By Dave Pehling, CBS San Francisco
Having wrapped up a tour as the frontman of the Hollywood Vampires, Alice Cooper is now back on the road touring on his own. Dave Pehling from CBS San Francisco spoke with the man about his current tour; read the entire interview at CBS San Francisco.
You were out on your own tour last spring, spent most of the summer with Hollywood Vampires and then almost immediately went back on the road with your band. Does having a side project like the Vampires make things tougher, or does it just keep you in fighting shape for when you’re headlining?
You know it’s so funny, because both bands headlined through the whole summer. We did a lot of European shows with the Vampires. The really big difference is with the audience. When we do our shows, it’s the rock and roll audience. When we do the Vampires, the first 50 rows are all women looking at Johnny Depp.
Our show is very rehearsed. It’s like some kind of psycho vaudeville hard rock show, and every minute we know what’s going to happen. The Vampires show, we’re like the world’s most expensive bar band [laughs].
You reunited with the surviving original members of the band onstage for the first time since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction late last year and have been collaborating on writing new material with them for the first time since recording Muscle of Love over 40 years ago.
Oh yeah. The great thing about the original band is when we broke up, we didn’t have any bad blood at all. We were all still best of friends. It had just gotten to the point where we never took a break and were just exhausted. We did seven albums in a row and toured those seven albums and never stopped. I think we just burned out.
At the same time, in all that time when we were broken up, we still stayed in touch with each other. So it just so happened I was in Phoenix and [drummer] Neal [Smith] called up and said, “I’ve got a couple of songs I want you to hear.” And I went, “Ok, great!” And it so happened that [guitarist] Mike Bruce was in town, and I said, “Well, bring Mike over.” And we did a couple demos and then [bassist] Dennis [Dunaway] called up and I said, “Well, let’s hear that,”
So pretty soon, I got this idea that if we could find that writing thing that we had for Killer and Love It to Death, I would love to revisit that again. I don’t know if it’s possible to degress and go back to a sound and actually make it sound right.
So it’s an experiment. We really don’t know what’s going to happen with it, but Bob Ezrin said, “Let’s do like five or six songs and see what happens.” I hope it does happen. If we created five songs that kind of recreated that sound, I’d be elated to hear that.
Given the good terms you were on, was it just a matter of circumstances that you didn’t try to work together again sooner?
No, it was just a matter of Mike really being not well for a long period of time. Neal and Dennis had different things happening. Dennis was playing with some of the guys from Blue Oyster Cult in a band called Blue Coupe that was really great. Neal was doing very well in real estate. But they all kept their hands in the game of writing and never lost their feel for what they were doing. Neal can still play as well as he ever did, and so can Dennis.
This may be premature since you’re still seeing how the material works out, but do you have any plans to play live with that version of the band or maybe bring people out on tour to do guest spots during Alice shows?
Oh that happens all the time. If Dennis is in town, we have Dennis come up and play. If Neal is in town, he comes up. We’ve had Mike up. If I’m ever near Connecticut, I always invite the guys up. Mike was in Mexico for a long time, so it was really hard to find him for a while.
The weird thing is there’s a band in New York City now and the only album that they play – and this could only happen in New York City – is Pretties For You. Which is the weirdest Alice Cooper album of all time. And the guitar player learned to play like [the late guitarist] Glen Buxton. If we do actually create this older sound, I would bring that guy in and say “Play like Glenn Buxton.” That would be the weirdest thing if he did. I’d love to hear it.
I know a lot of fans including myself would be thrilled to get to see that line-up of Alice Cooper play live. Part of me was hoping that maybe it would happen at Psycho Las Vegas.
Yeah, I think being on the road for this long and that being the very last show of this tour, it would be very hard to put that together. If I were to do it, I would really plan it. I would put it together and make sure that it was all rehearsed and really came off well.
And that would be for Dennis, Mike and Neal’s sake also, so that it really came off polished and real Alice Cooper. I wouldn’t want to just plug them in and say, “Ok, go!” That wouldn’t be fair to them, I don’t think.
You recently released a new version of “Elected” and launched the website votealicecooper.com, taking both Clinton and Trump to task. When did you decided to do the remake and incorporate the staged fight of the actors dressed as the candidates?
I said this yesterday and it still rings true; I have never seen candidates who were so much like Kurt Vonnegut characters. They’re so bizarre. Both of them are! I don’t know one person who is actually voting for somebody; they’re actually just voting against the other person.
One accusation that has been leveled at Trump that might really hit home for you. How do the stories that he cheats at golf affect your view?
Here’s another funny thing about this election. I think I said, “Don’t ever vote for somebody who says they don’t cheat at golf.” Because everybody cheats at golf! So if you get a guy who gets up and says “I don’t cheat at golf,” then you know right up front that he’s lying! [laughs]
I would rather have a presidential candidate say, “Sure I cheat at golf.” Then I would go, “OK, I believe in this guy!” And Hillary has got to learn to play golf if she wants to get my vote. How can you trust a president who doesn’t play golf? She better start playing!