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Ryan Roxie: Autumn 1996

This interview was prepared by Fanzine 'Hard N' Fast' just after Ryan's first tour with Alice but never published.
We present it now courtesy of it's author Alex Richter.

(c) Alex RichterJust finishing up a US tour with ALICE COOPER'S band, guitarist Ryan Roxie has a bunch of doors open for him, that in the past have been closed, some locked. Roxie has his own band DAD'S PORNO MAG waiting for him in Los Angeles, as well as opportunities with Gilby Clarke, as well as a European tour with ALICE COOPER'S band. After the extensive tour with Alice, I'm sure there will be a few other choices as well. I first met Ryan Roxie at the Cat Club in New York City, had a Rolling Rock with him from time to time. When his band the ELECTRIC ANGELS signed to Atlantic he and bassist, Jonathan Daniel went to their publicist and asked to be in my HARD N' FAST publication, little did they know I already had the album and was hoping to land them for an interview. The ELECTRIC ANGELS were a brilliant band that was given birth at the end of 80's rock genre, lumped in with the hair bands, the ELECTRIC ANGELS couldn't get arrested. Near the end days of the band I talked to Ryan and Jonathan who were five days away from being homeless, so the two moved in with me and my other roommate for a few months. Not only is Ryan a great guitarist, he is a funny guy, he seems to be endlessly smiling like a kid in a candy store, one guy I feel richer for knowing. A great deal of this interview is about Ryan Roxie pre-Alice Cooper. I know there are a lot of you out there that have followed Ryan's career, well this will fill you in on any grey areas...

HARD N' FAST: So Alice Cooper, how did you get the gig?

RYAN ROXIE: I went down and begged, pleaded and groveled as much as I could like everybody else. I went down there and auditioned for it and luckily through a lot of goods words that were said by a lot of friends around the Alice camp and around our camp, everybody seemed to put in a good word for me and the bottom line is I just went down there and said why shouldn't I get this? I totally went with the attitude of playing guitar for a long time and this is a really good opportunity for me, so why not?

HN'F: So were there a lot of people down there trying out?

RR: Yes, I was a little psyched out at first because there were all these riffers there. There was Warren DeMartini, ex of RATT came down, Reb Beach, ex of WINGER, Frankie Wilsex of ex of ARCADE was there and stuff. All these guys, and I was listening to them and they were all really, really good. They were like doing their thing and I just kind of sat back, kind of like at a football game when you change game plans. Like at the last minute I said ok, Alice Cooper needs two guitar players not just one, so one guy is obviously gonna be handling all of the fast riff, and stuff like that. He also needs a guy who is just gonna chunk down some chords and give some solos throughout the thing, I'd be happy too. So what I did was, I changed my game plan at the very end, because I learned all the fast stuff, but when I went in there I just went in there with the attitude of like being a real chunk rhythm player and luckily the plan worked. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

HN'F: So what did they do? Did they just plug you into an amp, or was there a band?

RR: Plugged right into a Marshall straight went into a chord. That is always the best way to try out someone. Because there are no gimmicks, no pedals. Now I have sort of my magic box that I'm working with and I got some sound going on, some weird sounds for some of the songs because some of the songs call for it. But in a perfect world it's guitar, chord, amp.

HN'F: So what is it like being on the road with a legend?

RR: It's great work if you can get it. That's all I've got to say. Anyone that wants to tell you oh, the roads this, the roads that, I mean this is really a dream summer for me. I'm enjoying every minute of it. There are some things you miss. You miss your family, you miss your friends, but there are so many advantages to it. You kind of have to overlook a few things you do miss. You have to really, really appreciate this because this doesn't happen every single day, as we all know.

HN'F: Do you get up on stage in the middle of a song and go you, look what I'm doing? Like reality hit you in the middle of the show your like I'm playing Alice Cooper and there's 15,000 people here?

