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Newspaper Articles - Issue 13

ALICE COOPER
INTERVIEW

Hi, kids! This is Alice Cooper inviting you to listen to the Alice Cooper Special next week on Rock Around the World.
Be there . . . or be square.
I've had that disc jockey fetish all my life.
Hi . . . hey . . . what do you say, big fella? I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Let's start off with the important things. What did you shoot this afternoon?

I didn't play this afternoon. I had a 73 last week, though. I surprised the hell out of myself. I was just really playing really well.

What's your handicap these days?

I shoot to a twelfth, but I shot to one over par on this course and it just shocked me. That's like going out and beating Rod Laver playing tennis. I've only been playing for three years now when I've lived in L.A. I love to play golf. It's fantastic, because you play against yourself, against the course. It's easy to break clubs. That's the whole philosophy behind a lot of pros. They're saying the best way to hit a ball is pretend you're throwing your club. Just keep your head down and throw your club at the ball and the ball will go further. That's the pro that taught me that's dead now.

No connection, I assume?

No. . . . oh, no.

How does it feel to be back on an American stage for the first time in a year?

Well, I just took a year off 'cause I was just tired of touring, that's all. I was just totally, absolutely tired of touring. We did 65 cities in 72 days, and I said I would never do that again. Because that not sane, you know? That's really not sane at all You kill yourself doing that. Now we're doing like three nights a week and that's it. And it makes a lot more sense like that. I'm getting old. I'm 29, and I've been doing this for 14 years.

Did you ever have any fear that the fans that you had might have drifted away during this time?

No, I don't think so. I think records make up for that. It's like "Only Women Bleed" came out after that and we did a lot of records after that. Touring doesn't reach as many people as radio does. So I don't think it hurts your career that much not to tour.

Is the new show kind of a greatest hits type show?

Yeah, we're doing a piece out of the School's Out show and the Billion Dollar Babies show and things like that. And when you get to do that, then you take your best little shot . . . the guillotine scene and the spiders scene and it's neat like that.

What inspired the television motif?

Well, I'm totally into television. If there's any one media thing that I'm really crazy about, it's television. I grew up on it and if there's ever been a drug in the world to me . . . you know, I don't do drugs at all . . . but if there's any drug, it's television because it just fascinates me. I still can't figure out how it works. At the same time, I love dumb things, man, I love the dumbest. Remember My Mother The Car? I loved that show. I just thought it was the worst, but I loved it. Mr. Ed was cool. 'A horse is a horse, of course, of course . . . ' I love things like that. I watch Johnny Carson every night.

Did you enjoy going on The Tonight Show?

Yeah, he's so fun to work with. I think Johnny Carson is one of the easiest people in the world to work with. He makes an interview look not like an interview and I appreciate that. My parents watched me, too, so that's a big deal for me.

How much does it cost to stage one of your shows?

Just the stage alone cost around $400,000. But with 43 people working and with rehearsals and everything I would say you've got to be spending . . . boy, I'm the worst at figures . . . but you've got to be spending at least a quarter of a million dollars a month just on maintaining everybody. Probably more than that. I'm not really sure 'cause I don't do any business at all I'm the worst businessman.

Are you looking to get into other forms of entertainment like acting? I know you did Sextette.

I did Sextette, and I'm hoping to get into this Breakfast Of Champions with Robert Altman. That should be fun to do because of the cast . . . Lily Tomlin, Peter Falk and some really good actors. See, I'm not used to film acting. Film acting you don't get any reaction back unless you totally knock out the film crew with a scene. It's kind of selfish to want a reaction immediately every time you do something, but I've been doing that for like ten, fifteen years . . . doing something ridiculous on stage and then the audience reacting to it. In film acting it's just not like that. I like being able to make mistakes and having the mistakes work. You get up on stage, and you can make mistakes, and they still work if they're done right. It's just two different acting attitudes, really.

Would you ever do a standard TV variety special?

Nah, I couldn't do that. As much as I love television I could never do television. I've seen the way that they work and the way a TV show has to work, and it's just too tough for me. I would much rather go out on tour and watch television than be on television.

Was the show at Anaheim recorded for a special?

I don't know what that was. I saw a lot of cameras. I always tell them not to tell what it is, you know? Just don't tell me what it is and I'll work around it. Because even a TV camera like that will become a theatrical prop.

Do you think that audiences have changed?

