7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18
Emerald Queen Casino
$40 to $85
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Marilyn Manson. Slipknot. GWAR. A gang of ghoulishly theatrical rockers have followed in his wake. But Alice Cooper – the main attraction Sunday at the Emerald Queen Casino's I-5 showroom – is still the king of shock rock. Tacoma Weekly interviewed the rock legend (born Vincent Damon Furnier) who gave us the skinny on boozing with Keith Moon and recording “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” the sequel to one of his most iconic albums. But it was the day after passage of I-502. And first things first: What's up with the legal pot?
TW: You're calling it the Raise the Dead tour. What kinds of shocks and surprises does this one have for all the fans?
Alice: First of all, I'm surprised you guys aren't all high today. What is the deal with that now? Does that mean it's legal marijuana, or is it a government thing or what?
TW: They already had the medical shops here. But recreational use will be legal up to a certain amount – an ounce or something like that. [Note: Don't blaze up just yet, Weekly readers. It goes into effect on Dec. 6.]
Alice: I just wanted to get that clear. We're sitting up here in Canada going, “How weird is that?” We lived through this back in the '60s when everybody said, “Well, it's gonna be legalized.” We didn't realize it was gonna be 50 years later. Anyways, … I had a drinking club called the Hollywood Vampires. You know, it was John Lennon, Keith Moon, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and people like that. Every night we'd meet at the Rainbow (Bar & Grill in Los Angeles) and drink. Harry Nilsson, Bernie Taupin, Mickey Dolenz. It was just sort of the same guys every night. Well, four of those guys are gone. So we decided to do a thing where Alice shows up in this graveyard … and raises the dead. Their tombstones are there, and I do “Break On Through” by the Doors and “Revolution” by the Beatles and John Lennon, “My Generation” and “Foxy Lady.” Orianthi on guitar does Jimi Hendrix like Jimi Hendrix, so we just let her go. It's really fun to do, and it's a tribute to these guys.
TW: How did you guys all start hanging out?
Alice: It was one of those things where we'd show up at the Rainbow every night, on the Sunset Strip. We all lived in that area. John would only come in when he would fight with Yoko. Part of his Lost Weekend (18 months during which Lennon and Yoko Ono were separated, in 1973 and 1974) was Hollywood Vampires. Keith Moon was there every night, of course. I've always said that 30 percent of what you heard about me or Iggy or Michael Jackson, even, is true. Everything you've ever heard about Keith Moon is true, and you've only heard about a 10th of it. We would sit there and wait to see if he was gonna be Adolf Hitler that night or if he was gonna be the Queen of England or if he was gonna be a French maid. Keith would show up, and the party started right then. It was just sort of a clubhouse. Jim Morrison dies at 27 and everybody's shocked. And I'm sitting there going, “I can't believe he made it to 27.” Anybody that knew Jim Morrison, it's amazing that he got to 27 years old. The guy was the most self-destructive human being on the planet. But we loved him.
TW: I remember someone being interviewed saying people would throw drugs onstage back then. And while most musicians would keep them for later, Jim would do them all right then.
Alice: Yeah, he didn't have any boundaries, really. Once again, that killed him. That was something I learned from those guys; that is the fact that you can't live your character. Jim Morrison was trying to be Jim Morrison all the time, and Jimi Hendrix was trying to be Jimi Hendrix all the time, and Keith Moon was trying to be Keith Moon. It killed 'em. I had to learn that Alice Cooper is a character I play. … As soon as that show is over, Alice is gone. I don't play him again for another 24 hours.
TW: Was that something you had to learn the hard way?
Alice: Once you get up in the morning and have a couple of beers, and you throw up, and it's blood ... that's when God's telling you, “That's it! Party's over. Either you're gonna live or die. It's your choice right now.” Basically, a doctor said the same thing. He says, “Look, you can keep drinking. I give you another month. Or you can stop drinking and do 20 more albums.” And really that was no choice for me.
TW: What is it like on the road for your now versus then?
Alice: I never smoked cigarettes, and I haven't had a drink in 30 years, and I'm happily married. You know, I don't have any stress in my life at all, so that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I can get up and do 28 songs and feel great. I'm very fortunate to be physically in good shape.
TW: But your one addiction is, apparently, golf.
Alice: Luckily, I don't think that can kill you – unless you're playing behind some of my guitar players, who hit the ball everywhere. I can play every day.
TW: On tour do you make a point to stop at all the local places?
Alice: On the last tour, we did 100 cities around the world. I played 75 times. When I get into town, the guys from Callaway (Golf Company) pick me up, and we go to the golf course. We're done by noon. I get back to the hotel, then the rest of the day is just gettin' ready for the show.
TW: What inspired you to do “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” a sequel to one of your most iconic albums?
Alice: I was gonna work with (producer) Bob Ezrin … and he mentioned to me that it was the 35th anniversary. I said, “Let's not do a sequel. Let's just give Alice another nightmare.”
TW: Were you apprehensive?
Alice: If we didn't write 12 or 13 great songs, I wouldn't have wanted to do it. But when I'm working with Bob Ezrin, we kind of bring out the worst in each other, and I loved every song on the album. We used people we shouldn't have used at all. Every time somebody said, “You can't use Ke$ha.” Well, that makes me go, of course I'm gonna use Ke$ha. I told Ke$ha, “'Tik Tok' and all the dance stuff, forget that.” You're the devil now.
TW: Of course, you hooked up with some of the guys from the original band. What was it like working with them again?
Alice: We got together for the Hall of Fame show. And, of course, Glen (guitarist Buxton) was passed away, Steve Hunter came up and played for him. It was like we hadn't missed a beat in 25, 30 years. So when we got ready to do that album I said I want each one of the guys remaining in the band to write a song with me. (Lead single) “I'll Bite Your Face Off” - (drummer) Neal Smith and I wrote that together with Bob – ended up being one of the better songs on the album.
TW: There's a lot of apocryphal stories and legends about you. Of course, everyone knows about the supposed chicken sacrificing and all that stuff. What's the weirdest thing you've heard about yourself over the years?
Alice: Somebody thought I was Eddie Haskell from “Leave It to Beaver.” (Editors note: Google it.) And I'm going, “Does anybody remember what Eddie Haskell looked like, with red hair and freckles? We don't look anything alike. Yet, that would not die. Where it came from was somebody said, “What were you like as a kid?” And I said, “I was a regular Eddie Haskell.” Every city I went into there was a new rumor. I'd go into a city, and the ASPCA was there and they'd go, “You're not allowed to set fire to any German shepherds tonight.” And I'd go, “What are you talking about?” Back then there was no Internet, so everything was urban legend. An 8-foot snake would become a 30-foot snake, and I didn't just have it onstage. It ate somebody in the audience. And people were more than willing to believe anything about Alice Cooper because of the way Alice looked. Believe me, I nurtured that.
TW: Then the Internet ruined it.
Alice: Yeah, now you actually have to do it.