“You’re in Houston? Is it coming toward you at all?,” asks Alice Cooper, on the road, headed toward Charlotte, North Carolina, about Hurricane Michael. The man behind one of rock’s first villains, one of rock’s great boogeymen, wants to know if we’re under any threat. The question is charming, and it shows the gap between the person we refer to as Alice Cooper and the character Alice Cooper that person plays.
In truth, the storm is a much more pressing issue for Cooper than it is for Houston, as he prepares to swing through the Gulf Coast on his way to White Oak Music Hall on Sunday, October 14. This fall jaunt, dubbed A Paranormal Evening with Alice Cooper, is just the latest tour for an artist in that rare class of performers who’ve been on the touring grind for at least 50 years. While Cooper will be the first to tell you that he’s well aware that he’s 70, he’ll also be the first person to tell you that he has no intention to slow down.
“They’ve already booked next year’s tour for my band and they’re booking the Hollywood Vampires for next year also. Between the two bands I’ll be out pretty much all year,” he said about his upcoming plans with his own band as well as the group that features himself, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp. He’s got live albums and studio albums from both in the works, setting the stage for a busy 2019, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Writing music, playing music, recording music… I keep thinking, ‘what would I do if I retired?’ I would what, play golf? I play golf anyways,” he said. “ I’ve never been in better physical shape in my life than I am right now at 70. I can’t think of any reason why I would retire. It’s in your blood. You’re either a lifetime rocker or you’re not.”
If you’ve seen an Alice Cooper show in the last few years, you know that he may very well be on the top of his game at the moment. His set alone packs in more entertainment value than a lot of four or five band lineups. You don’t even feel the need to disagree when he sings, “Well I ain’t evil, I’m just good looking,” because the character of Alice Cooper believes it so much that you have no choice but to believe it as well. And while the character might have a different posture, a different face, and most certainly a different attitude, behind the monster is a man who remains incredibly optimistic.
“If I thought I had written my best song yet, I would stop,” he explained. “I really believe the next show is going to be the best I’ve ever done. And I really believe that there’s still the Alice Cooper Sgt. Pepper album, that album that everyone is going to always know me by. I always look forward to the next thing, the next album, the next artwork, the next stage show.”
That doesn’t mean he’s incapable of looking back. We happen to be chatting the day the latest nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced, and it seemed only fitting to ask him, a member of the Hall of Fame, who he thinks belongs in the hall. Turns out, the shock rock icon stans for a different type of music legend.
“The gigantic [omission] that I think everyone has forgotten about is Burt Bacharach. He wrote as many if not more hits than the Beatles,” Cooper said. “Randy Newman is in the Hall of Fame and Burt Bacharach has written 20 times more hits than he has. I don’t get it. That to me is a glaring mistake.”
For Cooper, the road rolls on. He still hopes one day to bring the character to Broadway — he says he’d happily sign on if anyone wanted to produce Welcome to My Nightmare — but for now, the plan is to continue bringing his brand of vaudeville theatrics to the concert stage. And while shock rock isn’t what it used to be, he’s happy about where he stands in the world of rock.
“We went from being the whipping boy and the scourge of rock and roll to becoming now a bit of an American treasure,” he said. “The world gets weirder, and the weird bands get straight.
“My whole thing is to out-energy everybody. I think that after you see an Alice Cooper show, and if you were to see a Green Day show, or a Foo Fighters show, you would say those were all on equal levels of energy,” he continued. “That’s not bad for a 70-year-old guy.”