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Alice Cooper releases his new album, Detroit Stories, on February 26. The album takes the rock icon back to his roots.
LYNDSEY PARKER: So the album "Detroit Stories," and the EP of Detroit cover songs that came before that, "Breadcrumbs," I loved both. And I'm wondering, what made you want to revisit those artists and pay tribute to your hometown?
ALICE COOPER: Well, it was all Detroit players. We did everything in Detroit. That was my hometown, was Detroit. And I thought it was a great idea. Bob and I said, let's do an album that's going to be dedicated to hometown because there were so many great bands back then. Detroit was the capital for hard rock. There were the Stooges, the MC5, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, Bob Seger. You know, it went on, and on, and on.
If you were a hard rock band, you didn't come from New York or LA, you came from Detroit. And that's what I was proud of, the fact that I was one of those bands that came out of Detroit. And I said, well, let's now focus an album just on Detroit. We went and saw all these great pop bands in Detroit, really great like the Electric Six. And, you know, all these really great punk bands. And we covered two or three of their songs. And they're going, why are you covering the Dirtbombs?
I said, because it needs to be covered. You know, it works perfectly into this song. Let's put it in there. And these punk bands were shaking their heads, going, why? I said, because you're Detroit. That's why. You're the essence of Detroit. You were what we were in the 60s and 70s.
LYNDSEY PARKER: What do you think it is about Detroit that was the ground zero, the breeding ground, for that anti-hippie groundswell?
ALICE COOPER: You know, the kids did not go home and say, OK, there's a Stooges concert tonight. Let's go put on our black leather jackets and our Levi's. That's what they wore. That was their everyday dress. So they didn't have to dress up to go to the show. That was what they looked like. You know, and Mom and Dad both worked in the factories. And so it was an industrial city. There was nothing sophisticated about Detroit, Motown, and hard rock.
And that was really street. Everything was very street-level. And that's why it just felt that we really fit in there. I could not do one album that didn't have that Detroit guts to it.
LYNDSEY PARKER: So were you-- before you connected with-- was it Straight Records or Bizarre Records, Zappa's?
ALICE COOPER: Straight. Yeah.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Straight Records? Were you trying a lot and just pretty much being rejected by every other label there was? Like, how did that come about?
ALICE COOPER: Everybody. Nobody would touch us. They wanted the next Three Dog Night. They wanted the next Crosby, Stills & Nash. You know, they wanted that. And here we were. We didn't even like hippies. You know what I mean? We may have been in the hippie generation, but we had no problem with a little violence, you know, a little sex and violence up on stage.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Yeah.
ALICE COOPER: And it wasn't a little. It was a lot. You know? And it really basically scared anybody on LSD-- would have just run out of the room. You know? One of my favorite things was, you play a big festival with all these big bands. And you'd hear, one hour, Grateful Dead. You know, the big announcement, 400,000 people. In 3 hours, Jefferson Airplane. And then it goes, warning. If you're on the brown acid, Alice Cooper is on in five hours. Please, do not watch the stage. And I used to go, I love that. It was the greatest thing because we were the opposite of everything that was going to happen that day.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Yeah.
ALICE COOPER: Peace and love. We were not peace and love.
LYNDSEY PARKER: No.
ALICE COOPER: Frank Zappa, he's, here's all my proteges. It was us and the GTO's. And it was all the freaks that no other record company would touch. And that was basically it. We were the throwaways. And later on, Bob Ezrin found us. And it became a commercial success because he knew how to put us into a package that made it work.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Wow. What do you think it is about Detroit? Because you were talking about how when the Alice Cooper band came up, you were the antithesis of the late 60s peace and love stuff that was prevalent. And then, a couple of the other bands you just mentioned, the Stooges and MC5, very much were not doing the peace and love thing then either, 50 years ago.
ALICE COOPER: When we were in LA, the Doors ran LA. The Doors and probably the Buffalo Springfield were the two big bands. And the Doors were great because they were LA sex. I mean, you couldn't put it any more different. That was theirs. San Francisco was this funky, country kind of rock. New York had their sound. And we didn't fit into any one of those.
When we went to Detroit and played this big festival, and I'd never seen [? Iggy ?] before. I'd never seen the MC5. I'd never heard of them. And we got out on stage with those guys. We fit in so perfectly that we realized, this is where we belong. And it was my hometown to start with. So that even made it better, the fact that I was a hometown boy. So we moved right in. They played the Eastown every week and the Grande with all these great bands.
And I never felt more at home than I did in Detroit. And I never felt at home in LA, never felt at home in New York, always felt at home in Detroit, though. When you feel at home like that-- and every band was cheering for the other bands. They weren't trying to outdo the other bands. Stooges were cheering for Alice Cooper. We were cheering for the MC5. It was a real fraternity, a real rock fraternity, because I think we felt like the underdogs.