Rhys Saunders of Farmington, New Mexico's The Daily Times recently conducted an interview with Alice Cooper. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:The Daily Times: You're an artist who has always been known for elaborate stage productions, using storyline theatrics even during your early days. As a musician, how important is image compared to musical content? Are the two separable, or is there ever a time when one becomes more important than the other? Alice: "In the beginning, we fought that; that was our biggest battle. We knew that we were a good band, that we were every bit as good as THIN LIZZY or FOGHAT, and the rest of those bands. I mean, just the fact that we refused to just be a band — why would we need to be just another band when we could also give them a show, and create a character that could be rock 'n roll's villain? It just means that we give you two things instead of one. People immediately go, 'Oh, they're doing the visuals because they can't play.' But after your first or second Number One hit, and after people like BOB DYLAN and THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES are talking about how much they like your music in the press, they can't really knock you for that. It was a battle, but I think it's still a battle now. When bands like MARILYN MANSON and SLIPKNOT dress up — and they're very theatrical bands that are total derivatives of ALICE COOPER — people go, That's great, but what's going on with the music?' If you don't have those hits, you're really just a puppet show. It's almost like being a golfer. When you win a few tournaments, OK. But when you win the majors, people start looking at you as a great golfer." The Daily Times: How do you balance your song selections each night? Are there certain songs you feel as though you have to play? Alice: "We know which ones we have to do. These certain songs are ones you have to do every time. If you don't do the hits, the audience is going to let you know. I can think of 15 songs that I have to do or the audience would be disappointed. [Alice begins listing hits from the past 35 years at a break-neck speed.] If I went to see THE WHO or THE ROLLING STONES, and they didn't do 'Brown Sugar' or 'Satisfaction', I'd say, Hey, what's going on here?' After all of those songs, then we have a secondary bunch of songs of what I call radio hits, or ones that got played on FM radio, or the ones that, if you were an Alice fan, you had to hear those songs. I have to design my show in order to keep those songs fresh. I don't like to mess around with the original songs." The Daily Times: What about the rumors that you're going to release a new album next year? Alice: "There are always songs being written. I think I want to do albums that — you write the songs, and record them the same day. Don't let the band get tired of the songs. When the band is excited about those songs, that's when you record it. I think if the song is written well, I would rather hear a great performance than a great production. For a while, we were doing a 14-song album in 14 or 15 days. That's one song per day! This album is going to be a little more produced. It's more on the level of 'The Last Temptation' or 'From The Inside'. When I wrote it, I realized there was a character that was really trying to get me to develop him, and I couldn't figure out who he was. I started reading the lyrics and realized there was a guy evolving from this, a guy named Spider. He was a serial killer, but he was a complex serial killer. He doesn't kill for thrills, necessarily, and there's almost a justice about it in his eyes. In our eyes, maybe not." The Daily Times: With these character-based albums, do you have a character in mind before you write the lyrics, or does a character develop after you start the writing process? Alice: "Well, the idea behind 'The Last Temptation' was that there was an idea there already, sort of in the vein of 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'. The whole thought process of that was — here is a moral behind the story. If you're a 14-year-old kid, you don't have to buy into everything the world offers you. It doesn't mean you have to be sexually active, it doesn't mean you have to be a drug addict, it doesn't mean you have to be a 19-year-old before your time. Be innocent for as long as you can! Don't let the world push you around. Don't let Hollywood tell you you're a jerk because you're not having sex every night. There's a great innocence in being a teenager that you have to hold onto." Read the entire interview at www.daily-times.com. Watch fan-filmed video footage of ALICE COOPER performing the song "School's Out" on October 6, 2007 in Irvine, California:
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