The master of shock rock and the founder of theatrical rock came to fame in the 1970s by combining timeless music and theatrical scenes. He was inspired by 1950s horror movies, and he enriched rock concerts with stage shows that featured guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, snakes and baby dolls. The beginnings of his career weren’t easy. The intentions of this enthusiastic rocker, who first and foremost always wanted to entertain people, was clearly misunderstood. Many of the traditionally conventional disciples speculated about his artistic name and irritating stage presence. Luckily, the ability to rise above it all is one of ALICE COOPER’s greatest virtues, which probably played a major role as he overcame this period of disrespect and unsuccess. Nothing stopped or changed the vision of one of the most creative artists in showbusiness. ALICE COOPER is proof that the saying “the third time’s the charm” is real. His main breakthrough came with his third studio album Love It to Death in 1971, where he achieved his first commercial success thanks to the first single and successful hit “I’m Eighteen.” With the following Killer (1971), School’s Out (1972), Billion Dollar Babies (1973) and Welcome to My Nightmare (1975), ALICE COOPER confirmed his position on the music scene and nobody could deny his talent and contribution to the history of rock’n’roll any longer.
ALICE COOPER is one of the rare personalities who understood early enough the circle of life and all its circumstances. While talking to him, you can feel his natural respect for success in life as well as for the opposite side of it, very often considered to be failure. Instead of dramatic personal falls, he moved on to other, better work and never allowed anyone or any situation to kick him off his game. ALICE COOPER is a successful singer, songwriter as well as a respected actor. Many directors have cast him in their movies. He appeared, for example, in the horror classic Prince of Darkness, in part six of the Nightmare on Elm Street series and recently in the comedy-horror Dark Shadows. In 2011, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The remarkable life journey of this rock phenomenon has been captured in the Canadian biographical documentary the Super Duper Alice Cooper (2014). ALICE COOPER appeared as King Herod in the American musical television special Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert on Easter Sunday (April 1, 2018).
The COOPER legacy lives on with ALICE himself, but also with his beautiful daughter and extraordinarily talented artist, CALICO COOPER. She appeared onstage alongside her father for the first time at the age of 18 on his Brutal Planet world tour. Since then, CALICO has participated in eleven world tours with ALICE, has been working as a model and as an actress she excels in comedy and has gained a massive fan base in the horror industry. Currently, she is also a member of the rock band BEASTO BLANCO, fronted by the ALICE COOPER bass player and one of the most important persons in CALICO’s life: Chuck Garric. The successful and versatile artist became a slap in the face of many who often polemize about her success being caused mainly by the fact she is the daughter of a legendary rock icon. To clear up this confusion, I would say that without her talent, own potential and necessary ambition, she could have been named after whoever and it wouldn’t have worked out. I personally value her more for always being hard-working and for her desire to achieve something more than just the empty rock royalty life style she could without a doubt be living. There’s nothing wrong about using a famous name in a good way, and if possible there’s no one better person for it than the daughter of a legend.
There are a couple of different stories behind your artistic name. How did you come up with the name ALICE COOPER?
I was really trying to think about a name that would be a very hands-on name. That would be a name nobody would expect. Everybody would expect BLACK SABBATH or any kind of really hard and heavy name. When you get a name like ALICE COOPER, that doesn’t sound like a hard name, but it sounds like some crazy old woman. It sounds like a crazy old woman that’s probably insane and maybe a psycho killer. I was thinking okay, what’s wrong with this name? Let’s make the audience think about one thing and give them something else. I tried to find the most innocuous kind of name I could find. To me ALICE COOPER was one of those names. I don’t know why it worked so well, but it did! It was just a name that I thought would irritate every parent in the world because here was this guy named ALICE COOPER and he has a snake and he has a guillotine and there’s blood and he is a guy, but his name is ALICE COOPER and he wears makeup. So, everything was the opposite of what it should have been. I was pretty sure that it would bother every parent in America. So, I was born to be a villain! I was fine with me to be the villain (laughs)!
You were the first one to introduce horror imaginary to rock’n’roll. What was the biggest inspiration for your stage show?
When I was a kid, I used to watch horror movies. On Saturdays, I used to go to the movies with all my friends. You know, really awful horror movies. When you look back to the 50’s and the movies that were out then, like It Came from Beneath the Sea. There were always movies about giant ants or vampires or things like that. I always thought those movies were fun because they scared you, but they made you laugh at the same time. I just kind of said why can’t rock’n’roll be like that? Why can’t we make our music based on like sort of scaring the audience, but at the same time making them laugh? To me it seemed like it would be fun. I just think the necessity that there were too many heroes and not any villains. Everybody in rock’n’roll was a hero and ALICE COOPER was the villain. I thought that was great. We had many Peter Pans and no Captain Hooks, you know? We had all these guys that were heroes, but we didn’t have anybody that was like really dangerous. I thought ALICE COOPER should be dangerous. That’s why the show became more horror than comedy. There was always comedy in my show. You must have horror in rock’n’roll and then there has to be some comedy in it to make people like it. If it’s just horror in rock, it only takes you so far. If it’s horror rock and some comedy and a little then it goes a long way.
