Originally Published: October 19, 2001

Alice Cooper: Prince Of Darkness/Lord Of Light

Lonn Friend Goes Deep With Shock Rock's Living Legend On God, The Devil, Marilyn Manson And All Things In Between

Author: Lonn Friend

"Alice is what all other shockers strive to be. Hands down...the champion of the world. His songs sang out like nursery rythms to a demented generation. He was the first to mix music and theater into a twisted cocktail that we drank down like there was no tomorrow. He threw away the rule book on safe and sane! Alice Cooper made us all feel unsafe and insane, and we love him for it.and I will love him forever for kicking the morally correct institution called 'rock n' roll' right in the fuckin' balls. Long live The Coop!"

-- Nikki Sixx, from The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper box set

You know the songs. "School's Out," "Under My Wheels," "I'm Eighteen," "Be My Lover," "Ballad of Dwight Fry," "Billion Dollar Babies," "Welcome to My Nightmare," "Only Women Bleed," "Muscle of Love," "I Love the Dead," "Cold Ethel," "Poison," "Brutal Planet," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," and so on. You know the character, Alice Cooper, snake around the neck, black cane in hand, a guillotine on the stage; forever basked in the glow of Hollywood style horror, weaving tales to frighten and excite, the eternal escape artist with your passport to the playful, perverted other side of rock. You know the influence: KISS, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Green Jello, W.A.S.P., Poison, Gwar, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, I.C.P., Slipknot and others; they were all schooled at least for one semester at the University of Coop. You know all this. But do you really know the man, Alice Cooper? I do, and very shortly, you will, too.

We met in 1989 while Alice was preparing what would prove to be the biggest comeback of his career. He was putting the finishing touches on the Trash record and the campaign for press had begun in earnest. "We want a cover story," came the plea from the Cooper camp. RIP was pretty hot at that time, riding on the heels of our exclusive GN'R/Metallica cover stories. I was getting pressure from the company's CEO to keep the "hot young rebels" coming. They were driving the circulation through the roof. Of course, I never listened to anyone while running RIP except my amazing editorial staff and my own gut. After hearing several tracks from Trash, I requested a meeting with Alice at a location near and dear to both our hearts: the golf course. Four hours with Alice Cooper was an educational, exciting, joyful experience. Hearing him tell stories about the wild, decadent days gone by was cool, but what struck me even deeper was the fact that the man Alice Cooper was the absolute anti-thesis of that deep, dark, sinister character who welcomed the world into his devilish nightmare over a quarter century ago. He was simply the most humble, kind, affable, friendly rock star I'd ever met. That night, I green-lighted the cover story and assigned the great Glen LaFerman to shoot the photographs. When Alice received the proofs of our session, he fell in love with one of the images. That shot became the cover of the Trash LP. Glen happily donated some never-before-seen outtakes from that infamous session to accompany the text of this feature. And by the way, the Coop issue of RIP became the second biggest selling cover of the year. More importantly, the entire experience fostered a friendship that's existed to this day.

Last month, I flew to Phoenix to spend a couple days with Alice on his home turf. He loves the Arizona desert community he's called home for the past 15 years, almost as much as they love him. We stopped at a mini-mart for a Coke (Alice's only liquid vice since kicking the demon alcohol in the mid '80s). Two people asked him for autographs in the five minutes we were there. "You know, I've given out about 100,000 autographs since I moved here," he says with a smile. "I could be mayor of Phoenix. Really." Most of the interview was conducted over dinner at the Coop's latest business adventure, Alice Cooperstown, a Hard Rock-style sports/music memorabilia laden restaurant co-owned in part by Alice, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, Arizona Diamondback pitcher Randy Johnson and local concert promoter, Danny Zelisko. One look at the amazing, eclectic collection of collectables from sports heroes, Hollywood icons and rock legends alike that line each and every wall of the place is enough to give any eBay junkie a hard on for life. Is there a bar? Oh yes! And it's about as long as a boa constrictor and on any given evening when he's not on tour - as he is right now in support of his brilliant new Brutal Planet release -- Alice is apt to sidle up next to ya and toast you with a Coke and a tale or two about the history of rock n' roll of which he has born close witness. So without any further adieu, let me just say, Hello, Hooray, and on with the show!

