Alice Cooper: We’re Not Worthy
Few people have met with shock rocker Alice Cooper and lived to tell the tale. Actually, that’s a lie. Many, if not all, have survived including Blunt’s own Adrian Kelly. With a career that spans four decades, Cooper has perfected his macabre-tinged heavy metal throughout a whopping 26 albums, with the follow up to the 1975 concept record Welcome 2 My Nightmare being released in the coming days. Blunt gets the scoop on what it’s like inciting controversy, improvising your dialogue in a cult classic and why it’s still rad to be Alice Cooper.
How are you?
I’m doing great. I’m at home for four more days then we start the American tour and then we come down and see you guys.
Is home Phoenix these days? Where are you at the moment?
I’m in Phoenix right now, I live in Scottsdale. I’ve been home for about two and a half, three weeks, and it was a nice break. We did a long, long tour in South America and in Europe, so it was nice to get a couple weeks off.
Do the neighbourhood kids get a little scared seeing Alice Cooper picking up his mail in the morning in downtown Scottsdale?
Yeah, oh absolutely. I do all the normal things that any normal dad and husband would do. I am such a dichotomy when it comes to me and Alice. Alice is sort of like a polar opposite, you know, when I’m on stage, I play this Alan Rickman sort of arrogant villain and at home I’m either playing golf or going to the movies or doing everything that a dad does. It’s a very strange thing to be able to play somebody that’s nothing like you.
This is a very incredibly broad question, what has been your favourite Alice Cooper moment over the years?
You know, like any band I think, we were pretty much an underdog band. I mean, a lot of people said that we had no chance at all because we were so not like the bands that were making it, you know, we were all image and we were all sort of really hard, hard rock where everybody else was kind of peace and love and groovy and all that stuff, we were much more Yardbirds and Clockwork Orange, so we didn’t fit in anywhere, except Detroit, Michigan, and that’s where all the bands like Iggy and the Stooges and The MC5 were. The very first time that I heard “I’m Eighteen” on the radio next to The Beatles and next to The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and everything, I think that’s every band’s, one of the shocks to your life, that you’re actually getting played next to your heroes on the radio. It just so happened that the band were all in a car getting ready to go to a show and we had the radio on and our song comes on and I mean, literally we stopped the car. It’s that great moment, and then you know there’s another great moment when somebody actually calls you up and tells you that your album just hit number one. That’s a shock to your system.
Do you still have those moments? Is it still cool to hear an Alice Cooper song on the radio or hear where your record’s debuted on the charts?
You know, unfortunately you get a little bit, I mean, we had 14 Top 40 records, so unfortunately you lose that thrill, but it’s great to hear it when you have a brand new record out and you’re kind of waiting to hear it on the radio and all of a sudden you do hear it on the radio and it sounds really good on the radio. That’s when you kind of go, ‘Okay great, wow’ I feel kind of like it’s you know, you’ve gone 360 degrees; you wrote the song, recorded the song, put it out and then somebody’s now playing it on the radio and people are hearing it, yeah you do get a thrill from that.
I think everybody, even McCartney and Mick Jagger and people like that hear their songs on the radio and kind of get a thrill from it.
Completely shifting gears here, you are the king of shock rock and started the genre. With all the controversy you have inspired, what is your opinion on the subject; politicians getting up in arms about theatrical rock ‘n’ roll etc?
Well, you know it’s funny because I think that shock rock died somewhere in 1978. I mean, you can’t really shock an audience when CNN is more shocking than me or Marilyn Manson or Lady Gaga. Reality is always more shocking than fantasy. You know, I used to get on stage and I’d cut my head off with a guillotine and the clergy would be all up in arms and the fathers of the town and everybody wanted to ban me and everything, and now you turn on CNN and there’s a guy really getting his head cut off, there’s a guy really getting hung, and you’re seeing real death on television and to me, that totally waters down anything that I could fantasize and put on stage or anything like Marilyn Manson or any of the shock rockers can really do, we don’t really shock an audience anymore, I think we entertain an audience. Sometimes we use shocking effects, but nobody’s really shocked by it I don’t think.
