By STEVE MASCORD
YOU may think Alice Cooper is just one bloke.
But he’s not. “You’ll never talk to Alice because Alice only lives on stage,” says Vincent Furnier from Sacremento during the allotted 20 minutes of my Alice Cooper interview.
Alice and Vincent are both 41, were both born in the same city … in fact, they both look virtually the same. Vincent, however, says he used to be a bit jealous of how famous Alice was and tried to keep up with his rawk’n’roll lifestyle.
These day, however, Vincent is more mature and Alice has benefited with a blockbuster album, Trash, and monster single, “Poison”.
“People like the Jim Morrisons and the Jimi Hendrixes … I watched those people totally dissolve in front of me because they thought they had to be this character offstage,” says Vincent, am now resigned to being stuck with.
“They thought they had to be this bigger than life character,.
“Every one of those people were so intense and I don’t think they knew when to turn it off. I learned how to turn off the character, and now I realise that when I get on stage I have more fun being the character. I look forward to playing Alice rather than (when) I had to be the character all the time.”
Clearly, Alice and Vincent have a very workable relationship in the late eighties. Cooper can continue to dismember dolls and chop off heads. Meanwhile, Vincent helps him change record companies and gets people like Desmond Child, Bon Jovi and Aerosmith to work on Alice’s albums.
Only Vincent keeps the grog well and truly hidden so Alice can’t get at it.
“I haven’t had a drink for six years now. When I stopped it was, like, such a relief for me because of the fact I was a hard drinker and I’d get up. . and I’d throw up blood every mornng. That’s fine on stage, it looks great on stage. When when it’s your Holiday Inn bathroom – it becomes the kind of thing where you say “why am l killing myself like this?’
“It was really the fact I was totally addicted to alcohol. I didn’t even like the taste of it after a while. It was just that I was addicted to it.”
In case you haven’t noticed. Alice Cooper is back on the radio. He’s back on TV and he reckons that in January hell be back in Australia. It’s the year of the comeback. When the Stones tour America peddling 20 year old son9s, a lot of us screamed “ripoff”. Even their new stuff sounds like it wishes it was their old stuff. Paul McCartney is touring playing old Beatles standards, KISS’ last album was a compilation featuring some songs that had beer on as many as four other LPs. Aerosmith sound almost the same as they did a decade ago. The Bay City Rollers and the Monkees can come here every six months and make a fortune in clubland. “Sellout” I hear you cry.
New sober Alice, however, has embraced the present and competed. Modern day chart miracle worker Desmond Child produced and co-wrote Trash. Cooper has refused to live off his past. There’s appearances from fron Bon Jovi, Steve Tyler, Joe Perry, Richie Sambora. Hooks, deft solos, radio friendly. There must be on echo in here, I thought I heard you say “sellout” again. . . Pray tell, then, what ISN’T a sellout?
“I think the good thing about Desmond is he’s kind of like Bob Ezrin was for me in the early seventies,” says Alice.
“Ezrin come in and really put us on a track, it really helped us as for as getting radio play. I think that’s important for Alice right now, to get radio play. A lot of people forget that when I was at my prime was on the radio all the time.
“When I kind of went underground for a little while there, it was pretty much because I was writing songs that were lyrics to riffs. They weren’t very good songs. I think Desmond put me back on that track of writing good songs again!’
Those songs are not about vampires or blood anymore. They’re about sex. Fernier say he likes to put Alice in dangerous situations and sex in the ‘9Os is dangerous. True enough. But there’s not a safer topic for a rock n’roll record, is there? the title Trash is supposedly what everybody becomes when they hit the sheets. But in light of what Alice is best known for, “Welcome To My Wet Dream” may well have been more appropriate.
“I think a lot of Alice’s things are just observations and ironies,” he says. “A song like Poison is sort of like “I love her so much and I want her and can’t stand to live without her but she’s Poison. I know she’s certain death”. It’s a kind of thing where it’s real ironic.”
I don’t swallow this for a minute. Trash is commercial with a capital C. When the A&R guy from Epic discovered Alice in Hawaii last year and pinched him from MCA, he had one thing on his mind, $$S. Alice was given all the money and superstars he wanted or needed to produce a hit.
But like Fumier says, Alice has always been commercial. Perhaps there was far less integrity in his comeback a few years ago as a Heavy Metal Screamer.
Alice knows he wants mainstream success again. He’s even toning down the show, which last tour saw the first 20 rows splattered with blood (“We had to give out, like, blood bibs and little raincoats”) because he thinks “it limited our audience”.
Trash, perhaps, describes the essence of Alice. Cooper, who majored in journalism at college, has always got away with trashy publicity stunts. He delivered copies of his latest album to American radio stations in a garbage truck.
“I can’t help manipulating some things, I mean, I think that’s part of Alice. From the very beginning that’s something I had an in on, the fact that I was a journalism student and I always did like the Enquirer better than the New York Times. If I walked in and saw “Boy Born With Dog’s Head” or “Bush Cuts Taxes”, I know which one I’d pick up.
Probably the one that’s most probable!
“And I’ve always tried to make Alice that kind of choice. Are you gonna go see the Bluesberry Jam do five hours of blues or are you gonna see Alice Cooper where anything can happen?
“When we come to Australia, I guarantee something outrageous is going to precede it or happen during it.”
Alice Cooper and Motorhead have somehow remained respectable amongst snotty critics who rate the guitar as the universe’s worst object. While similarly aging acts like KISS and Aerosmith have maybe taken themselves too seriously, Motorhead and Alice have always seemed capable of sending themselves up.
Alice, afterall, introduced make-up, snakes and tophats to rock n’roll.
“I take exception to the fact that somebody does actually say they did it first — they’re obviously lying through their teeth,” he says of the gimmicks. “But I mean, I read interviews where KISS is saying “we figured if it worked for one Alice Cooper then it would work with four guys in KISS”.
“So obviously they never really claimed to hove originated it. And I think with Slash (from Guns n’Roses), it’s funny when I see him wear the tophat and use the snake and everything. I think it’s almost a parody of Alice.”
When Alice and Joe Perry first tried to write together in 1983, they were suffering heavy withdrawal symptoms and couldn’t hold an instrument let alone come up with anything. Alice recalls how he had to go into hospital before they’d even let him into detox.
Today, both Joe and Alice are sober and have both toured with a band that isn’t and may never be. Guns n’ Roses.
“I’ll see a guy slugging down Jack Daniels at 7am at an airport and you wanna go up to them and say “I lived through that and I just did that”. But I remember Jim Morrison doing that and I remember Keith Moon doing that, and they were the guys that I looked up to. And that’s actually how I got into drinking, by drinking with these professional drinkers. They turned me into that, you know.
“I mean, they were good friends. I really loved them and everything, but when I saw them dying I wasn’t surprised because I knew how hard they lived,
“I really don’t think you have to die in order to be a rock n’roller. It realty was a part of the image of the seventies where you had to do as much as you could, come as close to dying as you could possibly come.
“We did this thing the other night, the International Awards in New York City, and backstage was Keith Richards, Lou Reed, Eric Clapton, David Bowie and myself. We were standing around, and we were all drinking Coca- Cola. I thought, “what’s wrong with this picture” because 10 years ago we would have all been on the ground at that point. Luckily, these are guys who survived. “I said we should get awards just for breathing.”
Filed for: ON THE STREET