Originally Published: 2002
Author: Martin Popoff
Call it Hell. Call it Dragontown. Call it Ozzfest in the early afternoon. Whatever your metaphor for eternal damnation, Alice Cooper has gathered a few lost souls from the hot side to tell you what it's like, why these colourful characters are there, why they are quite surprised they are indeed, frying on Satan's spit.
Alice, from a stop on the rock 'n' roll revival tour that poses questions you might find a little more than uneasy, tells us where to get those questions on CD. "This one's got a little bit more colour, a little bit more texture," explains Sir Furnier, the thoughtful man legend behind the stage legend. "And it's character-driven. I think I have more characters actually on this album. The first one, Brutal Planet (ed.: the first part of the two-fisted concept) was sort of explaining what Brutal Planet was and why it was there and that you weren't going to get off (laughs). And this one is a lot of the characters that are there. Basically, they're asking all the same questions. They're all asking how did I get here? How am I going to get out? And some of the questions are also, hey, I'm a nice guy, I shouldn't be here. And this is saying, a lot of nice guys are in Hell."
"My general purpose on this thing is to just establish that there is a Hell," affirms (let's say for logistic ease) Cooper. "Let's say you're not religious at all; let's say you don't believe in anything, let's just say that you die, and you're worm food. This is like saying OK, let's pretend that there is a Hell, let's pretend that there's a Dragontown, OK? Let's pretend that, well, after all is said and done, you do have to pay for your transgressions. Let's say you do have to answer for your bad moral choices. Well, then that's where we are here, but we're just pretending. What it does is it throws a scare. I don't care who you are; you're lying in bed at night and you may be an atheist, you may be anything, and there's that possibility. And for other people, maybe for Jewish or Muslims, they have their own idea of what it is. For Christians, and for me, it's salvation through Christ. That's my belief. But what I'm proposing here is that for all of those who don't believe that there is any afterlife or any payment, this is to propose that, this is what's happening here. This is where you find out 'oh oh, I was wrong, there is a price to pay.' And you have all these people saying I was a nice guy and I did more good things than bad things and I'm going to Hell?"
It's always complicated where the character, or the caricature, Alice Cooper fits in all this. Is Alice one of the damned, the lightning rod, the one pointing the crooked finger saying that there's still time? After Alice's answer, my understanding of his role still remains ambiguous.
"Alice is the narrator; Alice is the tour guide," begins Cooper. "Yeah, Alice is basically the tour guide of this place. Of course, it's a place that he would know about. And I think he includes himself in all of this. But I think the biggest misconception of this album is that it's political. It's not about politics. Politics is secondary. It's about morals, which is something that everybody has to deal with. Politics, I hate. I don't even deal with politics in my life. If I have to, I do. But morals, I have to deal with every day. So this is a matter of, you know, when I say welcome to my nightmare, we all have to deal with nightmares. That's something where you don't have a choice. You go to sleep and you have a nightmare and you can't do anything about it. Well, somebody in China is having a nightmare too, someone in India is, someone in Pakistan is. It's a worldwide universal human thing, same thing with morals."
So does Alice escape? What is his just reward?
"Well, I haven't let Alice understand it. I mean, Alice is the prophet of doom here. All he's doing here is he's telling you about the place. He's not explaining how to get in or out. And again, I come from a Christian attitude on this thing. If you were to say to me, as an author, how do you think you get in there? And I would say well, by my beliefs, you DON'T go to Hell by accepting Christ. That's how you stay away from being there. So I believe that. Now, if you're asking me as Alice, I would say, 'gee, I don't know. All I know is that once you're there, you don't get out (laughs).' So Alice is the prophet of doom. He's the one who's going, 'here we are, now what are we going to do? We're screwed, you know, we're really screwed. Now let me show you some of the people who are here with us. We are in trouble.' And I like the idea that it poses the question, 'well, now what!?' 'I don't know. Let's figure it out. As far as I can see, there's no way out.' I like the idea that there's no way out. I like the idea that this is... you know, when I write about scaring people, I usually write about something that's under your bed, or something that's in the closet, or something that's in your psyche. This is saying, we're dealing with eternity here, that's even scarier. Eternal damnation of way scarier than what's under your bed (laughs)."
"Bob was the third ear," explains Alice on having the esteemed Bob Ezrin credited as Executive Producer. "Bob was the guy who... you know, Bob Marlette and I, we finished Brutal Planet and I said, 'boy, that sounds good. I really like this album; good, we're all happy.' And then I started writing the next album and I kept writing the same album and I said obviously I haven't finished with this album. So I said Bob... Dragontown, let's take it deeper. First of all, nobody's ever done a two-part concept album, staying on the same subject; nobody has ever really, you know, taking it anyplace different. So I said, let's keep writing this. Let's go to Dragontown now, the worst part of Brutal Planet and see who is there. And first of all, we haven't let anybody off of Brutal Planet. On Welcome To My Nightmare, I woke everybody up and on Alice Cooper Goes To Hell, I get out. And on From The Inside, everybody escapes. But Brutal Planet, everybody's still there. In Dragontown, I haven't let anybody up, so there might be a third part. The bio thing that the record company released said that this is part three of a trilogy; that's wrong. Because Last Temptation really had nothing to do with this. That was its own project unto itself. So this is really part two and I'm thinking a part three..."
Go to www.alicecooper.com for more info on tour dates etc. Alice closes with a comment on his touring band, always the cream of the crop in terms of rock-solid musicianship. "It's Ryan Roxie, Eric Dover, Eric Singer, Teddy Zigzag and Greg Smith. All of them can sing. I mean, all of them are great singers. And that's something I never really had before, actually having five guys that could sing. So when you do a song like 'Poison', where you used to solidify it with a little bit of (laughs) sampling and all that, you don't have to do that anymore (laughs)..."