Alice Cooper Talks New Supergroup Hollywood Vampires & Touring Australia With Mötley Crüe

Alice Cooper may be chilling in the heat of the Arizona Desert when he sits down to chat with Music Feeds, but he’s definitely got Australia on the brain. Soon after a heartfelt hello, the rock veteran likens the Phoenix climate to being a bit like Brisbane all year round.

Cooper is, of course, getting ready to pack his body bags to make the 18-hour trek to our shores this May, for his gig supporting glam metal pioneers Mötley Crüe on their historic final tour. He’s been spending plenty of time with Crüe over the past few months, and has the lowdown about life on the road with the world’s most notorious rock band.

He’s also got the dirt on his own latest project, rock supergroup The Hollywood Vampires, which features Captain Jack Sparrow himself, Johnny Depp, splitting guitar duties with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.

Cooper reveals a tentative release date for the group’s debut album, and hints that one of the members could be making a surprise cameo during his impending Australian tour.

Things we also learned? That the Godfather of shock rock is afraid of rollercoasters, rates Melbourne’s Jet as “one of the last great rock and roll bands”, and, back in the day, he really wanted to take Nirvana to Disneyland.

Watch: Alice Cooper – School’s Out

Music Feeds: So, Alice Cooper, you’ve been to Australia plenty of times before, most recently in 2011. What are you looking forward to the most about coming back in 2015?

Alice Cooper: You know, I’ll tell you, the funny thing about Australia is that you look at your itinerary and you’ve got Europe and South America and Canada, and everybody always looks and goes, “Australia – alright!” That’s always the place that everybody can’t wait to go to. Everybody who goes there wants to move there.

And it’s always fun for us, the audiences are always great, so we always look forward to Australia when we come there.

MF: Is there anything you’re not looking forward to so much?

AC: When you’re on the road, you’re very addicted to certain things. The only thing that we miss is our cable TV. We get on our tour bus [in the States] and we get 500 stations, so we can watch, you know, everything on the planet. We can watch Australian TV if we want to! So it’s a bit limited on that but, you know, it’s so much fun. Everyday you go and do something different. It’s always fun.

MF: Now, you’ve been on this historic international tour with Mötley Crüe, so I have to ask the important question: has Tommy Lee let you have a go on his drum coaster?

AC: You know, we made a deal with each other. I said, “I won’t go on your roller coaster, you don’t put your head in my guillotine.” And both of us are kind of a little afraid to do either one.

You know, my guillotine is a 40-pound blade that misses me by about 4 inches, and his roller coaster goes out over the audience, like 50 feet in the air. I don’t even go on a roller coaster in an amusement park! Why would I go on one that just has a drum seat on it?

I said, “You should sell thrill rides on your roller coaster!” But I would be afraid for people to put their head in the guillotine because you don’t know how it works. It could be very disastrous.

Watch: Alice Cooper – Welcome To My Nightmare

MF: Did you have many dealings with Mötley Crüe when they were first coming up on the LA scene in the 1980s?

AC: You know, it was funny, because that whole rock scene that happened was very much a mirror of what Alice Cooper did in the ’70s. It was a lot of makeup, a lot of hair, a lot of theatrics, really good songs and really good live bands.

So they were kind of taking what Alice did and blowing it up and making rock and roll really a lot of fun. I mean, when I think of a period of time when rock and roll was really fun, Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Van Halen – all these bands came out of LA, and you would go to any one of those shows and they were all great shows and every band was really good.

And then the counterbalance to that was the Seattle scene, you know, which was just the opposite. Everything was kind of depressive. At one point I wanted to go up to Seattle with a fleet of buses and take all those bands to Disneyland for a day. Just to cheer them up.

But I think the connection between Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper was, you know, they did the hair, they did the makeup and we were a big influence on them. So when they decided to do this Final Tour, the tour that was going to be the end of, you know, all tours, they said, “You’re our biggest influence. Why don’t you come and do the show with us?” And I said, “Great idea, we’ll do it.”

And that’s basically what we did. You know, we’d known each other for all this time and yet we’d never worked together.

MF: What’s the vibe like on the road?

AC: We get along very well. Every guy in the band is all best friends with us. My band and their band are really good friends and there’s no ego problems. Nobody’s at each other’s throats for anything. Everybody’s really in good shape.

MF: So it’s been a few years now since the last Alice Cooper album, Welcome 2 My Nightmare. Can we expect to hear any new material any time soon?

AC: My new album is coming out, I think, in September. And it’s not really an Alice Cooper album; it’s a Hollywood Vampires album.

Watch: Alice Cooper – Poison

MF: Now, for those who don’t know, Hollywood Vampires is your new supergroup with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry from Aerosmith. What made you guys decide to do an album?

AC: Well, I’ll give you a little history. This is how it all came about. I had a drinking club called the Hollywood Vampires in Los Angeles in 1972 to ’73. And every single night it was Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon, and when John Lennon was in town it was him. And it was all the guys that drank. And we would show up every single night at The Rainbow and we were called the Hollywood Vampires, right? And it was sort of a drinking club.

