Exclusive Interview: Alice Cooper Wants To ‘Make America Sick Again’

alice-cooper1(PCM) The legendary Alice Cooper is without a doubt one of the hardest working men in music industry. He is constantly touring either with his solo band or with the Hollywood Vampires featuring Joe Perry and Johnny Depp and of course there is always new music brewing on the horizon.

I have no idea how this man even finds time to sleep these days between touring, writing, recording his radio show, and of course getting in some time to hit the golf course. I suppose the phrase no rest for the wicked could apply here, but not in this particular case because honestly there is not a wicked bone to be found within the “Godfather of Shock Rock”.

Seriously, one of the most honest and humble artists I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with which is why I’m thrilled to share our wonderful Q&A discussing everything from politics and satire to writing and recording the next Alice Cooper record, as well as, his upcoming performance at the Reading Eagle Theater at the Santander Arena in Reading, PA.

Q: The upcoming election is obviously at the forefront of everyone’s mind currently. Can you talk about how you are having a bit of fun with this while out on the road?

ALICE COOPER: If there ever was an election to have satire on it’s this one and it sure has comedians coming out of retirement. Both of them must keep shooting themselves in the foot. But, it’s funny because I’m not political at all, I am the least political guy ever on the planet and when I did the song “Elected” back in 1972 and every four years now it show back up and really connects with what’s going on.  This year it was so easy to satirize this one and when you come and see the show you’ll see Hillary and Trump on stage.  They’ll both be up there.

Q: Can you talk about the ways in which as song like “Elected” has come full circle?

AC: The song when we did it was almost a tribute to The Who, with power chords and all. We already had “School’s Out” and a bunch of big hits so we felt that this song really kind of lends itself to being a tribute Pete Townsend with the big, big power chords and all that and we never really expected it to do what it did like being the #2 song in England and such a big hit all over. So, it actually accidentally became a hit and now every four years it raises it’s head up because everybody connected up with the election. I’m really surprised that nobody’s ever really used it as an election or campaign song. They keep using things from Fleetwood Mac and bands like that, you would like somebody would rock n’ roll with a song like “Elected”.

Q: You would definitely think that. How would you feel?

AC: I wouldn’t mind that. I’m trying to take the high road on this one. Everyone is so worried that Trump is going to be President and then everybody’s so worried that Hillary’s going to be President, but I’m going to go with a different thing. I’m going to say whoever is the President may be the greatest President we ever had, that’s how I’m going to look at it and then let them prove me wrong.  If they’re going to blow it than let them blow it, but right now I’m going to take the positive route and say they may be the best President ever.

Q: I like that. I know that you have said in previous interviews that rock n’ roll and politics don’t always mix and I always think that music can be used as an escape for a lot of that, what are your thoughts? Can you agree with that?

AC: Really, what I don’t like personally is that it is kind of unfair to treat your fan base like cattle or sheep. Like for example, if you don’t vote for who I’m voting for you’re not my fan. First of all, why would you ever go to a rock star for advice on politics? Seriously, I would go to anybody but a rock star for political advice! I’d go to my dentist, my doctor, the guy that shines my shoes , the guy at the car wash, probably knows more than we do and most rock stars spend all their time writing music or partying or whatever, so why would you ever consider that person to be a political genius.

Q: That is definitely an excellent point.

AC: A rock star writes lyrics and immediately people think well, he knows more than I do. No, no he doesn’t!

Q: You have always been looked at as the ‘Godfather of Shock Rock’, however do you find that anything is rock is truly shocking anymore? Is there anything that stands out to you these days?

AC: I think it’s shocking how boring rock is right now! Rock n’ roll used to be outlaws, if you were a rock star, you were an outlaw and you were not part of the establishment. Now these young rock bands haven’t connected up with that and I would say 90% of the rock bands just want to fit in and I’m going ‘Why?’. The golden age of rock n’ roll you had Bowie, Alice, The Rolling Stones and people like that and the last thing we wanted to do was fit in. We wanted to be the outsiders, but now I look at young bands and I go ‘why do you all want to look alike?’ and it seems like any band can look like any kid, like any kid in the mall could be in a band.

Believe me, when the Alice Cooper Band walked into a room, you knew it was Alice Cooper Band.

Q: Definitely. There is certainly a generation appeal to your music because what certainly used to anger parents has flipped and parents are now introducing their kids to the music and you have fans of various ages coming out to shows.

AC: Oh, of course, our fan base is aged 14 to 70 and we still have a big fan base of kids aged 15 to 25 and are usually the first 50 rows and then the older generation are there because of not just nostalgia, but they love those songs and grew up with those songs and we were their band. It’s the first generation where a guy can take his son and his father to the show and they are all Alice Cooper fans. Classic rock appeals now I think to the 15 year old kid. Could you imagine to be a 15 year old kid and just discovering The Doors or just discovering Jeff Beck or Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix, I think I would be like ‘Are you kidding …who are these guys?’ so, really the music that happened in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s is very timeless.

