Originally Published: May 05, 1994
I can't compete with CNN, that channel is much more impacting than my shows
Glam's nostalgics will be happy. After those Kiss, Twisted Sister and T.Rex homage's recently done, this month we give you interviews with Alice Cooper and Kiss (yes, them again), two of the basics of the 70's glam, their careers had developed as this magazine you hold in your hands. Two records had returned them to the actuality: a new work by Alice, with the cooperation of the great Chris Cornell, and the long awaited record of KISS's versions. Is, then, the perfect moment to talk about the present musical situation of these two legends and also unbar some memories.
In the mail responses of this month we talk about what delicate is to know your personal heroes. You have the myth image of a guy that you consider almost not human, and one day you have the chance to meet him in flesh and blood, with all that this represents. Sometimes you go blindly, with no idea of what you going to find, and sometimes the surprise is minor, because you know perfectly that personage and you can fore know how he's going to act. Alice can not surprise us. After more than ten years saying constantly in the interviews that Alice and Him are two different people, and now that the alcohol doesn't control his life, is able to take off the mask when offstage and act like a normal person, we knew that we were not going to find a real baby killer, but an artist who knows how to let his altered when it's necessary. 20 years ago this interview maybe had been different, in the 70's was harder to Alice to let his public image and was always loosing his snakes on the tours and vomiting blood in hotel's closets. He could keep on this way since obtain a fat alcoholized dead body, or stop at time and quit his viciousness. He chose the second option and actually is a proud family man with a balanced way of life and preserves perfectly all of his mental and physical conditions. It was not a surprising interview, all worked more or less as we expected, but it was very morbid to talk with such a legend of this caliber.
There was a time when Alice was almost the center of my existence. There's nothing more sane and natural than being 13 years old, hating life and trust only in Alice Cooper. Being a teenager it's impossible not to identify with songs like School's out or I'm eighteen (I remember proudly my 18 birthday listening all day that song, I'm Eighteen, totally immersed in the lyrics), to let you take by the way looked the degenerated Alice and the members of his original band, the unforgettables Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, Glen Buxton and Neal Smith, that produced authentic panic. The actual Alice don t affect meyet, but his oldest records are still magical.
The chance to interview him was according to the presentation of his new album , The Last Temptation, Alice gave us his first promotional visit to Spain ever made in his career. He arrived with a very rigoroushorary, and we didn't have time to make our ever dreamed long interview that all fans have in mind, but at least we could made him talk about some interesting anecdotes. Martin J.L. could interchange impressionsabout his experiences with Dali (both Alice and J.L. knew him at the same time), and I made him some questions about the GTO's, the famous band formed with groupies that was supported by Zappa and which Alice had an special relation.
Tell me something about your contact with Dal worked with him at the beginnings of the 70's and he talked so much about you, he was a Rock n roll fan, he always wore socks that Elvis Presley gave him as a present.
Yes, I know, he wore them all the time. I have a real good photo of one cover of the Rolling Stone magazine in which appears my head close to his. Dals incredible. I knew him in St.Moritz hotel in NYC, he wore Aladin's slippers, tight-fitting trousers... I remember that he asked hot water for drink and then picked out honey and sprinkled the glass with it from high (Alice imitates Dali's motion). I used to draw and Dali was my idol, never thought I was going to know him, what's the name of that place in Spain where he lived?
Port Lligat, on the north, close to France. His home is fantastic, he designed it, and it s very personal.
It must be a Spanish monument.
Yes, it is, but in Spain Dals never been so well understood like in America or Japan. Here the people used to think that he was mad.
I think he was an alien, I don't think he was from this planet, that's a compliment. (laughing)
How did you come in contact with him?
He came to one of my shows and thought it was very surrealistic, because there where a lot of images and things that don't fit: dancers, monsters... it seemed surrealistic to him.
Dallmed you poising with a various thousands dollars valued diadem, you were in contact after that?.