You became very famous for using guillotines and electric chairs during your live shows. You are treated as one of the best entertainers as well, but how did people accept this kind of show in your beginnings?
The audiences had never seen anything like it. Maybe the scariest thing they had ever seen was Jim Morrison or Mic Jagger. Then all of a sudden, there was a new creature that was even more dangerous looking than any of those guys. Even rock audiences were really shocked. And if the kids were like that, their parents were even 10 times more against us. We didn’t have a lot of people that were on our side until we started getting hit records. People started listening to “Eighteen” and “Schools Out” and all of a sudden, everybody started to like it then. They were starting to really like the villain.
We mentioned your stage show, your artistic name, what else makes ALICE COOPER different from other rock stars?
I think the fact that ALICE is very professional. He is never late. He is always on time. He knows every lyric. He knows everything that’s supposed to happen on that stage. He is not sloppy at all. He is like Hannibal the actor. He is very precise about what he does on stage. That makes him different than other rock stars. Some rock stars are just like kind of, oh yeah, it’s rock’n’roll! ALICE COOPER is very precise. I know exactly what I want my audience to react to.
Which period do you consider as the most important for you during your career?
The very beginning was the shock period. Then the audience couldn’t be shocked anymore. I don’t think Lady Gaga shocks the audience. I don’t really think that Marilyn Manson shocks the audience. I think CNN shocks the audience. I get shocked when I watch CNN cause it’s reality. People are really getting their heads cut off. People are getting shocked. People are getting hung. Our shows are all fantasy. I mean, they are just sort of fantasy. So, the shock value is gone by the late 70’s, I think, but we’re still entertaining the audience. We still are supposed to entertain the audience. I think the beginning was very, very important for me. Schools Out, Billion Dollar Babies, that era was when people were the most affected by ALICE. That was when people really knew ALICE COOPER was. A lot of my early albums were really important. Love it to Death and Killer were 2 albums that are part of rock’n’roll history, they are always brought up as being 2 of the best albums in rock’n’roll history in the top 100. When you look at School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome to My Nightmare, those were albums that were very definitive to ALICE COOPER. Welcome to My Nightmare was sort of my opus. That was the album that just changed everything. Everybody looked at it like nobody had ever done anything like this before. We finally broke them through with 2 hit singles “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out.” Nobody could deny us anymore. It was a point when you have 2 hit singles, the people that used to kind of look at you as a joke couldn’t do that anymore. You have a number 1 single out and a number 1 album. Billion Dollar Babies came out after that and that was number 1. We had 2 number ones in a row and that put you right there in the class of LED ZEPPELIN and all those bands. Some albums I think are timeless. I can go back and listen to THE WHO, THE YARDBIRDS or THE BEATLES albums. It doesn’t matter when these albums were made. They will always be good. I listen to some of my albums like Welcome to My Nightmare and I think it will be one of those classic albums, same as Killer or Love It to Death. They are timeless. I think that era was our most important era. I was on the cover of every magazine. I was on every TV show. I was sort of more dangerous than Marilyn Manson was.
You’re saying you were more dangerous in the 70’s than Marilyn Manson. In what way were you more dangerous?
First of all, Marilyn and I, we’re friends. He took it a different way. When I was scaring the parents, it was because I had makeup on, I had snakes and I had guillotines and all that stuff. They couldn’t explain it. Marilyn Manson went to a devil worshiper, and says I take drugs, and I do this and I do that… In some ways he was creepier than ALICE. I think it’s the music that moves you forward. With another’s words. When I go on stage, there are 14 songs that everybody in the audience knows. A lot of new artists don’t have that arsenal of the songs that we did, like David Bowie, ALICE, T.REXX and people like that did. I think that what happened with the younger generation is they don’t have as many hits. It’s so important to get those hits. I think I even told Marilyn Manson to write with people like Desmond Child, Bobby Elsworth and get some songs on the radio that he can hold up over his career
You struggled with problems with alcohol in the past. What was behind it?
I think it was just a party mode. Everybody was in party mode. Back in those days, rock’n’roll was just nothing but a big party. You played the show at night and then there was a party. And you left the party, it’s over the next day. Then you slept during the day and the party started again the next night. Especially if you lived in L.A., Detroit, New York or London. It was just a constant party. I just sort of found out that I always had beer around and the band all used to drink beer. We weren’t much into drugs at all. We were really into drinking beer and alcohol at night.
