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Interview:
Alice Cooper Still Losing His Head For Rock 'N' Roll
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

The best part about the Detroit Tigers’ winning season for Alice Cooper is that he no longer has to suffer taunts about his inept hometown baseball team.

“Once every 25 years or so, I get to lord it over people,” says Cooper, 58, who was born Vincent Furnier and remained a Detroit sports loyalist even after his family moved to Phoenix.

“Then after that, I know the next 25 years I’ve got to sit back and watch ’em struggle again. But who knows — maybe this team will be pretty good for a while.”

Cooper, of course, has a winning record of his own — dating back to 1971, when his rock anthem “Eighteen” scaled the charts and began a run of hits (“School’s Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Only Women Bleed”) and platinum albums that accompanied his headline-generating shock-rock stage show. And though he’s had struggles of his own, including rehab stints to deal with alcoholism, Cooper has been on a rockin’ roll that’s included four studio albums in the last six years and four world tours since 2003.

He also has a syndicated radio show that’s heard in more than 90 U.S. cities — including nights on Detroit’s WCSX-FM (94.7) — plus stations in Canada, Great Britain and Australia.

Cooper is getting ready to hit the studio to make another album, too, but he does lament that its fate is almost predetermined these days.

“At this point, the Alice Coopers of the world and guys in classic rock are basically writing albums for their fans,” explains the man who still sticks his head in a guillotine for the sake of entertaining his audiences. “It’s nice to pick up kids every once in a while, but the music business is not about what’s good — it’s about what’s next.

“And you realize now that you’re not going to put out an album where there’s gonna be a hit single anymore. It’s sad to think of that.”

Don’t think of Cooper as a fuddy duddy, though. He stays current and likes bands such as Jet, the Strokes and the Raconteurs — even championing them on his radio show. (Don’t expect to hear blink-182 or any of the current “emo” favorites, however.) But he also doesn’t think the rock ’n’ roll landscape is as fertile as it once was.

“You do have to let room for the youth,” he says. “I just wish there were better bands. When you hear a song by My Chemical Romance or HIM or somebody like that, those are good bands but they’re songs that, back in our day, you would be like, ‘Well, that might be an album cut.’

“I haven’t really heard too many anthems being written. I think (the audience) is tired of gourmet and is settling for fast food. If U2 came along right now, they’d never get signed.”

Cooper says that some days he’s “tempted to put an album out under another name, with a picture of another band, then let it get to be a hit and say, ‘By the way, that’s Alice Cooper.’ ” But the silver lining to the situation is that it’s liberated him from the expectations and parameters that tend to accompany success — and has given him opportunities to pursue other projects.

His current docket includes a musical, “The Seven Deadlies,” written with Disney movie veteran Alan Mencken, and a bandied-about stage adaptation of his 1975 album “Welcome to My Nightmare.” He still has Cooper’sTown restaurants in Phoenix and Cleveland, and his Solid Rock Foundation is helping to fund a 20,000-square-foot youth center called The Rock in Phoenix.

“I can do whatever I want,” says Cooper, who resides in Arizona with his wife and three children (oldest daughter Calico appears is part of his concert ensemble). “I think the audience likes me to surprise them. Once in a while, they like to hear something that pushes their imagination a little bit, one way or the other.

“At the same time, I really do enjoy writing a great rock ’n’ roll song, still. I’ve never had as good reviews as I’ve had on my last two albums (‘Eyes of Alice Cooper’ and ‘Dirty Diamonds’) because it’s real Alice rock ’n’ roll, going back to what Alice did in the ’70s.

“So in the end I’m not trying to re-create the wheel. I’m just trying to write good songs.”



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Alice Cooper is among the headline performers at the 2006 Michigan State Fair, which kicks off Wednesday at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, Eight Mile Road and Woodward Avenue in Detroit. All concerts will be at the Band Shell and are free with paid admission to the fair, which is $9 adults and $4 for children 12 and younger, with children 2 and younger admitted free (a season ticket option allows entry to all 13 days at $25 adults and $10 children). The shows begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Parking is $5. Call (313) 369-8250 or visit www.michiganstatefair.com.

This year’s State Fair schedule includes:

August 23 — Karen Newman & Friends, Darren McCarty & Grinder

August 24 - Alice Cooper, Dirty Americans

August 25 — Ginuwine (8 p.m.)

August 27 — Galaxy Entertainment

August 28 — Twisted Sister, Proper Villains

August 29 — Billy Currington, Joe Meyer

August 30 — Three Dog Night

August 31 — Morris Day & the Time, S.O.S. Band

September 1 — Avant (8 p.m.)

September 2 — Colgate Country Showdown

September 3 — The Radio Disney D-Tour featuring Raven Symone

September 4 — Montgomery Gentry

Web Site: www.michiganstatefair.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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