We talked on the phone so much, he always phoned me from different places of the world. The most funny conversation we had was in NYC, on a press conference. He talked a lot, and said one word in portuguese, another in spanish, another in french, another in english... I only understood some of the words he said. When he finished, the journalists asked me What do you think about he said?and I answered: I didn't understand what he said, (laughing), then Dalke up and yelled: That's perfect, confusion is the best way of communication. It seemed he didn't realize anything, but he wasalways knowing what was happening all the time. And I remember Gala...
MJL: Gala was tremendous...
She wore Fred Astaire's smoking, with top hat, black gloves... all the conjunct.
changing subject , Where you actually live?
In Arizona, in the desert, out from the business center, LA and all that, a very hot place.
You keep a very retired life.
I try to separate from him and keep him on the stage
(As usual, Alice begins to talk about the public Alice Cooper in third person).
He's too insane to live amongst normal people, I don't believe he could survive, he's too intense. People that had tried to live their lives the same as on stage got self-destroyed: Jim Morrison,Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Sid Vicious... the same with Kurt Cobain. They tried to live with those images all the time, and that destroys you. I'll try to separate it and I turn very schizophrenic.
That's important for you.
Sure, now I can enjoy Alice. I see him and he's another person, that's why I can enjoy him like someone else, I can be very impersonal with him.
How do you feel after the recording of your new CD The Last Temptation?
It's like a tale with a moral maxim, that s why I like it.
It tells about X generation?
Yes, sure. I believe that generation has a very definite attitude, they don't have hope. The character of the record, Steven, the victim of the story, lasts being a hero because he refuses the temptation. He's a victim but finally turns into a hero because he resists temptation. He can get all that an adult can desire, but resists. That's the dangerous thing about that generation, you can see 12 or 13 year old kids taking heroin, there's AIDS... all the adult's pleasures are mortal, before they weren't, but now they are and all is ten times more intense. Steven had to resist to go on living. That's the base of the album.
Do you believe that now there are more temptations than before?.
Of course I do, now they're more intense. When I was at school, if I had a fight, it was only a punch fight, now kids are killing each other with guns; If I wanted to hang up, I drank beer, but now in schools they take heroin. Today all is ten times worse and I don't think teenagers can control it, not even adults can! Before sex was only a good time in a backseat of the car, nothing happened, but now there's people dying of AIDS!... kids have to face it all.
Actually has changed the reactions of people about your shows?.
Yes. Now you can't impress an audience, it's impossible. In the 70's it was easy, they never saw a made-up femaled name man before. No one in our band was gay, we all liked women, and no one consumed drugs, we all drank alcohol and watched football games; that confounded everybody, they couldn't understand us. They waited from us to play effeminate music, but we made hard music, like The Who. It was all very confusing, and it was easy to impress the audience. But now I can't compete with CNN, this channel is more impacting than my shows, because all that's there is real. What I did for entertainment, now is real, and it's impossible to impact anybody actually. I used to impact the audience before I created illusion, the guillotine s trick was great, very real, when my head fell people didn't explain how we did it. We also had a screen in which characters jumped from one dimension to another, people saw it and they stayed open-mouthed, that's the reaction I want, I don't want applause, I want my audience to be open-mouthed.
How worked Chris Cornell's cooperation on your record?.
He wrote two songs, he came to me and said: I made these two specially for you. I heard them, and I don t know how, but they fit into the album perfectly. It's very rare that someone came with two songs and they fit so well into your record. I have to do some surgery on the lyrics, to fit them into the album story, but the results were good. Chris has an extraordinary voice.
What do you think about all those Seattle bands?.
AC. They're good, very good. The funny thing is that they try to sound like the 70's, trying to go backwards. They're great bands. Nirvana were great, had originality. I like so many of them, NIN and some of the hardest ones. What happens with many of those bands is that the only emotion they give is rage, that's OK, but they restrain to only one dimension and they ignore love, comedy... It will be good that they open to other things, then the albums will be more diverse. But I like them.
What do you think about Kurt Cobain's suicide? Do you believe it was a reaction against success and fame or is something deeper?.
AC. No, I think there was something deeper. When someone kills himself, specially if he's a successful person, there's other factors.Kurt's suicide was connected with his failure in his quotidian life. You can't give a man addicted to drugs a million dollars, because you know he's not going to buy pieces of furniture or paintings. And he collected weapons... you can't mix weapons and heroin, you simply can't. And besides, there were his depressions...
