Originally Published: August 12, 1989
"Rubbish!" choruses the beleaguered Kerrang! sub-editor, the memory of wading through Alice Cooper feature part one (last week) still looming large in his mind. "Trash!" exclaims Steffan Chirazi in response, slipping in the title of the new AC album along the way. "Who writes this garbage?" asks the entire big K! Readership. (And well they might, as this sleazy saga draws inexorably to a close...)
In many ways, "Trash" is an extremely appropriate title for Alice Cooper's new album.
Smacking of good ol' glorious Hollywood sleaze, 'Trash' - with it's blatant hit-machine formula - could be considered to be the vinyl equivalent of a highly talented whore.
Of course, Alice Cooper - more than anybody else - knows just what real good quality trash is all about. The whole project is just stuffed with kitch.
Check out the promotional yellow plastic garbage cans, adorned with the 'Trash' logo.... tacky yet classy.
Check out the promo photos of Alice and a plethora of scantily-clad women.... pure and utter trash.
And the video for the lead-off single cut 'Poison is brimful of ..... trash. Lusty women, leather, bondage, slinky underwear, chains.... it's all so damn trashy all you can do is throw your head back and laugh hard. There's even a twist at the end, a typically B movie-style trashy twist, that only Alice could get away with.
If you've gathered one thing about Alice Cooper '89, it is surely that he loves all things trashy. (you don't say! - Surprised Ed.)
Tell him that you feel mutilating babies onstage was always a bit trashy, and Alice'll laugh. Tell him about that positively trashy tabloid story you read about him the other day, and Alice'll demand a copy for his own enjoyment.
Yeah..... Alice Cooper's been surrounded by trash for too long not to be able to appreciate its niceties. As a consequence, he's too wise a dog to take anything too seriously in this industry any more...
"I really don't think you can define trash," he laughs. "Trash is the fun part of life. We're all living in so much trash right now.... but it's fun. Look at Hollywood - pure TRASH! showbusiness - utter trash, but in the fun sense, Las Vegas - utter garbage, but also fun. I love every minute of it, I love the dumbness and the phoniness of it."
"Some people, they develope this attitude.... 'oh, Hollywood, I could never stand it for long, it's so phoney'. SO WHAT! That's the whole fun part of LA. And New York too" he's bounding into this, "all this so-called NY sophistication is such utter bullshit! You sit down and start to take in all this artsy-fartsy stuff - and it's such trash! I don't care how sophisticated something like Andy Warhol's Interview magazine is, it's based on trash. That's why I buy it.
"I was reading sections of Andy Warhol's diary in People magazine - another great trashy read - the other day. He's going on about what's happening with Mick and Bianca and who's screwing who and who's not at the party 'cause they took too many drugs and.... it's.... trash.
"But I happen to really like trash. I look at those magazines to see who's doing what, ha-ha-ha! Every time I go to London I buy the Sun, every time I go to New York I buy the Post, and it's all such utter trash and bullshit. Every time I go to London I read things like 'the baby basher's back' and it's a great old welcome home. The British certainly love tabloid trash more than anyone, and I respect their sense of humour. You could have a major political event occurring in the world, like the US attacking Libya or something, and it'll be on page 12 of the Sun. It won't really count. They'll have some totally crazy thing on the front page instead."
"I remember one time I was in London for three weeks and there was this continuing sex scandal involving an MP, great danes and beatings. I had never heard of this guy, yet after three weeks of daily instalments he'd become a part of my life!"
I gently remind Alice that a lot of people in Britain don't see the Sun as a piece of trash, they see it as a newspaper. He agrees that this, indeed, is a sad fact of life.
Of course, learning that Alice actually enjoys seeing his name soiled in the gutter press pages raises several questions. For example: how does he feel a book about him would be written? From that trashy angle? Could he do his own autobiography and be as scummy?
"I don't think I personally could ever write as trashy an account of myself as would be necessary," sighs Alice, "but if a book came out about me then sure, it'd have to be from that angle. No other way really. Kinda like Pamela Des Barres' I'm With The Band (a trashy book by a famous early '70s groupies) ... like, ha-ha-ha, look who's in it! I lived it..."
