ROB ZOMBIE AND ALICE COOPER INTERVIEW
This is an Interview with Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper from Pulse! magazine(April 1997). The interview is about the return of the rock show.
Pulse!: Why are a lot of groups that emphasize performance value gaining popularity?
Cooper: I think everything goes in cycles. I wouldn't be surprised to see commercial heavy metal come back in vogue, Bon-Jovi style, in four or five years. For a long time all the new bands were like, "Let's see how boring we can be. Let's see how depressed we can make the audience." I don't know if that's what they think they're supposed to do.
Zombie: I always thought it was because the metal bands and the thrashier bands came from working-class backrounds and they really appreciated everything they got, and wanted to make their lives something. Whereas theses alternative bands were a lot of rich, snooty, whiny college kids. They were just playing a game.
Pulse!: Alice, what inspyou to invent such a wild stage show?
Cooper: We were the ultimate TV generation band. Our music was a combination of the Yardbirds, Chuck Berry, Beatles, John Berry and broadway. People wouldn't understand why we would sit around listening to West Side Story, but I always felt that if wecould just write something that was cool as that, only rock'n'roll, that would be grea.
Pulse!: How about you, Rob? What possessed you?
Zombie: I can answer that in one sentance. The first record I ever got was an Alice Cooper record, and i was in third grade. Some kids get a Barney record, I got an Alice Cooper record and the rest is history.
Pulse!: Why do you think kids are so personally tapping into the theatrics and outrage of groups like Marilyn Manson?
Zombie: Because that angle of music is always larger than life, and you can become very fanatic about it. It's like Star Wars is something to be fanatic about. You can't be a Jerry McGuire fanatic. There's nothing there.
Pulse!: What's the key to success for a theatrical rock group?
Cooper: I've always said if you want to be a legendary character you've got to go as far out on a limb as you can for the time that you're living in. And if you make it, you get huge. But if you don't you look like such an idiot and you last about three minutes and it's over.
Zombie: But I think a lot of that is dying with MTV. I know when i was little and I was an Alice Cooper fan, there were so many weird rumors and insanity that just spread. the rumors become bigger than the reality and it just became this legendary thing. Whereas, MTV makes everything look the same. It's all prepackaged and there's no mystery.
Cooper: When I think of the Velvet Underground I still wonder what these guys were into. There was never a commercial push for those guys, and to me they're still legendary because I stilldon't know anything about them. Pretty soon somebody's gonna find out that marilyn manson does something normal. They'll find out he drives a car or goes to the bank, and then all of a sudden everyone will be disappointed. His image is so unearthly, unless he can live a Michael jackson kind of existence he'll never be able to keep up the mystique.
Pulse!: Why are people so attracted to the darkness conveyed by bands like Alice Cooper and marilyn Manson?
Cooper: When you're about 14 or 15, the most funthing in the world is to out-gross somebody. So when somebody comes along that's really gross, that's your band.
Pulse!: Do you think your sense of humor has prevented you from reaching the level of success Marilyn Manson has? Maybe people want something sick and depraved for real?
Zombie: But none of it is for real. Maybe if you're 12 you buy into it. When I was 12, I looked at KISS and i didn't know they ever took the makeup off. I thought they lined like that. But it's all fucking show business.
Pulse!: Did you want the horror show to look as real as possible, or did you enjoy having an element of schlock?
Cooper: I love schlock, but at the same time, when I was guillotine, that was not schlock. To this day, if you take a videotape of the guillotine and stop it with my head lopping off, you cannot tell how it's done. And th thing only missed me by 6 inches.
Pulse!: Can you share the secret?
Cooper: Uhhh, no. But I can tell you I had to go rehearse with stunt men because I wanted it to look as real as possible.
Pulse!: What's the biggest catastrophe that ever happened onstage regarding a special effect malfunction?
Cooper: We'd done the hanging, the guillotine, the electric chair. We'd done everything to poor Alice. So we decided to shoot him out of a cannon. That was about 1975, and we had this cannon built that was about 20 feet long. So we were in Detroit, and I get in the cannon and escape out the back. And they load this dummy in and light the fuse. The thing goes, "BOOM!" and the dummy comes out about three feet and hangs out of the barrel. The next day we put the cannon away, and a week later somebody in the Rolling Stones saw it and said they wanted it. They wanted Mick Jagger to sit on it as a phallic symbol and make foam come out of it. So luckily, we didn't get stuck for the cost of the cannon.
Zombie: We seem to run into the most unexpected problems with pyro. People pack way too much into these explosives and something will blow up and you're completely blinded for a minute and you can see the front row of security's hair is sizzling. When you have a big show something goes wrong every single night. The crucified clowns are supposed to come down, but they're caught in the pyro, which is caught on the curtin. When it works it's th best feeling, but things are always timed in such a way where if they don't get out of the way, I'm gonna be on fire in two seconds.
Pulse!: How did you like the flamboyant hair-metal bands in the '80s?
Cooper: As bad as they were , they were more exiting to watch than a lot of groups today. Poison would do backflips, and I applauded that because these guys actually spent eight hours jumping off the stage, doing a backk flip and landing in the splits. I think that's cool.
Pulse!: Do you think most alternative bands came out as a reaction to the cheesiness of hair metal?
Cooper: Absolutely. After this depression period is over, everybody's going to be up. The next generation is probably going to be more romantic. There will be some crooner that will be like the next Sinatra, and he'll be the biggest star. He's about 12 years old somewhere now, and he doesn't even know he's gonna be the guy. And then, there's gonna be somebody that makes me and Rob look like kindergartners to offset him.
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