SO THERE we were facing the man that started it all, Mr Alice Cooper, sitting comfortably on the sofa in the Hard Rock Hotel in Sentosa. Even though it’s a dismal day, he’s a chipper mood. He picks up a hat and starts posing with it for the photographer.
“Some guy threw this onstage in Australia and I thought, it’s a nice hat, so I kept it,” he says by way of explanation. “Sinatra said that you had to wear a hat slanted. Only then would you be wearing a hat. It’s true, with the right angle on the right hat, you rock.”
He then looks at the rain outside. “Is it always like this, because I didn’t get my golf in this morning,” he asks, and then directs your attention to the TV in the room. “You can always tell that it’s an American show because of all the guns and the violence. Hey, I used to golf with that guy! He played Robin in the Batman movie.”
Chris O’Donnell? we ask. He’s a golfer? “Yeah.”
But more about golf later. We start by catching up with what has happened since the last time we spoke with Alice Cooper, just before he started this Asia Pacific leg of the concert. And here’s what he had to say… We’re not worthy.
So how have things been since? We just did Australia which was a lot of fun, there’s a great audience down there. You know, an audience is great every place you go. If you’re boring, the audience is going to be boring. The last thing our show is, is boring. Our show is pretty exciting. I’ve got the best band I ever had onstage. And the show is full of theatrics. It’s just as much fun for us as it is for the audience. If we’re not having fun, the audience isn’t going to have fun. So I make sure that every single night we’re having a great time. But I think everybody is trying to one up everybody every night. The two guitarists – Orianthi and Steve Hunter – are two of the best I’ve ever played with. When you get two guitar players like that and a drummer like Glen and a bass player like Chuck – it’s an amazing band.
This is the first time you’re playing here, but you’ve been to Singapore before, right? I was here with my daughter, we were here for two days. We had a great time, just ran around, ate at a bunch of restaurants, did a bunch of shopping and stuff like that. When you’re with your 22-year-old daughter you do a lot of shopping
So we asked some fans for questions to ask you. Here’s the first one: You’ve had two Nightmare albums, but what’s your favourite/worst nightmare? I think because my show is a bit of a nightmare onstage, I don’t really have nightmares. I think sometimes when you’re on stage every night, the nightmare that entertainers always have is you go onstage and you don’t know the lyrics. Or if you’re in a play, you don’t know the dialogue. For somebody that’s well-rehearsed and usually I don’t go onstage unless I know what I’m going to do up there, that’s a nightmare. For any entertainer, is that you’re going to go onstage and the band starts and you have no idea what you’re going to say. It’s the opposite for how you prepare for a show – it’s being unprepared for a show.
Has that ever happened, you being speechless onstage? Not really. There have been times when somebody has called me up on their stage to do a song with them. And I would sit there and I go, I hope I know the lyrics to the song. Because it’s their song. Not one of mine.
One of your early hits was School’s Out. When will school be out for you? You would think like songs like I’m Eighteen or School’s Out, songs that were written when I was 20 years old, would sound silly coming out of a 63-year-old. Except that if I were singing it that would be true. If it’s Alice, he’s a fictitious character. I don’t know how old he is. He could be 20, 100, he could be any age. He’s a cartoon character. How old is Batman? How old is the Joker? They never seem to age. That’s kind of the way I look at Alice. He’s the same age he was when he was in the 1970s. That character can do Eighteen and School’s Out and make it believable. With me doing it, I think it’s a little silly.
You were on Celebrity Ghost Stories: Any more ghost stories to tell? I’ve seen every horror movie there is. And very rarely does a horror movie scare me. They may jump out and scare you like that, but rarely is there a movie like The Exorcist that comes along that’s truly scary. I watched Ghosthunters, these guys who really go into houses and really do the paranormal psychology, paranormal studies and all that and they find that things that they can’t explain… I can sit and watch that in my house in Phoenix at night and my wife and kids have gone to sleep. And I’m all alone in this big dark house and every little noise is like… your imagination starts really taking over. The only that really gets to me is the idea that there may be ghosts, something that lives in your house that you don’t know about. That’s always a little bit creepy. But you know monsters and vampires and all that, everybody knows they don’t exist. But demons, they do exist.
You have proof of that?Well, biblical-ly, demons do exist.
You mentioned Orianthi earlier. The question is: Do girls rock harder than guys? I have never heard a girl play like Orianthi. It’s not that girls don’t play well. I’ve heard a lot of girls who do play well, but they have a certain sensitivity to how they play. Orianthi, she plays like Steve Vai, she plays like Joe Satriani, she can play like Jimi Hendrix. And she looks so sweet up there. But then she gets the guitar and… she’s like gritting her teeth and playing. No girl plays like her. She is possessed by the guitar. I havenever heard a girl… well, there’s that other girl who plays with Jeff Beck, she’s a bass player, Tal Wilkenfeld… but she’s a prodigy. These two girls – there’s nobody else on the planet can play like them. Those two girls rock. Chrissie Hynde is a rocker; Joan Jett is a rocker. There are some out there who have that sensitivity. A lot of the girls still have that femininity that I like. I think that even when you’re a hard rocker but you still need to have that femininity. Ke$ha, in my album, plays the devil. Then I realised that she probably is the devil.
Let’s talk about golf… It’s an addiction. It’s one of those things that everybody that I know plays golf is addicted to it. And it’s usually guys who used to take drugs or was an alcoholic, guys with addictive personalities. And when they pick up a golf club and hit a good shot, all of a sudden it’s, ‘what!’ And then they want to hit another good shot and another one, and very soon, you can’t wait to play the next day. And when you do your show, you can’t wait till the next morning because you want to play again. It is the most addictive sport in the world. There’s nothing like it. Paul McCartney wanted to learn to play golf. I said, “Be careful.” He said, “Why?” I said, “Because you’ll get addicted to it until that’s all you want to do is play golf.”
