torsdag 12 april 2012

Exklusiv intervju med Ryan Roxie i
Alice Cooper/Casablanca!

Ryan Roxie spelade med the mighty Alice Cooper åren 96-06. Sedan flera år tillbaka bor han i Stockholm och har nu senast levererat Casablancas debutplatta till kritikernas stora förtjusning.
I onsdags blev det officiellt att han återvänder till Alice Cooper och medverkar bl a på den stora USA-turnén med Iron Maiden.
Jag fick möjlighet att ringa upp Ryan och prata om allt som just nu händer i hans liv. Faktum är att intervjun blev så lång att jag valt att dela upp den i två delar. Andra delen kommer upp imorgon.

So, how did all this come about? Was it Alice Cooper reaching out to you or did you call him since Steve Hunter's departured?

Ryan Roxie: Well, the thing that´s been really cool about the Alice Cooper organization is that the relationship I´ve had with them since I moved to Sweden has always been one of support. I had to leave the tour in early 2006 because it came to a point where I really needed to see my kids grow up. I talked to so many rock and rollers who hadn´t had that opportunity. The biggest influence on me making this decision was Eddie Ojeda from Twisted Sister. We were touring together at the time after my son had been born and Eddie just said point blank, “I didn´t see my daughter grow up as much as I would have liked to and now she´s 18 years old. All through her formative years, I was touring and I would´ve liked to see a lot more of those years.”.
I didn´t have the luxury of being able to bring the kids out on the road at the time. It was nothing but support from Alice Cooper and his camp and they basically said to me, “We understand, family comes first.”
Every time I talk about Alice Cooper, it's most definitely positive… he´s taught me so much more about music than just playing songs. I respect him and look up to him. So when he came here last summer and he played Gröna Lund and Getaway Festival I was just coming off season one of the “Big Rock Show” (Ryan Roxie´s web TV-show now changing it's name to All Excess with Ryan Roxie.) I was starting to compile interviews for the show I will be releasing called “All Exccess” . I just asked Alice if I could get an exclusive interview and he gave me one of the coolest one on one talks we've ever had. I haven´released it yet, but lookout for it later in the year.
We sat down and we talked about some stuff that I think you´ve probably never heard in interviews before and during the whole course of it, I just felt this “Yeah man, nothing´s really changed. We still have this great chemistry whether it´s off stage or on stage.” And at the end of the interview he said “Hey Roxie, you wanna come up on stage and play the encore?” and I said “It would be an honor. It´s so good for me to be seen with you, especially here in Sweden.”.
You know that name Alice, I wear it proudly on my shoulders and I try to not use it too much, but hey, it´s Alice Cooper! If you´ve got that ace up your sleeve, you gotta use it. (laughs)....So I went up and did both encores at Gröna Lund and Getaway and it just felt good. When they left I just had this feeling like “Ryan, you gotta put it out there dude!”, so before he left I said “Hey Coop, I really appreciate you having me up on stage and anytime there´s an opportunity where I can get up on stage full time, you gimme a call! And he said “You know I will.” And the call came, the opportunity came and I couldn´t be more fucking stoked. I´m as excited or even possibly more excited than I was the first time I got together with him, because I know this is sort of a second chance for me to get back up there and really appreciate all the things that I might not have appreciated the first time around.

Even though you put it out there and the way it´s been with Alice Cooper, was it still a hard decision to make? I´m thinking about your kids and stuff like that and also your band Casablanca.