What was the final thing that made you decide to undergo rehab?
Throwing up blood. You know, throwing up blood on stage, it’s fake blood. Throwing up blood in a hotel room, that’s real blood. When you throw up and when you see blood all over the place, you realize what is going on inside has got to be catastrophic. It’s got to be really bad. If you are internally bleeding from alcohol, that means you are probably dying. I cut it off before it killed me. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Keith Moon, they didn’t! All of those guys sort of died internally first and then died. So, I cut it off before it got and I was very, very fortunate. The same with Ozzy, Iggy, Lou Reed…I think all of us were in the same world. We could have died, .
You are the first person named Calico I’ve ever met. I guess, with your parents there had to be something original behind it. How did they come up with your name?
There is a ghost town in the US that burned down in the desert in 1881 and I was born in 1981. The town was called Calico, the Calico ghost town. So, my parents are obsessed with the desert, westerns and all these things. So, I am Calico after the ghost town. My brother is Dashiell after the western writer Dashiell Hammett. And my sister is Sonora, after the Sonoran Desert.
Talking about the artistic aspect, we can say that you got the best from both of your parents. What is the best you got from your parents in a more personal aspect?
It’s funny sometimes because people say, oh, you look like your mother or you look like your father. I am grateful because I didn’t get my dad’s nose. But people say, I look like my mom, but I got my dad’s sense of humor. It’s a really good combination. Even though people don’t give my mom credit. I mean, everybody would have to have a sense of humor to live that lifestyle and have a great relationship with somebody like my dad. Our house is just a comedy. It’s hard to get somebody to take you seriously. I remember being a teenager, you know, a boy broke up with me and I come home, oh, Andrew broke up with me. And my parents were like no, not Andrew! I developed an adult sense of humor very early in life. My parents are very realistic. My father would say, maybe you are not gonna believe me, but you are not gonna remember this person in 10 years. And I go, yes, I will, I love him. And he goes, trust me. And he goes, would it make it for you better if we go golf or running or whatever. He was always very active. And then my mom is so funny. We didn’t have a household like most other people. You know, where people got spanked or everything. When we were kids, what would drive us crazy, was the talks. We just wanted to get out of there. My mom would be like, sit down, she was now like, what did he do, what did she do and we would be like, please, just get it over with! We talked for hours about why we did it, what we did…
ALICE COOPER irritated many people with his artistic name and stage presence in the beginning of his career. Was there some negative experience you had to go through thanks to this, for example at school?
My parents didn’t send us to private school. They sent us to public school on purpose because they wanted us to learn how not to be sheltered. We were with the kids that were like fist fighting and like real people. I don’t want to say that there aren’t real people in private school, but it’s just a last shelter to existence. My brother, my sister and I, we all went to public school. We were subject to ridicule from kids who were saying, my mom says that I can’t stay a night in your house because your dad is the devil. And I go, really, fine, then don’t come! It also helped me have a sense of humor at a young age too because instead of being hurt by it, I would turn it around and laugh at you as opposed to you making fun of me. I don’t go around assuming that I know your family situation. I would never go to a kid in my school and be like, oh, your dad is a businessman, he must be cheating on your mom. Because in all the movies that’s what I see. Businessmen go on trips and cheat on their wives. It would never hurt me to be cruel to me, but it does to a lot of kids, which is really sad.
You are a model, an actress, a dancer and now also a singer in rock’n’roll band. You are a very creative person, but which art area is closest to your heart?
I just did a movie with some great artists in the US. When I’m home, I do acting, really mostly. The only time I sing is with BEASTO. And the only time I model is for a French clothing company. It’s not anything what I would do professionally. The acting I think it’s the biggest means of expression for me because I get to play all these different characters. I have a couple of movies set up now which should be really good. I did an amazing movie, Tales of Hell. It’s about how a taxi shows up to pick up 3 girls on a Halloween night, and it’s actually a taxi to hell. It’s taking our souls to hell. We are the 3 worst women you can ever meet, like everything that you could hate about people, that’s what we are. I am one of them. That’s why I love acting to could play these parts.
I want to create art, whether it’s film or television. I really wanna create art that changes me in the way my favorite art has changed me or like it changes other people in that way. I can remember paintings and songs and shows and movies that I saw and I went, that’s what I believe in, that’s how I wanna live my life or that moves me for whatever reason. I wanna create those things, I wanna make people feel things and all the great stuff that the arts are about in the first place. I don’t care about the celebrity. If I cared about that, I could just walk around with a big name cause I have a famous dad. Why would I do that? Why would I be doing any of this? I really wanna tell stories and I wanna move people in the way that he has moved people. I wanna make my life better while changing yours.
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