An Interview with

Ryan Roxie

Guitarist of Alice Cooper

(who also played Slash's Snakepit, and his own bands, 'Dads Porno Mag,'Roxie 77 & Casablanca')

Interviewed by telephone on Wednesday, 11th April 2012 by Glenn Milligan.

Ryan: Hello.

Glenn: Hi is that Ryan?

Ryan: This is Ryan.

Glenn: How you doing, it's Glenn from

Ryan: How are you? Nice to hear from you.

Glenn: You too. The last time I saw you was with Alice Cooper and I met you outside the City Hall, Sheffield about 12 years ago.

Ryan: 12 years ago.

Glenn: Yeah.

Ryan: You were a young child.

Glenn: I was yeah.

Ryan: So was I.

Glenn: I remember you had the big blond dreads then.

Ryan: The big blond dreads, the big blond dreads - the Brutal Planet Tour - it must have been.

Glenn: Yeah that's the one. Yeah it was a good one. How time flies.

Ryan: That's the thing about it. Huh?

Glenn: Yeah.

Ryan: My dreads are gone now but the memories remain.

Glenn: Cool.

Ryan: It still happens once in awhile - "You're the guy with the dreads?", "Yes I am....and now I'm the guy with the Keith Richards haircut.

Glenn: That's the one. Yeah. With regards to Casablanca, the band, how did you decide on that being the band name and where did the title of the album come from?

Ryan: It's a good question and we get asked about the name of the band a lot. When Casablanca was named by our singer. He pretty much came up with the name along the bass player who bring in the majority of the songs. They become 'Casablanca' songs with each of our collective parts and stuff. That's why the album is credited with all of Casablanca writing it..... but Mats and Anders Ljung are kind of the 2 unspoken leaders of that band. Anders is a huge fan of the band Kiss. If you remember, Casablanca was the record label Kiss was on back in the 70's.

Glenn: It was yeah.

Ryan: So in a sense, we just couldn't believe that the actual name of the band hadn't been taken yet for a rock band. There's some Swedish dance band (a type of music 'special' to Sweden) that are around and I'm sure there's probably some Bulgarian Folk rock doing some disco Moroccan thing but not a rock 'n' roll band called Casablanca! The name had a sense of timelessness, a good era that we liked obviously because of its connection with Kiss and something that sounded a little bit exotic. Casablanca much like Sweden and is one of those things, a little bit tricky to point out on a map. If your average American is shown to point out on a map where Sweden or Casablanca are, they probably 9 times out of 10 point in the wrong direction...hell, I still do...ha!

Glenn: I notice when you mention Kiss, you can hear some of the Kiss coming through on the album as well. It's like you've worn your influences on your sleeve or on the CD as such. So it stands out quite a bit.

Ryan: I think collectively as a band we did that consciously. We took a few bands that we all (love) and put them on the table and said, "What do we want this album to sound like?". Kiss was one of the bands that was a major influence that we all had. There were other bands, like there's a touch of Thin Lizzy in there, there's a touch of early Billy Idol. There's a little touch of Hanoi Rocks and there's a modern touch of a band like The Foo Fighters. So we could blend. We took all those bands I just mentioned and put them into some sort of blender and put the food processor on - perhaps you'd come out with some sort of Casablanca puree. That's what, you know, the key to any really successful band is drawing from your influences but making them your own and then putting out an album that sounds like your own band but reminiscent of all the things we just talked about.

Glenn: Yeah, I totally agree. What would you say your favourite songs are on the album and why?

Ryan: I think I am really proud of the album is because I don't have any particular favourites....For me, I enjoy listening to the album from start to finish. I really do and it's very rare that I find albums that you can have on where you are able to do that anymore because we live in a world where you're pressed to write a hit single and then put that out on an album and the rest are just 'album track songs'. If I had to pick out a few that stand out for me I'd go with track 2, 'Deliberately Wasted' because it is a track I enjoy playing live. I really enjoy what I did in the guitar solo. It's pretty simple but at the same time I told a little story in the solo. I think 'Love & Desperation' - the way it sorta has that ode to Kiss 'Black Diamond' in the beginning and then it goes into this sort of 'Heart - Barracuda' vibe. I like that sort of influence as well and 'The Juggler' because it reminds me of a (Rolling) Stones era which I think has been widely overlooked - it's sort of the 'Emotional Rescue' era.