RR: Fast forward from the time when I stopped playing in 2006 to 2012. That´s a good six years in there. During that time I had some of the most rewarding and hardest experiences that I could think of. Both musically and personally. Best experiences and worst experiences to be honest with you. For one, I got divorced from my wife.... but luckily we remain civil and in a good situation when it comes to the kids.
Also, I played in a lot of musical projects, some you might have heard of and others that better be forgotten. (laughs) At the same time I kept doing Roxie 77 which was my own outlet, my own sort of therapy and my own group of great guys.
I think that my two main Swedish bands that I play with (R77 and Casablanca) have pretty much the coolest band members of all time. For example, I just got back from rehearsals just before doing this interview, and my son said “You know daddy, the guys in your band are all really nice. Even Josephine.”. (laughs) There´s been nothing but support regarding the upcoming Alice tour and I think (and hope) that they see the advantages of what the Alice gig will bring for both Casablanca and Roxie 77. There´s gonna be a little more international focus put on the bands just in the sense that I´m gonna be playing in front of a more international audience.
I´ve always said that the sum of Casablanca should be greater than its parts. It should be a band that stands on its own because of the songs. If Casablanca are playing shows and I can´t make those shows, the people we´re talking about to fill in are really great quality players. Casablanca will be a power house band with or without me. Both Roxie 77 and Casablanca already have plans of going into the studio and recording more music before the end of the year anyway. I don´t like to sit around and take vacations, unless they involve playing or recording. If the work is there, I´ll do it. And let´s be honest, if you know the songs and you can have a little bit of time to do your homework and rehearse them, it doesn´t take that long to make a rock and roll record. We´re writing songs that are very guitar driven, in your face, like the bands I admired growing up, they made two albums a year, so I don´t find it impossible to do all these things.

There´s a short Casablanca tour coming up. Are you gonna do any of those dates?

RR: Absolutely! The tour for Alice starts until there is a window of opportunity to still play some dates.

Yeah, June 8th

RR: Exactly. Obviously the very last Casablanca shows I´ll most probably be in rehearsals with Alice already, but we have runs coming up all through April and some shows in May as well that I will be able to do. The thing is, you never know in this world what could happen. Like I said, I never shut the door on Alice because I was hoping that door could open up again someday and it appears to have opened and I´m never shutting the door on Casablanca or Roxie 77. I enjoy being in that role in those particular bands, all equally. But just to be honest with you, the tour bus on an Alice Cooper tour is so much fucking better. (laughs)..... It would be scary if it wasn´t. (laughs)

Those dates that you won´t make with Casablanca, who´s gonna step in? I saw a picture where Nicke Borg from Backyard Babies was jamming with you guys. Is that a plan, to have him step in?

RR: Nicke? You know… actually I think Nicke is really busy with his own band Homeland right now , but some of the names that they´ve been circling around, aren´t too far from that. Who knows, maybe I come back to a band where there´s three guitar players? To be honest with you, in my world that wouldn´t be bad at all, because I´m going to a band that´s gonna have three guitar players. There´s gonna be Tommy Henriksen on guitar, myself on guitar and then there´s Orianthi. It´s a bit coincidental that I´m gonna have the opportunity to play in the Alice Cooper band which has an up and coming female guitar player, whereas I´m coming from is a band that has one of Swedens biggest up and coming female drummers. Obviously you know everything about Josephine. You´re her number one stalker, aren´t you?

Absolutely! I just posted the interview with her and I got a lot of feedback on that one and all positive. Another thing with Casablanca is that I´ve read a lot of reviews of the album and they´re all good.

RR: I´m really, really happy about that because I´ve never been in a band that´s gotten good reviews. (laughs)
In that sense it kinda scares me, because do good reviews translate into sales? At the end of the day, and I said this on stage when we did a little acoustic show at Bengans (a Stockholm record store), “I really wanna thank all the people in the press who have given us such favorable reviews, but at the end of the day it comes down to playing in a room with 75 people and having those 75 people think it´s cool. If you people think it´s cool, then the reviews can be validated. “
It helps to have respect from review critics, but it doesn't help if you don't get the respect and admiration from the fans… you have to earn every fan at this point. One positive article isn´t gonna win over a person. They might get interested in the band, but you have to win them over to the live show and it´s most important that I win over as many people as I can that we play for. That´s my goal. If I can get 8 out of 10 people to like my band when I play live, that´s just as good as getting 8 out of 10 in Sweden Rock Magazine.

