03 Mar 2006

Alice Cooper

Two hours before the Deep Purple/Alice Cooper show in Berlin we are heading to the changing rooms for the interview. Alice is waiting for us sitting on a leather sofa. He is quite simple, friendly and very calm. On our limited time we are talking about the new album, shock rock, Alice's everyday life. Every expression his face is getting brings to mind all the disguises of the big star and fills you with awe. We are ready to fall down on our knees and take a bow, just like in "Wayne's Worlds" just because he is Alice Cooper.

George Anasontzis, Yiannis Dolas, Sakis Nikas


alice2Rockpages.gr: So, what are “Dirty Diamonds” for Alice Cooper?
Alice Cooper: When we did the album, we didn’t want to do a polished album, we didn’t want to do an album like a slick “Billion Dollar Babies” album, even though we wanted this kind of songs. I wanted the band to play all the new songs live in the studio, almost like garage, but play all the new songs, so I kind of looked at each song as a diamond that haven’t been polished, you know that haven’t been slicked up, it was rough…I could have called the album “Diamonds In The Rough”, but “Dirty Diamonds” was actually better. It was like 12 songs that I considered little gems that just hadn’t been cleaned up. I like the idea that rock’n’roll should not be slick. In the ‘70s it was great, it was OK in the ‘80s...I much rather hear a rougher version of Alice Cooper, and the band played so well, it sounds like they did overdubs on it. Now, in two or three songs I allowed them to overdub, “Jessie Jane” was overdubbed, “The Voodoo Song” was overdubbed, and “Ballerina”, everything else was live.
Rockpages.gr: Is this the reason why Alice Cooper returned to his roots after two albums that were influenced by the contemporary music of their era “Brutal Planet”, and “The Last Temptation”…
alice3Alice Cooper: Well, I definitely did “Brutal Planet” and “Dragontown” without going industrial at all I was writing two albums that really had a story line, they were really a big story, they were apocalyptic, they were going to hell, you know, and the terror of the fact that once you were there, there was no way out, there was no praying your way out, you were there and that was it. The claustrophobia of being in “Dragontown”…so they were definitely designed albums to do that. “Last Temptation” was a whole of produced album with a story involved. So, when I got down to those three albums I said “I want to do just the opposite now”. I wanna do really free rock’n’roll, let the band play and then at the end, when the band wants to overdub, don’t let them! Because a band should sound like a band, if they make a mistake, if they push out the bass, if they are a little bit slow on the drums, if a guy misses a note, that’s part of what bands sound like, that’s kind of what I like. So, when they were complaining about “Oh, man I missed a note there…” it gives the song more colour. I think the audience gets the song, they get the intension of the song without your bass being perfect. That’s why the Stones are so good.
I go to see the Stones live. My band does “Brown Sugar” better than Stones, but they are gloriously sloppy which is OK ‘cause that’s the Stones. I went to see Paul McCartney and he was dead perfect. I meant it couldn’t have been more perfect! And I appreciated that they played the songs exactly like the Beatles. But then two days later with the Stones it was just the opposite. So, you have to like each thing for what it is. Tonight Deep Purple will be really Deep Purple, they’ll be exactly what Deep Purple are. And they know that we’ll be Alice Cooper...


Rockpages.gr: So, are you going to stick to that plan for your next album?
Alice Cooper: I think so. In fact, we might go a little bit more psychedelic on the next album, we might get a little more “echoplex” on the guitars, but live. You know when we first started playing we were the house band on a club called “The Cheetah Club” in Los Angeles. And there was this other band that used to come in that was starting just like us, called The Pink Floyd. They were just a young band that they didn’t have any money, totally broke, we all end up living in the same house for a while, and we even shared the same light show, which was just bottom lights flickering up. That’s all the lights we had. But I remember how both bands were both much more psychedelic. There were a lot of “echoplex” on the guitars, really interesting stuff going on, so I would like to kind of go back to that era a little bit, still write great rock songs but getting a little bit more psychedelic, stretch it a little bit.
Rockpages.gr: When you first started people thought that you were a female folk singer, ad they end up in the venue and saw a shocking show. Many years have passed since that era and Marilyn Manson came, Rob Zombie came…
Alice Cooper: Sort of my illegitimate children (laughs…)