RR: Do I ever brain freeze? Is that what your saying? Alex I brain freeze when I talk to you on the phone. That's just a natural day to day thing that I think we all do. Yeah, the first couple of shows maybe a little bit because the first show we did, the very first Alice Cooper show that I was able to play on stage and we were actually performing in front of the audience which was also being taped for MTV and being recorded for a live album that's coming out later this year. So our first gig we had to learn about twenty songs and play them all as you were recording a live record and so there's a little pressure there. But once we got over that and after the first couple of shows everything kind of kicked into automatic gear. And now we're at the point where the band is just kind of on auto pilot-right now.

HN'F: So give us the take on the rest of Alice's band.

RR: Starting with the man on the drums in the back. You've known him for years, Jimmy DeGrasso. He's a great guy and a great mountain biker. Then you have Paul Taylor on the keyboards to stage left and he's like the consummate musician. He's the musical director of the band and he's an amazing keyboard player and he also plays guitar too. Then you got Reb Beach, on guitar, he's a Legend and a skate boarder. Actually he's our comic relief for the tour. Everybody has roles on tours. He's definitely in charge of making things lighter, we have a great time with him on the road because he fills that role as like, he just makes us. I don't want it to come across bad, because it's not bad at all. Were just constantly amazed at the rebelations that he has. Rebelations is what he calls them. R...e...b. It's great, there's no dis at all. He makes us crack up. He is completely the comedian of the band. Plus you know "fuck," he's Reb Beach, he's a really, really talented technical player you know. He knows his stuff so well. Todd Jenson, one of the best singers I ever heard and bass players also. The musicianship for this band is for me really high caliber. It definitely pushes to me to practice and be better. You know Todd from other bands, he played with STEVE PERRY. He played in HARDLINE also. Everyone always wants to say, oh there's no egos, or this and that and this is really honestly, seriously one of the first bands besides DPM that I can say there are no egos. Not saying that it's a bad thing to have conflicts and stuff like that but this summer tour with ALICE is the first band I've played in where there are no egos about it. We know it's a summer tour and we should enjoy it and not get all caught up in it. It helps when the boss you are working for is like one of the coolest guys around. The man, the myth, the legend, the Godfather of American rock n' roll, the one and only Alice Cooper.

HN'F: So you were talking about the first show that was Cabo Wabo, so now tell us about the special guest and when is that going to be on video or is it going right to MTV?

RR: It's gonna be aired on VH1 in America and Euro MTV in Europe. It's gonna come out in September. One of the guys that came down, Rob Zombie from WHITE ZOMBIE came and sang "FEED MY FRANKENSTEIN."

HN'F: You met them from your New York days, right?

RR: You know what, we never actually talked in New York when we played together. By the time I left they were already playing the Limelite and up and coming and doing really well by the time I left New York. So we hadn't really met in New York but I definitely remember the band. We did play some shows together.

HN'F: He's a pretty intense guy right?

RR: Yeah, you know the perception verses reality, I mean he's a pretty mild mannered guy like us, just hanging out, doing rehearsals and stuff, kind of quiet and even when you come up on stage and run through the songs for rehearsal he was kind of a quiet guy. Then show time came and he just like exploded! It was cool to see that. It was like the guy was exploding and all his energy came out. It made Alice go, yeah! Alice got into the song even more so than normal and then boom. All of a sudden they were just trading off licks and they were like a duet team like Tammy Wynette and Crystal Gale.

HN'F: Also the Red Rocker was there.

RR: Sammy Hagar came and gave us a bottle of Tequila because that is what they do over at Cabo Wabo, they make their own Tequila and stuff. He laid out the solo for "SCHOOL'S OUT" and just kicked ass. He really did. I'm from the Bay area and I was telling him about how I kind of grew up listening to him. If you grew up in the Bay area you didn't really have a choice. You were a Sammy Haggar fan by proxy because you just couldn't get away from him. He was great. MONTROSE and everything. So he just came down and he's another guy that's just like I didn't know how his personality was going to be before I met him and after I was like Wow. How are these guys so mellow and seem to handle their success well?

HN'F: And Slash came down.

RR: Slash came down and laid down guitars on "ONLY WOMEN BLEED" and we did the special Slash arrangement which is not the arrangement we do when we play the song live on this tour. So we call it the special Slash arrangement because he learned it right off the record. It was right when he came down, it was like he started the song once and went whoa, were playing two different songs. He said "I learned it right off the record, where did you guys learn it off of?" We're like, I don't know. So we quickly learned the new version of it and I actually think Slash's version is really cool.