Glenn: Yeah that rang through.

Ryan: The 'Emotional Rescue/Some Girls' era of The Stones was what 'The Juggler' sort of reminds me of. So those three tracks I guess you could say stick out to me.

Glenn: Got ya. What about highlights actually recording the album? What stands out from that point?

Ryan: The highlights of recording the album is that we actually did it the way you are supposed to. We sat in a room, in a big studio room and recorded the album. It was done at Polar Studios which is famous for all the big Abba records and Led Zeppelin's 'In Through The Out Door' - . It was a really nice sounding room. The drums were all set up with tons of mikes with all of us in the room doing the basic tracks. So a lot of the basic tracks that you hear, - rhythm guitars, bass and drums - those are all from our tracks we did in the room together. We did some overdubs with, but our Producer, Chris Laney was pretty adamant on having us record as a band the way you are supposed to. He did a great job with the album I think.

Glenn: Yeah you mention Chris Laney and with his albums is such a cracking producer. When he did the Randy Piper's Animal album, that's an incredible album - the 'Virus' album - that's just amazing. He captures it and he literally sounds like he's just pressed 'record' and it comes out how it should.

Ryan: We were very lucky. Chris became a fan of the band cos we are obviously fans of his and his work. We think he is such an up-and-coming talent that we really thought that he would do the best job of representing... getting the sound authentic. Having my Les Paul & Marshall sound like a really nice old school Les Paul and Marshall. Having the background vocals sound really lush and thick. he was really good at making good warm sounds through all this cool analogue that he was able to use at Polar Studios.

Glenn: Yeah awesome. Regarding 'Rocket Songs' (that that album is issued on), is 'Rocket Songs' actually a label?

Ryan: Yeah 'Rocket Songs' is a label. Fredrik (Hultgren) and David (La Roxx) are the CEO's. They're awesome for us.. I don't know if you know the band 'Houston' , but they've also put out the Houston record.

Glenn: Oh yeah.

Ryan: Houston has done quite well in the AOR world. For Casablanca, they've taken our album really gotten people and press to listen to it. I really admire what they've done. The way we're at in this world with the state of the music business, is that independent labels with the right sort of attitude and the right sort of game plan can actually compete with majors. Because of all the tools that are out there to use as far as social media marketing.

Glenn: Yeah.

Ryan: It's a small label out of Sweden but it's getting bigger all the time and, you know, that's the way we look at our band. We're a small band but hopefully we can get a bit bigger every year.

Glenn: Yeah, I mean you've got some big names in there, I reading through the CD booklet and I noticed the name Anders Johansson and was like 'holy sh*t, that's Yngwie's old guy isn't it'?'

Ryan: Yeah - he is one of the top guys in the business as far as the A&R goes....we were very lucky that we were able to have him on our team because he believes strongly in the strength of the songs of the band. We're always gonna be indebted to Anders for his guidance on this record.

Glenn: Yeah. How did you get to know Anders?

Ryan: He was working with Joesphine's band 'Sahara Hotnights' and Josephine (Forsman, drummer of Casablanca) said, Hey I got a rock band too that I'm playing with, you should check this out". He basically fell in love with the songs and helped us out and he's done as much as he could.

Glenn: Awesome. That's great. What about the photo on the cover. it's like a painting as such - where did the idea come from to have that?

Ryan: Well I think the album title had a little bit of influence on it, 'Apocalyptic Youth'. We were feeling a bit of the 70's movie, 'The Warriors'. We wanted to have sort of a denim and leather look which was another sort of conscious decision on how we wanted to come across on the 1st album as well. The painting makes it a little bit 'Classic Rock' and the brick wall - what can you say... you can't mess with that. The Ramones weren't wrong, Skid Row wasn't wrong and the sort of album cover of 'The Warriors' has that sort of look as well.

Glenn: Yeah you are dead right.

