Ol’ Black Eyes is Back is going to be a ripper of a gig when Alice Cooper brings his best band ever to shows in Auckland and Christchurch in February 2020 - just a few weeks away!
Alice is in fine form when I speak to him earlier somewhere in Indiana. He tells me that they have been changing their show every two years and this time round its like going to a carnival with a nightmare castle as the main feature in which and from which anything can happen...
But they will be playing all the hits, as well as music which people will not be expecting.
So he too is looking forward to it, not just because it’s the new show, but also because he reckons he has the best band ever.
Chuck Garric has been playing bass for Alice for 11 years and also co-writes many of the new songs. Ryan Roxie is also a long-standing member on guitar and vocals, and “Hurricane” Nita Strauss, whom he likens to a Victoria Secret model, has just won “Guitarist of the Decade” award from Guitar magazine. And Glen Sobel has also just won an award for his drumming. Tommy Henriksen completes the band on rhythm and backing vocals.
Legendary Aussie rockers Airbourne are on the bill, and a special treat is the MC50s, a supergroup Wayne Kramer has formed to take Kick Out The Jams, MC5’s classic 1969 release, viewed as the birth of punk-rock, on a 50th-anniversary tour. The MC50s include Soundgarden’s lead guitarist Kim Thayil and Fugazi’s Brendan Canty on drums.
So we are in for a feast in Auckland on February 20th !
Alice has been working with Wayne on a new mini-album, just released, featuring covers of classic Detroit songs, including songs of Suzi Quatro and Bob Seger. It’s a tribute to his hometown, the home of hard rock.
I talk about the “book club” I run for some of the younger school dads from the school my daughter goes to, and how I’ve introduced some of the old rock bands to a new generation. And of course, Alice Cooper is getting a multigenerational audience these days as well.
We digress into a discussion about all the great musicians who we grew up to, and who are still alive and playing live. Of course, Alice was even luckier because all his boyhood heroes became friends once he met them on the road. The Beatles, the Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, the Who. Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were good mates, drinking buddies, but then again those were also the guys who didn’t make it past 27. Alice has made it to past 70 because he quit, he cleaned up, 37 years ago now.
What was it like, going on stage for the first time sober?
Man, it was terrifying. He remembers it well. 1984. Guns ‘n Roses were just starting out and opening for him. And then he gets to go on stage, in all his makeup, but no alcohol in his system, and he freaks out: "what if Alice doesn’t turn up tonight?”
That night he decided to change Alice’s character from society’s scourge or whipping boy to just plain villain. Being sober, and doing Alice, and feeling great, no longer a victim, leads him to turning Alice, the character, into the Villain of Rock ‘n Roll, and the rest is history.
As a man of faith, does he feel he’s descending into purgatory with each night’s show?
No, not at all. It’s just rock ‘n roll. And the Lord loves it, he’s very sure. Besides, compare what he is doing to getting up and doing Shakespeare, doing Macbeth, performances which are way more violent and profane than Alice the villain. There’s no issue, no contradiction, it’s an act.
I turn to my “serious” subject and inform him of the fact which he surely will not remember, that we played golf together 20 years ago, in Phoenix, which is his home club. I was out early with a colleague for a quick 9 holes before our conference started for the day, and there he was at the first tee, asking if he could join us. My colleague, a senior figure in America’s healthcare industry, had no clue who Alice Cooper was, and had to ask him how he should be addressed. Of course he said (da, da-da da) you can call me Al...
We had great fun with him for 9 holes, and he was just the nicest of guys, having just flown in from Paris and recoding with Roger Daltrey, and a little jet-lagged.
Of course, he didn’t remember, but asks by how much he might have beaten me, and when a golfer asks you that, you know he is competitive. Not that we were playing for anything, but he would have whipped my ass, and I tell him so, and then off he goes talking about all the rock guys he’s played with over the years, people you would never expect to play golf.
Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Roger Waters, Bob Dylan. I did a show on Planet FM with the Bad Monkey a few weeks ago to promote Alice’s upcoming tour, and on the show, I ran through a long list, including Eddie Van Halen and Bob Seger. But I didn’t know about Lou Reed.
So he tells me about how he had spent time living in the Chelsea Hotel in New York, with Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground and a host of others, and the last thing they talked about then was golf.
20 years later he runs into Reed and asks him how're things going? Lou says, well Alice, I’m pushing the ball to the right a bit, what do you reckon? Picking himself up, Alice tells him about relaxing his right hand, but then says, wait a minute, would we be having this conversation 20 years ago? No way, man!
So, Alice Cooper plays golf, 6 days a week, he’s on a 4 handicap, which is not too shabby at all. And when he tours he plays 9 holes on the day of a show, and 18 holes on the day off. And two of his band play too. So if you are an 18 handicapper, like me, just one grade up from a hacker, and Alice Cooper comes to town and wants to play golf, then be very, very afraid. And make sure you play with Alice Cooper the human, not Alice the character, because Alice the Villain hates golf, but loves golf clubs. They make nice weapons...