Original Alice Cooper Group Has New Music in the Wings
Since Welcome 2 My Nightmare in 2011, Alice Cooper fans have been delighted to have members of the original band — guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith — writing and playing with the singer once more, a practice that continued on subsequent releases, Paranormal in 2017 and last year's Detroit Stories. And there's more coming, according to Cooper.
"We're working pretty close right now," Cooper told UCR during a public Q&A at the Motor City Comic Con this past weekend in suburban Detroit. "We wrote, like, 12 songs together" for future projects.
Cooper can't say when we'll be hearing any of it, however, other than that "a real, total Alice Cooper project" is in motion with producer Bob Ezrin that also includes members of his touring band and other collaborators.
"We never know when that stuff's gonna come out if it's going to make the next album or an album after that — it's sort of like putting songs in a bank," Cooper explained. "If I have time off I'll get a call from Bob [Ezrin]: 'I've got an idea for something,' and we just start writing. It's a continuing process. They kind of take on their own life, these things do.
"A lot of times a story happens; I start reading the lyrics and realize, 'Oh, my God, this is a storyline!' I just kind of surprise myself once in awhile, because I didn't set out to make anything be a storyline. We just never stop writing, and we're just trying to write great songs and then see what fits together."
Cooper told the Comic Con audience that working together has "just been a natural thing" for the four musicians (guitarist Glen Buxton died in October 1997) despite a general perception that the 1974 split was acrimonious. "Our band didn't get divorced; we just separated," Cooper explained. "We hit an area after Billion Dollar Babies and School's Out, those were giant records. We did Muscle of Love - that didn't quite get there. It was Top 10, but it wasn't up there like we wanted it to be ... and I felt that the band was disjointed. I thought that maybe we hit our peak." The group subsequently worked on other projects, and when Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare was a Top 5 platinum success in 1975, he continued his solo path, and "the band just dissipated."
Listen to Alice Cooper's 'Welcome to My Nightmare'
"But we always did stay in touch with each other," Cooper noted. "There was no bad blood between us, anybody in the band. They were my best friends. I'd call Dennis up, 'Dennis, I need you to play bass on this.' 'OK, I'll be down there.' 'Neal, play drums on this,' or I'd want to write a song with them. I always like including them, one way or another."
The original lineup has reunited on several occasions, and Live From the Astroturf, documenting the most famous of those reunions, was recently released formally after some Record Store Day-related packages. The show took place Oct. 6, 2015, at Good Records in Dallas and was put together by store owner and Cooper superfan Chris Penn as part of a book signing event for Dunaway's memoir Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group.
"[Penn] was very smart," Cooper recalled, noting that his regular touring band "had just done a show in Dallas and we had a day off. So he brought Dennis and Neal and Mike into his record store to do a signing, and they were gonna do a couple songs. They called me up and I said, 'Yeah, I'll come down, do a couple of songs.' We did, like, an hour and it ends up being on a record, and it's a video and now it's a whole thing. It was really just impromptu. We had no rehearsal. We just went up and played and it sounded great.
"That band is totally different than my stage band. They have a totally different attitude."
Watch the Alice Cooper Group Perform 'I'm Eighteen' in 2015
Cooper will return to Dallas on Oct. 29, where he'll be a special guest at a concert by the original Misfits at Dos Equis Pavilion. He's also announced his 20th annual Christmas Pudding benefit and variety show, raising money for his Solid Rock teen centers in Arizona, on Dec. 3 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. This year's lineup includes Sammy Hagar, Rob Zombie, Gin Blossoms, Sixwire, the Romantics' Wally Palmar and comedian Jim Breuer. Tickets go on sale on Oct. 21 at celebritytheatre.com.