FANTASY SPRINGS: Alice Cooper returns Dec. 1
Nov 28, 2012 (The Press-Enterprise - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
It's been a long time since Alice Cooper went mainstream. But the shock rock pioneer, who became famous wearing a boa constrictor in the 1970s, continues to break new ground, sometimes in surprising ways.
Last week, he was inducted into the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame, a 10-year-old organization that lists him as member No. 217 on its website.
The group's motto: "Either the knife sticks or it doesn't."
Cooper's career has sticking power. CNN recently interviewed him about his 45 years on the road, and he said he prefers going out on a bus to create band unity.
His "Raise the Dead" tour brings him to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Indio this weekend.
The Inland-desert gig should make it easy for him to pursue one of his favorite pastimes: golf.
"I can't imagine the sun coming up without me being on a tee somewhere. I am totally addicted. Have been for 30 years," he said in a phone interview from his home in Phoenix, following a visit to the Phoenician Resort, which has a 27-hole USGA championship facility with three nine-hole layouts.
"I had an amazing round this morning," he added. "I shot 68, which is 3 under par. It was just one of those days when I was just making everything. Now tomorrow, I might shoot 82. But at least I know today I had 68."
The interview took place in September, prior to Cooper's visit to Universal Studios Hollywood to check out a Halloween attraction created in his honor.
Cooper's music is so theatrical that Universal adapted two top albums from the '70s, "Welcome to My Nightmare" and "Alice Cooper Goes to Hell," into the Halloween mazes.
"Welcome to My Nightmare" was built around Steven, a character that Cooper says "runs through all my elements" and who represents the "7-year-old boy that lives inside of us and doesn't want to grow up and that loves being scared."
"I was on an escalator the other day and I was telling Cheryl, my wife, this whole thing about Steven. And I said, 'Look at the guy in front of us.' He's a 70-year-old guy on vacation. He's wearing tennis shoes, shorts, a T-shirt that says something on it and a baseball hat. That's exactly what I wore when I was 7! So always, when we want to feel comfortable, we go back to the greatest time of our life."
"I think rock and roll needed a creep. We needed a villain. We had tons of rock heroes and no Moriarty. There was no boogie man. And I said I will gladly be that character because that's going to be fun to work with. You still have to have the hit records -- we had 14 top-40 records. But if you play the character right, you can be the Vincent Price of rock and roll."
Despite hits such as "School's Out," Cooper said acceptance didn't come right away. Parents in particular hated his horror persona.
"In the very beginning, people pretty much hated Alice Cooper. They had no idea where we were coming from. They figured we were the worst thing that ever happened. And there were kids and snakes and spiders. 'None of this makes any sense and we certainly don't want our kids going to see it.'
"And then they started picking up on the sense of humor. And then they started feeling a little more comfortable with Alice. Now, at our shows, the first 40 rows are 15 to 25 years old. And they're all kids whose parents are at the same show in the back."
The Rock and Roll Hall inducted Cooper in 2011, and his band's bio reads, "With their penchant for ghoulish stage shows and a gender-bending wardrobe, this five-man group brought the element of theater to the world of rock. That alone would securely cement their stature as innovators."
The same year as the induction, Cooper released his most recent album, "Welcome 2 My Nightmare," a sequel to the 1975 original. He put some of the songs into his tour.
"We're adding about seven or eight things into the show. A couple things from the new album ... And then we like to go deep into the old Alice Cooper albums for the real Alice Cooper fan and pull out something that they're not expecting. When you do something like 'Clones,' the audience goes 'What I never thought I'd hear that onstage.'"
Ritual executions are a fixture of Alice Cooper shows, which fits into the knife throwing and the stage swords he wields in the CNN report.
"One thing I learned about getting killed on stage is that you can't do anything subtle because it takes too long," he said. "We tried the electrocution and realized the electrocution was too slow! It doesn't have any impact to it.
"So I said you have to have something that is final. It's definite. When the guillotine comes on, it builds all of that tension. And then when the blade does drop and makes that horrible sound and there's the scream, that's effective."
LOS ANGELES: 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29. Orpheum Theatre, 842 S. Broadway. $52.20-$79.50
LAS VEGAS: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. Pearl Concert Theater, Palms Casino Resort, 4321 W. Flamingo Road, $49
INDIO: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. Fantasy Springs, 84-245 Indio Springs Drive, $29-$69, 760-345-2450
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