Right. You were just in New York. Did that have anything to do with Alice Cooper?

RR: (laughs) No, I was actually playing guitar… I was hired to play guitar for an up and coming artist out of Gothenburg. It was amazing. The artist is called 'Kifle' and he´s really got really cool songs and vibe. We went up to upstate New York to record at this place called Waterfront Studios with the producer Henry Hirsch who produced all the big Lenny Kravitz records....Talk about a throw back, old school recording session that fucking kicked ass. To go into that session… I´m not shitting you, I had ONE track per song that I could play on guitar. I had ONE punch in the whole session. This producer was so much about the 'vibe' and he wanted us to play the songs from the top to the bottom like the old school way, because we recorded it on two inch tape and we had this mixing board that was in Abbey Road Studios. Everything about the equipment was analog, vintage. Look out for this guy, because he´s gonna be good!
I played a style of guitar playing that I know I´m capable of, but maybe a lot of people that 'kinda' know about me, they might go “Wow! He´s branching out, playing something different.”. No, I have a lot of soulful type of records in my Spotify playlists. This is what this type of music is. Guitar driven, soulful, rock and really vibey.

Cool. The Alice Cooper thing, how does that work these days? Do you have to sign a lot of contracts and get an attorney to look it over? How does it work?

RR: No, the thing with Alice Cooper and that organization is that it´s very old school in the sense that a lot of trust is put in and a lot of deals are made with a handshake. Alice's manager Shep Gordon… let´s put it this way, does not like to write long e-mails. (laughs) E-mails should be the least amount of words possible and I think anyone that´s really kinda successful has that sort of philosophy. This is a little messed up for me because I like to talk, talk, talk, but I´m trying to get better at e-mails being more economical in my word choice..
Basically, Shep sent a message that said “This is when the tour runs from. This date to that date. Are you available?”. And basically I responded with “Yes, available.” (Or maybe it was HELL YES ;). Then it was like 'Ok, now I'm on the availability list..' But the coolest thing about the whole process was an e-mail from Bob Ezrin. One of my all time favorite producers...all the cool Alice Cooper records, all the cool KISS records, fucking Pink Floyd´s “The Wall”! Bob's email basically stated, “We talked about it, me, Alice and Shep and we think you´re the guy...Congrats.”.
I just had a smile on my face from ear to ear when I got that e-mail. It was such a great feeling to be asked to be part of this year´s tour and even a greater feeling who I was being asked by.

Good for you!

RR: Yeah, I´ve never told anyone that story, but it was one of those moments. I´m so blessed and thankful, but I´m always a little bit “Don´t believe it till you´re on the fucking tourbus!”. For me, I´m gonna be playing and doing all of these shows and I´ll believe it when we get on that stage and hit that first note with Iron Maiden. Then it will be another experience when we get to come over here to Sweden to play with Alice Cooper in my new country. One other cool thing about the experience is that Roxie 77 is booked on that festival too. (Skogsröjet)

Playing with Iron Maiden in the US means major arenas and a lot of people.

RR: I can hardly wait. I´m so focused on it and that´s what I said I wanted to do last year at Sweden Rock. I made a commitment to myself that no matter what band it was, no matter what situation, I was gonna be touring on a bigger level.
At last year’s Sweden Rock Festival, all the guys in Buckcherry, the guys in Rob Zombie, the guys in Ozzy´s band were all coming into Sweden Rock, but then they were all leaving the next day to play another festival show in Germany or whatever! It wasn´t that I was sad or depressed, it was just that I got the inspiration and I wanted to be that guy going on to the next show as well.... so I played it in my head that by next year I was going to be either playing Sweden Rock or be on tour.
I´m convinced that things can happen like that if you really, really put it out there. Throughout the last eight months I´ve been thinking about that, but I was so focused that it wasn´t a complete out of the blue thing because it´s something that I wanted. I use this term and I don´t know where I picked it up from, but it´s called “Ask, believe, receive!”. You have to ask for it first and then you have to actually believe it´s gonna happen and then you actually have to let it happen, so those are the words that I just kept saying to myself a lot.

