enjoy playing live more than others?
RR: Absolutely! The opening riff to “School´s out”. Every single hand in the audience rises up and starts clapping and fuck it, I just wish I had written that riff! (laughs)
Cool. A final thing here. Ever thought about writing a book? You´ve got to have tons of rock and roll debauchery and rock and roll stories?
RR: I´ve got all that and I´ve lived to tell about it, but guess what? It still ain´t as good as “The Dirt”. (laughs) After “The Dirt” was written, why bother? All the rest is just other guys trying to make a buck or two off the genre.
For me, to be honest with you, if I´m gonna write a book, I wanted it to be inspiring in a way. I want it to be like “Hey, this guy has done this and that, but he´s still come out ok and thankful, and....happy.”
If I write a book, I want it to be more that than people going “Oh, that´s so disgusting! I can´t believe he did that..I gotta read more”. Yeah, I´ve done all those disgusting things, but like the quote in one of my favorite movies called Amadeus.... “I´m a vulgar man, but my music is not.”.
I´ve done decadent things in my life, but hopefully I´ve also done things that would inspire younger kids to have that same dream that I had. If I was ever to write a book I´d like younger people to be inspired by what I say, not just entertained by how much of this or that I consumed.
One more thing. Are you now secretly wishing that all this will turn into making another album with Alice?
RR: Why wish secretly? (laughs) Of course I want to. Every time you can make an album with a guy that is a household name, it´s kinda cool. I´ve been able to do that a couple of times. I´ve had a lot of really good experiences with Alice Cooper so of course I would love to do it. At the same time I´m very content and very proud of the records I´ve been able to make with our “unknown” bands, which is Roxie 77 and Casablanca. I´m really proud of those albums as well. There´s a lot of heart and effort that goes into it. Put it like this, I´m just happy when I can put the songs and ideas down with a bunch of great guys and girls and then go out and be able to perform them live. That´s a treat.
It´s more about having an idea and turning that idea into a reality..... then repeat the cycle. If you do that more than a few times, that becomes a career, and if you have a career long enough, that becomes something you actually can look back at and say “That´s what I have done in life.” ….I´m still trying to do that. (laughs)
I´m really happy for you Ryan.
RR: Nick, it´s always great talking to you because you can say five words to my 100. (laughs)
The way it should be. Have a good night and I´ll talk to you later!
RR: Thanks buddy!