Beat - 10th December 2003

(December 10, 2003)

Originally Published: December 10, 2003

Alice Cooper

Justin Donnelly chats to the king of horror about his new favourite band, jet

Author: Justin Donnelly

There are names that are mentioned when the term rock'n' roll is brought up, but there are few that embody the actual phrase like Alice Cooper. After recording for close to 40 years, the king of horror Alice Cooper is an artist who is well versed in the trials and tribulations of maintaining a core fan base, while trying to reinvent both image and sound every so often to keep current in the public's ever changing tastes.

Alice Cooper's new album The Eyes Of Alice Cooper is a turn around in style once again from heavier modern sound of his last couple of releases, and instead reverts back to a sound more reminiscent of his glory days back in the mid 70's. "I wanted to make an album that was reminiscent of the early Detroit days for us, which certainly sounds more along the lines of a garage album. I also noticed that there's a hell of a lot of bands out there that are trying to sound like those Detroit bands." The Eyes Of Alice Cooper was obviously a calculated move towards an early rock sound that resembled Cooper in the 70's, and while partly inspired by the current fascination with rock in general, it was also a change that was needed after his last couple of releases.

"The last two albums were so produced, and so big and gothic that I really wanted to do something opposite to that. I wanted something fun to listen to, and something that really shows off the band and the song writing. When you go into an album, and say to the band 'No Overdubs', it's going to be different. Try telling my drummer Eric Singer, 'No drum fills. I want it straight ahead'. I told the band that there will be songs where you'll be able to do all the fills and overdubs that they want to do, but there's five songs on this album where I don't want you to do anything but just straight ahead rock."

Taking out the award for being the strangest track on the album is the fantastic The Song That Didn't Rhyme.

"Yeah, isn't that one of the oddest tracks? The funniest thing about that track is that it actually does what I was writing about. Picture this if you can. Imagine you're sitting in church, at a funeral or at some place where you need to be very solemn. Maybe you're a pallbearer at your friend's funeral, but you just can't get some stupid little song out of your head. It's usually a song that you just hate. You're sitting there, and you're trying to do something that is really important, and in your head you have, Oops! Did It Again! (Alice is singing Britney Spears to me over the phone) All you can think of is,'Why is this happening now! Why can't I get this song out of my head?' It can also be a commercial, a jingle from some hamburger place or anything like that. So I thought, I'm going to write a song called The Song That Didn't Rhyme, which is that song."

Of utmost importance to Alice Cooper is the band. With every song written within the current line up. Alice is proud of results from the challenge he set up.

"I wanted the band picture on the back because I wanted people to know that this is a band album, and not Alice alone in the studio with pro-tools and a producer. Anybody can make themselves sound good if they surround themselves with great players. I really wanted to emphasise the fact not only is this the band, but this is the sound of the band playing live in the studio. I put all of the pressure on the band, plus all the pressure of the writing of the songs. There was nothing fancy about it. It was just a matter of, here are the songs, take it or leave it."

While it's not a highly known fact, Alice usually makes albums in pairs. If that calculation is correct, fans can assume that Alice's next album will be another slice of 70's sounding hard rock like The Eyes Of Alice Cooper.

"You know what, you're so right there! It's odd that few people have picked up on that, but you're really right about that. I find something I like, and then I do it, and do it again! (Laughs) I just like it. There will be another album, and I hope it turns out just like this one. To me, this album sounds really natural. This album just rocks. When I listen to a Steely Dan album, I realise that's not what a band sounds like. That's too perfect. I just want to hear a band that just sounds like a band. Maybe that's what I like so much about those current rock bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes. They're bands that sound like themselves. I'll tell you this though; you've got one of the best I've heard in Jet. That is a great band. I think those guys are really, really good. I haven't bought an album in five years, and I went out and bought Jet's album. I put the CD on and I thought that it was really good! Please, next time you see them, tell them I'm a fan!"

The Eyes of Alice Cooper is out now on Riot thru Aztec Music.