Originally Published: December 1997
Author: Gerri Miller
It was an unlikely place for a concert: an outdoor stage set up behind a gambling casino on an Indian reservation 15 miles east of San Diego, but 2500 fans found their way to the Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, CA on July 30 to see Alice Cooper play, with Warrant and Loverboy in support. For Alice and Warrant, the show was a sort of dress rehearsal for the Metal Edge-sponsored four band tour they'd begin three days later in Chicago, where Dokken and Slaughter would join them. With a warmup show in Colorado Springs (with Joe Walsh) and an appearance on the Tonight Show in between, it was a busy week for Cooper, but he was glad to be back on tour, as he conveyed post-set and when we talked on the phone from his Tonight Show dressing room the next day.
How do you think the first show went?
It was good. We were happy with the show last night. It was our first real run through with an audience.
I know you changed the show quite a bit since Europe.
To me it's exciting. I kinda like the idea that things might break and things might not work and you have to kind of improvise.
Were the clowns and carnival theme your idea?
Oh yeah. Every night the show's gonna change a little bit because somebody's gonna have an idea: "Hey what if a clown does this or what if Alice does this to the clown?" I think by the end of this tour this will be a totally different show. We've already switched the set around three times today, same songs, just taking some things and outing them in different places. You get to the point and say, "You know what, remember this song? This will fit right here. Why don't we do that?" And you know what's good about that, it makes the show change and it makes it better.
You've brought back some vintage songs like "Halo Of Flies".
Normally we do three, four minute songs, you know, Alice Cooper songs, and they're pretty easy to learn. Then all of a sudden I brought in this nine minute piece. 45 changes, key changes and modulations. We started doing it in Europe. It shows the band off. It shows off their playing ability. At the end of the song people go "Wow".
You're playing guitar for the first time on "I'm Eighteen".
You know, I've always played guitar, but I thought on "Eighteen" it would be fun to do. That's probably our most street-grunge-rock 'n' roll song. I said, "Let's make it a four guitar song." It gives Alice another dimension. We're gonna do that tonight on Leno. They wanted us to do something classic.
Speaking of classics, you're not doing "Elected" now. That was a big surprise.
We had done it in every single show. We gotta let it rest for a while. A couple of songs we just said, "OK, enough of that. I'd rather add something from Last Temptation in there. We have to give them a nice diet of the big hits and then also a dose of some of the new stuff.
What'd you think of the venue last night
Very weird venue, but it was pretty much a glorified dress rehearsal. So it's good to play in front of an audience and see what they react to. It was a really good audience. In the summertime we try to do a lot of outside shows. I like doing outside shows.
As long as it doesn't rain on you, right?
Well, in Europe, it's funny 'cause even when it rained it didn't rain when we were on. I never played one show when it was raining. When we went on it cleared up and when we got off it started raining again. I've got that kind of pull.
I heard you played some golf yesterday.
Well, you know. I always do that. When the band sleeps I play golf. I don't know why, but young bands seem to need more sleep than the old pros do. I sleep about three or four hours a night and I'm ready to go.
And then you wake 'em up to play poker.
That's right. They get done with a show and they're tired and I go, "Come on you guys. Don't be such wimps, let's play."
I understand you're beating their asses.
Well, let's just say I'm taking a healthy dent out of their per diem.
I hear your son Dash is taking after you with the golf, that he's very good at it.
Oh, he's better. Got a hole in one already. I mean Ben Hogan just died, he was 70 years old and played golf for 50 years and never made a hole in one, but Dash just had a hole in one at 10 years old. He wants to be like dad. Loves rock 'n' roll. He's never without a CD. He listen to my stuff. He loves the Beach Boys, the Beatles, he loves the Bee Gees.
How's your daughter, Calico?
Cali's at church camp right now. She got her driver's license so people in California aren't even safe, and we live in Arizona.
Did you buy her a car?
Yeah. I bought her a Volkswagen.
When we last talked you had mentioned putting a couple of covers in the set, but I didn't hear any.
You know what, we got so busy in putting a new show together, but like I was saying, we change shows around and every once in a while somebody can have an idea. So that could happen in this, too. Every once in a while somebody will say, "Hey, you know that song by." and I'll go, "Yeah, that would fit really good right here, let's try it."
You bring a snake out on stage for "Be My Lover".
Yeah. He's a really nice snake. One of the nicest snakes we've had.
How big is he?
This one's about eight feet. Good size.
He travels on the bus with you?
Oh sure. He hasn't learned to play cards yet, but.
You'll teach him!
We'll play for rats, you know.
Are you still planning on going to Australia after this?
Yes, for two weeks.
We're done for a while. We probably go in the studio and start working on the album. I'll be working with this band. The band play so well together we don't want to break them up. They're real friends. On the bus there's never any bad words. Everybody's always buddies. There's no ego. There's nobody saying "I want that guitar solo" and "You're playing too long" or anything like that. These guys further the other guy. The biggest argument they have is, "No, no, you play it." "No, you play it." "Well you go ahead."
Any new word on the boxed set?
Oh, I don't want to hear about that. We keep telling people, "You want the boxed set, call Warner Bros." They're holding it. They're sitting on it. They're sitting on 10 other boxed sets.
I don't have any idea. We have no control over it. This boxed set's been ready for two years. I think they're waiting for my 50th birthday to put it out or something. My birthday is in February.
That would be a nice present for you and for the fans. Maybe you'll know more when I see you ate the Universal Amphitheatre show. Have fun out there!
"She was the dancer dressed up as a black widow spider in my show!" - Alice Cooper