Did you start drinking as a young musician or did success drive you to the bottle?

Nah, we were starving in L.A., the band was. I remember one night going to a party with an old girlfriend of mine from church. I was the only one that didn't get high in the band. All of us were living in Los Angeles back then. We were so naive, we were living in a gay man's house and didn't know he was gay. And this guy was really gay. He just took us in and we were like, "Wow what a nice thing! What a sweet fellow." All the guys in the band were taking acid and smoking weed, except for me. So anyway, I go to this party with this girl and I had one Coors beer. Then I had four more. And that was that: The birth of my addictive personality. Good thing it was only beer 'cause if somebody were to stuff like ecstasy in my hand at that point, I would've taken five of those a day. That's why it was very, very important that I didn't get into hard drugs, because I would be dead. I've gotta be very careful what I like because I will overdo it. And that's how I became an alcoholic. I liked beer just a little bit too much, which of course, lead to whiskey. From that moment on, I never went a day without drinking. I drank everyday for the next almost 15 years.

So when we look back at the first 15 years of Alice Cooper, we find some of the greatest rock songs and groundbreaking theatrical performances ever. You were drunk during this entire period?

Well, not a stumbling drunk. I was a totally functional alcoholic, probably the most functional alcoholic ever. I never missed a show. I never stumbled. I never slurred a word. I mean I was the Dean Martin of rock n' roll. I was totally just on a nice glow. I never got drunk to get drunk-drunk. I just kept a buzz on, a nice little glow all the time. Yeah, I'd go to the studio and be the first one there, the last one to leave. I'd sit there and write like a complete professional artist. But I always had a beer with me. Now if somebody took my beer away, then I'd be very unprofessional and I'd throw a fit. So, I did require my little habit. So, yeah, you're right.every one of those major songs were written while we were deep into a case of beer.

When you finally did get sober, however, wasn't it easy for you? Is it true you've never had to do AA, or the 12 Steps?

I've never had to attend to an AA meeting for myself. Not one, ever. I honestly think I was simply and completely, healed. Like being healed from cancer, it was taken away from me, something I am eternally thankful for because I've never had to go through the torture of being a recovering alcoholic. I went through the torture of being an alcoholic, drinking like an alcoholic, but I never went through the madness of craving it after I came out of the hospital. I guess you can call it a miracle. It's the only way I can explain it. It was absolutely eliminated from my life. There's a difference between beating drinking, being cured and being healed. I think I was healed. I say that only because I don't know any other alcoholics that came out of the hospital and were never even tempted to take another drink. I never once sat around and thought, "That was a rough day yesterday and I really need a drink." When I came out of the hospital, it was over. I could sit in a bar where everyone was drinking and have a Coca Cola and it would never occur to me to have a drink. I know that's not a normal alcoholic position at all but it's the truth.

Because I've known you for quite a few years and have seen how you live, your family, the way you treat people, I know that the character Alice Cooper has long been your shadow side, the evil, alter ego so to speak. Alice the man has always been Dr. Jeckyl. What's it like living with Mr. Hyde?

I owe as much to my dark side, the Alice character, as I do to myself, the person who I am in real life. Most people have a light side and a dark side. My dark side gets to go on stage. I get paid for playing my dark side. I know several people, however, who are total split personalities, where one second they're my best friend and the next I don't even wanna be near them. But they don't get the luxury of doing it on stage. The stage is where I purge my demons. Iggy Pop has definitely got his light and dark side. You could be talking to Iggy and he's the nicest guy in the world, even in the old days when he was abusing his favorite substances. Then he'd get up onstage and whoa, lookout, here comes Satan! He was like this ultimate, insane, writhing animal, and I would be like, "I was just talking to this guy and it wasn't that guy." But it was a persona, like Alice. The really great performers tap into somebody else. You know, very rarely do you see somebody who is entirely and truthfully the exact same person onstage as well as off. Jim Morrison may have been the only one who was not playing a role when he led us down those dark, artistic alleys.

