The guide to surviving a life in music, by those who know it best...
Alice Cooper (Credit: Rob Fenn)

Original shock rocker Alice Cooper is taking you back to school...

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When you think of Alice Cooper, most people think it’s hard rock and there’s not much thought to the songwriting - it was all about the songwriting. We were up against incredible bands that were so good that you had to write songs as good as their songs - and then put the theatrics to it. The theatrics came way down the line. You had to bake the cake first before you could put the icing on it.

We would spend eight hours on the music and one hour on the theatrics. Songwriting was everything.

Bands are a dime a dozen, and look at the ones that left their mark: they were ones that wrote great songs, had great personalities, brought you a show that you’d never seen before, and they were great musicians. And they were rock stars! They got up on stage with a certain swagger.

Now you find a lot of the younger bands are so politically correct, and they’re so afraid of upsetting anybody that they’re just boring as hell. You just sit there and you go, ‘You’re 18-years-old! I don’t care about your politics or the environment - well, I do, but I don’t care about what you think about it. I want to hear about what’s going on with you and your girlfriend,’ because that’s what a rock song is usually about: the angst between a guy and a girl.

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Jim Morrison died trying to be Jim Morrison all the time. Jimi Hendrix died trying to be Jimi Hendrix. Keith Moon died trying to be Keith Moon. Keith was one of my best buddies, but I watched him trying to be Keith all the time, and it taught me one thing: be Alice, but leave him on stage. You don’t have to be him all the time.

When I wrote ‘I’m Eighteen’ and ‘School’s Out’ and all that stuff, I was drinking, and I realised that I gave an awful lot of credit to the formula that I drank, and then I wrote, and then it was a hit.

I had five or six big hits in a row in a period where I could have had 10, but the alcohol was more in my way than helping me. I wasn’t giving the credit to my own creativity; I was giving the credit to the alcohol.

Bob Ezrin was my George Martin. He was the one that took a bunch of really crazy ideas and put them in a form that made sense on the radio. In other words, we got away with what we got away with because we had all this audacity to be Alice Cooper, and we had somebody that knew how to make it sound great on record.

He was the most essential part of Alice Cooper. Bob figured out how we never had to give up the edge of Alice Cooper and still make hit records.

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The Hollywood Vampires - Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry - tour the UK in June.

Words: Simon Harper

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