Well, I watched all of those guys die. I mean, every single one of ’em, except for John, died from drinking or drugs or whatever it was. So we decided I wanted to do an album, a covers album. I’ve never done a covers album. And I decided that I wanted to do an album that was dedicated to my dead, drunk friends.

And the way that this came about was I did Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp, the movie Dark Shadows, and it was fun. So one night we went out and we decided to go to this bar and play, this little bar called the Hundred Club, and Johnny came with us.

He’s a great guitar player. He’s a really good rock and roll guitar player. And, you know, then we started talking about doing this album, and it was Johnny, myself and Joe Perry from Aerosmith and a bunch of other guys actually started recording this album. So we decided, “Yeah, Hollywood Vampires have an album now.” And that’ll be due out, probably, in September.

MF: And we hear that Paul McCartney made a guest appearance?

AC: Yeah, we did a song. So one night, Paul McCartney drops in, because he knew all those guys that we were dedicating this album to.

When you’re in the studio and you’ve got Johnny on guitar and you’ve got Joe Perry on guitar, everybody in the room is from another band but they’re unbelievable, and there’s a guy sitting at the piano named Paul McCartney?

Believe me, everybody in that room was in awe, because we were on a session with Paul McCartney. You don’t get any better than that.

MF: As you may know, Johnny Depp is here in Australia at the moment, filming the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and he recently got onstage with Marilyn Manson when he was here for Soundwave. What are the odds of another Depp cameo during Alice Cooper’s Australian set?

AC: [Laughs] We never know where he’s gonna show up. You know, we’ll be playing one night on the tour, and we’re in Albuquerque, and I look around and there’s Johnny on guitar.

He just decides to show up when he decides to show up, which is cool ’cause he knows all of our songs! We never know when he’s gonna show up.

Let’s put it this way – I wouldn’t put it past him. [Laughs] He’s a free bird. He’s one of those guys who just does what he wants to do. And he’s the nicest guy in the world, he’s just such a sweet kid.

Watch: Alice Cooper – No More Mr Nice Guy

MF: So Hollywood Vampires are playing their first show at Rock In Rio this September. Any word on the rest of the touring line-up?

AC: We’re just putting that band together now, so we don’t really know. We have Johnny and Joe Perry and myself and now we’re gonna start filling it out with pretty much whoever’s not touring [with other bands], and whoever wants to play is gonna come up and play.

I can’t tell you who the band is right now, but it’ll be a phenomenal band. It’ll be one of those bands that everybody goes, ‘Are you kidding? Look who this is!’

MF: And, dare we ask, any plans on Hollywood Vampires coming to Australia?

AC: Right now, if you asked me what’s happening next week, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, because it changes every week. So right now all I know is that my band is coming there with Mötley and this show.

We did 85 shows with Mötley this summer and it was unbelievable. I think we broke so many attendance records for the summer shows. It’s really an amazing one-two punch. You know, ’cause both bands bring it every night, both bands really just bring it. And nobody will be disappointed, I can tell you that.

MF: Gene Simmons infamously said rock music is dead. What’s your take on that?

AC: I don’t believe what Gene said. You know, I know Gene. And it’s one of those things where it goes through cycles. Everything goes through cycles.

I remember a period of time in the late 70’s when Alice Cooper and Aerosmith and KISS could not get played on the radio because of disco. I mean, we all continued on, and we made records, and they would play our ballads, but the radio only wanted to hear disco. And that’s what’s kind of going on now.

You know, music right now on the radio is just diva music. And I’ve got nothing against any of those girls, you know, I think it’s great. But it’s not rock and roll. What it is – it’s young adult music. Now, one of the last great rock and roll bands was a band called Jet, from Australia. That band was really good. I mean, they were a bar band, a great bar band.

And there’s another good band that’s in Ireland right now – 18-year-old kids called The Strypes. These kids sound like The Yardbirds and The Small Faces combined. So I think that there is rock and roll out there. And there’s kids right now in a garage with Fender guitars and amps and they’re learning Alice Cooper songs and they’re learning Guns N’ Roses and they’re learning The Rolling Stones. So there will be a resurgence.

Foo Fighters are probably one of the best rock & roll bands out there right now. They’re just a relentless rock & roll band and I love that band. Rock and roll’s not dead at all.

MF: What can fans expect from the show when it comes Down Under in May?

AC: We can’t wait to get there. Australia’s always our target audience. We’ve always felt very close to the Australian audience because they’re so loyal to us. Like I said, this won’t be a disappointment. This will be like the highest energy show you see all year.

Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper arrive in Australia next week for their string of tour dates, grab the details below.

Watch: Alice Cooper – Bed Of Nails

Mötley Crüe – The Final Tour Australian Dates

With Alice Cooper

Tuesday, 12th May

Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

Tickets: Live Nation

Wednesday, 13th May

Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

Tickets: Live Nation

Saturday, 16th May

Allphones Arena, Sydney

Tickets: Live Nation

Tuesday, 19th May

Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane

Tickets: Live Nation

Thursday, 21st May

Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide

Tickets: Live Nation

Saturday, 23rd May

Perth Arena, Perth

Tickets: Live Nation

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