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Originally Published: October 13, 1999
Author: Timothy Finn
He's 51 and he can do what he wants, which means Alice Cooper plays lots of golf and lots of loud rock music.
"Financially I don't have to do this," he said. "I choose to do it. When I'm off tour, by the time eight or nine months go by, I want to be back on stage."
Cooper is finishing up the latest leg of what he called his "Rock 'n' Roll Carnival Tour."
"We've been doing this show for two years now," he said. "It's time to put it to bed. Next summer we'll start a whole new show based on a new album that will be called 'Brutal Planet.' It'll be Alice's new-century address: very pessimistic, very apocalyptic, very hard rock.
"But this current show is for the Alice fans. We do all the hits plus some deep album cuts, gems that only the hard-core fans will know."
From Washington last week, Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) talked about his hometown, golf and Goth rock at the millennium.
You must have noticed that several performers are still doing what you started almost 30 years ago - Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie. What do you think about that?
I admire anyone who goes out of their way to do a show. I may not agree with everything they say or do, but at least they are doing a show. Even Cher, I've heard, puts on a real extravaganza. Now that's obviously not my kind of music, but you've got to appreciate her making the effort to do a real production for her audience.
I think some of this is a backlash against the Seattle/slacker stuff where bands were withdrawn and boring. Why be boring? Have some fun. Rock shows should be like movies: I don't go to a movie hoping it'll change my life. When I saw "Jaws 3," it wasn't a great movie, but it was worth the seven bucks to see the shark eat the helicopter. It was a wonderful waste of time...
I like to think I was responsible for knocking some barriers down in the late '60s. Back then, you weren't allowed to say "show biz" and "rock" in the same breath because rock was anti-show biz. Everyone was like James Taylor, very into peace and love and "I wanna change the world."
Then Alice Cooper came around, and it scared everyone. It was like Busby Berkeley meets "A Clockwork Orange." There was violence, but it was choreographed, a la "West Side Story." I don't like real violence, of course; this was theater, a show.
You come from Detroit, like a lot of other hard-core rockers and shockers: Iggy Pop, the MC5 and now the Insane Clown Posse, Kid Rock and Eminem. How has your hometown influenced you?
Alice Cooper actually broke out of Detroit. We tried to get started in L.A., but they hated us. The only bands who would take us out on tour were the Doors and the Mothers of Invention. So we moved back to Detroit, where they ate us up. We'd play gigswith the Stooges and the MC5 and fit right in with that.
The difference? In L.A., people go, "Hmmm. Let's see, who's playing tonight: Oh, Iggy and Alice." Then they go home from work, change out of their nice work clothes into Levi's, a black T-shirt and black boots and then drive to the show. In Detroit, they show up straight from work in jeans and boots. And in Detroit you never see anyone plugging their ears. In fact, they'll kill you for not being loud enough.
The other difference: Detroiters are viciously loyal. I'm still a huge Lions and Tigers fan because I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Detroiter. It has totally infected my music. I'll never be in a band unless it has at least two guitars. I don't go for the keyboard/horns thing. I want big, loud guitars. And that's pure Detroit.
You have become an accomplished golfer. How did Alice find golf?
I started 17 years ago, when I stopped drinking. My wife says I traded one bad habit for another, but I had to fill my time with something. Time is the enemy for an alcoholic: You sit around watching TV and you think, "I'd love a beer." So for two years or so, I played 36 holes a day. I got hooked and I got really good. I was playing with pros every day. My handicap went from like 39 to 9 in one year. Now it's 3, and I can pretty much play 3 anywhere...
I keep Alice and golf separate though. I never impose golf on Alice. Or him on it.