So it’s not sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, but actually golf? The funniest thing is that most heavy metals have got two or three guys who play golf. They’ve got tattoos everywhere, and stuff going on, and they play golf. And I think I started it, a long time ago. And all of sudden I started realising all these guys started playing, like, Alice is playing so they could play. Iggy and I used to play golf all the time. People didn’t know that Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper played golf. Bob Dylan plays golf, Neil Young plays golf, Lou Reed plays golf – you know, Lou Reed, come on, that guy is the most underground guy in the world. He’s a golfer.
And you like cars too. I’m a car addict. I have a ’66 Mustang Shelby 350. I’m a muscle car guy. My son’s got a ’71 Hemmy Cuda. I have three or four cars at home. I’ve got an Aston Martin. I love that Aston Martin. And as soon as you get in and turn the engine on, I’ve always got James Bond’s Greatest Hits in the player. And you’re in your Aston Martin going, yeah, that’s me, I’m James Bond. But I love cars. I was born in Detroit – that’s the home of muscle cars. I never was a motorcycle guy. Never got into Harleys. I’ve always been much more of a fast car guy.
What car would you be if you could be a car? There’s a great car call the Studebaker Avanti, the ’63 Avanti. If Darth Vader had a car, it would be that car.
What’s the best thing of 2011 for you? It’s been pretty interesting. We got into the Hall of Fame this year. That was something we weren’t expecting. This new album came out and it’s one of the best albums we’ve ever done. I’ve got the best band. Everything has been pretty good for me in 2011. I haven’t had any physical problems. No major incidents. Everybody is healthy in the family. So 2011 has been good to me. Next year, of course, if the Mayans are correct… I’m trying to think of the last time I took advice from a Mayan about anything, the last time I called up a Mayan and said, “Should I buy this stock or should I not buy it?” Then I realised there are no Mayans any more. Why are we so worried about their calendar when they’re not even around? They couldn’t even keep themselves together. I wouldn’t worry about that calendar. I think they just ran out of room and stopped doing the calendar. The one guy got to 2012, and went, “I’m tired of doing this, I want to do something else”. And everybody went, “Ooh end of the world”!
You’ve been doing this for a long time… Since high school.
What’s your biggest life lesson learnt? When you always think about learning from your mistakes, everyone always likes to say, if you could change anything in your life what would it be? Well, I had a pretty long period of alcoholism, but I did some of my best albums when I was drinking. And then there was a period right at the end of that when I don’t remember doing three of my albums: Special Forces, Zipper Catches Skin and DaDa. The three albums I don’t remember much of. That was when the alcohol finally started taking its toll on me. I was a happy drunk, I was never drunk really, I was just always on a buzz. In fact, I would be doing an interview, and you would never know that I probably had three whiskies before you got here. But I haven’t had a drink in 30 years. I go back and listen to my interviews when I was drinking and I can’t tell much difference. I didn’t slur or passed out, I was very lucid about everything. I was a very productive alcoholic. I never missed a show. I was never mean. I was never in a fight. I just drank all day. When it finally got to me. The deal is like, I don’t look at my alcohol days and think that was the worst part of my life. Because overcoming the alcoholism was one of the best things that ever happened. I had to be in trouble in order to know that I could get out of trouble. And now that comes into my life I compare it to the alcoholism and I go, “This is nothing.” I already beat the hard stuff, I can handle this. So I think all those life lessons are really… I don’t think I would change much of anything. If I were going to change anything, it would be to become a better guitar player. I would’ve practiced more. I was always surrounded by great guitar players so I never actually had to play. I can play a little guitar, but I was never forced to learn to play how I wanted to play. So being a lead singer, I didn’t have to play guitar.
What would like the Alice Cooper legacy to be? It think it’s going to be that Alice brought theatre to rock and roll. Before us there was… We were before Bowie, we were before Kiss, we were before everybody. We were doing theatrical shows, with makeup ad lighting and everything before anybody. So I think that even to this day, we probably have what I consider to be the most concise theatrical show. It’s the most exciting show out there I think. And it’s only because we learnt how to do it over a period of 40 years. There’s enough sense of humour there to make the audience - they can be shocked, but they can also laugh about it.
So it’s not a serious show-Well, some shows… I’ve seen black metal bands where everything was death and “argh”… you can tell that they don’t have a sense of humour behind it. But what happens is, it accidentally becomes funny. It’s like all of a sudden they become Spinal Tap. You know? “We are the blood of the devil”, “we ate the lead singer” or “we burned a church down”… and you’re listening to these guys and pretty soon you start laughing because you’re going, “Anything else? Rape or pillage a village or anything like that?” Then you realise that these guys are just a rock band, and you’re like, “Just relax man. I understand. You’re sooo evil.”
If you were in Celebrity Deathmatch with Ozzy, Bruce and Ian, who would win? Oh, I’m by far the best street guy. Born in Detroit I have street credibility. Between those guys, pick me, put your money on me on that one. Because I’m definitely the violent out of that lot.
Thanks a lot for taking time do to the interview. No, thank you. Are you coming to the show?
Yes, of course. We’ll make sure you don’t get the blood seats.
Blood seats? Yeah, you know we have this guillotine and we chop a head of and blood tends to splatter.
Good to know, we say. We take a snap together, and then it’s adios as he greets the next interviewer. (Photos by Jason Ho, Sion Touhig and moi and courtesy of handouts)