Following the recent 50th episode mark of Joe Bonamassa's hit interview series "Live From Nerdville", this week Joe caught up with the ultimate rock star Alice Cooper. See the whole conversation below. The convo takes an exciting round of twists and turns as the two artists talk about getting back on the road… finally!
To start off, Alice talks about his recent event for Solid Rock where they performed with the likes of ASIA, Lou Gramm, his son's band, and KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer. Similarly, Joe talks about his recent five shows and how excited he was performing again and seeing humans in the audience even it was only a few.
Speaking about the last shows he played before the pandemic, Alice said: "Well, we cancelled 180 cities last March 7th and we were in Germany doing 'Rock Meets Classic' when we got the news that from the officials saying that we had 24 hours to get out of Germany before the borders closed. Needless to say, that was the last stage Alice saw for a while. It was like a house of cards; it just all collapsed in one day. We also did a benefit show with QUEEN in Sydney Australia. It was a benefit for the fire disaster that happened over there. 95,000 people attended and that was the last show we did as a band. At least it's a good way to go out."
Asked what got him into music, Alice divulged: "I was 15 and I heard these songs and I thought what is going on with the radio? It was Beatlemania." This motivated Alice and two of his friends to each buy an instrument and start a band. "We started out playing music along the lines of THE YARDBIRDS. We wanted to the American YARDBIRDS. Why? Because they were the coolest bands at the time. We also liked THE KINKS and THE WHO. Later we got into Paul Butterfield as well, but it was always hard rock." Joe shared his own inspirations: "For me, I got into Jeff Beck, and it was the 'Truth' album that really took me over the top. To me, he was the first guitarist to weaponize a guitar."
"It was a magical time in music in England," Alice agreed, "and I think the competition helped things. Because you had Clapton, THE YARDBIRDS, John Mayall, THE WHO, and then [Jimi] Hendrix shows up in London and completely changes the game."
They continue on to discuss the fact that you can no longer test new songs you wrote while on tour because with smartphones you test a song one day and then the next day it's all over social media, which, for them, kills the excitement of creating and presenting a new album. "After the first couple tour stops, the next tour stop already knows your setlist," says Joe. Alice then praises Joe for being one of the faces of the blues and that younger generations are more familiar with because of the way he plays.
Other conversations include playing and recording with tracks, and dissecting the playing live of McCartney where it's all perfection, in contrast to when you see THE ROLLING STONES live and it's "gloriously sloppy," according to Alice.
As they go on discussing touring, Alice shares his affinity for the Detroit scene, remembering a major festival he played there. "You saw MC5, THE STOOGES," he said. "I saw Iggy Pop and realized that I may have competition…We ended up moving there for a while. It was also cool because Motown players and artists would support rock bands and vice versa."
Then they talk the hits. "We went national with 'I'm Eighteen'," Alice said. "CKLW radio in Detroit played the track. We were up against Sinatra, SUPREMES, Simon Garfunkel, then us. That song took us out of Detroit." Joe asked Alice if he thought it would be a hit, and Cooper said: "No. In fact, our management wanted us to dumb it down some. And we kept telling management that we want to be like THE YARDBIRDS. But as it turns out, the simplicity was very powerful." The only song Alice thought would be a hit was "School's Out". He said: "It's a timeless anthem."
Joe asked Alice when he knew he was famous. He responded: "When people were reaching out to me as Alice. I took on the name and we had a coming out party at the Ambassador Hotel in L.A. We had drag queens, cigarette girls it was a total night of insanity."
They talk about GRETA VAN FLEET, Alice's latest album, and Joe even asks, "Who the most interesting person you ever played golf with?" Alice's response? "Groucho Marx. He knew Bob Hope, Dean Martin and Jerry Wilson. Can you imagine the banter?"