You tapped into something for your survival and luckily it became an art form for you, an iconoclastic character that could channel all your hate, your antagonism, your mischief. You'd probably be dead if you didn't have Alice Cooper, which is why Morrison and Hendrix and Joplin and Cobain aren't here. They had no alter egos to vent their darkness. They were absorbed by it.

That's right. It killed them, all of those amazing artists. I've known a lot of musicians who've had strong images and they didn't quite know how to divorce themselves from what they were onstage to who they were off. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, I think that they felt they had to be this character for the public all the time or people would be disappointed. I guarantee you I've disappointed lots of people who have met me on the street who were upset because I didn't have a snake around my neck while I was putting gas in my car. And I would just go, if you wanna see that, you've gotta come to a show to see it because I refuse to be that guy unless I'm onstage, in full costume, with band, lights and audience.

So you never wear eye makeup and leather to the grocery store?

Sometimes, I run into fans that are all Goth-ed out and I really laugh, under my breath of course, because I would never want to embarrass them. But you meet them and they're like the sweetest, nicest characters on the planet and they've got this horrible black look, this white powder on their face and they look like they've just been dug up out of a grave. And they're excited to meet me, you know, the dark figure they look up to and they feel a bit embarrassed that they're in this Goth outfit offstage and I'm not. I'm in Levis and a t-shirt and I'm leading this normal life and they're ready for trick or treat. I almost wanna say, "You don't have to do that all day, people don't really care."

I guess this is a good time to bring up Marilyn Manson, an artist who took much from the Alice image and vocal style. What's your opinion of Manson?

Manson has a lot of style, I'll give him that and I have never criticized him for anything he has done onstage theatrically. The only thing I've had a problem with is his view on Christianity. He's very vocal about it. I believe AntiChrist Superstar was pointed right directly at me. I didn't volley the first shots in this whole thing. His whole anti-Christian thing, and I'm like "Hey, I'm Christian, and I'm not going to denounce what I believe." I can be a rock n roll star, a Christian and Alice Cooper. But like we were talking about before, Marilyn Manson spends most of his time in character. I've never met one person in the world that could be their character all the time. You paint yourself into a corner when you say, "I am Marilyn Manson, or I am Rob Zombie or I am this guy all the time." They're not! You know, how could Manson be Manson when he takes his girlfriend to dinner or goes Christmas shopping for his mother? The Marilyn Manson rock star dark character doesn't go Christmas shopping and he wouldn't be caught dead in a restaurant, you know what I mean? So you paint yourself in a corner when you say I'm going to wear this mask all the time.

Christianity has always been a very private issue with you. You've rarely preached to anyone in song, except for perhaps "My God" off Lace and Whiskey, which was still far subtler than say, Stryper tossing Bibles in the audience during their late '80s concert performances or more recently, Scott Stapp from Creed's pretentious proselytizing. What do you think tweaked Manson about the Church?

I think Marilyn had a really bad Christian experience when he was younger. My guess is he got involved with some less-than-Christian- Christians and that really, forgive the expression, nailed him. You know, he's one of the greatest button pushers I've ever met. And I know that game because I invented that game: How to push buttons and piss people off. Manson clicked because he found a whole new set of buttons to push, he even pushed my buttons, which is pretty impressive since I was pushing buttons before he was born. I'd really love to sit down and talk to Marilyn, not just about religion, but about anything. I've read interviews with him. He's very bright and quite funny, too. I'd probably get along with him very well.

Your Christian experience was not a product of your sobriety 15 years ago, was it? In fact, you've been a man of faith since you were a kid, huh?

