Alice Cooper is definitely a force in music. Whether it’s back forty years ago with the hard rock shock theatrics he helped pioneer or today with his 27th album Paranormal, he’s always been a bankable artist is terms of stepping things up on record or in person. As energetic as Cooper is in person, chatting with him is just as engaging.
“I think you can tour as long as you’re well, ” remarks Cooper over the phone. Cooper, at 70 is touring more than many artists half his age, and doing so with all the ease in the world. “The band is so good, the show is so good, and I’ve never felt better. I don’t have any physical problems, I move around a lot during the show. No one’s gonna’ say ‘Alice was barely moving on stage for this tour.’ My wife is in it and what’s most important to me is to always feel like your next album and your next tour will be the best that you do.
“My schedule is 9 holes of golf with some guys from the band, go shopping with my wife, do a radio show, take a nap, play a show, and do the V.I.P. experience for the fans afterwards. The V.I.P. sometimes goes longer than the show, but that’s okay. I want people to get their money’s worth, so I talk to them, everyone has a story. People are shocked usually that I sat and talked to them, they always say, wow, no one does that.”
Cooper’s latest record Paranormal is definitely a return to form, full of hard rock tunes and it has plenty of guests including Larry Mullen Jr. and the one and only Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top. “We took ZZ Top out for the Billion Dollar Babies Tour, and we’ve always been friends. When we wrote the song “Fallen In Love,” Bob Ezrin and I had the ‘who could play on this track’ discussion, and we both came up with Billy unanimously. I called him after sending him the track and he said, ‘I’ve got the flu but this song makes me feel so much better.’ We got what we wanted in just two takes.”
As far as the life of Alice Cooper, going strong for so long is the only way he knows. Over the years, Cooper has said more than enough nuggets of wisdom, though favorites would be, ‘the bigger you got, the less of a jerk you were’ and ‘you can dress it up however you want, as long as the songs are there.’ He explained, “You can go see an interesting show with lots of production nowadays, and walk away not remembering one song. I’m in sort of a catbird position to have music from so many eras, no matter what era it is, you have to have the songs. “Eighteen,” “School’s Out,” if I don’t play those songs the crowd is bummed. You gotta do the hits. I remember Bowie telling me once that he was going to do a tour and not play the hits, and I told him I didn’t think it would go over well.
“We did some shows with The Stones. If you go see Paul McCartney, he plays those songs by The Beatles, and if you close you eyes it sounds like The Beatles performing. It’s perfection. The Stones were gloriously sloppy. I asked Charlie (Watts) once, ‘do you guys know any endings to a song?’ He responded, ‘no, we’ll never know where it’ll end.’ When you catch The Who, Townsend is what, 73? At his age, you can tell that he’s pissed off and he means it. He’s the spirit of rock n’ roll. We saw them as kids and I remember thinking how pissed off he was, and that attitude is rock n’ roll. I still look to him as the guy to admire.”
Anyone who’s caught Cooper in person can attest to how insane the experience is. From the early days to current times, an Alice Cooper live set is like no one else, including those who’ve lifted from his style. “When it’s an Alice show, you’re going back to 1970. The trick is to have the energy that you had back then. I think I make the crowd believe it. So, on “Eighteen,” Alice is 18 there with the crowd. Alice is just a character, so he’s timeless anyway. My drummer was just voted the best drummer in rock, and my guitarist was just voted best female guitarist. It’s impossible to not like this band, everyone who sees them leaves blown away. We have more energy now than we had back in 1975, and we’ll blow out any teenagers playing today.”
You can stream the entire Alice Cooper catalog wherever you stream music and you can purchase it in all digital storefronts. The insanity, the spectacle, and the energy of Alice Cooper is in tour now. You can catch him tonight in Atlanta at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Friday in Chattanooga at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium, Saturday in Biloxi at the Beau Rivage Theatre, and Sunday October 14 at White Oak Music Hall Lawn in Houston. A complete list of tour dates can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Rob Fenn.