Alice Cooper’s Ryan Roxie Shares Honest Opinion on Nita Strauss Playing, Explains What It’s Like to Be a ’Hired Gun’

Recently, Guitar World published an interview with long-standing Alice Cooper guitarist Ryan Roxie. Ryan, who originally played for Cooper in the 1990s and the 2000s and then came back during the 2010s, reflected on Nita Strauss’ decision to leave the lineup and join Demi Lovato’s live band. Asked about the band’s challenges of shifting from Nita to Kane Roberts, who rejoined Cooper and replaced Nita, he said:

“They both bring such a unique performance aspect. One is the ‘Hurricane,’ and the other is the ‘Monster;’ Obviously, I’m gonna miss playing with someone like Nita, with whom I’ve been side by side for the last eight or nine years, because we know each other’s guitar and stage movements so well.

“So, the big thing for me is, ‘Okay, what will it be like with another person on stage, being that we know everybody else’s moves within the band?’ Of course, Kane had to come in and do his own thing, but he also needed to fit in with what we were doing: whips, chains, flying swords, and guillotines [Laughs].”

“Musically, it’s about everybody being prepared because we’re all professionals. And I have to say, Kane came in prepared and gave it everything he had. Obviously, you can’t recreate anybody in the band, especially someone like Nita, but Kane is his own animal, too.

He also added:

“But the wonderful thing about playing with Alice Cooper is that he allows each of us to be our own character because he’s so secure within his own character, which elevates us all. Everybody gets a moment to shine in the show, and I think Kane shined when his moment came each night.”

Alice Cooper Guitarist Ryan Roxie's 3 Favorite Riffs

Discussing the issue further, Ryan was asked whether Nita would potentially come back to the fold this year or whether we’ll see more of Kane Roberts, Ryan reflected on the whole “hired gun” approach of Alice Cooper’s backing musicians. He said:

“One of the best things about being in the Alice Cooper band as a ‘hired gun’ is that we don’t have to make those hard decisions about who’s in the band. All we have to do is make sure that no matter who is in the band, the show is entertaining and that we back up Alice Cooper to the best of our ability while upholding the legacy of that music.

“I defer that to management and, of course, Alice. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t know if there’s anything set in stone yet. Who knows? All I can guarantee is whoever is in that spot will do an incredible job and that we will mesh and rock as a unit.

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“That’s what we do and what people have come to expect from us. Hopefully, we deliver on that. I think we do. The fans will let us know if we don’t, I guess.”

“I can say that I love and am supportive of both. I was in the band with Nita for eight or nine years, so there’s history there. And then, when Kane came in, I loved what he brought to the band under some challenging circumstances.

“When he came in, we all completely supported the return of Kane Roberts, which showcased a different era of Alice that the fans love. We’ll see what happens. I know some big shows are lined up with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, so we’ll see who’s out there when the time comes.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Ryan also addressed the ever-present topic of tube-driven amps versus digital modelers. Reminded of how guitar players in Alice’s band play through Kempers on tour, he was also asked to whether he’d like to have Marshall stacks behind him. He said:

“Well, I use what I guess you’d say is a hybrid of three different types of systems. What happened was that there was just no room for cabinets up there because of the Alice Cooper stage show and all the props. So because of that, we had to remove the cabinets and try something more digital.

NITA STRAUSS - The Wolf You Feed ft. Alissa White-Gluz (Official Music Video)

“We started experimenting with putting Kempers into the set, and a Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 model, which you can have a cabinet with. We can go straight through the PA as well with that because they have the red box outs, but we’ve been using the Kempers a lot.”

“I still love my Marshall JCM800 setup, and there’s always a cabinet on stage, just in case the Kemper does go down. If the digital kicks out, we have the good old Marshall tube amp or the Hughes & Kettner to back us up.”

“So, I’ve been working with all three types as a hybrid over the years, and honestly, I don’t have a problem with it. Modeling is great as long as you can get the sounds you need, and the audience feels and hears what I hear in my ears. But you know, I know that although there’s a lot of guitarists out there that say they need to feel the air.”

Ryan Roxie's Pedalboard | What's on Your Pedalboard?

But, of course, there’s also the issue of the good old tube amps “pushing the air” behind guitar players on stage, allowing you to feel how the amp is responding in real time. The interviewer reminded Roxie about how Kane Roberts had to get used to not feeling this push of air. Asking whether he also had to get used to this, Roxie said:

“I can understand that, and I think a lot of guitarists need to feel that rush of air behind them. There’s something to be said about that bottom end that only a big amp can give you, and yeah, you don’t have them with the Kemper.

Kane Roberts - "Beginning Of The End" feat. Alice Cooper & Alissa White-Gluz (Official Music Video)

“But maybe it’s just where I’m positioned on stage because what I hear with my guitar in my in-ears is really nice, full, and has a great bottom end. But I’m also hearing a band mix coming through the side, so I think that maybe I have the luxury of feeling the air from those sounds hitting me as well.”

Photos: Ralph Arvesen (Ryan Roxie of Alice Cooper performing in San Antonio, Texas 2015), Raph_PH (AliceCooperO2 250522 (101 of 133) (52101067381))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.