And his wife...
Exactly, his wife. I'm very sad for what happened to her.
Did you know him personally?.
No. I know Eddie Vedder and other musicians from Seattle, but I never knew Kurt.
A very important name in your career was Frank Zappa. He recorded your first two records. There's some funny anecdotes about your relation with him, for example when you and your band had an appointment with him at 7:00 PM and you went in to his house dressed with stage clothes at 7:00 AM because you confounded the horary. Do you think Zappa was your godfather?.
He was my godfather... and my father!.
What do you remember about your experiences with him?.
I'll tell you a funny story about Zappa. Yesterday I talked with a friend that interviewed him two years ago and told me that Zappa said that when he knew me and my band didn't want to join us for his record label, the only reason for finally doing it was because the girl that was taking care of his sons - her name was Christine - loved our band, and she said that if we could sign for his label she would nurse his sons gratis. And that's why Zappa chose us!. (laughing)
Miss Christine was your girlfriend, wasn't she?.
That's correct, and thanks to her we could sign for the Zappa record label. He thought that we were going to make one album and then dissolve the band, but we went much further, and he made a lot of money for this all. I love Frank Zappa, he was unique.
Tell us something about the GTO´S, the band formed of groupies that Zappa patronized. The most famous groupie in the world, Pamela Des Barres, and Miss Christine were in that band.
The GTO´s were funny because they started being only groupies and they were freakies. Someone wrote them songs and on stage they acted like professional musicians, but they didn't know how to play, only sing. They were the typical example of Zappa's protégés, they came from the streets, they were very Zappa-ish, very strange. One day they coincided with an Ohio's football team in a hotel, they had to play a match the next day, and the GTO´s squeezed them so that night... the game results were 55-0 or something like that. They wasted them. (hearty laughter)
They were terrible.
Yes, they were wild.
I thought you shared with them some of your shows.
Some, it's true. Frank Zappa was the headliner of the concert, then Captain Beefheart, GTO´s, Wild Man Fisher and us. Wild Man Fisher was crazy. He was a vagabond from the streets and used to walk with a copy of his record beneath his arm, in the armpit, and when he met someone, he showed him the LP, and you could see a big sweat stain there (laughing). When you watched him though, buffff..... he was really crazy, the typical man who needs to be in a mental institution.
There's always been a curious antagonism between David Bowie and you. During all his career he's been always insulting you in his interviews. The other day he told about you to the press,he said something like that: What was the name of that guy?... Elizabeth Cooper? .... What an horror!, it seems he hates you.
It's funny because when I talk with David it's OK, we talk and there is no problem.
You talk friendly?.
Yes, nothing happens. David Bowie used to come to my shows when he was a little folkie singer called David Jones. He came with his brown hair and sat timidly at the first line... he was only a small singer, and suddenly: red hair!, spiders from mars!. So he owes it to us, we created that.
In the 70's you shared the glam kingdom with Kiss on America, did you have relations with them?
I appreciate what they did, I understand them, we never had problems. We opened that theatrical door and they crossed it. We were good friends. I never had resentment feelings with them because they weren't as theatrical as Alice Cooper was. And still talk so much with Gene Simmons. You look like him (Alice points out MJL), you seem like him when he wears no make-up! (laughing)
We still had more than 30 questions to Alice, but our time was over. Alice works only at the mornings when he's on promotional tour, and the horary is so rigorous. We wanted to talk with him about his collaboration with the horror master Vincent Price on Welcome to My Nightmare, his relation with Mae West in the making of the film Sextette (a strange Mae's film in which Alice had a little character),we wanted to know if Alice has a good memory of that distressing shows of the 70's when he killed giant hens with a machine-gun, we also wanted to know about his memory-voids caused by his great drunkenness.... those kind of interviews are always disappointing because you have not the time enough to talk of whatever you want. Alice Cooper, not like Mick Jagger, is a man that answers all the questions, but limits of the time cuts you almost before you began. We will have to wait until next occasion.