HN'F: He also did "LOST IN AMERICA"?.

RR: Yeah, "LOST IN AMERICA" and he did "ELECTED."

HN'F: Looking forward to seeing that video. Is it gonna be released on CD too?

RR: It's gonna come out on Hollywood Records.

HN'F: Let's do some history now... CANDY. CANDY got rid of Kyle Vincent, and Gilby took over vocals, how did you come to be the guitarist?

RR: I think I was the only guy left in Los Angeles with black enough hair that rivaled theirs. I'm kind of like the Johnny Bravo of rock when it comes to that. I got the gig because so many people used to see me out and say 'hey you should be CANDY you got black hair, you've look like those guys.' Eventually they came around and said hey, you kind of look like us, why don't you pick up and join our band. Then that's how that one came out. I'm the Johnny Bravo of rock n' roll for that one.

HN'F: So when CANDY called it quits, Jonathan Daniel, John Shubert and you added vocalist Shane and became the ELECTRIC ANGELS. Who put that band together and where did you guys find Shane?

RR: We found Shane sleeping on a girl's couch and Jonathan fished him out and actually Jonathan did a little finageling and Josh Fields is the original co-founder of Shane. And Jonathan pulled some strings, got him to play with us and we played Los Angeles for a year, then said we can stick it out here and see what happens with us or we can get a little ballsy and try going East coast. Where most bands come to Los Angeles why don't we try the other reverse? And fortunately for us it worked. We played our way across America. We went to New York and the band blew up the week after we got to New York so we figured we timed it pretty well. Within six shows we were signed to Atlantic Records.

HN'F: Was your first show in New York the Palladium with THE THROBS?

RR: No our first show in New York was actually... now here's a little trivia for you. Our first show in New York, the first really big show we did was Limelite. It was our first show. The first really big show was when we played L'Amoure East with CIRCUS OF POWER. That is when CIRCUS OF POWER was doing really, really well in the New York area and it was a good show for us. It kind of got our foot in the door.

HN'F: So now in the last few days of ELECTRIC ANGELS you formed another band, the EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES. Was that still while you were in ELECTRIC ANGELS or was that after you left?

RR: The EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES will always be, it's the name, your familiar with the fairy tale of it, it's like a big joke basically. That's what it was. The thing that actually scared us was that people stopped taking it as a joke and started taking it seriously. We played five nights a week.

HN'F: So were you still in ELECTRIC ANGELS at the time or was that after?

Alex and Roxie (c) Alex RichterRR: I think I was still living on your couch. You know what's great, not only did I live in your apartment, I got to do work with you. You got me really good high paying jobs remember. I got paid Chinese food and 50 bucks to go downtown and pass out porno mags.

HN'F: So who was in the EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES?

RR: EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES was, well it was always EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES featuring Scott Harris on drums because Scott Harris was just a legend and a great, great drummer. There's Stephen Adika who plays bass. He is now a very accomplished bassist. I taught him how to play bass. That was the whole reason for EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES. Besides for us to have a good time and get free beers and free drinks and free whatever. We formed the band so Stephen, everyone came up to Stephan and said hey man you look cool do you play in a band? And he would never say he did. What can I learn that I can pick up pretty quickly and get me in a band and I said well let's just break it down. What would be the easiest and the fastest you could do, and you know still get chicks? It was obviously bass, four strings. There's a whole bunch of different type of bass players in this world, I don't want to dis anybody who plays bass because I think it is definitely the back bone of rock and you have to have it. But as far as a guy just learning something, big four telephone wires to put your fingers down on, you're gonna be able to learn it a lot faster than any other instrument. So I taught him. And the first song we learned was the "CHINESE ROCKS," JOHNNY THUNDERS, and what was the other one. All we did was like JOHNNY THUNDERS, RAMONES, and RICK SPRINGFIELD songs.

HN'F: At some point the ELECTRIC ANGELS lineup decided it wasn't going to happen anymore, so at what point did you decide to go back to LA?

