Interview and Live Photos by: Robert Cavuoto
Ryan Roxie who is well known for being Alice Cooper’s long-time lead guitarist and collaborator will be releasing a solo album on May 25th called, Imagine Your Reality. It’s his first official solo release and is joined by other noteworthy musicians, including a collaboration with Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander on “California Man.”
Imagine Your Reality offers infectiously melodic songs with straight ahead no nonsense rock riffs! From the punk rock undertones of “Never Mind Me” to the un-sugarcoated tale of life in “La La Land (To Live and Die in LA)” to the superb “Look Me In The Eye.” Pre-orders for the album can be found at http://www.bellyacherecords.com
I caught up with Ryan to talk about the creation of his guitar-driven album, finding his own voice while in the Alice Cooper’s band, and imagining his own reality.
Robert Cavuoto: I’m really enjoying the album! It has a great vibe, like old school 80’s rock but with a fresh approach. Tell me about the making of the album and how long did you spend writing and recording it?
Ryan Roxie: I’m glad you are enjoying it and hoping to get it out to as many Rock n’ Rollers as possible. The history with some of those songs goes back to my time in Slash’s Snakepit. Other riffs are new like “Look Me in the Eye” was from just a few months ago. It spans a lot of years, some good times, some bad times, and everything in between. I’m really proud that it showcases the most amount of guitars that I have ever put on an album! It wasn’t me saying to add the guitars; it was the producers saying it, which was a cool feeling.
Robert Cavuoto: Which song would you say had the most recorded guitars?
Ryan Roxie: [Laughing] Oddly enough it’s the last song on the album, “God Put a Smile on Your Face” because of all the acoustic guitars needed to provide the different flavors plus it has an array of electric guitars. We built a wall of sound on the chorus. I didn’t put it as the last song so you would listen from track 1 to 10 all the way through, but I kind of did treat it that way. [Laughing]
Robert Cavuoto: Did you record the album in hotel rooms while on the road?
Ryan Roxie: Tommy Henriksen produced three of the tracks. Even though Glen Sobel recorded the drums separately at a later date in the studio, the meat of the tracks, the leads, and the vocals were all recorded in hotel rooms across America. They were recorded at the Holiday Inn Studios, the Marriott Studios, and the Sheraton Studios! [Laughing].
Ryan Roxie: Robert Cavuoto: It only makes sense when you have downtime to keep productive.
Ryan Roxie: Playing with Alice Cooper, we don’t get that much downtime. He works hard and loves to tour, in between, we pack it in much stuff as possible. He and I play golf a lot together, so the schedule is always packed. The days off in the dead of winter where you can’t golf or go outside of your hotel room for 48 hours, thank God for Tommy and his recording gear because we came up with some great stuff on those days.
Robert Cavuoto: What is the meaning behind the album title, Imagine your Reality?
Ryan Roxie: There are two things that I always tell people when I appear at a guitar clinic or when people asked my opinion on “how to make it?” I tell them to enjoy the ride because you have to enjoy whatever you are doing in life and the other is to imagine your reality. You have to imagine that you are already achieving the goal you are embarking on. You have to imagine being in that position before it happens. The more you are able to imagine yourself having achieved that goal, the closer you are to the goal and making it a reality. Is not about sitting back and daydreaming, there is a big difference between daydreaming and putting your thoughts into action. Imagine your reality whether it be five days, five months, or five years and envision yourself doing it and working towards that goal every day.
Robert Cavuoto: Great insight and advice, I completely believe in the power of positive thinking as well.
Ryan Roxie: There is something to say about hard working and putting your goals into action. There is one thing to sit back and be positive, but you have to put the work in every single day. That’s what I did with this album, even though some of the riffs are from years ago while some are just a few months old; it was a process and a journey. I enjoyed every minute of making it. This is my first Ryan Roxie solo album, and I’m excited to see what will happen in the future. I already in my mind imagined what will happen a year from now, but I have a lot of work to go before I get there.
Robert Cavuoto: The guitar tones on the album are varied from song to song and help bring the emotion of each song. For example “Look Me in the Eye” and “Big Rock Show'” is different than “Me Generation.” Can you tell us about your thoughts on determining the best tone for each song?
Ryan Roxie: That’s a great question. Right off the bat, I always try to pick the right guitar for the right song. If a song calls for a Les Paul through a Marshall amp, that what I do. I also put a lot of trust in the producers as they know how to dial up tones. I can explain to them a tone I’m looking for and trust them to figure out how to make it happen. Tommy Henriksen and Kristoffer “Folle” Folin are able to dial up stuff so well they were able to translate my direction. If I wanted an Oasis vibe with open jangly rock sound for the rhythm guitar on “Look Me in the Eye”, they know exactly how to deliver on it. There are a lot of synergies when working with people, and trusting your producers to get the right sound, you are looking for.
