By Michael Lello
Photos by Jim Gavenus
On the phone with Highway 81 Revisited from his Arizona home, the first thing Alice Cooper, an avid sports fan and owner of sports bar and restaurant Alice Cooperstown, wanted to know was whether Wilkes-Barre is a Steelers town.
We explained that the Steelers are popular in Northeastern Pa., but fans of other regional teams, like the Philadelphia Eagles and New York’s Giants and Jets, are also prevalent.
“Oh wow, so you have your choice of four teams,” Cooper said. “That’s not bad. I was born in Detroit, so I’ve been a Lions fan all my life.”
We went on to talk about the current tour, his on-stage band — which includes guitar phenom Orianthi — and his thoughts on reality TV in part one of our interview.
Here, in part two, Cooper filled us in about the upcoming album, what he learned from Chuck Berry, the current state of rock and his passion for golf and charity work.
His “Raise The Dead” tour hits the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre this Friday, Oct. 18.
AC: I just finished the bed tracks for a new album in Los Angeles. There’s about seven vocals that I finished and I have about five or six vocals I need to finish, then that album’s done.
I have never done a covers album, and I decided to cover all my dead drunk friends. All the guys I used to drink with, we had a drinking club called the Hollywood Vampires. And so I’m covering Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Keith Moon, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, The Small Faces, T Rex. It’s one of those things where all of the guys I used to drink with are gone, so we are covering those songs.
H81R: Do you have a title?
AC: Not yet. Bob Ezrin’s producing, so it’s a really good hard rock album.
H81R: Being such a visually oriented artist, is it difficult to translate your ideas to audio when you record?
AC: No. First of all, it’s two different things. When we’re writing an album, we totally realize that the audience is going to hear it and then picture it. So when you’re doing a song, I definitely write colorful lyrics, and I try to tell a story in three minutes or four minutes. And I learned that from Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry can tell you a story in three minutes. I said, “That guy is the best lyricist ever,” because I listen to “Nadine” or “Maybellene” or “Memphis Tennessee” or any of that, and I go, “Jeez, the guy told me an entire story in three minutes.” So I learned from that, and that’s what I do. Almost every one of my songs is a little story or a little incident or something like that.
H81R: You made some comments recently about Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers not being real rock n’ roll. What do you think of the current state of rock? And is there anything new that you enjoy?
AC: I’m telling you, The Foo Fighters are one of the only rock bands out there. The Foo Fighters are a pure ’70s rock ’n’ roll band that don’t take prisoners. Same with Slash’s band The Conspirators, and, ya know, Axl Rose, Axl’s Guns N’ Roses. Those are three bands that go out to rock ’n’ roll, like Aerosmith, Ozzy’s band, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper. We are bands that are dedicated to guitar rock. I don’t think you’re ever going to hear us unplugged. At least I can guarantee you are never going to hear Alice Cooper unplugged. So that’s the kind of stuff I like.
I think there’s a lot of good, young bands out there. I think we’re in a folk period right now. We’re kind of in this really, to me, very dull period, where bands are just kind of boring. I’m sorry to say that, but I can’t wait until the next cycle comes out when you come up with another Buckcherry or another Guns N’ Roses or another Motley Crue or someone that goes out on stage and plays rock n’ roll and makes you go, “Wow! OK, That was fun.” Right now, though, it’s a little boring.
H81R: Are you still golfing on tour? I heard you have played at Glenmaura in the Scranton area when you’ve been here.
AC: I play golf every morning. So it doesn’t matter where I am. If I’m in Moscow, I’m going to be playing golf. We did play there at the course you are talking about. Last year we did 100 cities, and we played (golf) 75 times. So it got to be the point where all of the golf courses became a blur to me.
AC: If you’re talking about pros, I’ve played with just about all the guys that you could ever want to play with. I’ve played with Arnold Palmer, I’ve played with (Lee) Trevino, I’ve played with Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, and then the new guys, (Phil) Mickelson and I play a lot together, Sergio Garcia, Rocco Mediate, Rocco and I are best friends. I’ve gotten to play with almost everyone.
One year at the Bob Hope (Classic), it was Justin Timberlake, Samuel Jackson, I think it was Michael Douglas, and myself, and we were with Arnold Palmer. That’s a pretty darn good foursome right there.
H81R: Are there any other projects you wanted to mention?
AC: Once I’m on tour it takes up all my time, but I run an organization here in Phoenix called the Solid Rock Foundation, a nonprofit organization. We’ve been around about 14 years. We opened up a 30,000-square foot center for every teenager after school. We’re music, art, whatever you want to learn. We teach guitar, bass, drums, vocals, dance, everything. And it gets kids off the street and away from guns, gangs and drugs. Everything’s free. It’s one of the things that I’m really proud of. It’s a lot of fun.