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A Shocking Interview with the Shock Master, Alice Cooper!
Actually, for it to really be shocking, I'd have to chop your head off
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
While Alice Cooper really needs no introduction, the rockstar-golfer-radio personality-sportsbar owner is still alive and purveying blood and guts in front of live audiences around the world. He and his guillotine will be visiting Albuquerque this week, and recently the Alibi was allocated 15 minutes to speak with him. Welcome to our nightmare.
So how do you feel about people over the years basically ripping your shows off, and which one pisses you off the most?
I started a theatrical rock movement and I expected bands to come out trying to knock me off the throne. But, I mean, at least these bands are interesting ... at least they're not just boring corporate bands.
I think it is so cool that in shows lately you have been brutally slaying Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
[Laughs] That's my job, being a rock star is one thing, but being a lyricist and a social satirist, you know, I think that they kind of walk right into my satire. When you get someone as overexposed as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, somebody has got to let the chihuahua rip her throat out, and I think it's my duty.
Have you gotten any backlash?
No, no! I think that for anybody that becomes a public person, it's understood that they are an object to satirize. I mean, I am. If you are in this business you better have thick skin.
I have a question that I have been curious about for years: In The Decline of Western Civilization Part II, The Metal Years, you're standing on stage next to a noose talking about your imitators, and you mention specific people, but that part is covered up with guitar sounds. Will you tell me who you were talking about?
Oh yeah, I was talking about Blackie Lawless. At that time, Blackie Lawless was basically watching my videos and, word for word, saying what I was saying to the audience. It was my show, only not anywhere near as good. I don't mind Marilyn Manson doing this because he changed it into something that's his. Kiss turned it into something that was theirs. But the W.A.S.P. thing was exact, and that was what bothered me at the time. If you are going to copy me, at least do a good job of it.
So, being the shock master, what shocks you?
You can't be more shocking than CNN. When people are really getting their heads cut off on TV, when reality is more intense than fantasy, then shock rock is dead. In 1971 it was easy to shock an audience; call yourself Alice Cooper, put a snake around your neck, put the makeup on, you do all the things that Alice did. Now, in 2005, you'd have to cut your arm off or cut somebody else's head off for real and get arrested and thrown in jail for it to be shocking.
So have audiences really changed since the '70s?
I think they're a little more callused, but at least they know what we're there for. We're there to entertain them.
I have a political question for you: I sent an office e-mail around and asked people what I should ask you, and there were some "He's a Bush supporter," responses ...
Here's what it is: Politics and rock 'n' roll don't belong in the same bed together. I have always said that I think rock 'n' roll should be the escape hatch from politics. When I go to see a movie, I go to get away from the world for two hours. So I think rock 'n' roll should be the same thing. So all I was saying was, why are rock and politics together? And why do people just assume that if you're in rock 'n' roll or show business that you're liberal? I don't quite understand that one either.
Right now what do you think is the most interesting or important thing going on in music?
I think the return of garage rock is very, very good. I love the bands coming out now that are very unproduced, sort of naughty garage bands. Bands like Jet and The White Stripes, The Strokes, The Vines, The Hives. ... They're just a bunch of kids playing rock 'n' roll. And they don't really care about being sophisticated.
I see. I wanted to ask about your radio show, "Nights with Alice Cooper."
The radio show is fun.
What is it? Is it talk, is it music?
It's both. Being in the business for this long I could tell you stories about everybody from McCartney to Jimi Hendrix to Jim Morrison, to all the new bands. So when I play their songs I can always tell a story that other DJs can't tell. And I just refuse to play the same 50 songs over and over again. I'm gonna play Frank Zappa, I'm gonna play King Crimson ... there are so many better bands than the 20 or 30 bands that corporate rock has decided are gonna represent classic rock. If you wanna hear an AC/DC song, OK, I'll play you one; but it's not going to be the one you hear every day. That way you get a real variety and my sense of humor on top of it. Unfortunately, I do have a bit of an acid sense of humor, so when my friends hear me destroying them on the radio we get a laugh out of it.
Albuquerqueans can now tune into (week) "Nights With Alice Cooper" 7 p.m. to midnight on 96.3, The Buzzard. Alice Cooper plays Tingley with Cheap Trick this Saturday night, Sept. 10. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20 and can be bought at Expo NM (265-1791) and Ticketmaster.
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