Metal Hammer

Originally Published: May 21, 1990

Trash, Sex, AIDS And Rock Among The Kangaroos

Author: Edgar Klusener

"I can't reach the guys anywhere, I've tried both the office and his home." Then came a crackle in the line followed by an atmospheric hissing. It was about 8.30 a.m. European time. In Australia it was already 4.30 p.m. late afternoon. Alice Cooper was sitting miles away in his hotel room in Brisbane holding the 'phone in astonishment, wondering why the caller at the other end was taking such a long time. His telephone partner was sitting at the breakfast table and nearly falling asleep. He was holding the receiver pressed firmly against right earlobe and trying hard to understand what the originally quoted message in true Aussie English could possible have to do with himself and Alice. The maestro and the journalist had talked together for ten minutes over enitire continents, connected only by a very thin cable. Then all of a sudden a surprise ghost voice interrupted the conversation and the phone connection stretching across the globe was suddenly gone. The witer used the enforced break to pour himself a cup of black coffee which was by now the third cup.

Miles away in Australia Mr. Cooper was pressing the buttons of the phone in his hotel room, listening down the receiver, heard the dialing tone . . . and the telephone rang on the writer's kitchen table from underneath a pile of daily papers.

"I bet that was the CIA!" Mr. Cooper suspected. "In Australia?", we wondered in surprise.

"They're everywhere!" Alice reckons. And he isn't even that wrong in his supicion. But why should America's secret service have any interest in intercepting a completely ordinary telephone conversation?

Who knows and so instead of even trying to wonder why we carried on the conversation.

Alice Cooper is currently touring Australia where the distances are massive and where it can take up to five days to travel from one major city to the next driving through unexplored bushland, deserts and mountains where the most you'll meet are kangaroos, aborigines or rabbits. A tour like that soon becomes really hard work. The Cooper entourage decide to keep it as simple as possible.

"We only booked dates on the east coast this time around. We can visit the most important cities like this and they are only a couple of hours drive from each other. We'll be visiting towns like Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. We left out Perth, which is on the west coast - right on the other side of the continent. Tours of Australia are normally organised a bit differently, the bands start in Perth, tour straight through the country and continue on the West Coast."

The drummer we saw here in Europe has now left the band. The new man is Eric Singer who was formerly with Badlands and Jonathan M. is now accompanying Joe Satriani on tour. Alice Cooper is highly pleased with Mr. Singer: "The drum sound is great now, it's just as heavy as we wanted it to be from the start. I think Eric fits in with this band better, at least musically. He plays the songs just like I like them to be played with a strong bass drum, so its very heavy and very straight. Jonathan was more of a playful drummer who knew loads of tricks, he was a great technician but not as hard and heavy when it came to banging the skins which just happens to be best for Alice Cooper."

Alice Cooper achieved an amazing come-back in Europe, Australia and Japan with 'Trash'. And he's apparently reached new peaks of popularity back home in the U.S of A. Some of the side effects have been very interesting.

Because he had learned his lesson in the previous years when playing under-filled arenas, he booked much smaller venues prior to his recently completed tour of the States. Instead of invading the huge stadiums, Alice booked the medium sized halls with a capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 seats and was sometimes forced to play upto four consecutive shows in some towns with the audience coming to his show in droves.

"It was great. We only played medium-sized venues for the whole seven weeks. We all really enjoyed it because we played the clubs with the original show that we had conceived for the big arenas. We didn't slim down the show at all. We had a few reasons for quite deliberately playing the smaller venues. One was that Alice Cooper had won over an almost completely new audience, that was seeing a Cooper show for the first time. It seemed fair to me that the audience should get every single chance of being able to experience and enjoy a proper show. I wanted to make sure every single fan had a good place from where he could see exactly what was going on on stage. I wanted the sound to be as good as possible and the relationship between band and audience to be as tight and as intense as possible. It's very hard to do that in the large stadiums.

"I think it worked perfectly. We were all really happy although we had to put up with a hell of a lot of stress. Normally bands only like playing one show in every town and they decide right from the start to play the arenas so that all fans get to see the one concert. But we played quite a few concerts directly after each other, so we invested more time and work. But it was worth it!

