Alice Cooper: “I would never go back to when I was 25 because I was a waste of time”

How many lives has Alice Cooper lived? Sounds like a classic rock ‘n’ roll cliché, but few have ventured so far and always managed to be reborn. Do you remember how he set America on fire in the early 70s, became its main public enemy and one of the most influential artists for anyone who has released an album since 1973 (ask the New York Dolls, Aerosmith and Kiss, among others). Then you think of him at the start of the next decade, alcoholic and frustrated, looking for a new path but not finding it, as the public and record companies ruthlessly abandon him in his misery.

Today’s Alice Cooper was born out of the love of the people who surrounded him and continue to do so: first of all, his wife and many students who decided that someone like him could not end so badly. And for Cheesy, a revival album, so many people lend a helping hand. A show of affection that Cooper repaid by putting aside old vices and offering himself to a new generation of fans with more enthusiasm and inspiration than ever. Because every time he metaphorically died, Alice managed to be reborn with a little more awareness. The one that helped him never truly die on every relapse, like all of his old friends he had celebrated for years along with Joe Perry and Johnny Depp in Hollywood Vampires.

Because the most beautiful thing about Cooper today is precisely that he contrasts self-satisfaction and self-praise with the advice of a wise old man, grandfather, who tells you: “Do what I say, not what I did.” And all this without the slightest hint of the morality of the survivor and seasoned with that iconic mixture of dark irony and true nostalgia, which never allows you to accurately understand what is the limit between his two souls and which today finds its apex in the new Traffic Lawsa kind of semi-serious guide book where he kind of tells you: “I will teach you everything so that you can die at 27 like your greatest heroes, and then you choose how to do it.”

New album Road in that sense, this is perhaps the most autobiographical album by an artist who has never been afraid to live his life on the street, unafraid of missing out on the worst aspects and lowest moments. For which, of course, he is ashamed, but which he knows perfectly well, it is useless to hide. Despite all this, communicating with him is always an experience that is hard to forget. Small incident: The interview was done before Cooper openly exposed himself on the issue of gender transition (defined as a passing fad) and on the topic of awakening in general, although from the very beginning he has always been openly on the side of pansexuality and bisexuality.

Tommy Lee once said to me, “The biggest mistake you can make in our world (and I did) is to ask Alice Cooper to open for you because you can’t compete with God.”
(He is laughing) At some point in my career, when it was difficult for me to even get to the place where I was supposed to give a concert, I promised myself that I would never make anyone regret after hiring me or attending one of my shows. In the 70s and 80s, selling well meant getting rich, but I spent more on the aftershow than I made. Today everything has changed, and if I had not tried to put on the best show of my career every time, I would have been kindly invited to spend the rest of the time playing golf. Although I can do it during the months when I am not traveling the world. I would never go back to when I was 25 because I was a waste of time. Today I am living the best moment of my life.

You spoke about golf, a topic that occupies a large part of your autobiography. A book in which you also talk a lot about God. Did they save you?
Although I have often had to deal with scary, terrifying topics, or at least those related to the dark side of each of us, I have always had a very strong faith that I could rely on in the worst moments. Another thing that often seems unthinkable to me is that Alice Cooper is a golf enthusiast. In fact, this is a sport in which the spiritual side is very strong. Not necessarily in a religious sense, but from a purely introspective point of view. Of course, these two things helped me, but in practice it was my wife and colleagues who never let me lose their love.

However, today many of these colleagues, even younger than you, often experience difficulties in life, unlike you.
I was just lucky, I had a serious addiction and many before and after me did not have a second chance. But I also liked it and I still like to play it, albeit not with cynicism. Let’s just say I didn’t become a fanatic after what I went through. Speaking of bands that I didn’t think survived to this day, I recently saw my friends Guns N’ Roses. Here, every time we met in the late 80s, I said goodbye to them one by one, hugging them tightly, because this could always be the last. I’ve never seen anyone so screwed up every night.

Fine, Road it’s a kind of celebration of it all: living permanently on the road and considering it at some point as a permanent residence. Almost an oxymoron.
Yes, this is the paradox of a man who spends his life playing for the world, for whom the road and its continuous white lines become the only reliable thing. I’m talking about a situation where, when you get too famous, you stop living, but we all lived through it. A bit like the concept behind Dave Grohl’s documentary about his van. In fact, I continue to travel by bus, so it’s not just a celebration of something symbolic or related to my past, but something that I still experience. That’s why me and BobEzrinyes) we decided to completely give the place to my touring band, because they are the ones who make it all possible.

In addition to being essentially a concept, Road sounds like one of your autobiographical albums.
Even in cases where it may not seem so, I always write about myself. I believe that there is no work at all that is not autobiographical, more or less explicit. Let’s say I tried to create a story that covers all aspects and all the main characters of what we experience on tour. Always with a good dose of irony. Take “I’m Alice” for example: it’s clearly self-referential, even if not autobiographical in the strict sense of the word, but it also has a lot to do with how I’ve been seen from the outside over the years. It’s no coincidence that after all, I talk about myself as if I’m just a projection of my fans. Which appears and disappears at will, like everything else is a figment of the imagination.

We could say the same about white frankenstein line, Traffic Laws AND Big Boots
Yeah, about the last one, let’s just say it’s a childish play on words, but even now I have to be careful with everything I write down in black and white (laughs). WITH Traffic Laws instead, I tried to lay down the rules for how to be a rock star. I’ll teach you how to die young and famous, and then it’s up to you. You always have free will. Instead of white frankenstein line this is my personal tribute to all the riders I have ever known. They are different people than anyone else. Not everyone knows how to drive a sightseeing bus, this is a kind of vocation. I’m serious, they’re almost the martyrs of rock ‘n’ roll. The white lines clearly belong to the road…

Photo: Jenny Risher

Not everyone knows this, especially the younger ones, but you have crossed several genres in your career. Starting with a very strong Zappa influence, classic records that you exploded with, then touching new wave and avant-garde rock in the early 80s, and a few years later you became a hair metal icon. At the turn of the millennium, you even made some great industrial records. Was it just a desire to experiment, or a search for something that could not be found?
When I fell apart, it was as if I also lost everything that I was sure of. I found myself without clarity and isolation, but above all, without certainty. So there’s a difference between the first part of the journey you’re talking about, which I think is classic for young musicians trying to figure out who they are, and the second. However, with his schizophrenia, the next one also makes sense. There you can see all my fragility, but also the desire to be myself again. In fact, at some point I came to terms with the period that I thought was the cause of my problems, namely the first half of the 70s, and musically I started from there.

I’ve always wondered what someone like Alice Cooper could sing in the shower.
I’m sorry, buddy, but I’ll be banal. I don’t usually sing, but when I’m inspired, I put on a top hat, take a cane and sing. Sing in the rain (and he sings it all to meed.).

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