The tour that you´ve signed up for ends in August, but has there already been talk about making the tour longer or to go somewhere else?

RR: When Alice goes on tour it usually lasts for a while, but I don´t know what he´s got up his sleeve this year. There are some special surprises somewhere around August, but that´s the thing, I´ve been told to just “chill out, things will work themselves out”. For me it´s win/win. If he stays out on the road, then I'm out on stage doing what I love to do....if not, then I´ll get to spend more time with my two kids Lennon and Natashia Grace..
I´ll make it work either way, but obviously for me, I wanna be on stage as much as possible. All the careers and fake careers that I´ve had whether it´s trying to be a TV host or being the guy that can go around and talk about the greatest guitars in the world (Gibson), nothing makes me happier than being up on stage. I´ve learned that in Sweden it´s very difficult to just do ONE thing bandwise and make a living out of it. I´ve done a lot of things associated with music, but I also realize the one thing that makes me the most happy, is when I can get a guitar strapped around me and someone says “Go out there and make those people jump up and down!”. I know I´m good at that.

When do rehearsals start?

RR: We´re talking … late May. First off we´re gonna have guitar rehearsals. We have three guitar players and we´re gonna try to make the most of it. Instead of us playing the same thing, there will obviously be things worked out where we can really use the addition of the third guitar. Sometimes it might be harmonies and sometimes backing up a chord part that needs to be heavier. I´m looking forward to it.

Where are the rehearsals gonna take place?

RR: When we meet for guitar rehearsals that´s gonna be in LA. The tour actually starts in Biloxi, so there´s gonna be some pre production and that´s when we get out the stage. Basically it´s gonna be trying to find a place on stage where Alice doesn´t take a whip to you or stab you. You have to watch out so you don´t get a sword in your throat or something. (laughs) I heard that Tommy the guitar player got stabbed last tour and the sword actually went through the first layer of his leather coat....ouch!

You better check up on your life insurance!

RR: (laughs) Well, I´ve made it this far along. I´ve lived in fucking New York and Los Angeles during the 80´s and 90´s so… but I´ll check it out. (laughs)

Of the people in the band now, I know you´ve played with Chuck before, but have you played with any of the other guys?

RR: I haven't toured with the others besides Alice and Chuck. As for Orianthi, I´ve heard such good things about from everybody that say she´s a really an amazing player! Tommy I´ve known for years but never toured with, and Glen, I´ve been watching his tapes and stuff and he´s just a monster on the drums, so it´ll be great.
I really want to just be able to 'contribute'..... and that´s my role. I´m looking at myself like someone that can come in and really be a part of a band that hopefully when people walk away from a live show, they go, “Wow, Alice has had a lot of bands the last couple of decades, but this one was one of the most entertaining!” That´s my goal.
My idea is to play these songs the way they were recorded so when it comes time for me to play the 70´s albums, play it with the same tone like the 70´s Alice band had.... when it comes time to play the 80´s stuff, play it like that. Obviously you wanna have your own take on it, but at the same time, don´t take away from what the song originally stood for. That´s what the people are coming for and that´s what I´m gonna give 'em.

Do you think you´ll have any way of suggesting songs to play or is he just going with a setlist that he knows?

RR: The thing is, I think as the tour goes on, there might be openings to suggest songs and stuff, but right now I think Alice is really focusing on what he wants to have on the setlist, so when we get down there for rehearsals we´re gonna run it and probably decide if it feels right...if it does, we are ready to immediately roll..... At this point, Alicd knows which songs suit his voice and make him strong in the set and which ones he can relax a little bit on. Alice is like a heavy weight boxer, and during the course of the whole performance you gotta find places to relax a little bit so you finish strong..... I think he´s got a very strong setlist all figured out.


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