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Alice Cooper sends "positive" and "encouraging" message with new Covid-19 single

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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When Alice Cooper put out the call for fan photos for his latest video, he had modest expectations.

"I thought we might get 1,500 people, something like that," the Detroit-born shock rocker says by phone from his home in Arizona. The response was more than 10 times that for Cooper's new "Don't Give Up," and he has a pretty good idea why.

"These people are at home," Cooper says. "They're not running around. I think people are searching for things to do. They're not running around doing stuff. I think they were like, 'Yeah, I want to be in anything right now...'"

Cooper, meanwhile, is doing plenty. Though ostensibly quarantined with his wife Sheryl as well as their two daughters (Calico and Sonora) and their husbands, he notes that Arizona "is pretty open. We don't have a huge problem here; I don't think (Covid-19) can really live very well in the heat here." He's playing golf every morning, as is his wont, and the crew at what he's calling "Camp Cooper" has taken up weekly tap dance lessons as well as occasional movie "festival" -- recently "The Pink Panther" series -- at home. He's also starting to paint again.

And Cooper is working hard. In addition to "Don't Give Up" he's also finishing work on his next album, tentatively titled "Detroit Stories" and much of it recorded in Royal Oak with Detroit-area musicians. He's also continuing to record his syndicated radio show "Nights With Alice Cooper," as well as his "Vintage Vault podcast. And, joined by his wife and daughters, he filmed a special video for Asleep at the Wheel leader Ray Benson's May 16 "Birthday Bash" online.

"I've got three studios running at the same time," Cooper says, "so I'm doing all this video stuff and Zoom stuff. Iím still doing some backup vocals on the album. The girls are doing some backup vocals. So every night, instead of playing Monopoly we're recording, which is really cool."

The rocking "Don't Give Up" came from a song that "was just sitting there" amidst the other "Detroit Stories" material, which Cooper retooled to focus on the pandemic. Part spoken and sun, its tone is largely positive and encouraging that, "We're all hanging on by a thread/We're all starting at the razor's edge/But we're not going to step off the ledge, no."

"I said, 'Let's make it a positive, encouraging song rather than tap into the horror of it,' which Alice normally would do," Cooper explains. "I wanted to make it something where it's like, 'Hey, don't be so afraid. We'll get through it. Let's treat it as an enemy and attack it as an enemy, and let's be smart enough to know how to fight this thing.' It has that everybody pull-together, kind of rah-rah thing to it."

But, Cooper adds, "It didn't lose its edge. If it had turned out sappy we wouldn't have put it out. But I think that when you have a character like Alice, let him stretch a little bit, y'know?"

As "Don't Give Up" rolls out, Cooper says "Detroit Stories" is "99 percent done" and is "getting polished" by producer Bob Ezrin. The set features contributions by the MC5's Wayne Kramer, Mark Farner, drummer Johnny "Bee" Badanjek, Matthew Smith of Outrageous Cherry and the Volbeat, Paul Randolph, the Motor City Horns and others and will likely be out before the end of the year.

"I'm really happy with this album," reports Cooper, whose 2019 EP "Breadcrumbs" won a Detroit Music Award during April. "Right now (Ezrin) is just sitting at home listening to everything, going, 'Hmm, I wonder if we should re-do that bass?' or 'Let's try that third verse again' or 'Can we sing those three lines over again?' (laughs) I want him at some point to put a lock and key on and it say 'It's done!' but I trust him to tell us when it is."

It will be awhile, however, before Cooper is able to play the new material live. He's canceled his summer tour -- including a June 27 date at the DTE Energy Music Theatre as an appearance at the Motor City Comic Con -- as well as a European trek with the all-star Hollywood Vampires.

However, Cooper notes, "I kind of really like this" enforced break. "I spend so much time on the road and in the studio, I like having to take four or five months off, as much as I was looking forward to (the tours). It's kind of nice to be home and see everybody every day. Our big deal is 'What are we eating tonight?' My daughter (Sonora) is going to have a baby in July, so I get to be there for that.

"We'll be ready to play again when it's time, and I think a lot of people are going to want to go to a concert again. But I really appreciate what we've got going on here now, too."

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