Thirty-five years ago, Alice Cooper ditched his longtime band, teamed up with producer Bob Ezrin and created his legendary concept album Welcome To My Nightmare. "I don't live in the past at all," Cooper tells Rolling Stone. "But I recently started working on a new project with Ezrin. He reminded me about the anniversary and we started wonder what Alice's nightmare would be 35 years later. The first nightmare was a seven-year old's, with 'what's in my closet' and 'my toys are coming to life.' Now his nightmare would be hip-hop and technology and working 9 to 5 in a cubicle."
Cooper and Ezrin quickly began sketching out songs for the project, which they dubbed Welcome 2 My Nightmare. "Bob's still a tyrant in the studio," says Cooper. "He does it to get the best out of you. He's also the only person on the planet who knows Alice as well as I do. We're very conscious of who Alice is and what his attitudes are. It's fun to write for another character."
They worked to ensure that the album would be rewarding to fans of the original. "We made sure that some of the musical tentacles from the 1975 album got into this album," says Cooper. "If you're a real Alice aficionado it'll send a chill up your spine because it happens at the right spots." The disc hits shelves on September 13th.
Cooper's current live setlist is composed mainly of his hits, but he's thinking of ways to incorporate this new material. "I would love to do both albums back-to-back in a 3,000 seat theater for three weeks at a time," he says. "We could do it in New York, Los Angeles . . . every major city. There's been talk of Broadway. It would be a great Broadway show."
The surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band reunited at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. They guest on Welcome 2 My Nightmare and have played occasional live sets over the past few months. "We've always looking for a reason to get back together," he says. "I've been touring for 45 years though. I never stopped. Whereas at 63, 64, 65 - I don't know physically if they could do 100 shows a year. But for specialty shows, I could really see it continuing to happen."
Cooper himself is 63, but he continues to tour at a punishing pace. "I never get tired of it," he says. "I always feel like I've got something to prove. When we get onstage people may be going, 'Well, let's go see Alice. He'll probably be sitting in a chair and he'll do some of his songs acoustically.' And then they come out and it's the highest energy show they've ever seen. We do 28 songs and we don't give the audience a chance to catch their breath. At the end of the show they're going, 'What the hell was that?' I love the fact that we take them totally by surprise."
Photo by Peter Still/Redferns