I was pretty much convinced all my life that there was just one God and there was Jesus Christ and there was the Devil. You couldn't believe in God without believing in the Devil. I always tell bands that the most dangerous thing you can do is to believe in the concept of the Devil or the concept of God, because you're not giving Them full credit. When you believe in God, you've got to believe in the all-powerful God. He's not just God, He's the all-powerful God and He has total control over everyone's life. The Devil, on the other hand, is a real character that's trying his hardest to tear your life apart. If you believe that this is just mythology, you're a prime target because you know that's exactly what Satan wants: To be a myth. But he's not a myth, of this I'm totally convinced. More than anything in the world, I'm convinced of that. So, here we are. We have God pulling us one way and the Devil pulling us another and we're in the middle. We have to make a choice. And everybody, at some point in their lives, has to make that choice. When people say, "How do you believe this? Why do you believe this?" I just say nothing else speaks to my heart. This doesn't speak to my intellect, it doesn't speak to my logic -- it speaks right to my heart and right to my soul, deeper than anything I've ever thought of. And I totally believe it. That being said, I'm not a very good Christian. I mean, none of us are ever good Christians. That's not the point. When you're a Christian, it doesn't mean you're gonna be good, it means you've got a harder road to pull.

I haven't seen you this vocal about your faith before. Does this confidence in communicating to the public what makes you happy come from being older and less attached to the ego/material needs in life?

I had the faith my whole life, but when I got sober, I understood things better. I didn't need another car. I didn't need another mansion. I didn't need another supermodel. That was all viable, that was all get-able. I had a beautiful wife. I had a beautiful family but I should've been dead 20 times being Alice Cooper. And I thought to myself, this goes a lot deeper; there must be another reason why I'm not dead. Faith kept me alive, and being alive, after what I've seen and done, makes me a very unique creature in the rock n' roll business.

One of the greatest quotes about God is, "He doesn't require your faith to exist."

Exactly. How egotistical. I think that people fill their lives with other things, whether that be drugs, or cars, whatever. I've filled my life with a sincere, divine love of rock n' roll. I will never back down in my rock n' roll attitude because I think rock is great! I'm the first one to turn it up. I'm the first one to rock as loud as I can, but when it comes to what I believe, I'm the first one to defend it too. It has also gotten me in trouble with the staunch Christians who believe that in order to be a Christian you have to be on your knees 24 hours day in a closet somewhere. Hey, maybe some people can live like that, but I don't think that's the way God expected us to live. When Christ came back, He hung out with the whores, the drunks and miscreants because they were people that needed Him. Christ never spent His time with the Pharisees.

Do you think televangelists with bad hair-pieces and heavy-handed sermons have given Christianity a bad name?

Most people who profess a true knowledge of Christ don't really know that much about Him, don't study His life and His words, and don't understand who He really is. They like the idea of it, but they really don't know who He is. I'm not one to judge them, I mean I'm told not to judge them, but, I mean, you've got to know who you believe in. I know people who are Buddhists, who are more Christian than some Christians. They have more Christian attributes, they practice what Christ preached, without even believing in Christ. Religion's a tough thing because it's personal and speaks to you personally. I'm not gonna get up on stage and beat anyone over the head with a Bible. I think that my lifestyle should speak of what I believe. I've been married 25 years and I've never once cheated on my wife. I've tried to live a life that is respectable. You know, and I'm not saying that because you drink you're not respectable, for me, drinking was deadly. I quit drinking because it was killing me. I know Christians that drink. I know Christians that smoke grass, that doesn't make them any less a Christian. It's a religion that's very easily distorted.

I want to leave the pulpit for a moment and return to Marilyn Manson, not from a religious perspective, but from a musical one. How much do you think Marilyn took from Alice Cooper, the character?

