Des Moines Register

Originally Published: July 08, 2004

Two Faces of Alice Cooper

Upstanding citizen by day, demon rocker by night

Author: Josef Lawler

Alice Cooper is of two minds on most subjects. By day he is Alice Cooper the suburban dad, golfer and entrepreneur. But by night Cooper becomes the ringmaster of a rock 'n' roll circus that includes giant snakes, makeup and guillotines. Currently touring in support of his new album, "The Eyes of Alice Cooper," he spoke to us Tuesday from a tour stop in Monte Carlo.

Some of the more innovative and offbeat American musicians have come out of Detroit: Iggy Pop, the White Stripes, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper. Is it something in the water?

The common denominator is that almost every band out of Detroit is a hard rock band. They're really guitar-driven rock 'n' and roll bands. It's a real industrial town and the music reflects that. If you're a hard rock band from Detroit and you're not loud, they'll kill you.

Roger Waters said that you play the stage the way Eric Clapton plays the guitar. How important do you think showmanship is to a good rock show?

If you just do your songs, that's OK. But if you say "Welcome to my nightmare!" and then give them the nightmare, visually and musically, you'll get a great reaction.

When I play Alice, Alice only wants to be on that stage. When I play him, he is in his element. Whatever he does is by his rules. I never have to worry about the age thing, because Alice is just ageless. He has more energy than any 20-year-old kid out there.

You've caused your fair share of controversy in your career. Can rock go too far?

Anytime you cause an audience to break the law or hurt themselves, that's going too far. Our goal is to entertain the audience. The idea is not to incite the audience, it's to excite the audience... I don't think anyone could do what I do; very few people have guillotines at home. It's just a good horror movie, it's cabaret.

You ran for president in 1972 against Nixon to promote "Elected." How would you fare today?

I would hate to be the president. I don't think there's any way to win. I wish Michael Moore would be president for one week. He would probably jump off a cliff.

...I'd rather be a singer in a band.

How's your golf game?

I'm at a five handicap; 67 is my lowest game. The funny thing is golf and Alice never meet. During the day I can go shopping, golf, go to movies and be a dad and husband. But for that one hour and 45 minutes (during shows) I get to be him. That is a treat.

Your classic songs are always going to be played on rock stations, but do you get frustrated those stations don't throw on your new disc?

It's one of those evils in music. I understand it and I don't understand it. I'm an idealist - I feel like if it's a great record, no matter who it is, you should play it. Radio is like fast food, playing who's hot and what's hot. I could just play the hits, but I do new albums for my fans.

At 18 you didn't know what you wanted. Do you know what you want at 56?

Yeah, I think so. There's not much more that I want. Everything I've wanted, I've gotten. When you're a kid, you want a yacht and stuff, but when you get older, you realize they're just things. I've been married 28 years, I have three kids, I'm healthy, touring and making great records. What more do I want? I have an Aston Martin, I don't need 20 Aston Martins.

School is out for the summer, do you have any advice for kids in the fall?

Come back in the fall. Some people just say "I'm out" and that's it. I think it's important they go on. High school and college were the best times of my life. Just enjoy it.