RR: I think the point that I decided to go back to LA was when I went back and noticed what I was doing, I really took a good look at what I was doing. The whole thing about ELECTRIC ANGELS and the whole thing I've always tried to do was move forward and go ahead. I think everybody tries to do that. But I found myself being caught up in the powers that be around New York and started regressing instead of progressing and it was one of the things where I was looking, going wow, I'm living off a dollar sixty a day. The Yoo Hoo's cost ninety cents, a slice of pizza cost seventy at the place I used to go to. I was living off basically a dollar sixty a day. I figured that was my breakfast and lunch and beer would be my dinner. If you get caught up into it for too long, you just start repeating yourself and repeating yourself then boom, it's a downward spiral. So I was lucky enough to realize that maybe that wasn't a direct route if wanted to keep playing rock n' roll for a living and that I had to do something different.

HN'F: So the EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES kind of went with you too? Right?

RR: I finally convince Stephan to move out here because his job at Circus Magazine was doing ok, but it was like one of those things too, where it was doing the same thing instead of going way ahead. So he said yeah, I'll do it. I think it is better for him that he did take the chance because he is doing now what he really wants to do. Which is play bass.

HN'F: So at this time in New York the three remaining members of ELECTRIC ANGELS grabbed a host of new guitar players that came and went and then "A TALE OF GIN AND SALVATION" album finally came out. What is your critique on that?

RR: I listened to the album in it's entirety about two to three times and I just felt that it was you know, Jonathan is a great lyricist and he is always going to write great words. I think it might have, it sounds so SPINAL TAP and mixed in doubly but I probably would have enjoyed it more if the guitars were a little bit more present, a little bit more of an attitude in it. I give them a lot of credit, I take inspiration from them doing it themselves and putting it out.

HN'F: So what came first, DAD'S PORNO MAG or your getting back with Gilby?

RR: It kind of came simultaneously. Steph and I were playing with DAD'S PORNO MAG, we had finally found the perfect drummer, Mike Fasano, he's amazing. He's like my favorite drummer I've ever played with. He's just an all around great guy. We found him and we played some shows, then Gilby's solo album came around and that whole opportunity arose and came up and it was a good chance to see the world and it was a good chance to play with a friend I'd known for over ten years now. It was just an all around good thing for me to do it. Because I was hoping it would open some doors for DPM when I got back and Gill and I went to Japan and went all over Europe and then went to South America opening up for AEROSMITH and went all around the United States two or three times. We basically got to do what few friends ever get to do, which is work together, have a great time and really enjoy themselves. So that whole tour I will never regret any part of it. Meanwhile, and this is the thing I feel bad about, is that it kind of left Stephan high and dry because he didn't have a band. Then there is another band he's in right now called the COMATONES that approached him. It was his decision to play with the COMATONES and be a permanent member of the COMATONES. And I couldn't blame him. So there is no animosity towards it at all. It's just one of the things that happened. I think he's happier playing that type of music, the COMATONES style of music more than he was with DAD'S PORNO MAG.

HN'F: So after GILBY'S tour you managed to talk bassist Will Effertz into joining DMP.

RR: Will goes, what are we gonna do now? We've done a live tour together and we were roommates on the road so he said come down and jam and see what happens. We'll take it with that attitude, if it works great, it if doesn't that's ok. We're still gonna play in GILBY'S band together. When he came down he's just got such a great style that meshes with Mike's drumming and my guitar playing. What a shock, we're a trio.

HN'F: How many songs does DPM have now?

RR: We have actually done, we've got sixteen, seventeen tracks on tape. We have enough to put a record out.

HN'F: Did you produce the stuff yourself?

RR: No, it was produced by a guy that came and approached us named Mark Schulman. He's a pretty famous drummer. He's played in SIMPLE MINDS, FOREIGNER, he's played in a lot of bands. He is a real pro at what he does and he wanted to get into producing as much as we wanted someone to capture our sound and I think he did a really good job of it.

HN'F: So how was the song writing handled in DAD'S PORNO MAG?

