Original ALICE COOPER drummer Neal Smith recently spoke to Sleaze Roxx about the group's early years and his future plans, among other topics. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Sleaze Roxx: The original ALICE COOPER band was able to shock the world in the early 70s, do you think any band will be able to have that much of an impact on society again?
Neal Smith: "Yes, it's possible, but it would be very different now. I'm a true believer that anything is possible, but timing and luck are key ingredients to success and a little chemistry doesn't hurt either. Coming out of the '1960's peace, love and flower power generation' music scene, conditions were musically and socially ripe for a band like ALICE COOPER. Music trends in the Sixties were moving at a blistering pace. With bands like THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES, THE WHO, THE GRATEFUL DEAD, CREAM, JIMI HENDRIX, and finally THE DOORS, there was a musical side of rock 'n' roll that was getting darker and more ominous. The stereotypical band had a very limited mind set when it came to live stage performances. THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE and THE WHO were actually bringing more to live shows than just simply getting on stage in front of their fans to play and promote their latest record. This paradigm set up a perfect theatrical void for our band ALICE COOPER to fill, bringing elaborate staging, lighting, props along with some blood and gore to rock 'n' roll concerts. With songs like 'Fields of Regret', 'Lay Down & Die Goodbye', 'Dead Babies', 'Killer', 'School's Out', 'I Love The Dead', 'Raped & Freezing' and 'No More Mr. Nice Guy', 'I laughed to myself at the men and the ladies who never conceived of us Billion Dollar Babies.'"
Sleaze Roxx: So many different stories circulate but what are you views on the breakup of the original band, were there hard feelings at the time?
Neal Smith: "No hard feelings at all, everything ends sooner or later and ALICE COOPER ended at the top of our career, just the way it should have been. In 1974 we took a year off because of exhaustion from constant recording and touring. Glen was in poor health and Michael, Alice and I wanted to record our own music. We were never able to rekindle the flame as a group again. I cannot speak for anyone else, but in my opinion we were very lucky to achieve the success that we did. We were a kick-ass rockin' monster that changed the music world and scared the hell out of people in the early '70s. I feel very proud and positive about that and no one in the world can ever take that away from us. Our achievements and successes forever created a welded bond between Alice, Dennis, Glen/RIP, Michael and me. If there is a negative side, I feel we let the ALICE COOPER fans down by not giving them more music from the real band. Album number 9 was never recorded when Alice refused to honor his agreement to record the next group album after we all recorded our solo albums.
Sleaze Roxx: What can fans expect in the future from Neal Smith?
Neal Smith: "I am currently working on an exciting new Neal Smith solo project to be released in the summer of 2005. I have written about a dozen new songs, I'm singing (if you can call it that) the lead vocals and I'm playing all the rhythm guitars. I'm playing and programming a combination of live drums and computerized drums. Peter Catucci from CINEMATIK is playing bass and I'm inviting guest guitarists I have known over the years to play lead guitar. It is a very heavy metal-mental, industrial strength journey into the dark side of the brain of Neal Smith, it's not for the faint of heart. I love it to death and I'm very excited!
"Also in 2005 I hope to be releasing for the first time ever, a collection of songs that I wrote between 1985 and 1995. I played synthesizer keyboards and programmed all of the percussion. That CD will be released on my label, Kachina Records. Although I'm not a fan of synthesized, programmed drums, I had to take a crack at it myself at least to learn and understand it. I look at using synthesized drums on this project, as a glorified metronome, but at least the drums were programmed by a drummer not a keyboard player. I overwhelmingly prefer live acoustic drums and percussion."
Read Neal Smith's entire interview with Sleaze Roxx at this location.