Time to get clean again. In an interview I conducted with Alice last year, he was keen to avoid too much recounting of the past, too much looking back. One wonders if he'll be ready for the inevitable revival that would ensue should one of the many potential hit singles on the 'Trash' LP do the predicted business and catapult him into the top 10.
"I think this LP will do just that, and I absolutely welcome it. When we talked last year I didn't wanna talk too much about the past and such things as alcohol problems, and I think their was a good reason behind that. Namely, that I wasn't sure if sobriety would last. I didn't wanna say one thing, and the next minute be right back there. But now that isn't a concern, sure, a return to the old days would be great."
"I don't wanna be Chuck Berry. I love Chuck Berry as an artist but I don't wanna be that kinda golden oldie figure. I wanna be at the front of all the innovations whilst I'm still doing things. Alice should always be there. And unless I kill 'em every night, I won't do it. I've never had mediocre reactions. If I did, then I'd stop. I'll physically shake people if I have to, they'll react to me!"
Back to the new show/old show question. How many of his much-loved, fondly remembered stage stunts will Alice carry through to his next tour?
"I cannot imagine the new show without at least 50 per cent of the old show. Alice will still be menacing and head-on in his physical approach. I think every day about how I'm gonna go onstage. I know that when I do go on there, there'll be, like, so much tension. Tension plays a big part, together with the build up and release. When these new songs are performed onstage, they'll kill."
Funny to consider that, once upon a time, Alice Cooper was simply seen as a superstar, a man too big-time and too rich to be recognised as, first and foremost, a fighter for freedom.
Ok, so Alice may well have been paid extremely well over the years. Alice may very well have become a superstar. But in the end Alice Cooper always did what he wanted to do. Underground heroes should cower unless they recognise this fact: Alice Cooper was the original musical anarchist, more anarchic than many of today's so-called left field heroes.
"Yeah, the whole AC thing was always a threat because they were scared of me, yet they made me as powerful as could be possible. When they gave me a successful single, it was like the Sex Pistols having had 10 top hits. It was always amazing to me that Alice Cooper was the terror of every American family, yet radio lodged no objections. And there was no stopping it. I am a total capitalist, yet being on the front cover of Forbes magazine was a total strike for freedom."
Forbes magazine is the bible of American business, the holy book for every ivory-towered, grey-suited baldhead who ever had a few million to throw around. Alice Cooper was a Forbes cover star, this wild, drunk rock star was on the front cover striking a blow for rock'n'roll.
"Yeah, that cover came out in 1974 and it was called 'The New Millionaires'. And there I was with the hat, cane.... that was the best. I have it framed and on the wall, it meant so much, because we really hit the heart of America."
"Before that I'd been in Rolling Stone a few times, the cover of every major rock mag numerous times. But after Forbes I'd step on to a plane and they'd say, 'Excuse me Mr Cooper, you must be in first class'... and I never, ever sat there! I was always at the back, drinking too much. So they'd sit me next to these grey suits who'd ask me if I could sign their copy of Forbes for them.... because it was their bible. That was when Alice really had arrived."
Nostalgia is given a sharp kick and shove as Alice's publicist looks around the door and tells us that time's getting on. Five more minutes, that's all. Time for a couple more questions...
Alice, just who the hell did play with you on 'Trash' (the very biggest names only, please) and did it work out as well as you thought it would?
"We worked with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Before this, I had a completely different concept and vision of Bon Jovi, but when I worked with those guys.... all Richie thinks about is rock'n'roll. He's a great player, and he's always got a guitar! That damn guitar is his life, and I totally respect that."
"We already mentioned Steven Tyler (last issue), but after years of bar talk it was great that we were all straight enough to pull it together and get it on tape."
"Kip Winger and I are great friends of course, and Kane Roberts plays on the album as well."
Mentioning Kip 'n' Kane, what'll Alice be doing for a tour guitarist this time round? Kane has a deal with Geffin these days, whilst Winger is currently enjoying spectacular success with his own band.
"Isn't it great? They can't sit around waiting for me forever. I wished them all luck and told them to get out there and get on with it. So, yeah, it will be an all-new touring band."
The watch hits five minutes. The garbage truck's waiting. Time to take the 'Trash' out....