There are two different elements here. You can't compare Alice and Manson musically because they're really far apart. Alice is much more Phantom of the Opera where Manson's much more Cirque de Soleil. He's lyrically far more brutal than I ever was. And he's got a whole different delivery. I like "The Dope Show" and "Beautiful People," those are strong songs. To me, I was always taught to be a songwriter. I want the audience to sing that song when they go home. I want them to have that song in their heads until they fall off to sleep. I guess I'm a little more old school than he is and I'm not really into MTV or dependence on synthetic instrumentation, which are Marilyn mainstays. I've been a guitar-driven rocker my entire life. I am probably closer musically to Aerosmith than I am to Manson.

Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, The Stones, Ozzy: these are the institutions of rock n' roll. Do you ever look at yourself and say, "Hey, I am a dinosaur."

Absolutely. I am a dinosaur, and proud of it. We are the last of our breed because most of the bands around today will not go 25 or 30 years. I don't think that there will be 25 Slipknot albums. I think they are great at what they do, but the way the industry works, the business is designed for them not to make more than four albums, unless they really, really care about each other, care about the music, really have a fraternity going on with each other and can musically and image-wise get past novelty. But I don't really see bands staying together like we did. We stayed together because we wanted a career. I wanted to be make 25-50 albums. The Stones did, too. So did Aerosmith. So did Ozzy. So did AC/DC. I can't think of anybody else, except for maybe Metallica, right now that can survive the long haul. Look what happened to Guns N' Roses. They were so great, and so big and they could've been on their 8th album right now and it would've been a classic album. But they just couldn't survive. I don't know why, that glue comes apart, personalities collide, egos get to work and before ya know it, destruction.

Between 1971 and 1976, you made five of the finest rock records ever produced. That run was as good as any by any rock artist ever. Love It To Death, Killer, School's Out, Billion Dollar Babies, Muscle Of Love, and Welcome To My Nightmare -- all, with the exception of Muscle, produced by Bob Ezrin, who also happens to be the Chairman of the parent company where KNAC.COM hangs it's heavy metal hat. What made that artist/producer relationship so special?

Nobody ever knew what to do with us better than Bob. He was our George Martin (The Beatles). If somebody had come along and said, "Well, George Martin wants to do your record," I would've said, "No." Bob Ezrin is as much Alice Cooper as I am. He helped invent us. He knew Alice better than the guys in the band knew Alice. I think that Bob and I were really the only two individuals who really knew the character, because we would sit for hours and ask the question with regard to song, lyric and performance, "Would Alice really do that?" The watermark was probably Billion Dollar Babies. The band was very tight. We were a real brotherhood. We had lived through the press and the music industry just hating us. And we survived it and stuck with what we believed which was that theatre and rock do work well together and we finally proved it in the way that talks to everyone: A number one record. Before that, people were watching us, this bunch of whacked out rockers having fun but no real threat to the status quo. But when you look at Billboard and see that number one, you go from being a band to a movement. I think we were the front edge of the theater/rock wave that Bowie and T Rex and many others rode. We legitimized the experiment.

Where was Black Sabbath while Alice Cooper was riding high on the charts? And are you amazed by Ozzy's longevity and the fact that Ozzfest continues to be one of the highest grossing tours in the country?

Ozzy and I go back about 25 years, but back then, early '70s, I didn't even really know who he was. I knew of Black Sabbath. I knew he was the lead singer in Black Sabbath. But he wasn't really the wild man until he broke away from Sabbath and they started promoting him as the "crazy" metal lunatic. But to me, Ozzy's never been about creating fear or terror, like the Alice character. His songs aren't scary. His show isn't scary. I mean, he's got happy faces tattooed on his knees. As for that Satanic image? Ozzy's more like the Happy Satan Guy. When you look at some of the other really dark, evil-imaged Satatnic bands, Ozzy is about Satanic as Fred McMurray (star of the 50s TV sitcom, My Three Sons). Of course, Ozzy does have a good madman look on his face, probably from years of substance abuse. I know. I had that look once. And as for the bat incident, I don't buy it. There are so many tricks. Maybe he bit the head off a candy bat. Remember Frank Zappa supposedly took a crap onstage? And somebody ate it? Show me the film!

What's the strangest thing that ever happened to you onstage?