Ryan: So if you think about Skid Row's album cover, you know, band against a brick wall. You think about one of the Ramones most famous promo shots against a brick wall and then add in the The Warriors movie soundtrack cover - there you go. Combine all those three things together and you got the cover of 'Apocalyptic Youth'. There's the secret.

Glenn: Exactly, and even 'The Wall' itself, that is like the wall cover for the wall. So it's another brick.....

Ryan: You know what, you just added another influence - that's perfect.

Glenn: Yeah.

Ryan: The ironic thing about that photo is that we've done a lot of photo shoots since we've been a band. We've probably done more photo shoots than actual gigs. This album cover came from one of the first photo shoots we ever did!

Glenn: Wow.

Ryan: That photo just kept coming back......'denim and leather brought us all together'.

Glenn: Yeah, if you look at it, it looks like a painting that's turned into a photo or a photo that's actually turned into a painting. You can't really decide if it's one or the other or a bit of both. It's pretty intriguing.

Ryan: Then I won't give it away.

(We laugh)

Glenn: Or you'll have to kill me?

Ryan: But I think I just did.

Glenn: Yeah it works anyway, especially the way you've got the shine off the leather and the denim and everything else.

Ryan: The guy who painted the actual album cover did a really good job of taking the best parts of the photo and putting it into the painting. That's an awesome job on his part.

Glenn: Yeah. What would you say you are most proud of so far as a guitarist and why?

Ryan: As a guitar player there's nothing that gets me more proud than when I get a facebook message or an e-mail from someone that says, "Hey I saw you on stage with Alice Cooper, or with one of the bands I have here in Sweden 'Roxie 77' or 'Casablanca' and they say , "I saw you on stage playing and you inspired me to play guitar - you inspired me to stick with it", That's sweet to hear for every guitar player. There's nothing more you could ask for than your influence rubbing off on someone else - your positive influence. Nothing gets me more proud than when someone comes up to me and says, "Hey man, you affected my life by what you do on stage." That's all I ever wanted to do.

Glenn: Yeah and you're not conscious of doing it yourself, it just happens doesn't it?

Ryan: Well I kind of think that this is what I've done primary my whole entire life and it's what I intend to do as long as I can, So you know, it's very, it's a very lucky when you find the thing in life that you like to do and you're actually able to do it as a career. There's not a day goes by that I don't appreciate the life I've been blessed to live.

Glenn: Oh no, I can imagine.

Ryan: I've been through some pretty bad times, I've been through some decadent times, I've been through some rough times ......but at the end of the day I'm still able to play guitar and make it my primary source of income, so I'm one of the lucky ones. You know what, it's not because I've practised more than anybody, it's not that I'm luckier than anybody, it's just because it's something that I knew i wanted to do and I was gonna make it my life since I was a young kid. I fully believe you can sort of create your own reality. You can create this reality of yours. I may sound a bit like a hippie but I was born in the 60's, so I got a little bit of hippie in me anyhow.....

Glenn: It's like when I run the website and that, you become what you wanna become and you can work from that. It's all inside of you and it's what you enjoy doing.

Ryan: 'Imagine your Reality' was the working title for the last album that I put out with my band 'Roxie 77' - it ended up being called 'Two Sides To Every Story' and that came from my personal life. I thought, 'Hey there's two sides to almost every argument, two sides to every person opinion' and that ended up being the title but the working title before was called 'Imagine Your Reality' and I really thought that that was kind of a cool title too so you never know, I might use it again.. If you can actually think about it, visualize it in your head, you can actually make it real.

Glenn: Yep. I totally agree.

Ryan: I realised 'that' just sounded like a hippie....ha!

Glenn: I've got literally thousands of albums on CD, tape whatever but at all times, I'll always put in my top ten, the Slash's Snakepit album that you played on, it's such a cracking album.

Ryan: 'Ain't Life Grand'

Glenn: Yeah it's a f*ck*n' amazing that album. It's just that everything about it is perfect.

