Go Ask Alice: Hanging with Mr. Cooper
Let’s talk about your radio show. You host the syndicated program “Nights with Alice,” and I’m just wondering, when you put together the show in the first place, did you look to any radio icons for inspiration?
Well not necessarily an icon but what I did like when I was a kid was the freeform FM radio where a disc jockey basically played what he wanted to play. There was no demographics, there was no, you know, “We’re a hard rock station,” or, “We’re a modern station.” It was sort of like the DJ played everything from Melanie Safka to Arthur Brown. I like the idea that my radio show, I have full control of what I play. So, you know, I play AC/DC and Led Zeppelin and all the things everybody wants to hear, but I’ll also play Paul Butterfield. I’ll probably play the Yardbirds and Them and Love and artists that most people will e-mail me and go, “Wow, who was that?” And I’ll say, “That was the Yardbirds,” and they’ll say “Well it sounded like Led Zeppelin,” and I go, “Well, there would’ve been no Led Zeppelin without the Yardbirds.” And the good thing about my show is the fact that every single band that I play, I know personally. So I can tell a story about those guys or I can insult them, and even if they’re listening, they laugh because they know me. And sometimes if I don’t insult them, they call me up and go, “Hey, what happened, you quit insulting us?”
I guess no Alice Cooper interview would be complete without a golf question, so I was wondering if while you’re in Tennessee you’re going to slip in a round while you’re in the area...
You know what, we’re actually on tour. We go right from there to another show and another show. It’s going to be one of those weeks where I’m probably going to be on a run and I’m not going to be able to get on a course, but generally I play every morning. I play almost every single morning. And the funny thing is, I know some guys get up in the morning and they run, or they get up and go to the gym…I get up and play 18 rounds of golf. That’s how I start the day. And when I play golf, I never think of Alice Cooper. When I get on stage as Alice Cooper, I never think about golf. So they’re really two different worlds.
Speaking of Alice Cooper on stage, we were wondering what Steven’s up to these days and if you could talk about his ongoing development with Welcome to My Nightmare, and what frightens him the most in 2012?
Well, the funny thing about Steven that I have to explain about him sometimes is that people say, “Who is Steven?” and I kind of go, “He is the 7-year-old boy that lives inside of me.” I say, all of us men that have grown up now and are responsible and have families and everything, we still have that little 7-year-old boy in us. And that little 7-year-old boy likes being scared. He likes the idea of scary movies and that there’s a certain humor and fun in the act of being scared. So, the character of Steven, I allow him to show up in every single album, just because he’s like my childlike personality.
So what scares him the most in 2012?
The only thing that really scares me is boredom. I had one bout of depression when I was about 21 years old, right, and I guess the thought of depression scares me. So I stay busy all day. I probably sleep four hours a night, that’s it. I get up at 5 o’clock every morning. I’m awake the rest of the day, either doing the radio show or I’m on tour or playing golf or doing something like that. And I don’t go to sleep until 1 or 2 in the morning. So I stay so busy, I don’t have time to get depressed or bored. I think that’s really what it would be. I’m not one of those people that would like to go to an island and cool out. That would be hell. I hate isolation.
When Bonnaroo’s promoters came to you and asked you play at the festival, how did they describe the experience to you?
Well, we play a million different festivals, but I think that this is a younger audience. And I think that people at this audience have heard the legend of Alice Cooper but I don’t think anyone’s ever seen Alice Cooper. It’s sort of like, they’ve heard of David Bowie, they’ve heard of Alice, now they’re gonna get a real dose of Alice Cooper, which is going to be a full-out Alice show. There’s not one mellow moment in our show.
So for the people who haven’t seen your show, might be familiar, might not be, what type of introduction would you give them if they were reading this paper the day before you perform?
I would say that, when you come to see Alice, be prepared for a theatrical experience and very hard rock. We do 28 songs in our normal show and every one of those is “Billion Dollar Babies,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “School’s Out,” “Poison,” you know, every single song that you hear is something you’ve heard on the radio. And at the same time, we don’t give the audience a chance to catch their breath. I want that show to be so high-energy that the audience, if they turn away and say something to their friend, they’re going to miss something because we keep it going. We keep the theatrics and the visual and the music going at full-speed from the beginning of the show to the end of the show. So, it’s going to be an experience.