One night -- I don't remember when or where I just know it happened -- I was pushing the characters back into the toy box for the Nightmare sequence and I stepped backwards, lost my balance and tripped on a wire. I fell about 15 feet into the audience and broke all my ribs. Of course, I didn't know I'd broken my ribs at that point because all I could think about was getting back onstage and finishing the set. You know, the adrenaline's pumping, the whiskey is pumpin' and I'm under the illusion that I'm okay. I'm doing "Only Women Bleed" and then all of a sudden, there's 40,000 people where there used to be 20,000 'cause I'm dizzy from a concussion on top of the broken ribs. And you've got to remember what I look like. I've got red tights on with a jock strap and a fly coming out of the jockstrap. I mean I was in the full Alice regalia, bleeding profusely, ribs broken. I had a bottle of whiskey clutched in my hand when they rushed me after the show to the hospital. And I'm in ER and they're stitching me up, the other doctor is putting bandages on my ribs and there's a line of nurses waiting for autographs.

What's your opinion of Napster and other new media software programs that allow for the free downloading of music, your music?

I don't think Napster's necessarily a bad thing. If you're not big enough to out and buy School's Out and you just wanna listen to it casually once in a while, then I've got no problem with that. Because the kid who's downloaded something off of Brutal Planet, who is maybe getting his first taste of Alice, hears a track and says, "Hey, that rocks," and searches for some old stuff that gets him excited about buying the back catalog. I mean, there's 25 albums out there and Napster's the only real place marketing that old material. That's nothing but promotion for me so I don't care if he steals the songs. To me if he's not enough of a fan to buy it, then okay, no big deal. I guess I'm being a little more generous than others but, hey, it's something that I can't help so I won't let it bother me. I kinda feel sorry for the guys in Metallica because I think they stepped in a little too soon. I think that if you asked them right now if they would do that again, I don't know if they 'd be so bold. I think they would back down and say, "Look, this is too much of a bee's nest." You can't stop this thing. It's too big and too uncontrollable. It's novel now to download music but that isn't going to last forever. I understand their point of view, but if I were a Metallica fan and a Metallica album came out, I would want the whole package. I'd wanna hold that thing in my hands and say I own a piece of Metallica now. I have the pictures, maybe someday I'll even meet the band after a show and I'll have them sign my stuff. Then, I'll have something really cool to put on my wall. If I just go to Napster and burn it, I don't have anything. I've got the songs. And maybe that's good enough for some people, but that's not who their fans are. They've got rabid fans.

Weren't you part of the Hollywood Vampires, that private clique of musical drinking buddies back in the '70s led by John Lennon?

I used to drink with John. Every time John would get in a fight with Yoko, he'd come to L.A. and he'd become one of the Hollywood Vampires. He was really our auxiliary vampire. It was me, Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon, Mickey Dolenz, Bernie Taupin, those were the Hollywood Vampires. And when John was in town he was one of the Vampires. We'd drink every night. But I only knew him on that level. I never even spoke to him about music. We talked about The Exorcist. We talked about other things, but we never talked about music and I was dying to talk to him about music! John loved "Elected," off of Billion Dollar Babies. He and Bob Ezrin were talking at Max's Kansas City in New York one night while we were in town mastering and Bob ran into him. He said, "You really gotta hear this record." So John came down, listened to the record and he left. He came back the next day and listened to the record again. He came back every day for a week and finally I came into the office one day and John's just leaving and he says, "Great record, Alice, great record," then he walks a couple of steps and says, "Paul would've done it better." And I thought, what a great compliment that is. I was just compared to a Beatle!

With Brutal Planet, you're addressing some serious, social issues. "Wicked Young Man" is a particularly powerful track. Are you on a mission to raise consciousness through this new chapter in the Alice legacy?

