Vincent Damon Furnier has always been proud of his native city: even when his musical projects were not yet under the name Alice Cooper, he saw them in the tradition of Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels or MC5. His new album "Detroit Stories", recorded with such illustrious musicians as Joe Bonamassa and MC5 co-founder Wayne Kramer, is a homage to the sound of the former Motor City in the late 1960s: It celebrates early American hard rock, but doesn't forget Motown pop and soul.
Alice Cooper calls almost exactly at midnight - a fitting time for a conversation with the "Prince of Darkness", as which he self-deprecatingly stages himself on stage. At his home in Paradise Valley near Phoenix, Arizona, it's sunny midday right now. "And is it snowing where you live in Dortmund?" the almost 73-year-old quips right at the beginning of the conversation. "I'm sorry we can't do the interview face to face in a good old hotel in Germany at a more convenient time for you, but I guess I'm too much of a rock'n'roller to be up for conversation in the morning." But the time difference definitely has its good side: while Cooper is now wide awake, I passed the evening by listening several times to his new album, whose alertness and freshness in turn chased away any hint of tiredness.
eclipsed: How do you actually motivate yourself for your 28th studio album?
Alice Cooper: By always taking on new challenges and trying to evolve, or by dealing with things you've never dealt with before, or at least not for a long time.
eclipsed: But as Alice Cooper, don't you have to conform to an image, or don't some things just fall out musically when you're Alice Cooper?
Cooper: The good thing is that although I adopted the stage name Alice Cooper at the beginning of the 70s, I still make a clear distinction between myself as a private person and Alice Cooper as an art figure. In addition, with my producer Bob Ezrin, I have someone at my side who, together with me, has been helping to shape this public, musical person Alice Cooper for over five decades. So it sometimes happens that we disagree a bit about who or what Alice Cooper is, what he could, should or may do. But in the end our ideas always meet on a common line and we correct each other. Personally, I tend towards hard rock, so it's easier for me to go in that direction musically, whereas sometimes he would prefer a more nuanced direction. On the other hand, there's also this slightly intellectual, ironic, sarcastic take on things in the Alice Cooper lyrics, and when I come up with a lyric that doesn't contain a double bottom, Bob immediately points out to me that Alice would never say it that way. Even in the stages when I was having other people produce my albums, I'd often call Bob during production and play him the songs, and he'd give his advice like, "Make the verse shorter there, use a heavier guitar there, and make it a little nastier in the lyrics." In that sense, every album I've made since 1970 has always been a collaborative effort between Bob and me. On the other hand, the fact that I usually let Alice Cooper walk the stages of this world means that I deal with this character much longer and more often. You quickly get into a routine, and when it comes to new album projects, it's not always easy to take the next step, whereas Bob, through his work with other bands [in the past Detroit Featuring Mitch Ryder, Kiss, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, in recent years Deep Purple, note], approaches the subject of Alice Cooper with more distance and thus often a clearer view. He suggested the topic of Detroit and was enthusiastic about it from the beginning, of course also because it has a lot to do with Alice Cooper, but also with me personally. It is, after all, my city, where I was born and musically socialized.
eclipsed: When you were twelve, however, your parents moved with you from Detroit to Phoenix because the climate there was better for your health. There you later founded the first bands with your buddies, from which the group Alice Cooper emerged.
Cooper: (laughs) I could always brag about being from Detroit, though. Seriously, Detroit music was always firmly in my DNA, and when we reinvented ourselves after the 1969/1970 episode in L.A. with Frank Zappa, we settled in Detroit as a band. That's where our first signature song "I'm Eighteen" was written, and it was only there that Alice Cooper was created with producer Bob Ezrin, who was about the same age.