Arizona Republic

Originally Published: August 25, 1997

Mr. Cooper Has A New Nightmare For Hometown

Author: Randy Cordova

The edict comes straight from the mouth of Alice Cooper's publicist:

Whatever you do, please don't ask him about Phoenix.

Seems his handlers believe that here in the Valley, everyone knows everything about its favorite musical son. His golf tournaments. His Paradise Valley home. His appreciation for 'Wallace and Ladmo.' Everything but his musical endeavors.

So, what's the first thing hangin' on Mr. Cooper's mind? Playing for the old hometown fans, of course.

"Phoenix is always different for me," he says. "I look out into the audience, and it's like I know everybody. I have to try even harder, because these people know me in my everyday life."

The person they know is a far cry from what they see onstage. His neighbors may know Alice the upscale dad or Alice the supermarket shopper, not the grandiose, gothic character he affects onstage.

"They're not there to see the guy who goes to the Suns games. They're coming to see the professional entertainer. And Alice is up there to give them the best show he can give them. It's my alter ego."

Alice, 1997 style, will be featured in a spooky carnival setting, something the 49-year-old rocker has been wanting to do for years.

"It's so creepy. Carnivals are just a little greasy, especially the kind of carnival that we put up there. It's one that should have been closed a long time ago. The carnival vibe, it just fits in with the rock-and-roll attitude."

He promises a theatrical production, something that must please fans of the 'Welcome to My Nightmare'-era Cooper, when his use of eye-popping effects and gruesome visuals made his shows must-sees for the 'Famous Monsters' crowd.

His last concert trek found him hitting stages without a unifying theme to the tour. Instead, it was rock and roll without the frills.

"Actually, there's always theatrics to Alice Cooper. Just in hand props and things like that, there will always be something theatrical. But this show has all the elements of a classic Alice Cooper show."

Including classic Cooper tunes, not simply the hits such as 'Only Women Bleed' and 'Eighteen', but long-lost album tracks such as 'Public Animal #9' from 'School's Out'. It's a set list designed to delight Cooper longtime fans, a boomer-heavy contingency.

"We picked out some tracks where people thought, 'Aw man, I never thought I'd hear him do that onstage!' We went and found tracks like that, then threw in the more recent Alice stuff. It's a real good mix. Just when you think it's all going to be old hits, we'll hit you with something that is basically new."

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Alice - Vincent Furnier to those instructors who taught him at Cortez High School - is that after all these years, he still feels he has to prove himself.

"That's why I think we're here 30 years later," he says. "Yeah, maybe we did a great show the night before, but I want to make sure the next night is a great show, too. I'm going to go for it harder.

"Every night I go onstage, I feel like I have to prove myself, that I'm going to give the audience the best show I possibly can give them. I like the idea that I'm not totally so sure of myself that I don't really have to try hard every night."

Then there's the whole hometown thing again.

"I always try to do something special for Phoenix. It's one of those things. You have to psyche yourself into shape for Phoenix. After all, it's going to be 105 degrees, and I'm going to be doing an hour and a half dressed in black leather. I'd better be in great shape."