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Ryan Roxie: December 2006

Roxie In Athens
( courtesy of Rockpages.gr)

Roxie in Athens with Gennesis

It was like traveling back in time and most precisely in that backstage area of Max Schelling Halle in Berlin when we were doing an interview with Ryan Roxie last February. The former Alice Cooper guitarist (and good friend with Johnnie) came to Athens for a concert and we wouldn’t miss the chance to do a…rock n roll interview with him. Johnnie was there and shared with us some enjoyable stories from the 80s. Interview…The Berlin team (aka Yiannis Dolas, Sakis Nikas, George Anasontzis)

Ryan Roxie: Is that a Deep Purple T-shirt from the Berlin concert (pointing at Sakis’ T-shirt)?

Rockpages.gr: Exactly!

Ryan Roxie: You’re wearing the same T-shirt all those months?

Rockpages.gr: Yes, the same shirt all those months! (laughs)

Ryan Roxie: You, guys! (laughs) You are wearing a Ramones T-shirt (pointing at Yiannis’ T-shirt)? Name all the band members…

Rockpages.gr: Joey, Johnny and Marky….

Ryan: C’mon, look at the shirt…You forgot Dee Dee! (laughs)

Rockpages.gr: Oh, man! Dee Dee! You are wearing a CBGB’s shirt…

Ryan Roxie: Do you know what CBGB’s stands for?

Rockpages.gr: No, I don’t know…

Ryan Roxie: Country Blue Grass Bar. When it started out, it was the home for all the country blue grass bands. Then it became the home for all the punk rock n roll outfits.

Johnnie Holiday: Man, what about all those bands that had started out in the CBGB’s and now they are millionaires. The club is closing down and they don’t give a penny for it! It’s such a shame! Ryan, you had played there with Electric Angels, haven’t you?

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, but nobody got in touch with me to participate for a concert or something.

Johnnie Holiday: Man, when we played in CBGB’s…our first concert there…we must have had 38 people! (laughs)

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, including the staff! (laughs) But, that was the situation with all the New York Clubs at that time! There was a great N.Y. rock scene in the early 80s…Are we here to talk about the N.Y. club scene?

Rockpages.gr: C’mon Ryan, whatever you wanna say...Rock n roll, remember?

Ryan Roxie: Right (laughs)!

Rockpages.gr: A question that everybody should have asked you a million times in the past couple of months is why did you leave Alice Cooper’s band? Is it really the classic case of conflict between family and career?

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, for years I keep listening to the classic “parenthood is beautiful, parenthood will change your life” and I was still on the road doing the same things that I always have been doing. I was wondering when it will change my life. (laughs) But, my lovely and very understanding wife let me live my dream…for years! But, then it came to a point when arose the question of what is the right thing to do for my family and for me personally! It was a very hard decision between touring the world and staying at home –at least for a long time- with your wife and kids, but I am now pretty sure that it was the very right thing to do! From my perspective, I guess there shouldn’t be even a question about it! Family comes first! Always! I thing anybody who has kids understands what I am saying. I know Alice does! He was really there for me and said that he totally understands it!

Johnnie Holiday: Man, another thing is that in Roxie’s situation…you sacrifice so much! When you had achieved so many things, you get to a point where you don’t want to sacrifice them after such a long time and effort.

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, man…but when a 3-year old kid looks at you and says: “Papa, stay home”, you can’t resist to those eyes!

Rockpages.gr: Johnnie, would you do the same thing?

Ryan Roxie: If Johnnie would have stayed home with all his illegitimate children…

Johnnie Holiday: Shut up, man! (laughs)

Ryan Roxie: He wouldn’t have time to pick up his guitar! (laughs)

Johnnie Holiday: I will stay when I find a decent right woman! (laughs)

Ryan Roxie: C’mon, what are you talking about? You find a decent right woman almost every night! (laughs)

Johnnie Holiday: (laughs) I am still trying to find the right one! But, really man…it’s hard to say how it feels to be in Roxie’s position…every situation can be different.

Ryan Roxie: Guys, let me tell you this: Being with Alice Cooper is like being in Mafia! You never leave the Alice Cooper organization! You are in for life! It is your family, whether you’re officially in or out of the band! It is a family! You gotta remember that this Alice Cooper thing started as an 1-year tour and I stayed with him for 10 whole years. Now, that I think about it, Alice took some time off in the mid-90s to spend some quality time with his family!

