MY BRUTAL PLANET!
Pitch Black chats with Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper is rock n' roll royalty, but you'd never realize it by just speaking to him. Funny, smart, and down to earth, Cooper seems to really care about the whole interview dynamic and the world at large, the polar opposite of his dark stage persona. As we talked about Cooper's new release, Brutal Planet [Spitfire], a line of movie dialogue kept bouncing back and forth in my thick skull: "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!"
Horror Garage: How do you stay excited about music after doing it for 30 years?
Alice Cooper: Y'know, it's funny, 'cause I think that if it's in your blood you never get tired of it. I'm still a rock n' roll fan. I have a 19 year old and a 15 year old, and I'm probably the only dad in the world that bangs on their door and says "Turn that up!" If it's good rock n' roll, I'm the first one to turn it up. Like anything else: there's great rock n' roll, there's crappy rock n' roll. And I'm not real prejudiced; as much as I'm not a big rap fan, I LOVE Eminem; I think Eminem is very funny.
HG: I was watching something on him last night; he's had a really rough life...
Alice Cooper: He has had a rough life, but he's got a very funny sense of humor. I can go from Eminem, to Rob Zombie in a heartbeat. I've always been a big music lover and everything, and so any time I can get up on stage--and 90% of our songs are songs people have heard on the radio--it's fun to be able to do hits all night. The hard part is introducing new songs because people always wanna hear the old stuff.
HG: As a kid, I remember a rumor that Alice Cooper was a 16th century witch that channeled through a Ouija board...
Alice Cooper: Y'know, everybody has got a different story about Alice Cooper. When the movie Urban Legends came out, it should have been about me, because 90% of what you've heard about Alice Cooper is urban legends. I have heard so many incredible stories...and it's not just me...Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson...anybody that's in the least bit exotic in the rock n' roll business gets these incredible rumors going. Granted, I have done some pretty strange things on stage, and in my new show there are even more strange things on stage, but 90% of the things I hear on the road I didn't do.
HG: Yeah, I know. Like the chicken.
Alice Cooper: The funny thing about the chicken is somebody did throw a chicken on stage. I threw it back in the audience. I didn't even throw it; I thought it would fly away. 'Cause it's a chicken, it had wings! I'm from Detroit, I didn't know anything about chickens, I didn't know they couldn't fly. I throw it into the audience and the audience tore it apart. And the crazy thing about that is it wasn't just the audience. They put all of the people in wheelchairs in the front row, so it was the handicapped that tore the chicken apart. They made it into a handicapped chicken. I didn't do that! The audience did that, and I got blamed for it.
HG: You're the son of a reverend...
Alice Cooper: Yes, my dad was a pastor. I lead a very strange life I think, because I'm a christian. I still have very high christian values I think, and my show is very anti-satanic, and the things I write about are anti-satan. I go out of my way to warn people that if you think Satan doesn't exist, then he's already beat you, because he does. Maybe it sounds old-fashioned or almost archaic, but I believe in the classic God, and I believe in the classic devil. It explains a lot of evil in the world.
HG: I'm actually kind of impressed that that's the way you see things; I'm kinda surprised.
Alice Cooper: I mean, we keep blaming things on movies, we blame things on music, we blame things on videos, and we keep forgetting where it comes from. It comes from a much darker place.
HG: The character of Alice is a super-villain. What redeeming qualities does he possess, if any?
Alice Cooper: The good thing about Alice being villain is he shows the audience the evil in the world, then he gets executed. Evil never wins in my show, even though I'm the one who gets nailed in the end. Like in this show, I get my head cut off, and I get put into a giant vice...they have to kill me twice this time. I think it's a morality play. No matter what Alice does up there, he always ends up paying for it. I think it's kind of a classical Shakespearean bad guy/good guy thing. I think I need to be the villain; I'm so good at being the villain that in the end -- when Alice comes out at the very end, after they execute me -- he always comes out in a white tophat and tails. And it's balloons, and confetti, and everything's okay. I never leave the audience with a bad taste in their mouth. I always want them to leave saying, "Man, that was the greatest party I was ever at." They have confetti in their hair, and streamers...It's like, "Were you just at a New Year's party?" "No, I was at an Alice concert!" Whereas I think a lot of bands forget to do that. It's a show, and it's fun, and my stuff is totally choreographed. I think that the fun part is party walk away having a great time.
HG: How did it end up that Spitfire released Brutal Planet?
Alice Cooper: Independent labels are the future. I think that you'll see a lot of your major stars going to independent labels because they're tired of working for banks. Big record companies are basically banks, they really, really are. They have 60 or 70 artists, and they sell all these records, take all the money, invest it, and live off the interest. It's got nothing to do with promoting the artist. The artists is basically a "product" to them, whereas I think that at an independent label, there's a lot more attention given to the artist development and the art of the product... I know they're working hard, because every time I wake up in the morning I have 12 interviews to do! At my old record company, they would just say, "Well, whatever you want to do is fine." These guys are going, "You've got 12 interviews to do," and I'm going, "Great!" They flew 50 guys into Los Angeles to listen to the album. They flew 40 people in from Europe into Phoenix to interview me. It's amazing, the kind of things that they're doing, so I'm happy with it.
HG: Is it possible that the sociological observations on Brutal Planet coincide with Alice taking inventory of his life?
Alice Cooper: I think that what it is, I'm kind of looking into the future. I'm not gonna say it's science fiction, I'm gonna say it's social fiction. I kinda compare this album to THX1138...any one of those, like 1984...we're all kinda faceless. In this thing, it's more Road Warrior. Instead of technology taking us forward, it's eaten itself, we've technologied ourselves to death. Now all that's left are survivors; we're almost back to being cavemen.