Michael Christopher of Vanyaland recently conducted an interview with legendary rocker Alice Cooper. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Vanyaland: Let's talk about the film. There have been so many run-of-the-mill documentaries over the years on musicians. What convinced you that "Super Duper Alice Cooper" would be different?
Alice Cooper: [Banger Films] came to us and we saw that they did with "Flight 666" for IRON MAIDEN and they said, "We don't want to do a talking-heads documentary where Elton John talks and then this guy talks; we want to make it linear, we want to make it the story of Alice but graphically, the whole way through. If you're going to do a documentary on Alice Cooper, it's got to be as theatrical as the character." I totally agreed with that and I loved the idea of them cooking up the Jekyll-and-Hyde connection with Alice Cooper and myself, and the fact that I talk about Alice Cooper in the third person — he's a character I play. And it was absolutely the right story; I never knew where Alice ended and the other Alice began; and that was a big gist of the documentary, that gray area. Then the alcohol involved, where does Alice start and where do I end? And it was like that from the very start. It was a really good story, and the drama behind it, the fact that here was a band that wasn't supposed to make it. Everybody hated us except for Frank Zappa and THE DOORS and bands like that. Making it to the top, almost self-destructing and then coming back; so it had a bit of a "Rocky" story to it.
Vanyaland: What sticks out most to me is how raw it is, especially with the uncomfortable parts, but you're on record saying they were some of your favorite topics to talk about.
Alice Cooper: I found the uncomfortable parts the most interesting. When they interviewed Dennis [Dunaway] and Neal [Smith], the original guys from the original band — we couldn't find Mike [Bruce], he's hard to find — the easiest thing to have done was to edit out what they say, so we look good. I said I'd rather hear their opinion of why the band broke up.
Vanyaland: Yet you're all still on good terms.
Alice Cooper: To this day we remain the best of friends. We're sitting together at Tribeca [Film Festival] watching it and all of us were squirming in our seats because everybody had a different version of why we broke up. Then there's the cocaine part, because I always denied any drug use because I thought it was so uncool to for Alice to be into drugs; it was so stereotypical that I wanted to avoid it. But when that part comes up, you have to be honest with it. That was uncomfortable for me, but at the same time it was powerful. The Tom Snyder footage of the skeletal Alice Cooper was really powerful, it was really scary.
Vanyaland: Your next recording project is a covers album [which also includes several new songs written specifically for the project]. Over the years, quite a few artists have covered your songs; CREED, MEGADETH — even Etta James. Are there any that stand out to you, either because of how different the interpretation, or because of how bad it is?
Alice Cooper: Music, to me, is so much just a piece of clay that, "Here's the verse, here's the chorus, here's the lyrics — let's see what you guys do with that." Joan Jett did a great cover of "Be My Lover". Dio did a cover of "Welcome To My Nightmare" and did an amazing version of it. Roger Daltrey did "No More Mr. Nice Guy". Every time somebody does one of your songs, I feel totally complimented that out of all the songs recorded, they would pick those songs — one of my songs — to do. I'm always really interested to hear what their take is on it. I can tell you one of the greatest thrills of my life is I went back to see [Paul] McCartney and his band. I went backstage and they were kind of warming up and I walked into the room and they all went into "Under My Wheels". There's McCartney playing bass on "Under My Wheels" and I went, "Wow." That, to me, is such a compliment the fact that he even knows that song.
Vanyaland: So you doing something similar is your way of complimenting artists and the songs you love.
Alice Cooper: I have never done a covers album. We all started as a covers band — even THE BEATLES. Instead of picking just a bunch of songs, what about doing all my dead drunk friends? All the guys I drank with that died; Jim Morrison and I used to drink, Jimi Hendrix and I used to drink, THE SMALL FACES, T.REX, Harry Nilsson — all those guys were buddies of mine. So I said, let's do an album about the Hollywood Vampires, our drinking club. There are just so many songs that you could go to. [Producer] Bob Ezrin loved the idea and it's pretty much done now, but I don't think it will see the light of day until next year because we've got the MÖTLEY CRÜE tour for 72 shows and we don't have the time to wrap a show around the covers album until next year.
Read the entire interview at Vanyaland.
Eagle Rock Entertainment, in association with Banger Films, has announced the world premiere of "Super Duper Alice Cooper" at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), presented by AT&T, where it will screen as part of their Spotlight section. Taking us through his life and career, Alice presents his story in the first ever "doc opera" film — a dizzying blend of documentary archive footage, animation, and rock opera.
"Super Duper Alice Cooper" is the twisted tale of a teenage Dr. Jekyll whose rock 'n' roll Mr. Hyde almost kills him. It is the story of Vincent Furnier, a preacher's son who struck fear into the hearts of parents as Alice Cooper, the ultimate rock star of the bizarre. From the advent of Alice as frontman for a group of Phoenix freaks in the '60s to the hazy decadence of celebrity in the '70s to his triumphant comeback as '80s glam metal godfather, we will watch as Alice and Vincent battle for each other's souls. Alice's story is told not only by the man himself, but through exclusive interviews with members of the original Alice Cooper band, Elton John, Iggy Pop, John Lydon and Dee Snider.
In order to make "Super Duper Alice Cooper" as interactive for his devoted fans as he possibly can, Alice Cooper is putting together a special pre-recorded "Keep Calm & Go Ask Alice" question-and-answer session that will run following each theatrical screening. In order for Alice to give some wild answers, he'll require some burning questions from fans, so he's inviting YOU to ask him anything now via www.SuperDuperAliceCooper.com (click the "Keep Calm & Go Ask Alice" graphic). Once the submission period is closed, Alice will personally handpick select questions and answer them via video, serving as the aforementioned Q&A.
"Super Duper Alice Cooper" is the creation of Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn at Banger Films, producers of "Iron Maiden: Flight 666" (2009 SXSW Audience Choice Winner) and "Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage" (2010 Grammy-nominated and Tribeca Audience Choice Winner), and much-lauded filmmaker Reginald Harkema, winner of the TIFF Special Jury Prize for his film "Monkey Warfare".
The 13th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival will take place from April 16 to April 27 at locations around New York City.
In a 2012 interview with Spinner.com, Dunn stated about the Cooper documentary: "We know Alice through various projects that we've done. We interviewed Alice for 'Headbanger's Journey'. He's also featured pretty prominently in two episodes of [the new groundbreaking documentary series] 'Metal Evolution', both in [the] Shock Rock and Early Metal U.S. [episodes]. He's a pretty fascinating character, who has been through a lot in his life. He's one of those musicians that maybe he hasn't had a hit in a long time, but everyone knows who Alice Cooper is because of his influence on pop culture and the big songs he had in the '70s.
"We're exploring a different stylist approach with this film. It won't be talking heads; it's going to be more of an archival and animated journey through his career.
"He's such a rich visual artist, it makes so much sense to try and do it in a different way.
"I think we're just a little bit sick of doing talking head interviews, to be honest [laughs], after doing 300 of them for 'Metal Evolution'. So it's really the story of Alice's career from the '60s right up to the '80s and everything he went through — the ups and the downs, battles with alcoholism, being raised in a Christian family, rebelling against that but then coming back to faith later in his career, and moving from town to town, and trying to find his place."
Alice Cooper's latest album, "Welcome 2 My Nightmare", sold 18,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 22 on The Billboard 200 chart. Cooper's previous CD, 2008's "Along Came A Spider", opened with just under 10,000 copies to land at No. 53.
Recorded with longtime collaborator Bob Ezrin, who produced the original multi-platinum "Welcome To My Nightmare" album in 1975, "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" picks up right where they left off, with Alice trapped in his own warped mind.