Robert Cavuoto: “La La Land (To Live and Die in LA)”is my favorite track as it has that sleazy, aggressive, 80’s LA vibe. Were the lyrics directed at someone or a bad situation?
Ryan Roxie: That was one of the riffs that came about when I was with Slash’s Snakepit. I didn’t record it back then, but it was from old demos and has that slinky feeling. You always play off people you are jamming with. I have been very lucky to be associated with some great guitar players. Back then, I was playing with Slash, and obviously, that is going to rub off on me. That is where you are hearing is that vibe.
The title was from an 80’s movie, and it was too good to be lost on that crime drama movie. That lifestyle what we were living was reflected in the guitar riff and the spirit of the lyrics. There was controversy, there was drama, and there was sheer bliss from living in LA. It’s all about that song. I wrote the lyrics back then but made some changes in later years. It was tumultuous times, but I won’t change it for the world.
Robert Cavuoto: “California Man” is a fun cover; tell me about the selection of that song and how Robin Zander of Cheap Trick got involved?
Ryan Roxie: It’s one of the rock n roll dreams. It’s about one of my favorite bands growing up. My first and favorite band was The Beatles, but Cheap Trick was the band that I latched on to as a kid. I would do homework listening to Live at Budokan while saying to myself, “Someday I want to be just like these guys.” Going back to imagine reality; I was doing a lot of it back in the day and eventually, it became a reality. Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander have jammed with us over the years and even did a tour with Alice. Our tour manager lives by Robin, so I asked him if he could reach out to Robin to guest on it. As you know, it’s a Cheap Trick cover of The Moves song as that was one of the songs I was most influenced by. He asked, and Robin came back with “Let’s do it!” I sent him the tracks, and he recorded his part in his studio, and then we mixed it together. Another interesting thing about the track was that Teddy “Zig Zag” played keyboard on it and recorded it out in California. Robin recorded his part in Florida, the drummer Seven Anapolis lives here in Stockholm and record in here, and I laid down the guitar while on the road. [Laughing]. I couldn’t be more proud of it. It doesn’t stray too far from Cheap Trick’s version; I just tried to give it the best homage to it that could. Robin singing on it was the cherry on the sundae.
Robert Cavuoto: How important is it to find your own voice in the music business outside of Alice?
Ryan Roxie: Any time you want to separate yourself and make yourself an individual you can’t take it so seriously that you forget where you came from. I know that 99.99% people know me from playing with Alice Cooper. It’s a name that I’m proud to be associated with and hopefully always be associated with. When people ask, “What other bands have you been in?” I tell them I’ve been in 100 bands but 98 you’ve never heard of [laughing]. Everyone heard of Slash and Alice Cooper. Luckily, playing with Alice for as long as I have has given me a lot of insight into the music business, and I have learned from him and look to him as a big brother. He showed me the ropes of Rock n Roll. Alice makes albums that have a spectrum of sound, and that is what I try to do. Perhaps my individually on this album is a spectrum of songs. There are ten different styles of songs on one album but that my personality and that my playlist. It’s the music that influenced me growing up.
Robert Cavuoto: In early, 2000 Alice’s albums were straight up Rock n’ Roll and recorded with a band approach. Eye of Alice Cooper is still my favorite of his albums, and this album reminds me of that; do you see him going back to that writing formula?
Ryan Roxie: Thanks for mentioning that. I have been playing with Alice since 1996 when I was promised a one-year tour. There were only five years since that I didn’t tour with him. The albums you mentioned in the early 2000s Eyes of Alice Cooper and Dirty Diamonds was a great line-up with Chuck Garric on bass, Eric Dover on guitar, and Tommy Clufetos and Eric Singer on drums. There was a certain cohesiveness with that lineup. To be 100% honest, this current line-up since 2102 is the longest line-up since the original band, other than Orianthi and Nita Strauss switching out. I would really like to see this line-up have the opportunity to make an album together like the way the band albums were made. Again, I’m very aware of whose name is on the marquee! [Laughing]. I want to ride this out into the sunset. I want to be that guy playing guitar for him. I hope that it happens and we have continued success in our careers as well as all the projects we all do. As you know Alice will be touring with the Hollywood Vampires and I’ll be promoting my solo album. Then we come together in August for more touring as the Alice Cooper band.
Official website – http://www.ryanroxie.com