'Rock needs a good villain': Alice Cooper hits the stage in Vancouver, Victoria and Penticton
Today's rockers are 'wholesome little robots,' says iconic shock-rock star
The legendary rocker will be taking the stage in Penticton, Vancouver and Victoria as part of the "Spend the Night with Alice Cooper" tour.
Audiences can expect plenty of fake blood and deadly snakes alongside live performances of his iconic music, including School's Out and No More Mr Nice Guy.
Lennam: Are people still afraid of you?
I hope they are when I'm on stage, because its a stage show — there are moments where you can be frightened, but there's also moments where you're laughing your head off.
Comedy and horror should be in bed together. And you wrap rock and roll around that, and it's a pretty fun show to do
Do we still need to be a bit scared of rock and roll?
When you put yourself into that willing disbelief of reality, and you're at an Alice Cooper show — it's easy to buy into it. It's some sort of a weird sideshow and all of a sudden you're not seeing the guy that you [heard on the radio] the other day… you're seeing this other character that really is frightening.
You sound like you're describing the U.S. presidential election
(Laughing): We've got these two characters — if you were writing these two characters in a book, no one would believe it
In fact, you somewhat prophesied Trump's rise with your song 'Elected'
It's so easy for rock to satirize politics, because the characters in politics are overblown characters just like rock stars. You have to have pretty tough skin to be a politician, because you know you're going to be satirized on every level.
Do you have to have tougher skin to be a rock star?
No, it's pretty easy because we're used to it.
The one thing that's missing today from our rock bands is the outlaw image. When we started, if you were a rock star, you were an outlaw.
I think rock and roll has lost that edge of being outlaw, and I've always tried to keep Alice to be that character — a good healthy villain. I think rock needs a good villain — there's a thousand Peter Pans and no Captain Hook.
The scary thing about the next generation is that they're wholesome little robots. They're the Stepford child. They don't want to step out of line. They don't want to challenge anything. And that's scary to me. There's something really weird about that.
A lot about your character has become urban legend. Were you aware in the 70s that you were creating this narrative?
When we discovered that the more the urban legend took fire, then of course we fed all of this to the press. I was a journalism major and so was our bass player.
We understood that we were the National Enquirer — we certainly weren't the New York Times.
The more absurd the story, the better — the more the parents hated you, the more the kids wanted to hear you. If you can do that and also put out great records at the same time, then you've got a combination that's unbeatable.
We were putting out top-40 records and that's very unusual for a band with the image that we had.
You're 65 years old now and you seem to be in great health. How did you do it?
Thirty-five years ago, I quit drinking.
I got up one morning and threw up blood and realized that all of my big brothers — Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon — all of my big brothers were dead, and it was all basically because they didn't know how to separate themselves from the character.
When I got sober, I realized there's Alice Cooper, the character, who I get to play at night — and I play him full out. But do I take him into K-Mart that day? Or to the baseball game?
No. They're two opposite characters
I enjoy playing Alice Cooper. I look forward to performing. But in the morning, I go out and I play golf.
With files from CBC's All Points West
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Alice Cooper returns to save B.C. from "wholesome little robot rockers"