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Alice Cooper still loses his head over going on tour

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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“Somebody was trying to keep me from getting to 70,” Alice Cooper quips over the phone from his home near Phoenix.

As he reached that milestone on Feb. 4, whoever that was clearly didn’t succeed.

But the Detroit-born theatrical rocker and still-avid Motor City sports fan, is in fine form in the mortal coil as he kicks off his 2018 touring schedule this week in Windsor — despite events that seemed to conspire against him.

Cooper was vacationing in Hawaii, where his longtime manager, Shep Gordon, resides, during the nuclear attack alert Jan. 13 that proved to be false.

“You never want to see the words ‘imminent,’ ‘nuclear’ and ‘not a drill’ ever in one sentence,” Cooper says. “I’m looking at it going, ‘Are you kidding me?’ My theology told me I’m gonna go from one paradise to another one, but it’s still a bit of a shock to think, ‘In about 18 minutes, I’m gonna be fried.’

“When it blew over, everybody was laughing about it, but believe me, it was scary.”

Then, two weeks later, Cooper was involved in a head-on car collision back home in Phoenix that totaled both vehicles. “Both of us walked out of it without a scratch,” Cooper reports. His car “looked like a piece of art,” but there was a consolation prize.

“I did come out of it with a 1965 350 Shelby Mustang — a real Detroit car. That’s where the insurance money’s going,” Cooper says.

Now in his eighth decade, the father of three and grandfather of twins with another on the way, is still working as hard as performers a fraction of his age. He continues to support his 2017 album “Paranormal,” promising three or four songs from the new album. But he and Gordon also plan a major new show that will probably hit the road during 2019.

“There’s a million ideas out there,” Cooper says. “It won’t look like this (upcoming) tour and it’ll be a bigger show. There’s no way of getting away from the 15 songs or so you HAVE to do, so it’s, ‘How do you approach them?’ It gets to a point where you’re kind of confined to certain things, but how can you make it all look new? That’s what we’re working on how. The creativity has not gone.”

And Cooper promises that, as tradition demands, he’ll meet his rightful demise during the production.

“We’ve tried so many different kinds of ways of doing it, but we keep coming back to the guillotine or hanging ’cause that’s so classic Alice,” he explains. “The thing we’ve realized is you have to have a sudden death. You can’t have something that lingers. The electric chair wasn’t sudden. Burning at the stake is too slow. You have to give it that sudden pop to make the audience get that thrill.

“So after that you just figure out, ‘How do we set this up, what does Alice have to go do get to the point where it’s worthy of the guillotine or a hanging, so it’s satisfying that he gets it at the end — and then comes back, of course.”

Amidst that planning, Cooper will also be active this year with the Hollywood Vampires, his ad hoc all-star group with Johnny Depp and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. The group, with some new adjunct members to be announced soon, is playing dates in Europe during the spring and early summer, but it’s particularly anxious to hit the studio to make its second album — and first of all, original material.

“Everybody is writing right now,” Cooper reports. “We probably won’t get into the album until the summer, and then it’ll go quickly because we’ve all got a lot of songs. Johnny did five movies last year so he could free himself up for this, and the band’s really anxious to get together.”

Cooper’s other major project this year is playing King Herod in “Jesus Christ Superstar Live” on Easter Sunday, April 1 on NBC. Cooper has been rehearsing “King Herod’s Song” every day, although he’s waiting for some direction about how the show’s producers want it to be delivered.

“I think I should play it like Alan Rickman, a very condescending kind of arrogance,” says Cooper, who recorded a version of the track for a 1996 “Superstar” album in the U.K. “It’s the only song in the whole show that’s funny, and Herod is being so abusive, verbally, to Christ even though he’s treating him as a guest. There’s a lot of ways to take that song.”

Cooper is particularly stoked that the production is being broadcast live. “One of the guys said, ‘Will that throw you off, having a live audience?’” Cooper says. “I’m like, ‘What do you think I do every night?’ I do rock theatrics in front of an audience, y’know? I’ll probably the only one comfortable there. Musical theater is pretty much what I’ve done for 50 years. I think it’ll feel pretty natural.”

• If You Go: A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper, 8 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor, 377 Riverside Drive East. Tickets are $57-$189. Call 800-991-7777 or visit caesarswindsor.com

Web Site: www.caesarswindsor.com

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