What do you think of bands like Marilyn Manson and Slipknot? Eminem is from your hometown of Detroit – he even used your electric chair idea for a while.
I don’t think anyone gives Eminem the credit for his comedy, you know, if you listen to an Eminem album, its usually very funny. And at the same time, he does some pretty profound things too, I mean, he’s a cut above everybody out there I think because he’s a street kid and he’s really quite a poet with how he puts things. I mean, being a lyricist, I listen to a lot of lyrics and I kind of go, ‘Okay, yeah, big deal, that’s nothing, that’s nothing’, but every time I went to Eminem, I’d kind of go, ‘What? Who’s this guy?’ you know, I mean he was unique, he is unique to anybody else out there so I really do admire him, and you know, I think that there’s a lot of really good artists, but there’s not a lot of original artists. I think that every once in a while somebody will come along like a Jane’s Addiction that doesn’t sound like anybody else or a Pink Floyd that doesn’t sound like anybody else, actually when The Beatles first came out, they didn’t sound like anybody else, so I always admired them The Yardbirds were totally original to anybody. Those were the bands that I kind of really looked at. You know everything else, if you really look at music from the ‘60s on, even to now, music has not changed very much. I mean the bands like the Foo Fighters and The White Stripes; all are pretty much retro ‘70s rock. I mean Nirvana was sort of original I thought, Nirvana kind of has an original sound to themselves, and you know, there were certain bands that really did break through and do things that nobody had ever heard before, and I applaud those bands, but they’re few and far between.
You were originally coming out here on the Soundwave Revolution tour with younger rock bands and then the last few times you came to Australia, it was on VH1 type packages – how do you choose your tours and stay focused on the road after so many years in the game.
Well, we do a lot of European tours and everything and it’s mostly young bands, and then it’s always headlined by either Iron Maiden or you know, Judas Priest or Alice Cooper or Iggy, ‘cos I think that they always have that classic rock band that the young bands admire.
I know that when we get up and play, after all the young bands get up and play, the young bands see our show and they’re flabbergasted, they’re not expecting the energy behind it, they’re not expecting the theatrics, they’re not expecting 28 songs that are like a machine gun, they just keep coming at you without a break, and I think we surprised a lot of the young bands because they would not be expecting that from somebody that’s been around for 45 years. I think that that’s our secret weapon, the fact that we go out on the stage to blow everybody off the stage. Van Halen, they’re the original party band. They’re the original good-time, party band and how good is he as a guitar player, come on. That guy Eddie Van Halen is great. Now I’ve got two great guitar players, I’ve got Steve Hunter and Damon Johnson who can play anything, but Eddie Van Halen is one of a kind and David Lee Roth is like a stand-up comedian up there, he’s really good at what he does. But, it’s not what ours does. Ours is sort of classic, horror-comedy rock and at the same time, it’s all energy, you know, we don’t take any prisoners up there. I am the last guy that’s ever gonna say turn it down, I’m the first guy that’s gonna say turn it up.
Excellent. That’s a good motto to still have.
Yeah it absolutely is. I’ve never gotten tired of classic monster rock, so you’re gonna get an awful lot of energy out of Alice Cooper up there. You know, we grew up playing with everybody, we’ve played with The Stones, we’ve played with just about everybody, and you know, everybody is really, really good at what they do, they really stay to their own style and they don’t sort of back down from it, I think Van Halen will be Van Halen and they will be amazing, I guarantee you they will do an amazing show, Alice Cooper will do an amazing show, but it will be nothing like Van Halen’s show, it’ll be totally different.
Last question, do people still come up to you and try and quote the lines from Wayne’s World?
[Laughs] Yes, everybody does, and they kind of want me to look at them and correct them, and I can’t remember what I said in that movie, I remember half of it I was making up as I went along. You know, Mike Myers, I just had dinner with Mike the other night and I told him, I said, ‘You know, we came in to do one song in the movie and then Michael handed me about ten pages of dialogue and said, ‘Can you do this dialogue?’ and I said, ‘When are we shooting this?’ and he said, ‘In about five minutes’ so I couldn’t possibly learn all the lines that they had, I was making it up as I went along.
Welcome 2 My Nightmare is out September 23rd through Sony.