RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with the Stockholm-based Californian as his four-CD Roxie Box compliation continues to cause quite a stir.
And as he wraps up a short UK tour with Eric Dover as a member of Lost Angels it seems Roxie is building up to one of the biggest years of his prolific career.
rushonrock: What inspired you to complete The Roxie Box?
Ryan Roxie: The idea behind it came from the fact that we’re slowly disappearing into a world where music is no longer tangible. To many people today the experience of listening to music is totally foreign to the experience I grew up with. I had the album in my hands and I could actually read things about it on the sleeve. It’s all about the packaging and making the perfect product. Now that CDs are being fazed out it just feels false buying music. The Roxie Box is something you can actually pick up, enjoy and use to get to know all the music that I’ve written and produced so far. From a personal point of view it’s an important documentation of my career to date. You can sit down with each CD and listen to the music from track one to 12 in the order it was meant to be heard. It’s an experience and surely a better experience than a playlist of songs plucked from here, there and everywhere? The booklet gives a detailed explanation of the story behind each song. All the stuff you can get on the internet is great but I just miss that one-on-one time I felt that I always had with a band when I bought the new album and sat down reading the liner notes. In my own small way I want to carry on that tradition. It’s just like people are putting vinyl back in the spotlight because they want to carry on that tradition. Physical music is important.
rushonrock: The second Roxie 77 album still sounds fresh three years after its release – is the band still a going concern?
RR: We’re still playing regularly. We played a benefit show for my friend Jack last month. He’s battling cancer and we thought why don’t we use our talents to help him out? We got a bunch of bands together and made some money to help him with his treatment. The current Roxie 77 line-up is strong and there’s already another album in the works. Another reason for putting The Roxie Box out now on our own label is that hopefully it will pay for itself and go some way towards paying for the next Roxie 77 record. Anything we make from album sales is reinvested into the band and more music – we believe we’ll build up a much bigger and more loyal audience if we keep reinvesting and making better music. Everything that we make goes straight back in so people are actually investing in the band’s future.
rushonrock: Looking back at the three studio albums included in The Roxie Box are there any regrets or do you feel you made any wrong turns?
RR: If there were no wrong turns in rock n roll then there wouldn’t be any great albums or any great songs out there. That, for me, is what rock n roll music is all about. There are no wrong decisions – just a change in direction. As long as where you head to where you want to be – which for me is a place where I can survive – that’s the most important thing. I’m happy that there are some lovely mistakes on records I’ve made and I’ve grown to love them. With the advent of new technology – ProTools and the like – there’s been a mad rush by certain musicians to make everything sound perfect but the appeal of my favourite records is that they’re rough around the edges. I’m a great fan of singing in key but the first Motley Crue album wouldn’t have been the classic that is Too Fast For Love if Vince Neil had been perfect.
rushonrock: In 1997 you released the Dad’s Porno Mag album, featured on Gilby Clarke’s The Hangover and Alice Cooper’s A Fistful Of Alice – an extreme 12 months but have you always been a workaholic?
RR: I feel lucky to have been able to work so hard during my career. As a musician you can never get used to the good times or the bad times. People talk about the uncertain economy right now – welcome to the world of a musician! You just have to go for it when you can and enjoy the ride. Hopefully that leads you towards another album or another band or whatever and you can maintain some kind of momentum. If you take the Fistful Of Alice album as an example – Slash guested on that and that’s how I became involved with Snakepit. It was on that Alice album where we first hit it off and the rest is history, If you’re lucky everything evolves from everything else. I met Gilby playing in Candy – he got into Guns N Roses and from there he was able to recommend me to other people. Alice was keen to bring him on board but he suggested I go for the gig. I have him to thank for opening that particular door.
rushonrock: How does it feel to be back in the fold with Alice?
RR: It feels great! It’s been one of the most magical years I can remember in a long time. Sometimes you have to go through a bit of adversity to appreciate the good things. Sometimes you lose perspective if you get to the point where you’ve forgotten what it’s like to do anything else. For the last seven years I’ve been living in Sweden and I’ve had some great opportunities. But I’ve been back in the trenches, and playing and touring on a smaller scale and living a much more rock n roll hand-to-mouth lifestyle. There aren’t really any tour buses or if there are then they’re pretty beaten up ones. The experience has been great and I got back to a point where I appreciated touring for touring’s sake and playing rock n roll for the pure joy of playing rock n roll. But then the call came from Alice and I didn’t need asking twice. I appreciate everything about this opportunity and I now realise these chances don’t come along very often. It’s on a different scale.
rushonrock: How good a guitarist is your band mate Orianthi?
RR: She’s not just a great guitarist, she’s a great person. She’s a really cool band mate to hang out with. Just because she’s a girl doesn’t mean a thing – she’s a great soloist regardless of her gender. Her energy is infectious and as someone who stands next to her on stage every night I can confirm she plays one hell of a solo!
rushonrock: Can you see Alice playing live shows for a long time yet?
RR: Put it this way – I cross my fingers every single day and say a little prayer that he keeps going forever and ever! I’ve just got one of the greatest jobs back and don’t want to be out of work again!
rushonrock: You’ve made Stockholm your home at a time when Sweden is at the fore of so much that’s exciting about rock music – how does it feel to be at the centre of the scene?
RR: For the type of sound that I’m associated with – a classic rock sound I suppose – I think Sweden has a leg up on a lot of other places right now. The quality of the bands that are coming out right now is incredible. Because of the geographical situation we find ourselves in it’s off the radar to an extent and bands have to try a bit harder to make it. When they do they’re well-oiled machines. It just takes a little bit longer to reach the top when you live in Sweden but as a consequence the bands here learn their trade properly. They tour and live through the good times and the bad times – that’s what sets so many Swedish bands apart from your typical LA bands of the same ilk. If an LA band stays together for five years that’s like a lifetime! Sometimes Swedish bands are together for 10 years before anyone really sits up and takes notice.
rushonrock: So what are your plans for 2013?
RR: One of my bands, Casablanca, shares management with Europe so we have talked about touring with them at some point. I’d love that. But my priority for this year, as always, is working with the big man Alice Cooper. He’s the best boss I ever had! I hadn’t toured with him for more than six years and when I got back on stage with him for the first time since rejoining the band he was still bringing it every night. His show is still at the same incredible level that it was way back in 1996. He just inspires me every night and when I’m sharing a stage with Alice I just want to try harder and work a little harder to be the best I can be. He has that effect.