ALICE COOPER: 'Good Rock And Roll Is Played From Below Your Belt'

The Belleville Intelligencer recently conducted an interview with legendary rocker Alice Cooper. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

The Belleville Intelligencer: One of my favorite quotes about you is the famous Bob Dylan quote about you being an "overlooked songwriter"....

Alice Cooper: That was such a surprise to me. What a compliment that Bob Dylan even knows I'm alive. He must have listened to "Only Women Bleed" or one of those songs that felt like a touching ballad. I had four ballads in a row that were hits and maybe that was what that had to do with.

The Belleville Intelligencer: Going with that quote, what do you think is the key to writing songs that are still being played three or four decades after you released them?

Alice Cooper: Honestly, it's a knack. It's one of those things where if you asked me to write a song for you about a giraffe and an elephant falling in love on the Empire State Building I would say, "How long do you want it to be? Do you want it to be up tempo?" In other words, I could write that song, I'd just need to know if you want it to be touching, do you want it funny, do you want it to be horrific? I would probably be able to write for Broadway if they just told me what the story is. For some reason, I've always been able to do that but, when I was a kid, I listened to the two best lyricists: Chuck Berry and Ray Davies from THE KINKS. They could tell a story in three minutes and I sat there thinking it's an art to be able to tell a story in three minutes. I kind of figured out how that was done. You write the punchline first and then you write backwards and set up the whole thing. That's kind of the trick to a "Lola" or a "School's Out" or "I'm Eighteen".

The Belleville Intelligencer: "Pretties for You" came out in 1969 and we're now in 2010. How has your music changed in those 40 years and how has the music industry changed?

Alice Cooper: The music industry has changed more, I think, on a technical level. If you look at the bands that are still working from 1968 it's all hard rock bands. It's all guitar-driven hard rock bands like THE ROLLING STONES. Ozzy's still here. We're still here. Iggy's still here. All those bands are still out there playing and probably better than we were in 1968. I know I'm a better singer now and I'm in bands that are much better now. It's just funny that that's the one music that will not die.

The Belleville Intelligencer: Why is that?

Alice Cooper: Fifty years from now there's going to be kids in garages listening to THE WHO saying, "How do we get that?" It's that four-four beat that I would call tribal. When you play rock and roll you don't necessarily play it from your brain, good rock and roll is played from below your belt. That's the one problem I have with a lot of the bands who are out now. There's too many bands, young rock bands, that are just so sensitive. I am so sick of sensitive bands. What happened to the bands that got out there and are just snotty rock and roll bands? That's what I miss.

The Belleville Intelligencer: Do you have any regrets with any of the songs or albums you've released?

Alice Cooper: I can't really think of anything I'm ashamed of but, at the same time, there's songs I look back at now and think, "I wish I would have produced that better or I wish I would have spent more time on that."

The Belleville Intelligencer: Can you give me an example?

Alice Cooper: Well, there's four albums that I don't remember writing or recording or touring with during my blackout period. "Zipper Catches Skin", "Special Forces", "DaDa".... When I think of those albums and I listen to them there's so much good stuff on there and I just wish I would have spent more time on those albums.

Read the entire interview from The Belleville Intelligencer.


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