Barbara Caserta of Italy's Linea Rock recently conducted an interview with legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper. You can watch the full interview below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether his new album title, "Paranormal", is autobiographical or "other than normal":
Alice: "It's other than normal. It's really my whole career has been other than normal. The funny thing about the album is that it really doesn't touch on anything paranormal except for the very first song, 'Paranormal', which is a love story between a guy who can't cross the other side. His wife, or girlfriend is still alive. He's dead and he can't [communicate with her]. All he can do is leave messages; he can leave his scent on her lace. He can leave his cologne; he can call and she answers and nobody is there. He does it in love. He's not trying to scare her. Through the whole song, he's going, 'Don't be afraid. It's only me.' He's trying to get a message across to her. After that, all of the songs are 12 different songs. I was trying very hard to not write a concept. I did not want a concept album this time. [Producer] Bob Ezrin and I this time said, 'No concept. We're going to write 20 great songs and pick 12.' So, we did that. I always write little three-minute stories, little three-minute, sort of 'personality sketches.' In the end, I listened back to everything and I'm really liking the songs, really liking the songs, then it hit me that it was a concept and that every single character had a paranormal problem. Every single character had a twist in his personality that was other than normal. So, it ended up being a conceptual album. I hadn't really written the title yet, so I didn't know what it was going to be called. I went, 'Paranormal'. That makes it paranormal. It's not anything about that; it's about how almost everybody I know is fairly paranormal; they're not normal."
On whether his real-life persona of Vincent Furnier has become closer to the character of Alice Cooper over the years:
Alice: "Maybe more distant on a level that my real-life is, you know, I'm a father, I'm a grandfather now. I have two twin grandsons, Falcon and Riot; great names. My son has his own band, my daughter's in BEASTO BLANCO and she's an actress. My youngest daughter is a makeup artist. I've been married 41 years. Everything is in order in my life. Alice, on the other hand, is this part of me that just will not go away. He's the rebellion part. He's the angry part. And, we're nothing alike. Maybe the only thing we have in common is our sense of humor. But now, I really like the idea of playing Alice. I love the idea that if I had a show tonight, I'd be sitting here talking to you like this and laughing and everything, then realizing that for two hours tonight, I was going to play this character that is totally opposite of this character. He's an angry villain and the audience wants him to be that. They don't want him to be weak and kind of passive. They want Alice to be in control, total control. I really enjoy playing that guy. But, when the show is over, I leave him there. I don't take him off the stage. He doesn't come with me. He has to stay there."
On what "shocks" him these days:
Alice: "CNN. You know, it used to be so easy to shock an audience in 1971 and '72 because nobody had ever seen this kind of theater. Alice gets his head cut off and the blood goes in the audience and there's chopped-up baby dolls. It's so over-the-top that it's undigestible to the public except that they like it and they don't know why they like it. The authorities hate it because they think all their kids are going to be this. They're not. It's a show. But at the same time, it was very easy to shock the audience. Now, I turn on CNN and I see a guy really getting his head cut off. That's shocking to me. I see something [like] child abuse where I go, 'How could anybody do that to a child?' Where onstage, Alice is chopping up baby dolls. They're not babies, they're dolls. Alice had a thing where he hated dolls, he didn't hate babies. It's all fantasy-driven. So now, how do you shock the audience? It's almost impossible. I've talked to Marilyn [Manson] about that and I've talked to Rob Zombie and everybody, and we realize that shock is now a device we use onstage to make it interesting to the audience. But can we really shock the audience? Not really. We're shock-proof now. You could do one or two things. If somebody killed themselves onstage, that would be shocking. You can only do it once. If you cut your arm off onstage, you could only do it twice. You only have two arms. [Laughs] To make a great show for the audience, I think the audience comes to see Alice because they want to see the guillotine, they want to see the straightjacket, but more than that, they want to hear those songs. They want to hear those songs that is sort of the soundtrack for their lives."
On the first time he saw KISS and whether he is proud to be the pioneer of shock rock:
Alice: "I think that I started that. I think I started KISS and I started Marilyn [Manson] and I started all these bands. But, all I really did, I made it so that bands could be theatrical. Before us, bands could not be theatrical. The reason that those bands can exist now is the fact ALICE COOPER was not only the most controversial band of the time, but, we brought theater to the show. And, had hit records at the same time. That was unusual to have a band that was so theatrical that actually had records on the Top 40. Number one records. So, we realized that early on that you couldn't just be a show. You had to have the cake before you could put the icing on the cake. To us, eight hours of rehearsal, seven hours was on the music. One hour on the theatrics. Then, when we saw KISS, I told KISS where to buy their makeup. They were not a shock to me. I knew those guys. They're still very good friends of mine. We've never had a problem of colliding with each other. They even said in an interview: 'If one Alice Cooper works, then four ought to work.' The thing I think I mentioned to them is this: 'Make sure your makeup isn't like mine.' And they did the kabuki makeup. And I said 'Make sure your show is different than mine because they're going to try to connect us up.' The same thing with Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson. When I first saw Marilyn Manson, I went 'Okay, wait a minute. You got Alice Cooper. Marilyn Manson. A girl's name. Both do shock rock. Both do makeup.' I went: 'A little close.' Marilyn was another thing, he was another entity out there. I didn't get to be friends with Marilyn until later. In fact, theologically, we were at odds with each other, me being Christian and him being whatever he was. We ended up being friends through [actor] Johnny Depp, really. Now, I've even recorded with Marilyn, but we still are worlds apart theologically. [Laughs] We spearheaded the movement that rock could be theatrical. And yeah, I always refer to those bands as my 'disobedient children.'"
"Paranormal" will be released on July 28 via earMUSIC.