Ryan: Thankyou., I knew after a couple of years after being able to step back and listen to it objectively, that there's A LOT of music on that album. If you listen to that album there's music and there's parts going that definitely fill up the eardrums. The drums are monstrous, the bass playings monstrous, the guitars are everywhere but at the same time because of the production of Jack Douglas it all works together. I must say that, you know, of all the albums I've played on, it's definitely one of the most musical albums where you know, there's a million parts and you think it's gonna almost teeter on being a train wreck but it kinda works itself out and I'm really proud of that album as well. Rod Jackson's just one of my all time favourite singers.

Glenn: Well I mean he is a cracking singer - he sort of reminds me of Lenny Kravitz times 10.

Ryan: If Lenny Kravitz all of a sudden took a bunch of steroids - yeah Lenny Kravitz with road rage.

Glenn: Yeah. I mean 'Just Like Anything'; 'Mean Bone'; 'Speed Parade' and even 'Ain't Life Grand' - it's.. you know, what can you say, it's perfect.

Ryan: Here's the difference between God-given singers like Rod Jackson and everybody else. There's been a couple of people that I think in this world that have just god given voices and I'd put Rod Jackson in that league. Guys like Freddie Mercury, guys like Robin Zander from Cheap Trick. These are guys that just have these God-given voices that I don't know where it comes from but they are just incredible singers. The rest of us like guys like me who, I mean I front Roxie 77, I feel like I can sing okay and I can sell a song and I can carry a tune but man, how I wish I had that natural gods gift ability. . There's something special about these guys.

Glenn: What are some of your best and favourite memories of playing on that Slash's Snakepit album?

Ryan: My best memories of that album were the routine we got in actually recording it because we recorded the album over a precess of time and it took actually a couple of years to record. I remember recording the album three times. First we demo'd it and we recorded it at Slash's at Slash's Studio called 'Slash's Snakepit Studios' and then we got in Jack Douglas and we eventually went to Ocean Way and recorded the whole album again but the writing process that we'd go through to write that out, like we'd all show up at around noon, 1 o'clock in the afternoon and play until about 10 o'clock at night - that was our job to play rock 'n' roll. Can you think of a better job than that?

Glenn Nope. I actually got to meet Jack in 2009 at the LA Music Awards. He was receiving an award and I congratulated on him getting the award and he said, "Oh thanks man", so that was nice. He seemed a cool guy.

Ryan: Jack's a good guy.. I really have the privilege of working with some of the worlds greatest Producers. I mean the 1st record I ever made, Tony Visconti was the Producer on it. Tony Visconti did all the great T-Rex records and Bowie etc.. Bob Rock produced and album I worked on with a style all his own - completely different from Jack's approach, which is completely different from Tony's.

Glenn: Yeah, he had that great band as well called 'Rockhead'.

Ryan: Yes, well Bob Rock is a guitar player himself and he pushed me to play the best I could when I worked with him. With Bob Rock you definitely had to be on your toes and you had to be on your game. Bob Rock can hear every tone of every note that you play - trust me.

Glenn: I can imagine. What was it like playing for Alice Cooper, was that different to playing with Slash or very similar?

Ryan: Well it was an evolution, in between (working with Alice Cooper) I met Slash, he seemed really cool and we got the idea of playing together and making an album together. While on tour with Alice, Slash would come down to a bunch of shows on the 1st and 2nd tours so I guess that would be in '96 or '97. He would come in for the encore or whatever and sort of gravitate to my side of the stage and we played very well off each other. So, you know, the fact that we did those james, I was introduced to Slash after playing with Alice. It works that way. And regarding Alice's band, I got to play with some of the coolest guitar players that I can think of. Dudes like Pete Friesen, Eric Dover, Reb Beach and Damon Johnson. I got to play with so many talented guitar players I always wanted to. I think the key to being a guitar player and especially in a two guitar player band is being able to learn from the other guitarist. Slash definitely taught me a thing or two about guitar.

Glenn: I think he's taught a lot of people. You can just tell Slash's style straight away from anybody else after a few notes - he's just got something else. You can't put your finger on what it is.

