Alice Cooper Says ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’ is ‘One of the Five Best Albums I’ve Ever Done’
Alice Cooper came to our hometown recently, and in between shooting a very respectable round of golf and pretty much kicking our asses in concert, he took some time to talk to us about his new album, 'Welcome 2 My Nightmare.' The sequel to his 1975 classic 'Welcome to My Nightmare' comes out Sept. 13, and as this early preview demonstrates, it does a real fine job matching up to its big brother. Let's get into it:
Do you still get excited when you put out a new record?
You know, I’m working with Bob Ezrin, I’m working with the original band, Steve Hunter, Dick Wagner. We put so much effort into this album, it ended up being one of the five best albums I’ve ever done. I don’t care if you’ve done 30 albums, when the new one comes out, it’s like a new baby, you sit there and you go, ‘I can’t wait to see which one of these songs is gonna be the one that jumps off.’ I read a thing the other day (maybe this?) where a band was talking about how, ‘well we don’t really know if we’re gonna make albums anymore, because people are just buying singles,’ and I went, how awful would that be, to just do singles. You know, my fans want an entire story, so I’m gonna do an entire story. It’s gonna be a full album, and I make albums for my fans.
As opposed to just for the charts?
Well, the charts, I don’t know what they even mean anymore. I think that at this point in your career, when Bob Dylan puts an album out, or the Stones, or anybody – you’re not picking up new audiences, you’re playing for the audience.
Well, now, your audience is growing – look at all the people you’ve been playing ‘School’s Out’ with!
You know, I had a run of about a week there, where either I was on somebody’s stage, or somebody was on mine. We were doing a movie with Johnny Depp, ‘Dark Shadows,’ in London, and it so happened that we decided to do this club called the 100 Club, that holds 200 people. No theatrics, we were gonna be a bar band that night. We were gonna do cover songs. It’s so opposite of the “big show.” We got there, and I asked Johnny, ‘I know you’re a guitar player, you wanna come up and play?’ And he goes ‘Sure!’ He shows up, and the guy’s a really good guitar player.
I saw him play with the Butthole Surfers, unannounced, and when the girls in the crowd figured out he was there, they shoved all the moshing guys right out of the way…
It was just like that! I introduced him as ‘Johnny D from Ken-tuck-y,’ and he had this hat on down over his eyes, and this vest on. I said ‘he’s an old blues player,’ he plugged in and all of a sudden I was watching the girls in the audience. They would get this look...‘Wait a minute! That’s Johnny Depp!’ Great guy, he really is a nice guy.
So, tonight you’re in Akron, you gonna get Chrissie Hynde? You gonna get the Black Keys?
I always say, if they come to the show, they should think about getting on-stage. I did a thing where Kesha – she’s an old friend of mine – I got up on stage and did a thing with her. And then the Foo Fighters were on, and I went up and did two songs with the Foo Fighters. So I mean, if anybody’s in town, and they show up, I say ‘you wanna get up and do something?’ Most of them do, 90% of the time they do it.
So, is 'Bite Your Face Off,' the song you've been doing in concert, going to be the first single?
Yes! It really smacks of 1965 Rolling Stones. We kind of tipped our hat to the Stones, in a lot of different ways. Maybe there’s a little bit of the Who in there, too. It really feels like a British Invasion song.
You throw a bit of The Who into the ending for sure.
Oh, absolutely! Yeah, we figured if one Pete Townsend doing windmills is good, let’s tip our hat to him and do five guys doing windmills.
A lot of people have posted clips of you performing the song on YouTube. Does that bother you?
No no no, in fact, I wouldn’t have done the song if I didn’t want them to see it. The amazing thing was, the very first night that we did it – I never do songs that the audience haven’t heard yet, I just thought that’s crazy to do that. But I decided that for this song I would do that. Of course, this jacket I’m wearing (on stage) says ‘New Song’ on it, and the shirt says ‘I’ll Bite Your Face Off.’ By the second chorus, everybody’s singing it, so... it’s a great sing-a-long.
Is it good to be working with Bob Ezrin again?
Bob brings out the worst in me, and I bring out the worst in him. When we started writing, we could not stop writing, we ended up with 17 songs. He’s worked with everybody, from Pink Floyd to Kiss to Aerosmith, everybody you can think of – but he started with me, and we always end up writing the best stuff when we get together. We turn on each other’s juices when it comes to writing a story. He’s also really good about keeping to the story, which I really like.
He helps you focus?
Not only that, but, I’ll write a riff or a song, and I’ll say ‘OK, that’s really good,’ and he’ll come in and say ‘yeah, but.. if it did this,’ and I’ll see a whole new door open up. So we really do play off each other really, really well.
That 'Old School' box set you have on your website is pretty cool looking too, how did that happen?
The box set is great, because I know that my fans are collectors. So, I assigned two or three people to go back and find, you know, rehearsal tapes from 1964, and you know, tapes from clubs that we played when we were in high school, outtakes of songs that we finished, and went, ‘nah, that doesn’t fit' (for a certain record.) I forgot about these songs, these people went back and found all of this stuff. They put it in this package called ‘Old School,’ we made 4500 of them, and they were sold out before they even went on sale. We didn’t even have a chance to advertise it. It comes in a big fat desk, and there’s a yearbook in there.
It’s nice to have physical things in a digital age, right?
Here’s the strange thing, in the technology-based world that we have going on right now. In the last year, from the next generation that’s coming up, the vinyl business went up 89% last year. It was because younger kids are going ‘I’m tired of buying air. I want something for my money, I want a piece of plastic with a picture of the band, and the lyrics, and who played on it.’ And I totally understand that. It’s sort of like a revolt against technology.