I take this new record very seriously. I think it's my most important work in a long, long time. And in a song like "Wicked Young Man," I'm channeling the evil through Alice via a character I absolutely hate. "I read mein kampf daily just to keep my hatred fed... I wanna purify my race, gonna turn up the heat/just wanna make 'em die and make the job complete." Alice even hates that guy. But, we can't sweep that guy under the rug. He killed a bunch of people in Columbine. He kills people everyday all over the world and we can't ignore him. How do you not know who the enemy is? You've got to shine a spotlight on the enemy to see who he is. You can't hide him. When I wrote "Wicked Young Man," I gritted my teeth but I felt that if I was so nervous about those lyrics, they must be saying something important. But I always wanted to make sure that the audience knew I wasn't promoting this guy, that I was pretty much exposing him. He represents every hate group in every part of the world and we must recognize his face.

Sounds like we're talking about Satan again.

I do believe that there are people who are born evil. But we're always looking for societal scapegoats for these bad seeds. We blamed television, we blamed the movies, as soon as Columbine happened everybody blamed the music: Rammstein, Marilyn Manson. That's absolutely insane, because every other kid at that school listens to Rammstein and Manson, every other kid at that school played the same games, every other kid at that school watched the same movies, so why didn't they kill everybody? Why these two guys? They obviously came from a home that was very abusive. Oh, they didn't? Well then, they must have been heavy drug users. They weren't? So where does that take us? That takes us to the doorstep of demon possession and spiritual attack. That's the only way I can explain these two guys. They were born evil. They gave themselves over to it. So, my explanation why these two guys killed is probably more feasible than anybody else's: I think they were absolutely tools of the Devil.

And Satan does get around these days, doesn't he?

Why are kids insane? Why do they kill themselves? Why is life so cheap? Why is moral decay eating away at America's youth? A lot of it has to do with kids not trusting their parents because their parents didn't think enough about each other to stay together. Kids don't trust their parents when they split up, so who can they trust? Of course, they trust the gangs. Again, some people will look at Alice Cooper and say, "Hey, you're part of the moral decay." Well, when you think about it, I used to celebrate moral decay, the decadence of it, in the Alice character. I can look back on what I did then and what I'm doing now and they're two different things. I think my show's better now, I think my message is better now, and I think I'm more entertaining now than I was then. But at the time I was the poster boy for moral decay, you know. So yeah, I've got a lot to be forgiven for. But again, I did play a part in our society, that at the time I was very proud of. And out of ignorance, I thought I was doing the right thing. I was totally in agreement that every guy should sleep with every girl and drink as much as they can. I don't believe that now. I don't believe in it, because I see how destructive it is. When I was 18, 19, 20, 21 years old, yeah, everything went and I went with it. But I'm a man now, not a boy, and I look at sex differently. I look at love and romance as being sexier than sex. But that's a mature perspective. When I was drinking with the boys I never had more fun in life. I mean that was the most fun for 15 years. I would never take it back. I never had more fun sitting back, not just with my band, but other rockers like Morrison and Lennon. We laughed so much it was ridiculous.

Do you see a global rise in consciousness taking place? Look at the imagery in advertising, the popularity of certain Hollywood productions both in film and television. It's in music and books. Do you think we're waking up in time to save humanity?

Spiritual awakening is happening around the world. Every movie I'm seeing these days - even the horror and sci-fi films like Sixth Sense, Stigmata, The Matrix, Bless the Child - they all have spiritual messages in them. There's a great deal of theology at work not to mention an enormous amount of awakening going on. Whether it's new age, Judaism, eastern Hindu or Buddhist philosophies, it's obvious humanity is craving for answers directly born of awareness. That's the healthiest thing I've seen in a long time because there is something better and everybody's gotta find it in their own way. I think its an amazing awakening that's going on now and its only really been happening over the past five to 10 years. People aren't feeling fulfilled by how many cars they own or the size of their stock portfolio. Even the addicts are saying, "It doesn't matter how many drugs I take, I'm not fulfilled. This isn't satisfying." There's a spiritual hunger going on. Everybody feels it. If you don't feel it now, you will. Trust me. You will.