The Eyes Have It 

Alice Cooper's new album is a moldy but a goody.

In with the old: Alice mines the retro sound kids love.
  • In with the old: Alice mines the retro sound kids love.
The Eyes of Alice Cooper, the new album from the original shock rocker, is touted as a return to form. After more than a decade of recycled riffs and not-so-convincing stabs at modern-day relevance, Alice Cooper wants to rock your ass off again. He found that reason in the new-school-via-old-school sounds of the White Stripes, the Strokes, and the Vines -- bands Cooper says he heard while flipping through radio stations. "I'm thinking, Why do I like this so much?" he says. "Oh! Because it's what we sounded like in 1969. I guarantee it, these bands listen to the Stooges, the MC5, Alice Cooper, early Aerosmith."

Maybe. But it's Cooper who's copping the sound now. "That's what this new album is like too," he admits. "I took it back to that era. I even took it to the point where I said I want to record it like that." So instead of spending months in the studio overdubbing guitars and vocals, Cooper and his band made the album live in two weeks. "We recorded it with tube amps, to give it that real street-raunch garage sound," he says.

But don't get too attached to the new songs. While Cooper and his band are playing a few of them on tour, audiences want to hear the classics -- "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Eighteen," "School's Out." And frankly, that's what the band wants to play. "I have 15 songs that I have to do," Cooper says.

He also has to do all that other stuff. You know, the whole Frankenstein and beheading-of-Alice thing, which has been the center of his concerts for more than 30 years. "Three-quarters through the show, it goes into the theatrical gear," he explains. "All of a sudden, you're into the straitjackets and the snakes and insane nurses. I'd get tired of doing this if I didn't have that in the show. To me, that's what makes it fun."

The thing about the new Cooper is that he sounds like he's having fun. His band is made up of young guys, his sound is influenced by new bands, and his fans consist of kids a third his age. "I'm getting a younger audience that's done their research," he says. "They think, 'If these bands' influence is Alice Cooper, let's go see Alice.' Instead of going to the newly made vampire, let's go to the master vampire."

The ghoul himself is playing it safe on the road, hitting markets that have a solid base. "Cleveland is one of our great stops," he says. "When you get to Cleveland, you really feel at home. I always feel like a tourist in New York and Los Angeles. I feel like I totally belong in [Cleveland]."

Could it have anything to do with it being home to one of his signature restaurants, Alice Cooper'stown? He laughs. "We'll stop in there and get supplies for the next show," he says. "I wish we had a Cooper'stown at every stop. We could get great ribs."

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