Ryan: Yeah. Like I mentioned earlier there's God given singers and there's God given guitar players and he is definately one of them. There's guys like Randy Rhoads, Brian May and Eddie Van Halen. They sound like themselves and that's all you can inspire to do playing guitar is sound like yourself. Have your personality come through your guitar.

Glenn: That brings me onto the next question as I was ask you to describe the guitar style of Ryan Roxie and I know exactly what you are gonna say now.

Ryan: Well hopefully it's my personality....It's my head and my heart trying to tell my fingers what to do and get my personality to come through that Les Paul.

Glenn: Awesome. What originally got you around to playing guitar and what was your 1st guitar?

Ryan: The very first guitar I owned was a Fender Stratocaster. I actually think my parents did the right thing. Okay, it wasn't my parents, it was Santa Claus. Santa Clause did the right thing and a real brand guitar, a real branded name and I learned off that and quickly traded it in for a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top. It was the same Gold Top that I have today that I play on all my records. I call it my first girlfriend. It's a '71 Gibson Gold Top Basically, I was influenced by 70's Rock which I was so happy to be a part of, you know, in that time. Those guys who were creating and pioneering rock and roll - it was 1st generation. It wasn't 2nd or 3rd generation influence like it is today. I was getting my musical influences from the source, so to speak, The Beatles, they were putting distortion on records and I was able to listen to it for the 1st time. There were bands like Queen, Kiss, Cheap Trick, I mean the list can go on - Van Halen. They were doing things with instruments that hadn't been done. I mean, Eddie Van Halen was doing things with the guitar that no one had ever done before and he was evolving the instrument so that's what inspired me.

Glenn: I'd like to say congratulations on getting the job with Alice Cooper again.

Ryan: It's like I said, 'Imagine Your Reality' and putting it out there and wait to see what happens.....I've said this before. but I'm really more excited this time around I think then I was the 1st time I got to get out there because I appreciate everything so much more. Perhaps I did in '96 but I've gone through so much more life experience. I've gone through so many good times and so many bad times and now realised just how hard it can be to tour in a rock 'n' roll band....It's gonna be nice to get into a little more of a nicer touring lifestyle, but at the same I will appreciate everything. All the moments up on stage.

Glenn: That's cool. It's weird because you and Keri (Kelli) seem to be doing a merry-go- round regarding playing with Alice Cooper and Slash's Snakepit.

Ryan: Well, what you need to understand is that Keri and I have known each other for SO many years. I brought him into the 1st solo band that I put together called 'Dad's Porno Mag'. We brought him in because we really wanted an extra guitar player to fill out the sound and he did such a great job of learning the album better than me to be honest with you......In fact, one of the first phone calls I got was from Keri saying congrats on the Alice Cooper gig,....I told him thanks and "I'm sure our paths will cross somewhere this Summer so I look forward to seeing you", because you know he's gonna be rockin' and rollin' in some band.

Glenn: Oh Yeah. I've met him a couple of times and he's a cool cat and a crackin' guitarist like your self. What would you say you are looking forward to about playing with Alice on stage and being in front of the crowd?

Ryan: I'm most looking forward to being part of this band that Alice has put together on this tour because I think the opportunity to play with a line up three guitarists is exciting.... It's gonna be myself, Orianthi (Panagaris) and Tommy Henriksen. If we can take the most out of this three guitar player line-up plus all the other stuff that Chuck (Garric, Bass) and Glen (Sobel, Drums) are gonna be bring to the table... I think it has the possibility to be one of the most musical bands that Alice has had in a while....and he's had some great ones no doubt.

Glenn: Cool. I'm hoping that I hear you on a new album as well. I'll let you get off for your next interview and it's been a pleasure Sir.

Ryan: It's been really great talking to you and I hope I'm gonna see you on the road some time this year.

Glenn: Yeah I'm planning to come and see you somewhere when you're playing with Alice.

Ryan: Well you let me know what date you are gonna be at and I'll see you there.

Glenn: Oh thanks man, cool you take care there.

Ryan: Keep in can always find me at (laughs)

Glenn: I will man, take care.

Ryan: Take Care.

A big thankyou to Faye @ No Quarter PR for setting up the Interview and Ryan himself for such a fine interview!