News Item : Miami Herald Interview
Murder never goes out of style. And when the victim is responsible for some of the best music in the American Hard Rock Songbook, well, people are gonna take extra notice. That's probably why folks have been flocking to catch Alice Cooper's murder-themed stage shows for the past 40 years. We've got bloodlust.
Naturally, an affinity for death isn't the only reason fans keep amassing to see Alice Cooper up close and unhinged. Crowds are there to hear such landmark hits as School's Out, I'm Eighteen, No More Mr. Nice Guy, You and Me and Only Women Bleed. But the staged gory scenes only complete the spectacle; they don't define it. There are many nightmares lurking deep within the recesses of our minds, and Alice Cooper is, er, dead set on bringing them all to life.
Cooper released Billion Dollar Babies in 1973 and Welcome to My Nightmare in 1975 and has been unleashing depravity ever since. Last year we got Along Came a Spider, his 25th studio LP, and with it he revealed that the serial killer in him remains alive and unwell. Now he's back in South Florida with what he calls his ``Theatre of Death.'' The Miami Herald talked to him to find out who's killing whom.
Q: What can fans expect from the tour?
A: Well, you know we work six months out of the year, every year, all around the world. I got to the point of saying, ``You know what? I think everybody's figured out my formula now for the show. Let's turn it upside-down and backward. [This way] even the most staunch Alice Cooper fan will not be able to figure out what we're doing.'' And so we did everything opposite of what we normally do. We added three or four new things to it. Let's say normally when they kill Alice, they do it at the end of the show. In this show they kill Alice four times.
Q: Yeah, I read that. (laughing)
A: It's just we figured, you know, if one execution works, let's do it four times in four different ways and make a spectacle out of it. Make the audience literally get strung along by the lyrics to the point where they realize why he's actually getting killed. So, I let the lyrics pretty much write this show. Twenty-eight songs. The whole show is actually very lyrical. . . . I added a lot of new things. Of course, we worked three weeks of rehearsal, 12 hours a day, and none of that was on the music. I said, `If you don't have this music down to the point where the audience goes `Yeah!' then let's not even do the theatrics.' Because without the music, the theatrics don't work at all. I put a band together and just really, really nailed this one down. I want the audience to hear it; then see it.
Q: So it's not like gratuitous mass murder, right? It's all linked in, part of a whole theme.
A: Every time that Alice gets it he kind of deserves it. They cut his head off. Then they put a giant needle through him. They hang him. He somehow ends up in a nurse's outfit. Then there's this box we put him in with these giant spikes that go through it. It's always been like a dark comedy, vaudeville, hard rock show. `It's always got to be hard rock. I'm guitar rock all the way. But why not make it come to life? I've always said `Make the lyrics come to life.' '
Q: Did you actually pull in a director from Broadway?
A: Rob [Roth] is an old friend of mine, and he's a rock 'n' roll fan. When I told him what I was going to do he was like, ``Let me direct it.'' I went, ``Absolutely. Because you're going to bring stuff to it that I wouldn't have thought of.''
Q: I know Roth did Beauty and the Beast.
A: Yeah, when I saw Beauty and the Beast, I looked at it, and I went ``Holy crap.'' Now that's what you can do with a lot of money. There were like eight or nine different layers of theatrics going on. . . . I don't want to go that far because I want to keep it rock 'n' roll. But I certainly do want it to look as slick as that.
Q: I read that you're doing all the hits: School's Out, Only Women Bleed, Be My Lover. But I didn't read whether or not you'll be performing Billion Dollar Babies.
A: Oh, yeah. That's the encore, and the audience gets covered in money. I think every single song has got some theatrical device to it. Some are more elaborate. Others are just hand props. I wanted to make this show like Hellzapoppin'. If you look away you're going to miss something.
Q: So it kind of helps the songs to have a new little twist to them?
A: Absolutely. I feel obligated to the fans that go to every show. I mean there are people who literally go to every show. We go to London, there are people that take their vacation, and they go to all 14 shows in England. . . . Every single show. I start looking at these people in the front row, and I'm going, ``Let's do something different tonight.'' If I wanted to do it just night for night, show-for-show, then I start thinking I've got to do it different. Make sure when somebody comes to see it they go, ``Oh wow, they totally turned that one around.''
by John Hood
The Miami Harld
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