"I think this will be a trend in the Nineties and that more acts will decide to choose the more intimate atmosphere in the medium sized venues instead of the stadiums and they will accept playing a few consecutive evenings in the same towns. The advantages are obvious: The audiences get a better deal because each one of them actually has a seat from where he can see, hear and follow the show and still enjoy the show as much as possible. And its easier for the band to have a more direct contact to their fans, and they can communicate with them more intensely and the fans get more into the music . . ."

Alice will be returning to the big stadiums when the second part of the US tour kicks off shortly. The show and the set won't be exactly the same as the one he played in Europe during his last tour.

"When we return to the States we'll probably change the set a little, we'll be adding some songs, we'll be cutting back some of the others and change the stage set slightly . . ."

What on earth was wrong with the stage set, thinking back to the last few European dates. The stage dramatics and the stage set contributed largely to the concerts being so fantastic?

"I want everything to look more dangerous. I want to add a few more special effects and I want to increase the tension and add larger projection screens etc. As soon as I return I'll sit myself down with the set designers and work out the modifications individually."

We can feast our eyes in amazement on the result when Alice and his band return to Europe.

"I don't know anything for definite yet. It seems certain we'll be playing a few open air concerts in Germany this summer. Apart from that we'll be visiting mainly the European countries we missed out on during the last tour. Like Scandinavia for example and Spain and Greece . . ."

One has to add that 'Trash' has sold more copies in Greece than the Rolling Stones album and that Alice Cooper enjoys a status there only very few artists do.

"There's another reason I'm so looking forward to this second tour of Europe. It will be the first time that I'll be playing for old continent during the summer. For some reason I normally come over in winter, I'm always in Europe when the weather's cold and grey. At last I'll get to know the European summer . . ."

That is if there is a summer this year. Spain and Greece should be pretty hot anyway.

But before touring in the States and Europe, Alice Cooper will be going to Hawaii where he, his band and Desmond Child will be getting together for a little working holiday.

"We'll start working on the next album in Hawaii where we'll start writing the first songs and developing ideas."

Songwriting in Hawaii. Sounds like paradise.

"That all depends. It's almost too mellow, too peaceful and too boring for me. At the moment I'm thinking of developing very basic ideas and structures but I'll return to the States with the band to continue developing ideas in a place where rock'n'roll is created best. The most authenic surroundings are very simply a garage!"

Only one things seems completely certain: In contrast to 'Trash', the whole band will be involved with the work on the new album as well as the usual collaboration between Alice and Desmond Child. So let's start looking forward to the results. Alice has always ome up with plenty of surprises and the philosophy of the rock musicians Vincent Damon Furnier for the Nineties still rings true: "As far as I'm concerned I don't know today what tomorrow's show will be like but I know one thing for certain: Alice Cooper is back, stronger than ever. I have absolutely no intention of retiring. The things I want to do are record new records, continue touring the world and to try and improve myself every single record and with every single concert!"

He's been faithful to these principles for the last twenty-five years and his success speaks for itself.

Apart from this, Alice Cooper has his own ideas of what the Nineties will bring for all of us and for the rock world in particular:

"I'm convinced the Nineties will bring radical changes to the habits we've become accustomed to, especially with sex. I think the next decade will prove that quality is more important than quantity, probably because of the dangers of AIDS but also because people have slowly become fed up with the kind of 'fast-food' sex we've grown accustomed to during the last twenty years. Picking someone up sleeping with him/her for a night and then pulling someone else the following night - that's like a fast-food restaurant. If you go to Hamburger joints all the time, you start yearning for a really good restaurant.

"I also guess that romanticism will start playing a bigger role in peoples' love lives. On the other hand I'm also worried that this decade will see the first complete rock band dying of AIDS.

"This will probably mean they're regarded as heroes like in the Sixties and early Seventies when rock stars became idols after their deaths although they normally died because of excessive drug consumption. They won't be drug outlaws any more, they'll be sex outlaws and they'll become heroes because they died for and because of sex . . ."

Wowww . . . !

Alice is probably not even that far wrong with his prognosis. People could already start betting on it. There are enough names in circulation on bands and musicians who could be the first!

Whatever the future might bring us, let's leave Alice in the Australian out-back and start looking forward to the things he'll be bringing us when he comes over to Europe again later on in the year.