Q: Absolutely! That’s why I think it is so amazing what you did with both Joe Perry and Johnny Depp with the Hollywood Vampires as a tribute to that era of music.

AC: Bringing it to a young public and they are sitting there going ‘Wow, did you guys write these songs?’ and it’s like ‘No, Jimi Hendrix wrote this, The Doors wrote this, T. Rex wrote this’ and if any of these songs came out today they would be just as powerful. Now, I look at music from the 90’s and 2000’s on up as almost being disposable. It’s almost too much techno … too much manufactured music.

Q: Are there any plans for the future with Hollywood Vampires

AC: Yeah. I think the Vampires have proved that you can do every song from the 60’s and 70’s and make an entire show of it and make it really exciting. First off, the band never went up there with any sort of indulgence or pride. The band went up there to rock that audience and we went up there to give em’ hell.

Q: My favorite scene in the film “Wayne’s World” is the backstage history lesson with you. I don’t know why I picture a backstage conversation with you and the rest of the band being very similar to that.

AC: It is kind of funny with the juxtaposition of everybody in this band with the long hair and the tattoos, running around backstage and then they are like Jeopardy and are really smart. The funny thing is, that the guys in my band actually are like that!  They look really, really tough, but they could sit there an play Trivial Pursuit with these guys and they are just educated about everything.

Q: Can you tease us with any news about work on a new album and the direction that may be headed?

AC: It’s in the writing stage and right now you never know what an album is going to be until it takes it’s own shape. You start out with an idea and I told them I wanted something that would be like “Killer” part two and I brought that up to the original guys in the original band and I brought it up with my band and other writers that I write with and we have a ton of music coming in. It’s really going to be the best 12 or 13 songs that are going to make the album. We pick the best songs regardless of who wrote them and that’s the way Ezrin and I have always worked. We don’t do filler. So, if the original band wrote three great songs, well, they will be on the album.

Q: We have seen so many changes within the music industry over the years. Which has had the biggest effect on the way you approach writing and recording, as well as promotion for an album.

AC: It’s a different world now only because in our day it was all about the Hollywood publicity stunt. You had album art, where you could actually see album artwork and Warner Bros just gave us the right to do whatever we wanted to do as far as the art went. We designed “School’s Out”, we designed “Billion Dollar Babies”, every single album they said you know this stuff better than we do, so it was really nice to have control over all of that and at the same time have control over the music, the image, everything. I think that is kind of what is missing now and there is not enough bands out there that are really concerned about the whole package. You know, you gotta have the whole package. You can’t just have one thing.

If you’ve got somebody writing your songs all the time, there’s something that’s not right about that. Bands should be writing their own songs.

Q: Absolutely! I think even when you mention things like the album artwork, I am one that truly misses the visual side of things so much because I think we get trapped in a singles market where everyone is just picking one and done. No one is paying attention to things like liner notes and album cover art where so much meaning used to be hidden waiting to reveal itself to the listener.

AC: You know the crazy thing is and this is really interesting. In the last year vinyl sales have jumped 85% and the reason is, at least I think, is the next generation is tired of buying air. You get on the internet and buy a single and you don’t get anything, whereas the younger kids now are buying record players and their buying records. They then sit there and look at the records and they own the record and they can read through who wrote what on the record, meaning who wrote what songs. I sign more records now than CD’s or anything else.  It’s amazing and it’s definitely really cool that the record world is making a comeback.

Q: I love the perfectly imperfect sound of vinyl and I just don’t think it can be matched any other way.

AC: Yeah, it’s great. There is just something organic about vinylwith buying a record, putting it on the turntable and putting the needle down and listening to it, whereas, there is something, I don’t know, almost clinical about putting music on your computer or hitting a button on your phone and hearing a record … it just doesn’t sound good.

Q: Can you talk about your upcoming touring plans. I know we have the show coming up this week at the Santander Arena in Reading, PA to look forward to!

AC: For me, I’ve been on this tour and I’ve been out with the Hollywood Vampires and at the same time writing for multiple bands, doing the radio show and it’s funny because I think I’m busier now, at 68 than I was at 28! But it’s great!  I’m probably healthier now. When I was 28, I was a mess downing a bottle of whiskey a day. Now at 68, I could run a race around Alice Cooper when I was 28.

Q: Alice, thank you so much for speaking with me today! We are very much looking forward to checking out the upcoming live show!

AC: I think you’re going to love the show! The show is really fun and I think that everybody that walks out of that show goes ‘Wow! I wasn’t expecting that!’

Alice Cooper will perform at the Reading Eagle Theater at the Santander Arena in Reading, PA on Thursday, September 29 at 8:00pm.

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