Rolling Stone Q&A: Alice Cooper Plans Classic Rock Covers Album

Our master Alice Cooper chats with Rolling Stone about old friends, the upcoming tour with Marilyn Manson, drinking, and an upcoming covers album. Go on.. read all about it below!

Alice CooperAlice Cooper has always incorporated covers into his live show, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has never done an album of other’s people music. He plans to change that soon by recording an album of songs inspired by his legendary onetime drinking club, the Hollywood Vampires, a group that included John Lennon, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and more.

Cooper himself has been sober for three decades. Thinking back to those early days of rock & roll excess he says, “It was another life.” But he remembers it well, reflecting here on trying to save Jim Morrison, his healthy rivalry with guys like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and David Bowie and his thoughts on young artists such as Justin Bieber. Cooper spoke with Rolling Stone at the John Varvatos charity event in West Hollywood last weekend.

You were just talking to Joe Perry earlier. I know you guys are old friends.
We did some writing together back in the Eighties for a movie and it happened to be at [manager] Shep [Gordon]‘s house, which was one of the most haunted houses ever. And in the end, it’s not like the movies, where you hear stuff in the basement and you say, “Let’s go see what that is” – we both ran out of the house. We took off because it sounded like somebody moving furniture in the basement. And then Shep goes, “Oh, they wrote The Amityville Horror there.” I went, “Oh, thanks, that’s information I could’ve used before.”

You have dates coming up with Marilyn Manson. Have you toured together before?
No. In fact, the very first time I met him was in Transylvania. It was the weirdest thing. We had jousted in the press before a little bit ,and we realized we were doing a show together in Transylvania, a big outdoor show, two miles from Dracula’s castle. He walked by the dressing room and I said, “Hey, come here.” We finally met face to face, and what we talked about was marriage, which was interesting. I’ve been married 37 years.

And after the tour you start the covers album?
We do a thing in our show, which is a tribute to Hollywood Vampires, my drinking club. And it was Keith Moon, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Micky Dolenz – a very eclectic bunch of drunks. Half of them are dead, so we do four songs in the show in tribute to them. We do “Break On Through,” “Revolution,” “My Generation” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady.” I just kind of said, “We’ve never done a covers album, let’s think about that.” So [Bob] Ezrin and I are kind of bouncing it around right now.

What are some of the wish-list songs?
I would keep it right to about ’73, ’74. I don’t want to just go anywhere. I want to keep it right in that sort of drunk era, so it’s specific. I would say “Break On Through,” that’s a really good rock track there. The other ones, think of it – Harry Nilsson, there’s a lot of good stuff there that could be rocked out. I think of songs as being clay. Take a song like “Jump Into the Fire” and take that to a harder level, and that’ll work.

When will the album be out?
I think it’ll be out next year. When the tour’s over in December then we’ll go right in the studio.

Can you look back on that time now with perspective?
It was another life, honestly – a different life. Bernie Taupin and I are best friends, and Bernie was a vampire. He was a last-man-standing, good British drunk. And we sit and talk about it, both of us. I’ve been sober now 30 years, and I go, “It was another life.” But it was all artists, and that was the cool thing about it. It was all guys that were competing with each other in a really good way. I wanted to hear Bowie’s new album, I wanted to hear Iggy’s new album, I wanted to hear Lou Reed’s new album. To me, it was almost more of a theatrical movement than it was competition.

I had a conversation a couple of years ago with Nick Cave, and we were talking about people having to make their own mistakes.
I feel sorry for young bands. They don’t have a chance to make mistakes. One strike and they’re done. We got to make mistakes. We got to make albums that bombed right along with albums that were the Number Ones.

You also got to fuck up in public, but now the pressure is so great. Look at Justin Bieber – who didnt see that rough week coming?
He came into Phoenix, comes up on stage, turns his back to the audience and throws up. I said, in the press, “Justin, just as a note of professional rock & roll, never turn your back when you throw up. Let the audience see you throw up . . . Because that’s a moment they’re gonna remember.” Make sure the lights are on you when you throw up. If he rides this thing out and still makes records, he’s gonna be a seasoned artist in about 10 years, ’cause he makes good records now, but he’s got to survive the next 10 years. The excess is gonna come at him so quick.

You got to make those mistakes. You survived it. But with so many public tales of those that didnt make it, what are your thoughts when you see someone like Amy Winehouse?
Hey, Jim Morrison – nobody could talk Jim Morrison out of dying. I was a drunk, but I was a lightweight compared to him, and nobody could talk him out of where he was going. Jim was gonna go there and that was it. Same with Amy. I don’t think anybody could’ve talked Amy out of where she was going. The true artists are always out on a limb. They’re always the ones that are just maybe gonna die.

How did you survive?
I had to wake up one morning and throw up blood and realize that was a pretty good sign God was saying, “That’s about enough out of you. You could still rock & roll, but you’re gonna have to do it a different way.” Because I was dying. Doctor said, “You got two more weeks before you join Jimi, Jim and all the boys.” I said, “I want to stick around and make records.” So I had to stop. Same with Iggy, same with Lou, same with Steven [Tyler] and Joe. They’re here because they got in the crossroads and made the right choice. If not, we would’ve been dead, all of us.

