Need your shock rock fix? Go ask Alice
Alice Cooper is one of the most recognized and revered rock ‘n’ roll stars in the entire world. His iconic face paint has inspired the likes of KISS in the early 1970s, all the way to the goth and black metal movements that are alive and well today.
On Oct. 23, Cooper’s “Raise The Dead” tour will roll through Huntington to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. This will be on a new leg of the tour, following a 50 date run with Marilyn Manson. In a recent telephone interview with Graffiti, Alice was gracious enough to answer some questions about what makes the mad man tick.
In 1969, Alice, born Vincent Furnier, virtually created the genre of “shock rock” when he began his career. More than three generations later he’s showing no signs of slowing down, let alone retiring. Alice has begun work on a new studio album that will be released sometime in early 2014 which will be an album of cover songs of originals by – what he describes as – his “old drinking buddies.”
“I didn’t want to do a simple cover record that spanned over decades of rock ‘n’ roll that plays out like a jukebox,” he explained, “so I figured why not do something that pays tribute to my fallen friends … people like Keith Moon and Jimi Hendrix and others that did their own thing back in the early ’70s would be a lot of fun for me to cover.”
Though the album is not due for a while, Cooper is integrating some of the cuts into his current live set to give fans a treat and a taste of what’s to come.
“The show essentially plays out in three parts: Glam Alice, Nightmare Alice, and then the big hits,” he explained. “Plus there will be some songs put back into the set that might not have a part of the live show for a while like ‘The Man Behind the Mask’ and other fan favorites from the mid- (to) late- 1980s to the early 1990s.”
Alice recently played a festival with the newly reformed Black Sabbath. He said that after the show he was talking with his old friend Ozzy Osbourne about how they’d been through all of the ups and downs that come with the lifestyle of a rock star – from the temptations to changes and revolutions in the business aspect.
Alice attributes his longevity and successes to simply being able to write songs that will last. “Songwriting is key,” he said, “I appeal to the lunatic fringe on a fundamental level, but if the songs weren’t good and solid then I wouldn’t have anything. That’s what speaks to generation after generation.”
Although Alice Cooper is a name, or ‘brand’, itself, it’s his band that he relies on heavily night after night to play the tightest show possible.
“I’ve got a great group of people that I depend on to deliver the best possible show every night we play,” he said. “The guys in the band are all seasoned professionals and their skills and abilities invaluable.” Among the musicians in his group that have been involved with other superstars such as Slash, Billy Bob Thornton, and Lady GaGa, Alice can proudly boast of having former Michael Jackson guitarist, Orianthi, in his band now. He says of the 24 year-old guitar phenom, “She’s been with us for a little more than two years. She’s a blood brother now and she’s not going anywhere!” This contribution of Orianthi adds to the draw of the live Alice Cooper experience.
In addition to his contributions to rock music over the years, Alice is also very much into charitable causes. So much so, in fact, that he’s created his own organization that provides would-be at-risk kids a safe place to come in and learn about music, the arts, and other creative outlets so that they might be able to ultimately lead more productive and satisfying lives. More than 100 children come through the doors on a daily basis that might otherwise be out on the streets in the Phoenix, Ariz., area. Cooper says he feels a duty to be there for the children, and he likes to personally be there as much as is possible. The program is described as being “faith-based with no real emphasis on religion per se,” and to help where help might be needed. It appears that this gives him as much satisfaction as any of his accomplishments and contributions, musically or otherwise.