Rockpages.gr: But, how do you feel that you are on your own as a solo artist?

Ryan Roxie: I shower more regularly now, which is a good thing! (laughs) I have to rely on myself…more like I used to. I learned a lot from Alice and I consider myself to be a like guy, because look at the guy I look up now…

Johnnie Holiday: Thanks, man!

Ryan Roxie: (laughs) Yeah, right! I am talking about Alice. Seriously, I want to make an analogy with The Karate Kid…I am Ralph Macchio and he is Miyagi…Wax on, Wax Off…you know! (laughs) Alice is my mentor! Not only did I learn about music but also I witnessed how the business works. Don’t forget that it is a music business…for better of for worse!

Rockpages.gr: Back in Berlin, you told us that you will release the second Roxie 77 album on your own. Is it still the case?

Ryan Roxie: Actually, since the time I moved in Sweden things have changed quite a bit. It is the first time that I have the opportunity to stay in one place and focus on my album. In L.A. I always started other projects and didn’t pay much attention to the second Roxie 77 record. Then it was the tour thing…you can’t say no to the touring aspect of the business. And we are talking about Alice who is constantly writing, rehearsing and touring! But, now in Sweden I was able to find a good network of guys –musicians and producers- with whom I am able to write the album that I want. So, when I told you in Berlin that I will work on my own, I wasn’t aware that I will meet so many talented musicians in Sweden who they will be willing to help me out. But, this second album will more of a solo deal…I will have a backing band (like tonight) but it will be a Ryan Roxie solo album.

Johnnie Holiday: Working with talented musicians brings another dimension to the music, as well!

Ryan Roxie: Absolutely! Working with really talented musicians in the past 10 years like Slash and all the different Alice Cooper line-ups made me even better and saw how a good song can be lifted to a higher level! For example, you have seen many Alice Cooper shows and each line-up brings another thing to the table…I don’t really mean a better thing but surely a different thing! I am looking at this Roxie 77 album like Alice does with his records. A backing band, but definitely a solo record…

Rockpages.gr: So, you are looking at a 2007 release…

Ryan Roxie: Yes! Remember that with all the tools that I have in my hands right now…with the blow-up of MySpace, the Internet and all the self promotional things, I cannot compete with the record companies, but I can surely provide and promote my disc properly. The only thing that is missing is actually the distribution…Do you take your baby to a guy who didn’t know you a couple of days ago and leave it there or do you take a more active role to the whole aspect of the album’s promotion, distribution etc.? I am thinking of promoting the disc myself and let other people distribute it. But, I haven’t decided yet! The perfect deal would be to find a proper label that will give me a good percentage of the album sales in exchange of my letting them have complete control on the album. I would like to see my independent label, Wax Tone Records, releasing the album, but also being under the umbrella of a bigger record label. If you look at it, there are only a handful of labels that are left nowadays and they are getting smaller and smaller. I have to tell you that the best thing to promote yourself is to sell records to one fan at a time. Dedicate your time to all the fans and create a fan base on your own. That’s the old-fashioned way and I think that it keeps coming back to all the up and coming musicians. Another thing is that I am thinking of changing my way of thinking. I am seriously thinking of selling downloads instead of albums. We may be from an old-school way of thinking where we really like the booklets and the albums, but the new kids just wanna have the song or two songs and not necessarily the whole record.

Johnnie Holiday: Man, I had a hard time going from vinyl to c.d. (laughs)

Ryan Roxie: You see! (laughs)

Rockpages.gr: You guys go back along time back together…

Ryan Roxie: Way back!!! We used to sleep together, you know what I mean! (laughs)

Johnnie Holiday: Man, we were living in a single room that had one bed in the middle and amps all around it!

Ryan Roxie: He was my first roommate ever! I was 17 years old and I had just moved to Los Angeles.

Johnnie Holiday: He was 17 years old and I was 21…that was 5 years ago!(laughs) Seriously, it was October 1983…

Ryan Roxie: So, all you freaks out there do the math and see how old I am! Roxie is 80 years old! (laughs)

Rockpages.gr: Man, why Roxie 77? I mean, what does Roxie 77 stands for?