But, as you say, some of them couldnt be stopped.
I think the early guys, the Jim Morrisons, the Janis Joplins, just did not want to see 30. Twenty-seven was the expiration date. And it really came up a lot of times, 27, and I guess they said, “That’s too close to 30, I’m just gonna burn out.” First of all, rock & roll and heroin, it’s not gonna work. Anything with a needle involved is not gonna work, and you add that to a little schizophrenia and a little bipolar, you got Syd Barrett and you got Brian Wilson. Two geniuses. Brian’s producing and I’ve always loved him, I consider him a genius, but what could he have been doing now? He would’ve been doing amazing stuff. But on top of being schizophrenic and bipolar he’s doing acid and speed. That’s just like pouring coals on the fire.

Why do todays musicians do it?
It’s some kind of defiance. “I know it’s gonna kill me, but I’m gonna do it.” I always tell kids, I can’t think of one guy that I know that took a lot of drugs and sat back and said, “That was a good idea.” Now, if they’re still alive they’re going, “OK, I wrote some good songs when I was smashed out of my mind, but I was really lucky to get through it.”

(Source: Rolling Stone)

22 thoughts on “Rolling Stone Q&A: Alice Cooper Plans Classic Rock Covers Album

  1. I’d like to see Alice do “Rock the Nation” off of Montrose. Most cover “Rock Candy” or “Bad Motor Scooter.” I’d also like to see him cover something off of Aerosmith’s Get Your Wings; “Same Old Song and Dance” would be good.

    • If Alice is going to do this covers album. I would like him to bring in some exciting personnel – my dream list: John Norum, Jerry Cantrell, Pat Benatar, Bobby Blotzer, Steven Adler, Rob Zombie, Lenny Kravitz and Johnny Depp.

  2. Alice is king but no to a covers album. Fans want to hear Alice doing his own songs, writing new material, and take more chances in his live show. Great albums like Raise Your Fist and Yell and The Last Temptation are ignored in the setlists. Focus more on that and the early 80′s stuff too (some great material) No to a covers album.

  3. I would really like to see Dick Wagner play on your covers album Alice…My younger brother Pat is a GIT grad who graduated with honors..he knows Dick as do I…As one who witnessed many FROST shows at the owosso mi. natl. guard Armory…where I saw YOU play in like…well it was just after the love it to death album came out. You and Dennis Dunnaway walked by me and said HI. So we have met. But anyway I really believe Dick Wagner is the best fucking guitar player you have ever worked with..and I think you know this too. Love ya Alice

  4. It’s a no brainer. My two favorite musicians, George Harrison and Alice Cooper. Both spiritual beings, both love the Lord, both have to get out of this place, both in the rock n roll Hall of fame. Alice, please play Give Me Love, (Give Me Peace on Earth) by George.

    Please email. I need permission to publish my photos taken of you in Las Vegas for my book of poetry.

  5. Alice I think thats a great idea. thats why u are the master. now I can’t wait to hear this record can u make it in vynal like back in the day. I loved that era of music. I was a teen I wish I could go back in time and ya know i saw alot of concerts but I saw u Alice too many times to count. always always the best performance and music . so I grew up with u and every one u mentioned. I’m feeling real nostalgic. days gone bye. I loved that time of my life. I went and saw u at House of Blues in Atlantic City a yr or so ago I met u. I had to give u a kiss on the cheek. I’v waited so long to be near u. I wanted to hug u . Keep on doing what ur doing. I’ll die happy Thanks for all the great fun and music like ur song I love u to death.

  6. Hey, Alice, I thought of something; You like and admire Brian Wilson, right? And everyone knows that you can do ballads as well (if not better) than anyone, right? Put 2 and 2 together: you should cover “God Only Knows”!!!! Also, it’d probably sound phenomenal if you sang any of Bon Jovi’s hits. “Bad Medicine”, “Livin on a Prayer”, “You Give Love a Bad Name”. Admit it; you’d kill it. Anyways, anything you do will be awesome. Can’t wait to see how this project progresses. God bless!

  7. I’d also be very interested in seeing Alice do a “DUETS” album with some of his famous friends and even other areas of the music world Alice & Willie Nelson, Alice and Elton John, Alice and David Bowie, Alice and Lady GaGa . . .

  8. I would love to hear Alice cover “Sweet Transvestite” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Would totally fit the Alice style :-)

  9. Having been a fan of Alice since 1987, I’ve loved most of his albums. It’s not just about the music, it’s just as much, if not more, about the man. I look forward to every new album and show, but I must admit I’d rather have a new album of Alices’ own songs than a cover album. That said, Alice can do whatever he wants, and it’s okay by me. Just keep up the good work!! :D

  10. Aerosmith’s “Same Old Song and Dance” would be right in Alice’s zone for a cover song! Some individual tweaking and it would highlight EVERYONE’S talents! A ‘ 74 gem. Alice would KILL it. Please kill it, Alice!

  11. Anything you record, Alice, is great, but when are you gonna do that sequel to “Along Came A Spider”? Love that album. Also, you need to do “Former Lee Warmer” in concert. The staging will have to be worked out, though….it could be amazing!

  12. Alice,

    How about a solo tour performing Welcome to My Nightmare (albums 1 & 2) back to back along with some other great songs of yours? I’d be first in line!

  13. What was big around 1973/74? I would love to hear him sing some Slade, T-Rex, It’s only rock n roll (but i like it). Get Dave Mustaine to play on some tracks. Record the album in Sweden where Alice’s albums have always sold well and he can get in grained in a community which still buys Rock music and in numbers.

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