Rockpages.gr: Can Alice Cooper still be shocking?
Alice Cooper: I don’t think Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie are shocking. I think that the age of shock-rock is dead because, and I think they’ll agree with me, Marilyn Manson does agree with me, and I think Rob agrees too…we can’t be as shocking as the CNN…here I am on stage in the ‘70s and they’d cut my head off and blood would go all over the audience…Parents heard about that “Ahh, I am not letting let my kids go to see that”, of course it’s for laughs….And it’s intentionally that. My show always would give you a little shock and then make you laugh.
Now I turn on TV and there’s a guy with a bag on his head and two terrorists with knifes on his throat and they are going to cut his head off, for real. So how shocking is my show? My show is not very shocking, not even Marilyn Manson’s, because what they are doing is real, what we are doing is showbiz. So, the shock-rock thing it’s dead. Now besides, before I came out there was no goth, there was no this mixing up of genders, you know Alice Cooper was the first one to do that. I was the first one to bring goth to rock. So kids on the streets were not wearing white make up and black top hats and the whole black goth look, so that was shocking, but now it’s not. You can go to any mall in town, or in any store in America and dress like you are a goth, that’s just a style now, but that in the’70s was pretty shocking. So, all of that stuff is now becoming un-shocking. To shock an audience now, you’ll have to go out and take a saw and saw your arm for real in front of the audience, OK I would be shocked from that, I would be going “OK that’s pretty shocking”. But other than that everything you do up there, you take your clothes off…Feeeewwwwwww (he whistles) Wow! Yeah, in the ‘70s it would have been shocking, but not now, so I really don’t think that shock is that really much a part of it. I think that we are all into the business of entertaining the audience. Do something interesting, do something unique, I mean that’s what Marilyn Manson do so well, he creates a nightmare up there on stage, that’s really interesting, you know he really takes you to a really disturbing place and same with Rob Zombie. And people would look to my show and that would take them to a disturbing place maybe, I am a little bit more family opera, you know, but shocking? I don’t know…

Rockpages.gr: You’ve talked about Marilyn Manson creating a nightmare on stage…you’ve released “Welcome To My Nightmare” years ago, do you still have nightmares?
alice12Alice Cooper: No! Everybody has nightmares and usually it’s about the stupidest stuff. You have a nightmare that you’ve killed somebody, maybe even accidentally, there’s a whole nightmare of you trying not to get caught, because you knew that you killed that person, and when you wake up you feel so relieved that you didn’t. But I don’t have nightmares of Vampires and Werewolves and things like that, you know when you are a kid you have those and they’re kind of fun, to be honest with you and that was really the idea behind “Welcome To My Nightmare”.
Nightmares as scary as they are, controlled can be fun. Tonight my show has got a lot of nightmare’s stuff in it. I think the audience is here for an entirely different reason, they want to get sucked in, almost like going to a “Harry Potter” movie or you go to see “Saw” or something like that, it takes you into that world for a while and then brings you back. It kind of gives you a view of that world, it opens up the curtain and lets you look at that world and then brings you back. And that’s kind of what we do on stage.
Rockpages.gr: So, Alice Cooper is on stage for 2 hours these things, creating nightmares, an atmosphere like that, what is Vince Fournier doing the rest 22 hours?
alice cooperAlice Cooper: Absolutely the opposite! That’s what I think makes Alice more unique. Marilyn Manson is trying to be Marilyn all the time, that won’t last! Because we are living in a world that just does not allow that.. I think it’s great that he is into that right now, when I first started being Alice I was into Alice all the time you know. Now, I started realizing I really enjoy my wife, my kids, I like going shopping,. I like to play my golf, I like going to the movies. If I have to dress up and put all this Alice stuff on every time where’s my private life??? But, I can be abnormal, I can go out and be myself and do anything I want to do and that night, this night I am looking forward to becoming Alice, or I get to play Alice, the same way that Anthony Hopkins gets to play Hannibal Lector. And you know Anthony Hopkins is nothing like Hannibal Lector, but when he becomes Hannibal Lector I am sure he is a pretty frightening character to be around, because all of the sudden he is very sophisticated and you think he is going to eat your liver. But, that’s why because he is such a good actor, and that’s what I do when I play Alice, when I put all these on, and put the makeup on and I go out there, I will be Alice tonight and when I come off the stage I won’t be…
Photos by Yiannis Dolas and George Anasontzis

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