RR: Fine. You know it's the basic whoever comes in with a riff and then we kind of work it out. I started out with a whole bunch of songs that I had riffs for and lyrics for already and we kind of learned them and everybody added their own parts to it and then Will came in with some songs also that sound really, really great. And Mike, if you don't have a drummer's input, it is going to sound totally sterile, so Mike obviously has a huge input with drums and stuff like, with his drum parts and his style. So that's how it basically works.

HN'F: So I was gonna ask you if you had any regrets leaving GILBY'S band, but I understand you played on that.

RR: Gilby asked me if I could play some guitar tracks. He did a lot of guitar with this new record of his. He did a lot of the guitars himself but I did my share of tracks. I do what I do for GILBY, I sort of take my position like this. Every situation is different. Whatever band I play in there are certain roles for me to play. If I'm gonna sing in front of a band then that is going to be totally different than if I play guitar or if I just play lead for like GILBY'S band. Or in the case of ALICE COOPER, if I split the leads with Reb and play almost from seventy percent rhythm and thirty percent you know. Every situation is different. So I try to adjust myself to each one.

HN'F: Do you think you will be going back on the road with GILBY CLARKE?

RR: I hope so. I can't imagine us not, because we have a great rapport and there is too much fun to be had out there. You know what? Scratch that word fun. There's too much trouble to be had out there.

HN'F: So what do you foresee for DAD'S PORNO MAG and Ryan Roxie's future?

RR: First of all I foresee I'm never talking about myself in that third person, you know. I don't want to be like Deon Sanders. What Deon Sanders would do would be to sign a million dollar contract. I don't know for me, I'm just a guy enjoying his life right now. I'm in a happy place, I feel I've worked pretty hard to do this. I've been down, but I've tried to keep my head up during it. I've been beaten and kicked and gnawed at by the industry we call rock n' roll but I still try to keep my attitude good about it and right now it is paying off. I think there are a lot of people that are in the same boat as me, that things pay off for. That is my whole thing about it. If someone says what is your advice about getting into rock n' roll and this and that? It's like so many people it is easy for them to say don't get into it because it's this and that. It's like no, get into it if it is what you want to do. Get into rock n' roll and play it. Understand that it's like AC-DC says, it's a long way to the top if you want to rock n' roll. There are no true-er words said than that by Bon Scott, because it's like, grim, it looks grim sometimes. Then again I'm sitting here talking to you and sitting in this hotel room now that has way more rooms than I can ever use. You got to see this place Alex, it's ridiculous. It's a three bedroom suite. I don't know how the hell we got this three bedroom suite but I swear I could move you, Carey, Jacky Rena, everybody could come in here tonight to the show and still be room for Jonathan. DAD'S PORNO MAG is gonna have a record out by the end of the year. I've said that. I made a commitment to myself. So whether I come and knock on your door and sell it to you personally or you can go to your local Tower Records and find it, it's gonna be out. I don't make to many guarantees, but this is one guarantee I'm making. Is that cool?

HN'F: In closing is there something you would like to say to our readers and your fans who followed you for many years?

(c) Alex RichterRR: Well keep in touch with me, I want to know. It's been a while. It's been a while since I've done any press release on the East coast. I did something like Gerri Miller with Metal Edge, she has been working out of the West coast. But you know, basically the only thing I can ask out of your readers is you know, keep the spirit of rock n' roll alive. I mean the hair styles and the clothes and you know all that shit will change and all come around again. Don't worry, there will be daring days of hair spray sometime in the future. But the bottom line is the attitude of rock n' roll shouldn't change. Which is sort of like fuckin' do whatever you want you know. Have a good time doing whatever you want. God that sounds so SPINAL TAP. Have a good time always. That's my only advice. Keep the attitude of rock n' roll the same and understand that all that other stuff, all the fuckin' hair styles and all the clothes styles are just smoking mirrors. Basically the attitude should remain the same. It's up to the bands to keep putting out quality stuff and you know, hey if the industry beats it down, says this is not selling right now. I mean fuck off, put it out yourself. Let the people decide what is going to sell or not.

Interview conducted by Alex Richter Editor of Hard N' Fast

NOTE: Hard N' Fast wish to thank all the great people with the ALICE COOPER organization, and well ex my ex-couch potato Ryan Roxie! Cheers mate!