Originally Published: 1987
Author: Gerri Miller
Spiders, snakes, decapitated brides, and dead babies - it's all in a nightmare's work for Alice Cooper, the master of horror movie metal. On the charts with a 19th album, Raise Your Fist and Yell, the veteran rocker once again entertaining audiences with the kind of outrageous show that only his delightfully twisted mind could devise. "The new stage show is even more horrible than I thought it would be," says Alice gleefully, describing the program. "We're doing 'Dead Babies' again, we've got a big black widow spider, we're taking the old classic stuff and bringing them up tp date." Last year's guillotine has been replaced by a gallows, and there's blood galore: "We're talking gushers. Old Faithful, my way," laughs Alice.
"We're always trying to top ourselves." Alice notes, and that has meant some close calls, due to malfunctions of the tricky props. One time, the gallows nearly claimed him for real due to a broken piano wire. "I've had to take out extra insurance," says Alice, who scheduled more rehearsal time this year to work out technical details. "We want the audience to go 'Wow!' Nobody goes away disappointed."
The show balances old favorites like "Public Animal #9" with five tracks from the new album, including the anti-authority anthem "Freedom" (first single/video) and "Prince of Darkness," Alice's favorite track. The title theme to the horror flick of the same name, in which Alice has a cameo as a "possessed street schizoid," the song was a last-minute edition to the LP. Produced by Michael Wagener, the album is half "splatter-oriented" and half defiant in theme. Musically, "I'm a lot heavier than I used to be," observes Alice. "I enjoy this kind of music much more," he says, pleased with the "gut level rock and roll" on Raise Your Fist. He believes it takes Constrictor, "the first album for the new Alice," one step further.
After writing most (80%) of the music on the road with guitarist Kane Roberts, Alice spent just six weeks recording and mising the LP with his band, which also includes drummer Ken Mary (of Fifth Angel) and bassist Steve Steele (from Kane's band). It's "the coolest band I've had in a long time. No ego problems," says Alice. "Everyone has the opportunity to get their own deal. I'd never hold anyone back."
With his current tour slated to run into '88, Alice will be amassing more strange road stories to add to his 17-year collection. One of his favorite involves a look-alike contest winner who came backstage to meet him during the Madhouse Rock tour, when the crew wore white hospital coats. When two similarly dressed men charged in, grabbed the guy, and put a straitjacket on him. "I though it was a joke," Alice recalls, but it turned out he'd escaped from the looney bin that day and entered the contest at a shopping center. other fans, says Alice, give him "all kinds of deadly things," like a pair of giant scorpions that escaped in the hotel, and snakes and spiders in live and jewelry form. "I sign autographs, then get some splatter videos and get ready for the show. I used to sit around and get drunk. Now I have to find new things to do." Firmly on the wagon after many years of living in oblivion, "I'm in so much better shape now than I was 10 or 15 years ago," he says, but by his own admission, may be crazier today. Case in point: He tries to duplicate the exact circumstances of the tour-opening gig at every show, "What I ate, what I watched on TV before I left the hotel, what boot I put on first, - I really get psychotic." Post-gig, "I'm tired physically but mentally flying. It takes a good half hour to come down off it," Alice says.
"Metal music is the best form of rock and roll. The energy is so high and it's so much fun to play," he enthuses, vowing to keep at it until "the day I get fat and can't make an audience stand on their feet." Flattered but unthreatened by imitator, Alice is confident in his ability. Except for a period during the disco era when he released only ballads and got mainstream fame via golf tourneys and appearances on Hollywood Squares, which turned his rock fans off, Alice has no regrets about the past. As for the future, he has more multi-million dollar spectaculars up his sleeve, including an "ultimate rock show" for his favorite holiday. "I want to make Halloween as much mine as Labor Day is Jerry Lewis'," he quips. He's like to act in more horror movies, but for htemoment he'll only consider cameos, as music is his first priority. While devoted to his wife and two kids in Phoenix, Alice lives on the road. Still lean and mean at 39, he has many more nightmare to unleash.
The Cooper act now features a new boa named Emma Freud. "The old one go mean. We couldn't feed it enough," explains Alice, who retired the reptile after it ate a rabbit, rat, rooster, and took a bite out of a guy's foot.
While playing live nightly, Alice & Co. are also concertizing on videocassette - his '86-7 Nightmare Returns Tour was captured live for a top-selling MCA tape.