The pioneer of theatrical shock rock, Alice Cooper, has
returned with an exceptional new album, Welcome 2 My
Nightmare. While not officially a sequel to his
acclaimed 1975 opus, Welcome to My Nightmare,
this new release, also produced by Bob Ezrin, captures
the macabre inventiveness of that legendary release
while maintaining a modern edge.
off a hugely successful European jaunt, Alice Cooper spoke with
Popentertainment.com writer Ken Sharp about his latest opus.
You’ve just returned from an extremely successful European tour.
I’ve been to Europe twice this year and done two big tours. One of
them was a big outdoor festival tour and the second one started in
Italy. Every single member of the audience was between 15-25 years
old. It was the weirdest thing to have that many young kids watch
Alice Cooper. And it was like that in every single country, whether
it was Italy, France or Germany. Between Facebook, having a new
album, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and doing a movie with Johnny
Depp, all worked towards getting a lot of attention from the younger
So Welcome 2 My Nightmare isn't a sequel to your
Welcome to My Nightmare album?
No, it's not. In all honesty I used Welcome 2 My Nightmare
because it was so damn clever (laughs) with the “2” in
it. It’s just another nightmare. I figured why not give Alice
another nightmare. We gave him a nightmare in 1975. We all looked
inside Alice’s dreams and said, “Wow, how weird is that? Who wants
to look into Alice’s brain from 1975 to 2011?” All new things are
happening with technology. Disco is now hip-hop. The devil is not
some big scary creature; the devil is Ke$ha (laughs). So
that’s what I wrote about. I tried to put Alice in a lot of surreal
places and let the audience in on it. Bob (Ezrin) and I decided like
a nightmare… things in nightmares are usually bizarre but at the
time they make sense. When you’re in a room and it fills up with
water and you’re swimming with sharks and somebody’s playing poker,
at the time it seems very logical. When you wake up you go, “What
was all that about?” That’s kind of the way we let the album go. We
made it so one minute Alice is on a runaway train – so let’s make
that song sound like that. The next second he’s the last man on
earth – so let’s make that totally different from “Runaway Train.”
The next second he’s hit with “The Congregation,” okay let’s jump to
this look. I don’t think there are two songs on the album that sound
The record does not sound dated, it carries classic overtones
with a modern touch.
I think it’s the storyline and Alice’s voice. I speak of Alice in
the third person. When I perform as Alice he’s in the third person
and when I record as Alice he’s in the third person, so I feel very
free talking about him in the third person. On this album Alice’s
voice and attitude is what keeps it all in one piece.
You go back a long way with producer Bob Ezrin, who worked with
the band on many of your biggest records. He returned to the fold on
the new album.
He brings out the worst in me and I bring out the worst in him and
that usually makes for a good Alice Cooper album. Bob Ezrin will not
let you put filler on an album. He says there’s no such thing as
filler. Every single song has got to be a song; it can’t just have a
riff and a lyric. It has to be a song that you can sit down at the
piano and play. That’s the way I was taught to write. You can’t just
throw a schlock melody line in there. Bob won’t allow it. He’ll say,
“That melody line doesn’t make sense, let’s work on it.” He brings
out so much in me. I would usually stop and think something is good
enough. It’s not because I’m lazy, Bob hears something in my voice
that I don’t hear. He’d go, “Do you remember that thing we did on
Alice Goes Back to Hell? You were verbally jousting with the
devil and that voice we used… That’s the voice we want to use here.”
And I’ll go, “Yeah, I see that, let’s do it.” Bob knows my voice
better than anyone else, so we use Alice’s voice as an instrument
and that’s what’s great about it. He’s the guy that can really pull
that out of me.
your take on the music scene in 2011?
The funny thing is musically nothing has changed. I listen to the
Foo Fighters and I go, “This band would have been great in 1973.”
They would have been just as good in 1973 as they are now. All the
really good bands now are basically throwbacks to the ‘70s sound. I
mean, look at the White Stripes, look at Jack White, he’s so
blues-oriented but he takes it to a different place and makes it
into something different. There’s nothing new under the sun
musically. The only thing that has changed is the technology. How we
record the albums. How we write them. How we buy them. How we listen
to them. That’s all new but certainly not in the chord structures.
We’re all still doing the same kind of music.
You work with the original Alice Cooper Band sans the late
Glen Buxton on several songs on the new album.
Dennis (Dunaway), Neal (Smith) and Mike (Bruce), the whole original
Alice Cooper Band were very, very creative guys. They never settled
for, okay, that sounds good enough. It was always let’s twist it and
take it here. Dennis Dunaway was always one of the most creative
bass players around. Neal played drums like nobody else. He didn’t
play drums like any other drummer I’d ever met. Mike was not a great
lead player but he was a great rhythm player. And Glenn (Buxton) was
the only guy who could sit down with Syd Barrett and make sense of
what he was doing. It was a very unique band to start with. You take
that and give that to Bob Ezrin, who’s classically trained, and
you’re going to get a really different sound.
One of your classic songs is “Elected,” which sounds like a Who
Actually it was originally called “Reflected” and it was on the
Pretties For You album that Frank Zappa produced. Bob Ezrin
heard that song and went, “We need to take that song and rewrite it
because it’s got a great hook in it.” We all went, “let’s give it
the big power chord, the big Pete Townshend chord at the beginning.
Let’s give it those big drums.” Keith Moon was a buddy of ours. I
said, “Let’s tip our hat to The Who and do a big song like that.” I
felt very comfortable playing that song because it felt that’s what
rock should be. I still say that Pete Townshend is the best stage
guitarist I’ve ever seen. That song sounded like a political rally.
It was John Lennon’s favorite song of mine. John used to come by our
office and listen to the acetate of “Elected” and he’d say, “I love
that song!” He was very politically motivated and he liked that it
was poking fun at politics. But it had power to it.
Lastly, pick one song from the new record that tells the story.
I’d pick “The Congregation” because it has this theatrical thing
to it. It tells the story. He meets the congregation and he’s
pretty sure he’s in a nightmare. Not only does it have a lot of
Beatle tricks in it, but it rocks like crazy. Then it’s got
theatrical parts in it that are very Broadway-ish almost. That’s
always been an Alice Cooper signature. We’ve always used a
little bit of Guys & Dolls here, a little bit of West
Side Story – just enough in the arrangement of the vocals to
make it Alice Cooper. We’ve always been very associated with a
kind of warped Broadway. So I think “The Congregation,” while
it’s not my favorite song, is the one that’s most representative
of the whole album.
ALICE COOPER'S NEW VIDEO FOR "I'LL BITE YOUR FACE OFF!"