ALICE COOPER - UNDER INTERROGATION
© Dave Ling - November 1991 - previously published in RAW magazine
Full name and nickname:
Alice Cooper Mellencamp, and the band call me Melons. No, seriously, Alice Cooper is now legally my full name since I changed it in about 1970. Now when people say Vince [Furnier, his given name] it gets no reaction whatsoever. Nicknames? Everyone calls me Coop. Or maybe Your Majesty. Either will do.
Date and place of birth:
February 4th, 1948. In Detroit, Michigan. The murder capital of the world.
In Scottsville, Arizona. Where you can go out and pick up a rattlesnake. If I want a snake for the live show, I just go out to the backyard.
What car do you drive?
Right now I have a lot of cars and I could name you a bunch of them. I’ve got a Corvette Convertible and a Mercedes. I drive the Corvette most.
If your house caught fire, which possession would you save first?
[Ponders]: Hmmm, Family don’t count, right? I couldn’t get my pinball machine out of the house; it’d be too heavy. I’d grab a handful of television sets. I have 27 TVs in my house, so I’d grab some of those and run out. There are actually 60 cable TV stations in America, and my goal is to have one TV for each cable station. That way you don’t have to change channels. [Interrogator comments that this is the ultimate indulgence]. Yeah – even for an excessive person, I’m excessive.
Three adjectives to describe yourself:
Alice, the character, is theatrical, dark and funny. And for myself it’s optimistic, creative and handsome. I’m every girl’s dream.
Which sports team do you support?
Detroit Lions, Detroit Tigers. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Detroiter. Football, baseball, anything to do with Detroit.
Do you get on with your parents?
Yes, although my father’s passed away. I always got on with them. They didn’t like the idea that I was dropping out of college to pursue a musical career – going to Los Angeles at 17 years old is like going to Sodom And Gomorrah. It really made them nervous, but after a year of starving in LA and doing anything to keep the band alive, we finally got signed and it finally looked like I had a career. Frank Zappa’s label Bizarre Records offered us $30,000, and believe me, we didn’t know there was that much money in the world. Then my parents realised we were in with a shot.
Where, when and what age did you lose your virginity?
I was about 17. We were living in a house on Beethoven Street in Venice [Beach], California. We were there, Pink Floyd were living there for a while, and all the bands who played this one club stayed there because nobody could afford hotels, and nobody bothered you there. It was with a girl from Albuquerque.
What are your views on groupies?
They’re a necessary part of rock’n’roll. I just throw my portion of them to the band, and they like that. My band goes through a lot of women. Even in a city where you think there are none, they find them. What they lack in drugs, they take out on women.
If you gave up the music business, what would you do?
I’ve always dabbled with art. Maybe I’d become a commercial artist, although I don’t think I have the patience anymore. So maybe I’d do acting or [film] directing.
What’s the worst thing about being Alice Cooper?
There’s not too many bad things, to be honest. It’s probably that Alice [the character] hurts himself onstage without knowing it. There’s a lot of adrenaline and there have been times when I’ve come offstage with broken arms and ribs without knowing it. Alice plays hard and I’m the one that pays for it. There’s a lot of physical pain involved.
When did you last have your hair cut?
Very recently. Just one billionth of an inch off the ends.
What’s the last thing you do before you go onstage?
Hit something really hard with my riding crop. Hopefully not a human, but whatever’s around. I’m working up to being onstage.
Would you shave your head for charity?
Boy, that’s a good question. It would have to be an awfully good charity, but I don’t think it would be good for them to see me without hair – horrible!
What’s the weirdest request made to you by a fan?
Not necessarily a request, but I’ve had things sent to me. I’ve actually inherited a couple of houses. Somebody included me in their will! I was a beneficiary of a house in Norway and I get $175 a month from this guy’s medical insurance. I felt kinda ghoulish because I never met the guy!
If you could change one part of your body, which part would it be?
Hmmmmm, it’s hard to tamper with perfection. Maybe my hair; I’d like it longer. I’d like to grow it back to the length it was, right down to my waist.
Which song would you most like to cover?
‘Something In The Air’, by Thunderclap Newman [from 1969]. I’ve always wanted to do that one. In fact, we did some covers for the B-sides of singles for this album [‘Hey Stoopid’]. We did ‘Fire’ by Jimi Hendrix and ‘For Your Love’ by the Yardbirds. It’s fun to take songs you liked as a kid and put your stamp on them. I’d love to do ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’ [by the Rolling Stones], too. Maybe I will…
What’s the most peculiar place you’ve ever had a bonk?
[Laughing]: I was with this girl in my backyard when I once came back to visit my parents. It was in the days when I couldn’t afford a hotel room, and I think I was drunk. My mum was doing the dishes and I could see her from where we were. There was an orange tree in the way and I’m sure she couldn’t see me – I certainly hope so! If she had, she’d have said: ‘Excuse me, could you not do that in the backyard, you’re ruining the flowers!’
Which of the bands that were influenced by Alice are you most fond of?
Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction. Great band, I wish they’d get back together. Lyrically, they were really good. Zodiac sent me this one song called ‘Feed My Frankenstein’, which we used on the new album and there was very little I had to alter to make it suit Alice. Another band I like that were influenced by Alice would be Mötley Crüe.
What’s the best thing about being Alice Cooper?
That I don’t have to answer for what [the character] does. If Alice does something onstage, I can’t be blamed for it. I just say: ‘It was Alice, not me. Arrest him instead’. I think I might get away with it in court because I’m a split personality.
Who’s the most egotistical dickhead you’ve met in rock ‘n’ roll?
Nobody specific, but usually it’s bands on the way up. It’s not the Paul McCartneys or John Lennons of this world. It’s bands who have just one hit. I know, because I did the dumbest thing myself early on in my career. In an interview I was asked what I thought of Creedence Clearwater Revival and I flew into them, saying they were boring jerks. I met them the very next day and I was so embarrassed because they were the sweetest guys. Fortunately, they laughed.
What is the proudest moment of your life so far?
The first time I heard a record of mine on the radio. And it doesn’t go away. It’s a strange feeling when what you’ve done ends up in the charts above an artist that you worship.
And what is your most embarrassing moment?
At the Forum in Los Angeles. We used to do ‘How You Gonna See Me Now’, which was a big hit for us and was peaking at the time of the show. We used to build it up, the stage used to go black, with a spotlight trained on me. Very dramatic. Alice was standing there with this black suitcase and I started the first verse. "Dear darling, rather you than me…". And nothing came out. I was singing into the wrong end of the microphone! Suddenly I was inspector Clouseau! I’ve also forgotten the lyrics to ‘School’s Out’. When that happens, you just stick the microphone out into the crowd – you know they know the words!
Would you go to heaven if you died today?
The official Alice Cooper website
After all these years, I’m not usually too nervous when it’s time to start an interview. But meeting Alice Cooper… MEETING ALICE COOPER! That was a different thing. Being ushered into his hotel suite, Alice was the sheer personification of affability – even when I bumbled my opening words and somehow screwed up turning on the tape recorder. D’oh! Despite being based upon a simple questionnaire, these Rogues Gallery pieces were a popular feature of RAW Magazine. Alice’s answers were as entertaining as I’d hoped. I’ve now spoken to him on several occasions and although he doesn’t like discussing the past too much these days – when you’ve told your life story as many times as Cooper has, who can blame him – he’s still nothing less than a human quote machine. (25th August, 2004)
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