Black Eyes is back! Despite juggling the demands of a successful
restaurant chain, his own celebrity golf classic and building
a youth center in his hometown, veteran madhouse-rocker
Alice Cooper still finds time to pump out a new album just
about every year. And—bonus!—the man still guillotines himself
in 200 cities around the globe to boot. This Sunday, America’s
own Billion Dollar Baby takes Proctors hostage in support
of his latest CD, the electrifying Along Came a Spider
(pun clearly intended). Taken from a series of Alice’s short
stories, the album documents the depravity and eventual
implosion of a lovesick serial killer.
I first started writing it I needed a device to deliver
the story,” he explains. “I have a great character. He thinks
he’s a spider. He wraps his victims in silk. Nice touch.
He takes one leg from each victim. That’s nice too . . .
except that he has flaws that a true serial killer would
never have. He falls in love with one of his victims. He
has a religious epiphany. In the middle of his plan he wakes
up one day and goes, ‘What if I’m wrong?’ Now you know Hannibal
Lecter never did that. . . . I love the fact that the fallibility
of the guy makes him human and more introspective.”
As the album progresses, it is this introspection that establishes
the psychological backdrop for both the development of his
killer’s murderous, sociopathic existentialism and the unexpected
twist in the story’s final minutes—a tip of the hat to 1975’s
Welcome to My Nightmare.
this O. Henry type of ending where Spider says, ‘Wait a
minute, I couldn’t have done any of this . . . I’ve been
in this asylum all these years,’” Alice says. “He’s completely
locked away. So what you do then is you leave your audience
with the question of whether all of these murders happened
in his head—and there are no victims—or there’s another
killer. And art should do that. Art should make an audience
use their imagination.”
Bob Dylan once said that Alice Cooper was a “very underrated
songwriter,” and the singer has always given credit where
due when working with hit makers like Bob Ezrin or Roy Thomas
Baker. But even with young producers Greg Hampton and Danny
Saber (who were probably still in Toughskins when Cooper
recorded School’s Out), the music here is some of
Alice’s most cogent, with songs like “Catch Me if You Can”
and “Wake the Dead” giving his killer a flippant, upbeat
demeanor in celebration of the megalomaniacal antihero,
much like the material that made him a household name in
always been a Detroit rocker, that’s what I do,” he says.
“The difference is always going to be in the lyrics and
in Alice’s delivery. That’s gonna make it an Alice album.
Producers have different styles and tastes they bring to
it, but the consistency I think is in Alice’s voice. Greg
and Danny grew up on Alice, so it was great to work with
guys that referenced my own songs. . . . I don’t mind plagiarizing
my own riffs, as long as it’s pretty well disguised and
offers something new.”
And as the man who brought theater to rock & roll almost
40 years ago, fans can bet the Coop will also bring a fresh
array of blood-spattered routines. To get an idea of what’s
in store, think Edgar Allan Poe taking Father Knows Best
to Broadway. Wife Sheryl and daughters Calico and Sonora—professional
ballet and jazz dancers one and all—choreographed much of
the show, playing Chinese assassins, murderous ballerinas
and other characters in this chop-shop-on-parade. Like all
great Alice productions however, there’ll be a little Groucho
Marx tossed in to temper the Freddy Krueger.
don’t mind a little vaudeville,” says Alice. “I never thought
of myself as being a comedy character, but guys like Jack
Benny and George Burns . . . they brought it out in me.
When they came to see my show . . . they brought up the
point that, yeah, it’s scary but it’s funny. I figured if
it was funny to them then let’s capitalize even more on
that. Let’s make Alice this horrific guy that would slit
your throat—but let’s make sure that he slips on a banana
peel once in a while.”
But don’t get the wrong impression. “These shows for some
reason are getting more and more intense as we go,” he warns.
“The only rule I have is that I’ll never water the music
down. If it’s gonna be rock theater, it’s not gonna be with
strings. It’s not gonna be directed towards a family from
Iowa. If you’re in the first 20 rows, don’t wear anything
Alice Cooper will be at Proctors Theatre (432 State St.,
Schenectady) on Sunday (Oct. 26) at 7:30 PM. If you are
sitting in the first 20 rows, try not to wear anything white.
For more info, visit proctors.org or call 346-6204.
and His World
final events of the Bard Music Festival’s Sergey Prokofiev
celebration are here. It’s not exactly a coda to the festivities
last August, because “coda” doesn’t quite fit the notable
program on offer this weekend.
Tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 24) at 8 PM, there will be a performance
in the Fisher Center’s Sosnoff Theater by the American Symphony
Orchestra of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, Waltz
Suite and the popular sections from The Love for
Three Oranges—you’ll know ’em when you hear ’em. Also,
violinist Mira Wang will join the ASO for John Alden Carpenter’s
Violin Concerto. Tickets are $25-$55,
(Oct. 25), there will be a panel discussion in Olin Hall
from 10 AM to noon on “art and dictatorship,” a topic sadly
central to Prokofiev’s career; this is a free event. At
3 PM, there will be a concert in Olin Hall featuring Bard
Conservatory faculty and students performing three works
by Prokofiev and two by Stravinsky. Tickets are $25.
2008 Bard Music Festival will conclude this weekend (Oct.
24-25) with concerts and lectures at Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson).
For more info, call (845) 758-7900.