Why Alice Cooper Thinks He's As All-American As Pat Boone

ISSUE 20 2018 - DO NOT EVER REUSE - ONE TIME USE FROM PHOTOGRAPHER
Rob Fenn/Courtesy of earMUSIC
"I'm as American as Pat Boone," says Cooper.

In the late 1960s, Alice Cooper was seen as a threat to mainstream culture. Five decades later, the “Godfather of Shock Rock” says, “people are unshockable.” On his North American tour in support of his 27th studio album, Paranormal, which hit No. 2 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart upon release in July, he’s still sticking his head through a guillotine and draping boa constrictors around his neck. But when he’s not onstage, he dials it way back, attending Bible study on Wednesdays and avidly golfing. Now, ahead of a double-disc live album, A Paranormal Evening at the Olympia Paris, out Aug. 31 on earMUSIC, the 70-year-old has found equilibrium, and “couldn't be having more fun.”

How does your faith square with your often macabre stage show?
Well, they don’t fight each other. As a Christian, if you study the Bible -- and I do -- I don’t find anything in there that says, “You can be a Christian but you can’t be a rock star.” There’s nothing in my show that’s Satanic. There’s no nudity. There’s no bad language. There’s no drugs. The Alice Cooper show is like some kind of dark vaudeville.

You don’t avoid religious themes in your music and performances, but mostly keep politics out of it.
I’m the escape from politics. My job is to take you somewhere in the same way Star Wars or Jurassic Park does. Because the rest of the day, you turn on the TV and it’s some new development with the Russians or North Korea. And I know that everybody wants to give their take on what [President Donald] Trump is doing and all that. But if Alice Cooper says anything about politics, it’s definitely in satire.

You’ve played golf with Trump.  
I have. And the funny thing is, everybody wants me to say he was cheating. And I say, “I don’t know anybody that doesn't cheat at golf.” When it’s for fun, I mean, I cheat, everybody cheats.

How has rock changed over your career?
When we first started out, I was the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to every kid in America. I was Marilyn Manson times 10. People were very shockable in the ’60s and ’70s -- if you cut your head off, if you wore makeup, if your name was Alice, people could not wrap their heads around it. “Who is this guy? Is he dangerous? Should we let our kids listen to him?” Well, three generations of people come to the show: the grandfather who was there at the beginning, the father and now the kid who’s 16 or 17 and goes, “Wow, this is rock’n’roll.” Now, I’m as all-American as Pat Boone.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 25 issue of Billboard.


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