Rock Beat

Originally Published: April 1987

I love America

Author: Allessandra A

These days in rock and roll circles we're getting what's known as veterans. Not guys who've been in the war, but guys who've seen action. Proof positive are bands like Kiss and Aerosmith, people like George Harrison and Chuck Berry who have seen and affected a whole generation of pubescent rock and rollers - and then they watched as these kids matured into yuppie adults.

These so called veterans go into something akin to semi-retirement for a while. Then they re-emerge to devastate a new generation of burgeoning rock and roll addicts.

On that veteran's list are names like Robert Plant, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper . . . the subject of our story.

Alice, who was once upon a time known as Vincent Furnier, is a child of the '50s and '60s. He was raised on Alfred Hitchcock, Chiller Theater, Lucille Ball and the Beatles. In the late '60s while everyone was grooving to Grateful Dead psychedelia, Alice was playing with splatter. First with Frank Zappa, and later on prime-time television.

Parents called him sick and deranged, but if eight million people went to see The Exorcist, how sick can it be? Alice was just having fun. The gorier and more extraordinary, the better he liked it. He chopped up baby dolls and lived in spider webs.

And during semi-retirement phase, Alice was the inspiriation for electric vaudeville bands from Twister Sister, W.A.S.P. and Lizzy Borden, to the raucous attitude for the likes of Motley Crue.

Now he's back and unleashed his love-it-to-death rock and roll on the world with a new album, Raise Your Fist And Yell and a more bizarre than ever stage show.

Alice was then, he is now and he will be forever. As long as people want to be scared. Alice Cooper will thrive.

Now, let's introduce the star of this interview, the master of shock humself . . . Alice Cooper!

Alice, the political and social climate today is more conservative than it was in the '70s. Religion is thriving. There must be parents groups, like the P.M.R.C. and Zonoastrians for Jesus, that hate you.

You're right. The last time we went on tour for the Constrictor album, on out of three concerts was picketed. Some shows they tried to stop at the city council; Mothers Against Lutherans Against Alice, stuff like that. Lots of people tried to stop the show, and in the weirdest places . . . Like Las Vegas, Nevada. Did you know it's a very conservative place other than the Strip? And in Daytona Beach, Florida, which is a party town. They were really out there in droves in St. Louis.

But anybody who is even vaguely familiar with your work knows that an Alice Cooper concert is nothing more than a low-gore splatter film come to life. What was their excuse for trying to stop you?

They said it was really unhealthy for their children. That we were Satan worshippers, which is the last thing on my list of things to want to be. Just all of these different misconceptions.

What all that controversy did last tour, and is doing for the Raise Your Fist And Yell trek, is selling a lot of tickets. Last time around there was so much controversy in Canada that it was front page news everyday. Will Alice Cooper's concert go on or won't it go on, the debate raged on.

We couldn't have bought that kind of publicity, and it was more controversial than when we first came out. That means our country is either much more conservative or the splinter groups are getting a lot more publicity.

You dad's a Presbyterian minister, and he's behind what you do. You're a super dad to your own two kids, Calico and Daschel. Facts are there's nothing evil about you. Have you ever actually sat down and spoken to any of these people who are afraid of you?

No, they never even talk to me. They only go to my shows and protest. Nobody ever tries to get in direct contact with me.

It's weird, because in all honesty, the last thing I would ever promote is Satan worship. I don't even know any Satan worshippers. I don't know anybody that has black masses or leaves dead cats in their refrigerator or anything like that.

I believe that Satan worship in rock and roll is really kind of non-existent. But with a lot of the metal bands, the more they hear parents don't like that, the more they tease about it just to play around with parents' heads.

Alice Cooper is pure horror. I write the way Stephen King does, only I write to music. We both specialize in it, and I don't see them calling Stephen King a Satan worshipper. But they sure do ban rock and roll when it comes to horror.

What is it that makes parents afraid of rock and roll?

I don't know. They know rock and roll, they're all rock and rollers. These parents are all 40 years old, like me, I'm 39. What happened? Did they grow up to become so corporate that they forgot what rock and roll is about? I don't believe that forgot that soon.

They shouldn't worry about it. Heavy Metal is a passing phase, it comes and goes. Like the next generation could be a totally romantic period just to offset the current popularity of hard rock.

I could see another crooner coming along, like a Frank Sinatra kind of crooner. Kids get back to dating, it could be a total backlash from what's going on now.

Of course, that would depend on the political climate.

Whenever society gets conservative, we get big. When it gets liberal we get soft again. As long as we get a strong Republican in power next election we'll be in good shape.

If the political climate continues as it has throughout thsi decade, we're obviously due for another Republican. But could you imagine what would happen if Albert Gore came into office? Tipper Gore and the P.M.R.C. would actually get some power.

There would be all-out battles. The fact that she got into office would make Metal take off like crazy. We would get really big . . . Perhaps we should actually try and get her in office.

It's weird because the Gores back evangelists, like Jerry Falwell and the Bakkers. And if you were to delve into these evangelists' family histories you would realize that they're not little angels, they're just like rock and rollers. Plus, because these evangelists have ministries they don't have to pay taxes. And they're absconding tons of money from people who can really use it . . . all in the name of God.

Somebody can go out and mess around with another woman, another guy, but to me that's not as evil as taking an old lady's money when she can't really afford it, but she believes enough in the minister to send him money. In the meantime, he's using it to air condition his doghouse. And this old lady can't even afford air conditioning!

That is the most evil thing I can think of. You hear this and you sit back and wonder, how can the public still support them? I don't understand it. It's right out in front, these people are crooks! And the public's still supporting them!

Some people should take a good, hard look at what is and what is not true in this country!