No, I don't think audiences have changed since the Romans and the lions. I still think that they're exactly the same thing. You give an audience something and expect them to react. They're humans and they react. I would react. Alice Cooper would be my favorite band if I were a kid, because I would react to the visual stuff . . . the giant spiders and the nine-foot cyclops. If I see that or a big snake, you Know? That's great, especially with rock music behind it. I would really un-react to people who just go up there and sing about flowers and trees and how wonderful water tastes To me I wouldn't feel like I was getting my money's worth. I've got a Barnum & Bailey attitude about rock 'n' roll. I think it should really be a real circus all the time. I don't think you get too much showbiz on stage.

Are you going to do Vegas again?

Yeah, in fact, we're doing the Alladin again, I think, sometime. But you don't draw the Vegas audience there. You draw the Vegas audience's kids. So you're not really playing to a gambling audience. We played Tahoe, and we got kids. And they were the ones that appreciated it more. I invited their parents 'cause the parents would like it just as much as the kids would. All the Alice Cooper show really does when it comes to Town is it gives everybody an extra Halloween per year.

Do you think with going on the Carson show and the fact that the last three songs you've had have been kind of heavy into ballads might be opening it up more for an older audience?

I think broadening it is a better word because I've never really changed the Alice Cooper image. Alice has always been Alice, you know, and in this new show Alice still stays pretty vicious. But I get to play about five different characters in this show. I get to play Alice. I get to play Maurice Escargot, the detective, and I get to play me for once. Me . . . Vince . . . gets to go up and play three songs during the show. And I allow myself that 'cause you don't want to see Alice for an hour and a half. I don't.

Were you in Diary Of A Mad Housewife back in the old days?

Boy, a long time ago. I just saw that on TV about two weeks ago. I had long blonde hair and must have been nineteen or twenty years old. That must have been ten years ago.

Have you listened to any of your old bands lately . . . the Billion Dollar Babies album?

Yeah, Battle Axe. It's a good rock 'n' roll album. The band never parted enemies. We just parted because musically we weren't thinking alike at all. I wanted to do the more theatre and they basically wanted to cut out the theatre. I just couldn't see that. I wanted to, in fact, make that theatre more involved. But we all parted really pretty good friends, I thought. And we still talk, and everything. After a long time of working with the same people, it's really interesting to get with other musicians that have different ideas. And that's why it's like almost every album, I use different musicians. The only two people I really keep all the time are Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner.

Is there any reason that the band has kept pretty much behind the silver screen for most of the set?

Well, you've gotta make sure that not too many things move on stage and that on thing does all the motion. At one point, I disappear and the screen does the motion. It's like when you're painting. If everything's red, nothing's red. I mean if everything's moving, nothing is. So you have to eliminate. And that's the way a Broadway show works, too. You can't have five things going at once on stage because you audience will get lost in too many things.

Is Cheryl the ballet dancer in the show?

Yeah, Cheryl plays the ballet dancer. She plays Cold Ethel. We're re-introducing Cold Ethel into the new show. She was in the Nightmare show. I like to think of people as characters, especially on stage. It's real important to do that 'cause audiences, especially teenage audiences, don't get exposed to theatre that much where this is a character and that's a character. Sort of this is a rock 'n' roll idol and here he's going to be for an hour and a half. I hate to name names, but it makes me mad. They don't put any money into their show at all and they make thousands and thousands and thousands and millions of dollars. I don't think that's fair to the audience.

[Question omitted from original copy]

Well, everybody else. No, I can't say that because I know Elton goes out to do a show, and I think there's a lot of guys that do. McCartney goes out to do a show. And Jagger, of course, does. But I would say 85% of your rock bands don't five the audience back anything. They give them back their music and that's it. and they stop there because they're afraid to do anything else. It doesn't take that much effort to visually do something. It just takes some imagination, that's all. You've got 50 feet of space to do something. That doesn't mean you have to take away from the music. All that means is the music just gets more intense.

When you write your music, do you just contribute the lyrics or do you develop the melodies?

I do a lot of the melodies, but I'm not a music writer so I just say lyricist. I couldn't tell you a "c" chord from an "a" chord. I just sit there and say, "What if it went like this?" And then Wagner and Ezrin can put it onto paper and give it to an orchestra.

Do you play anything yourself?

I play harmonica and guitar, but I don't play ever on record. I chord on guitar. I can't play any lead of anything like that. I can chord and tell Wagner, but when it comes to the diminished and augmented chords, I'm lost. I have no idea where they're at.

