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School’s in: Alice Cooper defiling a new generation

by Ryan Snyder

Alice Cooper hates you, he hates your music and he especially hates golf. Vincent Furnier, however, shares none of that animosity. Currently on tour playing abbreviated shows supporting Iron Maiden and his 26th studio album Welcome 2 My Nightmare, the Detroit horror rock icon will make a rare US festival stop at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival where his full show will be on display. Alice (or maybe Vincent) spoke with YES! Weekly recently about playing for the kids, his smokin’ new guitarist and how birdies and Billion Dollar Babies will never mix.

ON THIS WEEKEND’S FESTIVAL DIVERSION.

“I was doing the last album in Nashville and there were two guys on the airplane with me, two kids. They were talking about all the bands at Bonnaroo and bands I’ve never heard of. Then the guy says, ‘I like the old blind black guy.’ And I’m going, ‘Who’s that?’ And the guy says, ‘Stevie.’ I said, ‘Stevie Wonder?’ And the guy said, ‘Yes the old blind black guy.’ I was like, I can’t wait to kill this audience because they’re not expecting me at all.”

ON THE THRILL OF PLAYING UNFAMILIAR AUDIENCES.

“I always sort of like to put Alice where he doesn’t belong. I think there’s going to be 80 percent of that audience has never seen Alice. They’ve only heard of Alice via Slipknot or Marilyn Manson or whatever. They’ll see the real thing this time and it’ll be the full-out Alice Cooper show. If you’re in the first 20 rows you’ll probably get some blood on you, you know.”

ON HIS NEW LEAD GUITARIST.

“Ori’s one of the most unique [I’ve had] because when you look at her you go, ‘Wow pretty girl.’ Then she starts playing and she plays like Steve Vai…. I surround myself with great guitar players — Steve Hunter, Dick Wagner. She’s one of the best, yes, one of the very best. She’s maybe the most metal guitar player, but she could go from being really metal to pure blues. If you look away from her and she’s playing blues it sounds like Eric Clapton. If she’s playing metal she sounds like she could be James Hetfield.”

ON HIS NEW TITLE “UGLIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD.”

“That’s going to be the new catch line from Dark Shadows. As soon as he said that, I went, ‘Oh boy I just got stuck with a new one.’ We’re going to get T-shirts made that says, ‘Alice Cooper is the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen.’”

ON LOOKING FOR THE NEXT GREAT ROCK BAND.

“I’m not one of those guys that sits around, you know, in their rocking chair going, ‘Well in my day,’ and, ‘They just don’t write them like that anymore.’ But I’m starting to get a little discouraged in the fact that every band that I read about claims, ‘This is the greatest new band.’ And then I look at them and I go, ‘They have an accordion in the band. Come on.’”

ON THE FUN OF BEING ALICE COOPER.

“Playing the villain is always 100 times more fun than playing the hero. How much fun would it be to play Darth Vader or Dracula or Mr. Hyde or Jack the Ripper? It’s fun to have total control of this character that goes there with a bad attitude…. As soon as the makeup goes on and those songs start, Alice is just angry about something. I don’t know what it is. Every once in a while I want to say something to the audience. And then I realize Alice never talks to the audience. If he talks to the audience, suddenly he’s human. And I don’t want him to come off as being human. “

ON HIS LOVE AND HATE OF GOLF.

“Alice hates golf. I love golf. When I play Alice on stage, the last thing on his mind is golf. That to him is like the most mundane thing that he could think of. He lives to be that sensational character up there. When the curtain comes down he’s gone. Then when I’m on the golf course, I never think about Alice. I know that that night I’m going to play him and it’s going to be fun and I’m excited about it. When I’m on the golf course, I’m trying to figure out if this breaks to the left two feet. Golf in the morning and rock and roll at night. The two never, ever meet.”

Alice Cooper will open for Iron Maiden at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Thursday, June 21.

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