ALICE COOPER: 'You Can't Shock An Audience Anymore'
December 17, 2019
Rock legend Alice Cooper was recently interviewed by Tommy Sommers of Three Sides Of The Coin. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the musicians currently in his solo band:
Alice: "I allow them each to have their own personality up there. I tell them up front: 'Ego belongs on stage. I don't want you up there being a wallflower. People want to see you be a star, so be the star. When you get on stage, be a star. Off stage, I don't act like a star, so I don't expect you to.' They get on stage, and they're bigger than life. That's what I want."
On his initial impressions of KISS:
Alice: "I went, 'They're going to kill these guys if they don't do totally different makeup.' They're a good hard rock band, and they created comic book characters, which I thought was so smart, and they kept it really rock and really down the middle — AC/DC sort of, down the middle hard rock that was very understandable. They didn't try to get complicated; they just kept it what it was. I never had one problem with KISS. KISS and I were friends — we were always friends. I think at one point, our people told them where to buy makeup down on Hollywood Boulevard."
On producer Bob Ezrin:
Alice: "Bob Ezrin was very, very smart when he says, 'Dumb it down, dumb it down, dumb it down for the radio.' Sure, everybody wants to be KING CRIMSON. Everybody wants to be THE YARDBIRDS. Our guys were able to do that, but does that get on the radio? No. On the album, you could stretch out and do a lot of things, but for those singles like '[I'm] Eighteen' and 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' and 'Rock And Roll All Nite', you can't. It's so simple, you can't get away from it. For any young band that's out there trying to show off their chops, that's great, but I don't know how far that's going to get them on the radio. Once you get on the radio, you've got the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. That means people have to listen to you."
On shock rock:
Alice: "The problem now is that shock rock, you can't shock an audience anymore. It was easy to do in 1970. That audience was set up to be shock-rocked. We were still in a kind of innocent area where if you put a guy with makeup on named Alice with snakes and guillotines and baby dolls and pure I-don't-care and the lyrics were 'Cold Ethyl' — which I thought were very funny songs. Later, people started getting the comedy behind it, but at first, it was a real subversive thing, and it was easy to shock the audience. Now, I do the guillotine in a whole different way, and it's really effective, but you can turn on CNN and there's a guy really getting his head cut off — that's 100 times more shocking than anything that SLIPKNOT or ALICE COOPER or MARILYN MANSON can do. Reality has caught up, and we really are not shocking as much as it's a [device] where people want the theatricality of it. I think now, it's such a tradition that they want to see Alice's head cut off that they would feel really... At first, that was really a shocking thing."
On overcoming his alcohol addiction:
Alice: "Too many people go into these rehabilitation places to slow down. You don't go in to slow down — you go in to stop. You never want to go in twice... God took [my dependency] away. I came out of there and never had another thought about having a drink. You talk about a miracle — even the doctor said, 'That is a miracle. You were a classic alcoholic. It's like you had cancer one day, and the next day, you didn't have cancer. I never had a drink in 37 years. It just went away. The doctor said, 'This is crazy. You're not going to AA. You don't have a sponsor. You're not tempted? You're not craving?' I said, 'Nothing. It's just gone.' I look at that as a miracle, and I only look at one place for miracles."
On how sobriety changed his musical direction:
Alice: "The old Alice was dead. The old Alice who was a whipping boy. He was society's underdog. I appealed to all of the outcasts — all the kids who were outcasts — because Alice was the outcast. As soon as I got sober, I said, 'I can't play that character anymore because I'm not that character anymore.' The alcohol played a big part of that. I decided at that point that Alice needed to be a really arrogant, condescending villain... He was suddenly this thing that was not talking to the audience. He was looking down on the audience. He was sort of a dominatrix of the audience, and they loved that character. That's why I like playing Alice now."
Cooper's latest release —– the six-track "Breadcrumbs" EP, described as a tribute to the garage-rock heroes of his hometown of Detroit — was released on September 13 via earMUSIC.
In a recent interview with Consequence Of Sound, Cooper said that "Breadcrumbs" serves as preview of sorts for his next studio album, which will be released in 2020.