There’s no ‘off’ switch on Alice Cooper. Even as the legendary shock-rock icon, Hollywood Vampire and consummate master of the macabre attended his recent 75th birthday party – hosted by Poison songwriter Desmond Child in Nashville – his mind kept wandering to the minutiae of his next tour.
“I’m the Ziegfeld of rock,” he says. “It’s all about the show. All I can think is: ‘Will that thing work in the second song?’”
Prior to hitting the road with fellow Vampires Joe Perry, Johnny Depp and Tommy Henriksen next month, Alice is busy recording a pair of albums with producer Bob Ezrin and preparing his next all-important stage extravaganza.
“Preparing an entirely new production is the calm before the storm," he says. "The fun part.”
Fifty years on from the release of Billion Dollar Babies, are there plans to expand the album to an even greater extent than its 2001 Deluxe Edition?
Oh yeah. We’re putting a billion dollars into it. Actually? We’re not… I rarely have anything to do with reissues. We have approval, but when they’re planning to put my baby shoes in the box and things like that, I just go: “Okay, I don’t care. Go ahead.” As much as I love the history of the original band, I don’t sit around thinking about it; I’m all about what’s next.
You had just turned twenty-five when the album was released. Could you have imagined that you’d still be a professional decapitee at seventy-five?
There wasn’t one human being on the planet that thought we’d get past thirty years old. In fact, when I turned thirty all my friends clubbed together and got me a wheelchair. I never thought of getting to seventy-five. But I quit drinking and taking drugs very successfully, I’ve been happily married for forty-seven years, so all the stress is out of my life. Stress kills people faster than anything else, worrying about money, career. I’ve nothing to prove any more.
You’re involved with Tommy Henriksen’s Crossbone Skully project.
Tommy’s a Vampire, so when he started this project we all wanted in. He asked if I wanted to be a character. I’d have been surprised if he hadn’t asked me, Johnny and Joe. The Vampires have been together for seven years and never had an argument. Everybody has fun, nobody complains: ‘I didn’t get the right bottle of wine backstage.’ We’ve been around long enough not to care about that stuff.
Speaking of the Hollywood Vampires, you’re back and preparing to tour.
I hadn’t seen Johnny or Joe for three and a half years. We finished the last tour and covid happened. So I walked into the dressing room, saw Johnny and said: “So-oooo… What’s new? [Laughs] Did I see you on television or something.” Then I told him: “I either have the best or the worst idea of all time… You and Amber [Heard, ex-wife] should do a remake of The War Of The Roses. It’d be a bloodbath. Every day there’d be something in the paper about somebody throwing a shoe or something. Then to make it go over the top, have Brad [Pitt] and Angie [Jolie] as your lawyers.” He started laughing and then he went: “That’s not a bad idea.”
You go way back with Joe Perry.
In 1984 I was going to do a horror movie [Monster Dog] in Spain, and Joe and I were going to write some songs for it. So we went up to my manager’s house in Copiague, New York, and things kept going missing: my harmonica, Joe’s strings. Later, at dinner, it sounded like somebody was moving furniture in the basement. It wasn’t like in the movies where people say: “Let’s get flashlights and go down there.” We were out of there. I called Shep [Gordon, manager] and he goes: “Oh yeah, The Amityville Horror was written about that house.” I was like: “And you were going to tell me when?”
Did you make contact with Aerosmith, or they with you, when they first entered rehab, and in such situations what’s your first piece of advice?
Whatever it takes. I never went to AA. When I came out of the hospital I had absolutely no desire to drink. And I was the classic alcoholic. When I came out it was like a Biblical miracle and, being a religious person, I look at it like God took it away from me. But the guys in Aerosmith were in AA every day, and I really admired that.
Are you the go-to guy for celebrities looking for a way out of alcohol addiction?
I was the Dean Martin of rock, the guy on a permanent golden buzz. So everyone thought: “If Alice Cooper can stop drinking, so can I.” So I’d get calls from movie stars and rock stars looking to get sober. I don’t mind that role, because maybe that’s why it was taken away from me, so I can help other people.
How far are you into writing and recording a follow-up to (2021 album) Detroit Stories?
I’m doing two albums at once with [producer] Bob Ezrin. Two totally different concepts. The next one’s very guitar-driven hard rock. The album after’s quirkier. We have to finish recording before the tour. We work quickly. I don’t understand why it takes bands five months to do an album. I write songs, go in the studio, we play it live and I do a working vocal. So everything’s live in the studio. It might not be perfect, it’s not going to sound like a Queen album, but it’s going to have lots of feel on it.
Hollywood Vampires - Live in Rio is released on June 2. Hollywood Vampires’ European tour begins on June 8 in Romania. For full dates and ticket details, visit the Hollywood Vampires website.