Telegraph (Australia) - September 2011

(September 2011)

Originally Published: September 2011

Department of Youth

Age is only a number to Alice Cooper, writes Kathy McCabe

Author: Kathy McCabe

You won't see Alice Cooper at the supermarket. Instead, the man his mother knew as Vincent Furnier goes out to buy the milk or play a round of golf.

"I can't possibly be that character off-stage. If I am going to the mall or the movies or the golf course, I am not going to put my make-up on," he says.

While other stars to emerge in the 1970s created characters who helped make them stars (David Bowie and Elton John among them), Cooper's alter ego has endured for four decades.

The crop-wieldin', top-hatted painted rock star sees only one contender for his throne on the horizon as he releases his Welcome 2 My Nightmare record. "To me, the only one out there doing something is Gaga," Cooper says. "She actually wrote me saying, 'Thank you for letting me steal your s...'. The great thing is she has created her own Alice in Lady Gaga."

Before the hardcore fans start hyperventilating about Cooper getting soft about pop in his old age, you can be assured he was at his strutting, shouting best when he joined Foo Fighters on stage in the UK a couple of months ago.

"That was fun. They are one of the best touring bands anywhere - a great rock band. I love the idea of getting up there and playing the songs and never giving the audience a break," he says.

A long queue of rock bands and pop stars want to bask in the reflected glory of a man, who at 63, remains at the top of his game.

With rock anthems including School's Out, I'm Eighteen and Welcome To My Nightmare, Cooper can deliver an enviable set which will provoke a crowd shout-along to every song. Few acts can generate that level of audience participation for an entire show.

"I have never smoked cigarettes in my life and that makes a big difference in your lung capacity over 60 years," Cooper says. "Some guys my age can only do two shows a week. I was also a distance runner... so that's part of my DNA.

"On top of all of that, I am really stress free. I've been married 35 years, got great kids, a great band.

"You got a toothache? It doesn't matter once I get up on stage and I am playing Alice. The adrenalin takes it all away when you have 10,000 people screaming at you."

While he doesn't bemoan the lack of characters in showbusiness, Cooper does hit out at postmodern rockers who look like they crawled out of bed, grabbed their instruments and walked on stage.

"The songs are the cake and we have to put the icing on it with the show," he says. "What I don't like is the fact acts are buying a show rather than creating one.

"You can go to Hollywood, you can buy your lights and lasers and explosions, your circus performers and dancers but that's not a show.

"The show is taking the audience on a journey; it's giving them you."

(Originally published in the Telegraph newspaper in Australia, September 2011)