Ryan Roxie: I finally have an answer for it! For so many years I came up with various explanations like my birthday…The truth is that I wanted to have an autograph that seemed classic, because of a competition thing! My first real tour was back in 1993-94, where I was playing with a little guy called Gilby Clarke who had been playing at the time with a little band called Guns N Roses. Back then, Gilby was signing his autographs as “Gilby Clarke, GNR, 1993 or 1994”. So, how you can compete with such an autograph? After all, there were only 5 or 10 people who will come up and ask for an autograph so as not to make me feel bad or something. (laughs) So, the only solution that I found at that time is to sign the autographs with a past year that will seem classic! You know, put the autograph on the wall and look at it as really old…Roxie 77, wow! (laughs) And, guess what? I started making research on the internet about that year and some of the greatest records were released in 1977! For example, the first Sex Pistols album, Van Halen’s first record, Cheap Trick, Queen’s “News Of The World”, Kiss’ “Love Gun”, The Eagles’ “Hotel California”…and Star Wars the movie, Mark Bolan and Elvis passed away…and that’s it!

Rockpages.gr: Have you ever played together in the past?

Ryan Roxie: We had done lots and lots of jams together…

Johnnie Holiday: We recorded lots of stuff together!

Ryan Roxie: Yeah, but the recordings didn’t make it through the 4-track mark! (laughs) But, one has to remember that The Beatles always recorded in a 4-track recorder! (laughs)

Rockpages.gr: Favorite and worst moments in your career…

Johnnie Holiday: I guess, when the kids died in the band…it was like the worst for us, man! When you lose one guy, it is kinda weird, but when you lose two…I don’t know, you tend to remember all the times in the van, on tour and stuff like that! It’s a strange feeling when you have lost two of your band mates and friends!

Ryan Roxie: Can I say the best? I don’t wanna continue on a negative note…

Rockpages.gr: Sure, man!

Ryan Roxie: Cool! One of the highlights of my career was last February…  

Rockpages.gr:…when you met us!

Ryan Roxie: (laughs) Yes! Seriously, I think it was the last show with Deep Purple of that German Tour…Steve Morse motioned to me to come up on stage while they were playing and said to me and Damon (Johnson) that he want us to come up on stage for the encore! He basically said: “I hope you know the song”! And of course, the song was “Smoke On The Water”! The first song that every guitar player on earth learns when he picks up a guitar!

Johnnie Holiday: Together with “Stairway To Heaven”.

Ryan Roxie: And here I am after…who knows how many years…I am on stage with the guy who wrote and sings the song, Ian Gillan in front of a sold-out audience! Definitely, a highlight of my career! This was a Rock N Roll fantasy!

Rockpages.gr: What’s your favorite Alice Cooper era? You were there when he was experimenting with the industrial sound and now he is back at his roots…more garage rock n roll?

Ryan Roxie: Oh man…well…when he was doing the industrial stuff I got to dress up in a more fetish way! (laughs)

Johnnie Holiday: He got to be himself!

Ryan Roxie: (laughs)…{a cell phone rings}…Thanks, man! You ruined the interview! (laughs and points at Johnnie) Now, seriously…with the industrial era I got to experiment a lot with some really clever clothing and hair style. With the garage albums, the recordings took place much quicker! So, we had an extra free time between the takes. But, there was a certain charm with the recording of “The Eyes Of Alice Cooper” and generally the whole process. I really like that era of “The Eyes…”. Alice really enjoyed that record and I’ve never seen him so focused as with this album!

Johnnie Holiday: My favorite Alice Cooper era is the first Alice Cooper band…albums like “School’s Out”, “Billion Dollar Babies” etc.

Rockpages.gr: That’s the period when Ryan wasn’t in the band…(laughs)

Ryan Roxie: Yeah! What are friend for, after all…(laughs)! But, I got to tell you this: Johnnie was the first person who turned me on to Alice Cooper music! We must have listened at “Cold Ethyl” 23 times in a row! That, of course, had nothing to do with various cigarettes that we were smoking (laughs)

Rockpages.gr: Last question…Rock press: Necessary evil, necessary good or “I don’t give a fuck about it”?

Ryan Roxie: (laughs) Is this question necessary?

Johnnie Holiday: (laughs) Yes it is!

Ryan Roxie: Actually, it is a very necessary thing, because if we don’t have outlets, like you guys, to talk and express ourselves, we would be talking to our therapist and it would cost us much more money! (laughs) After an interview, like this one, you, guys, influence a bunch of other people and if you think about it you should consider yourselves as doctors…rock doctors! You got to realize that if we didn’t have you, we wouldn’t have jobs! We need the publicity and the media to promote our job!

Johnnie Holiday: You are the medium to build a bridge between the bands and the fans.