Alice Cooper: ‘Any actor loves to play people they’re nothing like’

Veteran shock rocker Alice Cooper has long had a reputation for pulling out all the stops in his live shows.

Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper

And his forthcoming UK arena tour promises to be just as entertaining as ever.

“We have a brand-new show for this tour,” he says. “It’s Alice Cooper’s Haunted House, where anything can happen. There’ll be two or three different characters and, of course, the rock ’n’ roll hits and the theatrics that’s expected. At the end everyone’s covered in confetti and stage blood – maybe some of the audience too.”

The arena dates, which also feature The Cult and Creeper, follow Detroit Stories, Cooper’s first UK top five album for 30 years.

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    The record showcases his roots in the legendary Detroit rock scene of the late 60s and early 70s, celebrating the place where his sound and show – famous for its macabre spectacle of snakes, guillotines, monsters and gore – came into its own.

    Before he heads our way, Cooper is undertaking a tour of Canada and the US and he was preparing to set off for the first date when he speaks to me from his home in Phoenix, Arizona where he tells me that there are no health issues with him or his band. “Everybody has passed everything,” he says, “and we’re raring to go.”

    Cooper actually fell foul of Covid in 2020. “Both my wife Sheryl and I had it at the same time,” he says. “Funnily enough, I didn’t have the main symptoms, but it made me really weak and even walking to the kitchen and back was an effort.”

    But it wasn’t all bad, he explains. “I wondered how I was going to get through it all, and then I found out that everything was closed down except the golf courses, and since I play golf six times a week, that was great.”

    Alice Cooper

    One thing that didn’t come to a halt in Alice’s career was his radio show, entitled Nights With Alice Cooper, which he is able to record both at his home and whilst out on tour. “I started the show in 2004,” he says. “That’s 18 years and it’s fun to do. I love playing the music. I’m like a knight in shining armour for songs that you don’t hear much.”

    The singer, who was born Vincent Furnier, adds: “I usually record the shows about ten days in advance,” he begins. “I record it on my laptop using ProTools.

    “I look at the script, which I ignore; I have 50 per cent of the say on the script anyway and basically do what I want. I never get tired of it, and it’s the same with touring.”

    But what if he wasn’t a musician?

    “If I wasn’t doing that or my radio show, I’d probably be writing. In my songs like on the Paranormal album (2017) and Welcome To My Nightmare (1975) had little scenarios that made them somewhat of a concept.

    “Detroit Stories didn’t start out as a concept album, but all the songs have a connection with the city. Plus,” he adds, “I used all Detroit musicians.”

    On the Paranormal album and his last tour of the UK, Cooper recorded and played live with his original band, who he split from in 1975. In the early days, ‘Alice Cooper’ was the name of the band and the singer took it as his own name when he went solo.

    “I’ve been working with them a lot, especially on the last few albums and we’ve done a lot of writing,” he says. “It’s not the same without Glen Buxton (the original band’s guitarist, who passed away in 1997), though.”

    And it was a great experience for Cooper when the original band played live during the last tour.

    “The shows were sparkling, and then it got dangerous,” he says. “They play [the music] with a lot darker attitude and I sing a bit differently with them. Songs like Eighteen get darker and heavier.”

    Cooper is a bit of an Anglophile, he tells me.

    “England was the first place to ‘get’ Alice Cooper. They saw the different layers in the shows as lots of things were going on. And they enjoyed that we upset people.”

    The singer admits he feels “more at home on stage than off”. “The ‘Alice Cooper’ character is the opposite to me. He’s fun to play – an arrogant, condescending villain. Any actor loves to play people they’re nothing like.”

    Cooper has had a long and distinguished career in music, approaching 60 years now, and naturally there have been a few highlights.

    “We were the first rock band to play in Brazil and there were 158,000 people indoors, and then there’s the first time you get a Number One. Really though, my whole career has been a highlight. The most shocking thing is its longevity and the knowledge that you’re giving them [the fans] their money’s worth.”

    More good news for his legions of fans is that we can expect some new material. “I am working on two albums that were written during Covid,” he says.

    Alice Cooper plays at the First Direct Arena, Leeds on Wednesday June 1.