Who do you listen to now these days?

Well, to tell you the truth, I don't listen to rock 'n' roll unless it's on the radio in the car or something like that. I like a lot of things that are on the radio right now. "Magic Man" by Heart . . . damn, what a record that was. I went over to Bernie Taupin's house to play him "Funhouse" by The Stooges. I said, "You want to hear the ultimate in punk rock?" On every level that's a good record. It's just dumb enough to be fantastic. Iggy is an old friend of mine. I used to do Alice Cooper and The Stooges. We did, I would say, nearly 250 shows together back in Detroit. We played every week with each other and we'd trade off who was going to be the headliner. And Ted Nugent also used to play with us all the time and The MC Five. Detroit . . . I mean, that's gotta be punk city.

Is this the first time you've played with The Tubes since your early days together?

Yeah, geez, I haven't seen Bill and those other guys since like high school. 1965 The Tubes and Alice Cooper played for I think $20. We split 20 bucks. We used spiders then, of course. Very well-respected band on the Phoenix scene.

How did you get the stage concept?

I just never grew out of the Saturday afternoon movies . . . Saturday afternoon horror movies. And being the fact that we couldn't afford it back then, anything that could be used as a prop was allowed to be a prop as far as we were concerned. So we'd just take anything we could find from backstage and bring it on stage and sort of like improvise it. And, of course, we always envisioned back then, wow . . . what if we had a nine-foot cyclops that was built by Disney that actually moved and walked around and could pick you up? And now we're going, "Yeah, well, just order one." But I mean the thing I like about it is the fact that I don't mind spending the money on it. The thing cost $40,000, but it works. How many other people can say they got a cyclops?

How long did it take you to rehearse this show to get it into shape?

This one was about two months, but it was a much more complicated show, that's for sure. It was more complicated until we defined it a little better. When we first started, it was in about eight dancing numbers, and I don't dance. I don't think like a dancer. I'll dance maybe two numbers , but I can't dance in five or six. That's concentration . . . dancing. I've got to think more about what area I'm going to be in 'cause I work real spontaneous on stage. Just follow me with a spot, you know? Once you get too choreographed, all of a sudden you're not really rock 'n' roll. You're Las Vegas.

You did the Nightmare show in Australia. what was the reaction?

They didn't have any different reaction at all.

What about the people who put you under arrest?

Oh, that was great. that was fantastic. I mean I woke up in the morning and somebody said, "We have somebody that's serving you with papers." And I said, "Well, find." I mean that happens a lot. All business deals that I don't know anything about, I go in and say, "Where do I have to sign?", and the guy says, "Well, you don't sign anything. You're under arrest." I said, "Yeah, yeah. I know that but where do I sign so I can go back to my room?" and the guy says, "No, there's police outside." There's police? What is this? and there's cops out there. They said you have $60,000 here in half an hour. so I made a phone call to my promoter who had done the whole tour in Australia and there was a check for $60,000 there. But they could have kept me in jail for three days. It was for an old promotion thing . . . a show that we were supposed to do there that we canceled. As far as I heard last time we are winning the case in court. We're going to win all the money back, but they took a shot to put me in jail.

Do you have any concrete grand plans for the future?

Just finish the your out and see what happens after that. I'm writing a movie right now called The Buddy Buddy Burglars that's really funny. It has nothing to do with rock 'n' roll and it will be done by somebody else other than myself. And Bernie Taupin and I are writing on something right now that I can't really talk about.

Is there ant one thing that you're trying to communicate to the audience when you're on stage?

Yeah. I got a real burlesque attitude. Just take it for what it's worth. It's fun. the most important thing about it is don't take rock 'n' roll seriously. Geez, the way I look at it, it's not serious at all; and people are starting to try and make it so damned serious. It's a form of communication, but my kind of rock 'n' roll is the same kind as going to a circus. there's no message at all. It's just a fun thing to think about. It's an escape. I guess that's why I like Star Wars -- because of the fact that it was just a fun thing and had no message at all. We create bad guys and good guys in the songs. Same way with escapism movies. I think rock 'n' roll should be escapism. And it should be used, too. It shouldn't just be thought of, it should be used. Haven't you gone to the movies and just sat there and said, "Boy, I sure want to like this?" Or go into a concert and think: I hope I understand what he's talking about. "And the flowers and the trees like your breath on my knees . . ." And you go, "So, what?"


 
 
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