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Originally Published: 1991
Author: Tim Russell
Alice Cooper issued a warning to Death Metal bands, analysed his own power to shock and talked about jamming with Heavy Metal heroes in a revealing interview with Tom Russel just before another 'Operation Rock'n'Roll' show with Judas Priest and Motorhead on their power packed U.S. tour.
We spoke to Alice in his hotel in Philadelphia a couple of hours before he was due to play at the Spectrum as part of the 'Operation Rock 'n' Roll' tour. Alice is looking fit, so touring is good for him? "Yes, it's the never ending tour. Since 'Trash' we've actually been working for about three and a half years without stopping. It's good though, 'Trash' did really well for us, especially in Europe and the States. So far it's sold over three million copies and 'Hey Stoopid' is following right on. So there's just no time to stop and lose momentum."
The 'Hey Stoopid' tour started in the States, but Alice will be in Europe soon.
"We'll be about two months in Europe this time which is a pretty long time for us. We hope to visit some new cities and win new converts to the Alice Cooper cause."
How would you compare 'Hey Stoopid' with your previous work?
"Every time you put out a new record it's your favourite of course because you have all that energy behind it. What we did on this record was wrote fifty songs. I also worked with Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars on a song, and I worked with a couple of the guys from Skid Row, but two songs I wrote with them didn't make the final fifteen. I've got a lot of guests on the album, guys that I just called and said 'This would be perfect for you' - I wanted Ozzy especially for the title track 'Hey Stoopid' because it's an anti-suicide song. I managed to get Slash to play guitar on that song. I wanted some outlaws on that one, it's a street song. I managed to get Steve Vai and Joe Satriani to play together on 'Feed My Frankenstein' - I wouldn't have asked them to play together on 'Hey Stoopid' but 'Feed My Frankenstein' is so much more of a technical song. I also got Nikki Sixx to play bass on that one. I see rock 'n' roll as a sort of fraternity. I had a call from Axl Rose a few months back, at midnight, to ask me over to the studio to sing on a song for their album - I said sure, no problem."
Alice, when was the last time a little old lady came up to you on the street and gave you a severe telling off?
"They don't tend to stop me in the streets anymore, they tend to hide their children when they see me in an airport lounge. I'm quite proud of that. There's still a kind of 'Here comes Darth Vader' attitude when Alice walks in, which is good, I enjoy that. Being notorious is great, I'd much rather be a villian than a hero. People allow me to get away with more because it's Alice and because I've stood the test of time. They know I'm not going to go away, I'm like a really bad disease. They figured that I'd be finished after the first two albums, they reckoned I'd be a flash in the pan, but we're still looking at more and more albums, bigger and better tours. Now they actually quote me alongside real straight people. I don't know why they want to quote me as I never give them a straight answer but 'YES', and 'I DO STILL SCARE OLD LADIES, I HOPE...AND CHILDREN'.
"But real violence is always much more frightening. A real fight in a bar is sickening, whereas you can watch James Bond fight for hundred guys and it's entertaining. That's the big difference with Alice Cooper. Alice doesn't promote violence at all, Alice Cooper promotes good choreographed violence, the kind you enjoy seeing, that is fulfilling rather than something that provokes an audience to real violence. We're not involved in making anyone leave a show ready for a fight, in fact we usually wear an audience out so they are too exhausted to fight."
Does Alice Cooper have any faults?
"I'd say sometimes I tell people too much about the character Alice Cooper - sometimes I hurt my own mystique by letting too many people know how the two Alice's work. But on the other hand, sometimes the schizoid thing to me is more interesting. Here's this guy that can sit and talk in words of more than three syllables and there's this guy on stage who does all his talking with his hands and his face and his lyrics. They are two people and to me there's something scary about the schizoid factor."
What's your feelings about suicide and death metal? "It didn't used to be a problem in the Seventies, it certainly wasn't a major problem in the Eighties, but suddenly this teenage suicide things is a disease. It's something that I just don't understand. Rock'n'roll is a party, it always has been a party but suddenly this whole generation seems to have death on their minds. Sex now has the Angel of Death hanging over it because of Aids, drugs have a death thing about it which I suppose is always had, but the latest thing is the rise of Death Metal.
"To me Rock 'n' Roll is not about death and I'll say this really plainly to Death Metal bands - 'In don't understand your message, it's not the message of Alice Cooper.' Any of these bands who use me as a hero, I don't want to be their hero. Alice doesn't believe in Rock Death. You come to see an Alice Cooper show and you're coming to a party to have fun. I make fun of death, but I'm not promoting it. I make fun of death, but I'm not promoting it. Anybody that is promoting it is out of their minds. It's not a good message for the kids, or even chipmunks."