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(November 20, 2004)
Originally Published: November 20, 2004
"I really never had to compromise in any way" laughs Rock icon Alice Cooper aka Vincent Furnier, "And look how things turned out!"
He was the public enemy #1 in the 70's and shocked America and the rest of the world with alcohol-fueled stage shows that explored taboos ranging from murder to necrophilia. He was the legendary godfather of theatrical rock and was often hailed as the king of horror.
Born in Michigan on February the 4th 1948, debuting in 1964, he turned the music world upside down by wearing outrageous clothing and make-up, and performing loud, hard music and sharp-edged lyrics.
The band moved to LA and as Alice claims himself it didn't take long until they were the most hated band in Los Angeles.
Their notorious reputation really started when somebody threw a live chicken on stage, Alice believed that chickens could fly and threw it back into the audience, where the frenzied crowd tore it to pieces. The next day headlines everywhere read that Alice bit off a chicken's head and drank it's blood.
Alice himself was tempted to reveal the truth about what had really happened, but his friend Frank Zappa advised him to simply accept it, claiming that he couldn't buy publicity like that.
Originally the band called Alice Cooper with Vincent being the singer, but soon he seemed to become an incarnation of Alice and he claims that Alice is part of his life and he's always going to be Alice Cooper. The electric chairs, guillotines, fake blood, huge boa constrictors, and plenty of make-up has become the trade mark of him and his band.
"Alice will always be a rock villain, my show was always like it is now and I'm not going to change it. I didn't change it when there was pressure from all sides and I won't change it now that they decided to turn me into an icon and give me a star on the walk of fame! I never did a show just to conform or make anybody happy, just as I never recorded a song that I didn't like! I think most people realized that Alice Cooper is Alice Cooper and is going to stay Alice Cooper. It's like an infection, there is no cure for Alice! Ha ha ha"
In today's music business where one hit wonders seem to be manufactured by the truck load and pop idols come and go, Alice Cooper is certainly an exception. His concerts are still booked out and the audience seem to be happy after each concert. While it might be surprising for a lot of people it certainly isn't surprising for Vincent, the man behind the Alice Cooper mask.
"We got an advantage a lot of the bands don't have, we can draw from 28 albums and got a lot of songs everybody knows and can sing along. I don't think a lot of the new bands can boast to do that. I really love all my old classics and I would never dream about turning away form my musical past. School's Out, Welcome To My Nightmare, Love It To Death or Trash are the songs people want to hear and I play them. Of course I also always play some new material, but the most important part is that nobody gets bored in the audience, that there's always something going on onstage and that the audience is just as exhausted as I am at the end of a show!"
A lot of musicians couldn't hold a candle to Alice's energy on stage and his demanding tour plan – 60 shows in less than 3 months, but in his mid 50's he's still in great shape.
"I'm really in great shape, in fact I'm in a much better shape than I was when I was younger. I'm slim, healthy and fit, I don't drink or smoke and I got as much energy if not more as most musicians that are half my age. Being on stage is like having a 90 minute work out. Of course during each tour you reach a certain point where you feel exhausted and tired. That's when you really get fed up with it and when you need a break, but after a day of that you're ready to go on. I think it's because I don't carry any additional weight with me, if you stay skinny you stay fit, look at Steve Tyler from Aerosmith or Mick Jagger, we're about the same age and they're both quite fit."
With his last album The Eyes of Alice Cooper, he returned to a sound that went away from the classical Alice Cooper material back to his roots in the 70's and he claims that he quite enjoyed going back to a simpler way of recording.
"It was something I really wanted to do for a long time. If you're 56 and you return to the sound you played in the 70's you're never quite sure if it's going to work. I really wanted to record an album where the sound of the band is the main focus instead of some high tech album. I think my next albums going to be very much like this, I want to concentrate much more on the song writing. Unfortunately a lot of bands don't and sometimes the production seems to overpower the actual song."
Alice Cooper was always a little bit different than their contemporaries, while everybody was into love and peace, they were wild and dangerous...
"We were into fun, sex, death and money when everyone was into peace and love," Alice explains. "We wanted to see what was next. It turned out that we were next - and we drove a stake right through the heart of the love generation."
He is the first one to admit that times have changed and the attitude in the music business has changed dramatically.
"I'm not going to blame everything on Star Search or American Idol but they've got a lot to do with it. They celebrate mediocrity and tell the kids they have to sound like Britney, and of course they have to sound like her or they're being case out, so the kids try their hardest. They strife for perfection and that's not rock 'n' roll, rock isn't perfect, it's an attitude. For me rock was always something like a street attitude. Rock is hard and dirty - exactly the opposite of American Idol!"